Tears of Relief: Crisis Centre. What’s Going On for You Today?

Posted February 26th, 2021

By: Rudi Araujo

It was just another day in the Lower Mainland. The skies were gray, the rain came down and gently touched the ground. It was cold but not too cold. Melissa was alone at home, sitting on the couch looking at the tiny people walking up and down the street through her apartment window.

She was trying to read a novel, but couldn’t concentrate. Her mind started wandering. First, she thought about the cartoons she used to watch on her family’s old TV;  “Inspector Gadget”was her favourite. Growing up wasn’t always easy, but Melissa tried to hold onto special moments, like watching TV at home while her mum baked cookies. Then Sam came to her mind. They are the best partner Melissa could have ever asked for. Her partner is her rock.

All of a sudden Melissa started sweating. She wasn’t sure if she was hot or cold. The hair on her arms and the back of her neck stood up. There was this feeling that something was stuck in his throat and breathing seemed harder. Melissa began to think about work, family, friends, bills. Anxiety has been her closest companion for years and one that just wouldn’t leave her alone, especially in the last couple of months. She began thinking, “Why does everything need to happen at the same time?”

Melissa was overwhelmed with a feeling of danger and doom. Was she really going to hurt herself this time…or worse? She honestly didn’t know. She felt unsafe. Melissa hoped that a visit to the hospital would help. While waiting to be seen by a doctor, she heard a nurse whisper, “She can’t just threaten to kill herself to get what she wants”. Melissa put her head down and cried. No one was listening to her.

She left the hospital and walked quickly to the SkyTrain station—there was that sweating and struggling to breathe again. Melissa was desperate to make it stop and felt the urge to jump. This would end it all—no more sadness, no more desperation. She would finally be free. Three deep breaths. She was shaking and still sweating but was able to pick up the emergency phone and was met by transit authorities. Another agonizing hospital visit, but this time she stayed. However, because The hospital was in a neighbouring city, they told her they couldn’t do much as she lived in a different health authority area. Melissa didn’t know she still had tears to be cried, but tears streamed down her face. She went home, feeling desperately sad and hopelessly alone.

Melissa went straight into the kitchen. Sam was working from home that day and heard their partner going through the drawers; they were in a meeting and couldn’t say hello. Melissa went to the bathroom, sat on the floor, and with a small knife and cut her arm. This was pain she could see and control.  From deep within her body came an exasperated sob. Sam leapt from their desk and rushed to Melissa’s side. The wounds on her arm were superficial and Sam was able to stop the bleeding, but couldn’t do anything to help with Melissa’s emotional wounds.

Melissa felt she had tried everything but knew she needed help. She needed to feel heard. She had an insight and thought she knew who could listen to her. At first, she felt disoriented and couldn’t think straight. As someone who had been dealing with anxiety and depression for so many years, Melissa was able to stop and breathe. Mindfulness exercises always seemed like a privilege of those who have lots of free time, but it was a powerful tool. She talked to Sam, and they went online and found the Crisis Centre number. Melissa called, and Sam stayed by her side the whole time.

“Crisis Centre. What’s going on for you today?”

Melissa took another deep breath. She was still unsure about this call. She knew she needed help, but what could she say to a random person on the phone? She kept quiet.

“Hello? This is Amanda. You can talk to me. I know you called for a reason and I am here for you.

In a calm and welcoming voice, Amanda, the crisis service responder, said what Melissa wanted to hear. Someone was available to listen. Melissa spoke and Amanda heard her. She told her everything that had happened in the last 24 hours. 

Melissa explained how whenever she needed help, she would contact the mental health system but was told she was no longer eligible for their services since he moved to another city. She started contacting other local services but all she felt was frustration. Melissa really wanted to talk to a psychiatrist so she could still get treatment with the province’s extended health provider, but someone told her they couldn’t refer her to one. The past two months had been hard; a lot had happened. Melissa’s general practitioner told her to go back on medication, but antipsychotics made her feel depressed and suicidal. Her GP wasn’t listening and insisted that no medication would make her feel worse than she already was. She had been to hospitals but had mostly had negative experiences. It was like Melissa had been moving forward before, but now all she could see was a big dark hole in front of her, and she didn’t know what to do.

Melissa was scared that without a psychiatrist she would lose her disability, and would likely kill herself. She didn’t have a set plan but had almost taken action many times. In the midst of all the feelings, Melissa has always been able to call intervention before acting.

“It’s feeling like you’re falling through the cracks and nobody is taking your pain seriously,” said Amanda. 

“She took the words right out of my mouth,” Melissa thought. At first, she was hesitant because Amanda was a complete stranger, but ultimately she felt this was a safe place. The sweating had stopped. It was good to get it all out of her system and talk about her feelings. Amanda seemed knowledgeable and was a great help. Together they explored what supports Melissa had in place already –her partner, Sam, and a counsellor. Amanda invited Melissa to reach out to the Crisis Centre whenever she needed to talk.

The shared emotional connection was very helpful. Melissa felt welcomed and decided that from then on, whenever she was feeling suicidal, she would call the Crisis Centre before calling 911. She was relieved. It felt like she was finally headed towards something positive. She knew her path would still be tortuous, but now she had more support. After the call ended, Melissa began to cry. This was the first time in a long time that Melissa’s tears were of relief.  

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: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
  • Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (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