Editor's Note: "Stories from the Helpline" is a recurring feature on The Bilerico Project, bringing in the personal accounts of Helpline counselors from The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. This installment comes from Brooke Carlson, who is a volunteer Helpline counselor on The Trevor Helpline. He volunteers at The Randy Stone West Coast Call Center in Los Angeles.
In May, I had a difficult day before arriving for my Trevor shift at 6:30p.m. Life's daily pressures seemed to be mounting: struggles with the chapter I was writing, looking for a new job at the same time, an uncomfortable and pregnant partner. In the midst of all the madness, I was feeling particularly powerless and somewhat fearful about callers in need.
That night, I took a call from Brittany, a 17-year-old in Henderson, NC.
Brittany was feeling overwhelmed, had attempted suicide before, and felt like she was on the edge yet again. Although it was trouble with her current boyfriend that led to her calling, Brittany was also struggling with her desires for her girlfriend. Brittany doesn't get much support from her mother and fears she will react negatively to Brittany's coming out as a lesbian. In fact Brittany, herself, is uncertain about being gay.
I lauded Brittany's decision to call the Trevor Helpline in lieu of taking her own life, and emphasized her own articulation of wanting to live. We talked about her therapist, her mom, her friends, and the things she does to feel good about herself. She enjoys listening to music, '90s female mod-alt-rock singers or girl-led bands in particular, and we spent some time talking about the benefits of listening to tunes. I referred Brittany to the GayCharlotte Web site and the LGBT National Youth Talkline, and she was jazzed to have some new resources.
By the end of the call, Brittany felt calmer and somewhat hopeful. She had a job interview she was going to walk to in a day or two, and a therapist appointment on Monday. Before I ended the call, Brittany thanked me and told me that I would make a great father some day. Although I did not share this with her, my wife is pregnant, and it was heartwarming to hear her tell me I would be a good father, especially on this day of trials and tribulations. I came in somewhat irritable and discontent, but I left that night feeling markedly better.
Be sure to check out our previous installment of "Stories from the Helpline" from volunteer Wing-Sum Doud, Adrienne Smith, Michael Vacha Jr., and Dave Reynolds.