'CONTACT Helpline-Serving 865' is a Lifeline for Those in Need
Timothy* was new in town. He had moved to this area from a Midwestern state and was experiencing the usual stresses of a cross-county move - culture shock, seeking housing and employment, making new friends. But Timothy had even more to deal with. He was severely bi-polar, a diagnosis that had been with him since he was 15.
*Name and image have been changed to protect client's privacy.
Now, at 30, Timothy hoped to build a new life. A long-standing wedding engagement had been broken off and he just wanted to get away from the old scene. He was heartbroken, but hopeful. As a person dealing with bipolar disorder, he knew he had to watch out for events that triggered a flare-up of symptoms - the bewildering cycle of mood and behaviors from irresponsibly manic to suicidally depressed.
Putting his new care team into place was a real challenge for Timothy. He was a compliant patient, carefully navigating a new state's medical and social service sector. He had seen his new psychiatrist, met his case worker, and was waiting for the appointment with his new therapist. He had been prescribed new medications as the current ones weren't stabilizing his mind, but drug store red tape was holding up the prescriptions. This was the last straw; now Timothy was completely overwhelmed. He had attempted suicide once before, and wondered if death was the only answer. He felt his body and mind shifting deeper into depression and yet felt restless as though another manic period might be coming on. An anxiety attack began - Timothy's heart pounded and raced and he couldn't catch his breath, adding to the panic. He had no one to talk to, so he called the local hospital emergency room. They advised him to come in or to try calling CONTACT Helpline.
Since Timothy had been in an ER before and did not find it very helpful for his situation, he decided to call CONTACT. On the third ring, the phone was answered by an unhurried, soft-voiced woman, a helpline volunteer. He told her he was having a panic attack and was considering suicide as a way out. She assured him that they would stay on the phone together until he felt better, that she was right there with him. Her calm voice and assurance of staying power helped Timothy to calm himself a little. He began describe his situation and his history.
He unwound little by little as the woman listened and reflected back to him in a caring and nonjudgmental way. He realized she would not try to tell him what to do or think less of him because he was bipolar. His breathing slowly returned to normal as the minutes went by. As he recounted the recent events in his life, the woman affirmed his efforts, empathized with his hardships and continued to listen and reflect. His mind began to stabilize a little and he wondered what more he could do to help himself. They discussed support groups and the idea appealed to him. The CONTACT volunteer gave him the phone number and address of a nearby bipolar support group.
When the 40 minute conversation was over and the woman had invited him to call anytime, Timothy knew that he had survived another crisis. He was very relieved to know he could call CONTACT as needed and at no charge. He had another empowering helper in his care team and his safety net. He was able to face another day.
CONTACT Helpline, Inc. Business line: 482-5040 HELPline 482-4949