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The Cool Calm

The Cool Calm is the Crisis Text Line blog. Insights, data, stories, and other looks at our work in crisis intervention and technology.

Saving Lives Before You Sleep

 
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Back by popular demand: our Ask the Crisis Counselors! This time we asked our Crisis Counselors (CCs) who take conversations at night, which are often our busiest times, just what makes nighttime shifts so special. Here are just a few of their responses:

“The texters are very lonely in the middle of the night and really feel encouraged by us.” - Michelle

I like to choose busy shifts because I feel it's the most effective use of my volunteer time to be able to take four conversations at a time. Once you're used to taking that many, when I volunteer for a low volume shift and don't have any convos or only one, it feels boring. At first it can feel stressful, but it doesn't take long to get used to focusing on the conversations at hand. And the other CCs are very supportive!

“Some of my closest friends are my fellow Crisis Counselors and supervisors whom I’ve gotten to know through our overnight shifts.” - Rebecca

It blows me away and humbles me that I am given the privilege to give someone just a tiny bit of encouragement when they’re in such horrible times.
— Ashley

There’s nothing that compares to the incredible experience that is Crisis Text Line “after hours.” We are a close-knit community of loving and encouraging CCs and supervisors bonded by fun, snacks, and pump-up songs. My skills have improved drastically by necessity: when a lot of people are in crisis and you have incredible peers and supervisors cheering you on, you’re free to take more conversations. Having the opportunity to support people through their darkest moments (literally and figuratively on the night shift) has taught me how to seek out and engage in empathetic, non-judgmental, and potentially life-saving conversations that facilitate collaborative problem solving.  I never would have become this competent and confident if it weren’t for my nighttime Crisis Text Line Family.

“Trying late night/early morning shifts has made it possible to consistently volunteer and make an impact.” - Julie

I had been off the platform for a long time because I just couldn't get settled into a shift with all the major life events I was going through. When I tried daytime or evening shifts, life always got in the way. I forgot my shift and found myself away from the house during my time to log on. I wanted to watch something on TV, or socialize, or call family. It seemed like a chore to fit my shift in.

With high demand shifts it’s a lot easier to consistently get onto the platform. High demand shifts are at a time when you have few distractions. You can devote all your attention to your convos. You quickly build experience, move up levels, and learn to enjoy multiple conversations at once. When you have time to chat, there is a camaraderie between you and the brave few on shift with you. You feel appreciated and necessary.

Having the opportunity to support people through their darkest moments (literally and figuratively on the night shift) has taught me how to seek out and engage in empathetic, non-judgmental, and potentially life-saving conversations that facilitate collaborative problem solving.
— Rebecca

“It blows me away and humbles me that I am given the privilege to give someone just a tiny bit of encouragement when they’re in such horrible times.”- Ashley

So when I log on for my late shifts (I take one 10-12am and one 8-10pm) I know that’s a very real possibility the conversation is going to be deep and may be difficult to get them to a calm place. But at the same time, I know those people I’m helping are truly in a desperate place, so I hope that I’m really able to make an impact! There are so many people who need someone to listen. It amazes me as I’m on the platform the incredible effect it has when you tell someone in crisis “I’m proud of you for being so strong” or “I am truly impressed by who you are and I believe in you.” Such simple things—coming from a stranger!—but with so many people I’ve counseled, that’s been the tipping point.

“Knowing the difference I can make keeps me going” - Emily  

I just celebrated my 2nd anniversary with Crisis Text Line, and knowing the difference I can make keeps me going. When I first experienced really high volume, I found it incredibly stressful. Over time, I learned to do what I do best: show up, take a few conversations, and be there for each texter while also seeking to connect with and support other CCs. Now, when there are a lot of people texting in, I can feel good every time I can click on the button to respond to another texter. Sometimes I'm fine taking 4 convos at a time. Sometimes all I can muster is 1 or 2. Even those few conversations make a difference.

Interested in joining this group of life saving heroes? Apply to become a Crisis Counselor.