Making a Plan To Get Through Tonight

Posted February 26th, 2021

By: Chelsea Carter

In the dim light of her desk lamp, Elise picks up her pen, hands shaking. She tried her best, but she just doesn’t see how things will get better. This pandemic isn’t going anywhere and all the adults keep saying it will get better if they follow the rules, but things just keep getting worse.

Once an honour roll student, Elise has fallen so far behind in her last year of high school that she wasn’t sure if she would be able to catch up. She’s sick of being confused and lost in class or handing in assignments late because of poor internet access at her house. At first, she tried using her phone to follow along instead, but she wound up going over her data limit. Her parents thought she was on TikTok and yelled at her for wasting money. She tried to explain but they wouldn’t listen. Elise broke down in tears.

Elise is sick of trying so hard and getting nowhere. She misses her friends, but she is worried about getting COVID-19 or bringing it home because her diabetic mom is high-risk. She hasn’t seen her friends at all since the summer. But, if she’s honest, she doesn’t really want her friends to know her family moved into a basement suite when her mom lost her job. Elise is sick of hearing her parents fight, the noise of her upstairs neighbours boots, and seeing the neighbour’s fence through the windows. She barely leaves their suite these days, and sometimes she thinks she’s forgotten what the sky looks like.

If this is what “living” is then living might not be for her.

She touches pen to paper but actually writing the note is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Her hand shakes worse as she thinks of her parents reading her final goodbye. She is shaking so much now she loses control of her hand and the pen. It falls and rolls to the edge of her desk over a pile of forgotten papers. A yellow flyer her school handed out back in October catches her eye under the pen. Most of the kids just threw it out but she had kept it just in case.

Elise sniffs and dries her eyes with the back of her favourite sweater; Mickey Mouse smiles mockingly on the front, a memory of their trip to Disneyland for Christmas, before the world shut down. She picks up the flyer and contemplates the number, looking between it and her phone.

It was past midnight. Elise couldn’t call her friends—they hadn’t been speaking as much lately. No one had even commented on her last Instagram post. They wouldn’t understand and she didn’t want to burden them with her problems anyway. Everyone seems to be struggling.

Instead of finding her lost pen, Elise picks up the phone and dials the crisis line number on the flyer. She starts thinking about hanging up when someone answers the phone, “Hello, Crisis Centre.”

At first Elise is unsure what to say when Jen asks her what’s going on with her tonight. Elise sniffs and responds, “I just didn’t know who else to call. I was just feeling really overwhelmed…” She is not sure what else to say. Jen kindly asks her questions, getting her to expand on what has made her feel this way. It’s the first time Elise has felt connected to someone else in a while like she is finally being heard without judgment. She looks at the note on her desk with Dear Mom and Dad written on the top. Something inside her bursts.

She begins to tell Jen everything she’s been feeling for the past few months. She is talking a mile a minute, and she’s not even sure if Jen can understand her through her tears. Jen tries to slow her down, gently interjecting to ask questions and getting Elise to take a breath. It helps. Elise starts to slow down and catch her breath. It feels nice to finally open up to someone; she feels like the weight she’s been carrying around for so long is getting a little lighter.

Talking to Jen isn’t how she imagined calling the Crisis Centre would be. It is a lot easier and less embarrassing she feels…relieved. Jen helps Elise feel like what she has been feeling is okay and helps her realize she isn’t the only one feeling this way—a lot of people are struggling. These are hard times. Jen asks Elise if she feels comfortable making a plan so that she can stay safe tonight.

Elise holds the phone to her ear, nods her head, and whispers “that sounds good.” Her shaking has subsided.

Elise looks at the small orange bottle of antidepressants she stole from her parents’ medicine cabinet. The ones she had planned on swallowing. With Jen’s help, she puts them in another room, out of sight. They decide she will talk to her parents and let them know what she was thinking and how she’s been feeling. She will ask them to keep the bottle hidden while they work on a longer-term plan. Jen offers to stay on the line, but they decide instead that Jen will call back in a bit to check-in with her to make sure everything is going all right. Even just knowing that Jen is going to check-in helps Elise feel better.

Calmer now, Elise puts down the phone and lets out a slow breath. She grabs the bottle and gets up, padding down the dark hall. She pauses outside her parents’ door, then slowly pushes it open. Her parents are shocked, and her mom even cries a bit, but they listen,. They believe her. Everything isn’t magically fixed, but Elise doesn’t feel as hopeless anymore. With Jen’s help, she has made a plan to get through tonight, and with some more help she can make a plan to get through the rest.

If you or someone you know is struggling, especially with thoughts of suicide, reach out:

  • Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
  • Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
  • Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
  • Online Chat Service for Youth: (Noon to 1am)
  • Online Chat Service for Adults: (Noon to 1am)


* This story is a fictionalized account based on call/chat reports. The identities of those involved have been changed to ensure confidentiality of our services.

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Our Impact The topic and word "suicide" is not so scary after taking a training from the Crisis Centre of BC. I'm grateful to have been here today, and am hopeful that I can help people in the future. safeTALK participant, Agassiz