My experience of calling Samaritans

What does it mean to use to use Samaritans as caller?

Firstly, do not fear it – it is there for you, secondly you don’t have to be in crisis to call them. So, I thought I would share my experiences with you to try and help break down some of the barriers we build, that stop us calling Sam.

It is February 2019, it’s a Friday night/early hours of Saturday, I found myself contacting Samaritans before a crisis. Having exhausted other help services and in the midst of an escalating situation- I felt alone, scared and I blamed myself. I knew I needed someone in that moment, just to hear a human that understood my anxiety and could hear my tears.

I had preconceived ideas of what the consequences could be; ‘I’d be locked away because I was bad, they’d contact my family against my wishes, they’d tell me I wasn’t a priority. All those thoughts went thundering around in my head, my tears were flowing faster, and my heart was racing. I grabbed my mobile and found the Sam’s card hidden inside the case. I chose to use the text service at first and then the phone line, for the next 6 hours I was texting or ringing them, until my body caved in and let me have half an hours sleep. (I actually apologised to them at first for ringing).

Dawn light came, my tear stained eyes could see my home around me, and the message from Sam said, ‘How are you?’, to which I replied ‘Thank you I am fine now.’ All I needed was light in my darkest hour, not because of being in a crisis, but just to have a listening ear, when my world had closed theirs.

So here’s how the Samaritans website explains what happens, when you contact them:

A volunteer will answer If you phone us, we answer with something like ‘Samaritans, can I help you?’. With text, email, letter and face-to-face visits, how we respond to you depends on what you say.

You talk, we listen: We listen to you and help you talk through your concerns, worries and troubles. We’ll focus on your thoughts and feelings rather than going into the details, so we may ask questions to help explore how you feel.

Most people aren’t suicidal. Most people who contact us are not suicidal. When you talk to us, we will give you an opportunity to talk about any thoughts or feelings you have, whatever they may be.

How does focusing on feelings help? You’ll be able to see things more clearly. You’ll be able to think much more clearly about what your options are. Sometimes people need to cry or show how angry they are at life or go over their thoughts and feelings several times to make sense of them, and that’s fine. We’re there for as long as you need us. Sometimes even hearing a supportive voice can give you that little bit of strength to keep going.

We won’t tell you what you should do. We won’t make decisions for you, and we’ll support the decisions you make. You are the expert on your own life. Our advice or opinions are not important.

Call 116123. 24hrs a day, 365 days a year.

To find out more about Samaritans click here

To find out more about Shrewsbury Samaritans click here

If you have a story to share about talking to Samaritans, please get in touch.

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