linking to an awesome post on what to expect when calling a hotline

Hi everyone,

So I’m thinking of writing a similar post about what people’s experiences have been in general with either calling hotlines or working on them. But this person beat me to it.

I don’t know anything about this Captain whoever’s blog. Except from post titles they write about various things sort of an advice thing perhaps. This guest poster wrote very articulately about their experiences and I feel would really put someone at ease who is nervous about reaching out.

I also liked that there were 90 comments! (can I just say I’d love to have that many comments on a post?). And all went over different hotlines in the US as well as UK their policies ETC. Discussed both positive and less so experienced in a balanced way that respected everyone involved.

The post was written in 2013 and I can’t find a place to add a comment. It would make sense that perhaps the post was closed for comments after a certain date. I would have added my experiences with the helplines I did work at as well as mention crisis textline. As there were some questions about chat options, but it being March 2013 who knows if CTL was started yet. I know it was started that year but just don’t know when.

Anyway please take a look at this post. I don’t even know if the person is still blogging but it’s cool I think to highlight others work.

Book Review: A Last Kiss for Mummy by Casey Watson

I just finished reading another one of Casey’s amazing books. In a Last Kiss for Mummy the Watson family ventures into the territory of a mother and baby placement. John Fulshaw, their link worker tells them of a fourteen year old girl Emma who has a three week old son Roman. She doesn’t want to be in a mother and baby placement because they’re too far from her friends and the family she was living with kicked her out. After some quick reservations, Casey usually does not say no to a challenge, they agree to take her.

They find out that this placement will be very different from any others. They will be a part of making sure that Emma is supported to look after Roman but they must not interfere too much in that because being underage Emma is being assessed to see her ability to parent on her own. This is hard for Casey as her instinct is to step in and care for the baby particularly at times when Emma would rather sleep/ be on the computer or go out with her friends until past coming home time. From the start Emma doesn’t have a positive attitude about the social workers particularly Hannah Roman’s social worker. She believes they’re just waiting for her to mess up so they can take Roman into care.

Emma has had a past that makes her emotional walls and anger as well as world weary air make a lot of sense. Her mother was a severely depressed alcoholic who would put Emma in care one minute and then go off her meds and start drinking again and be quite neglectful and emotionally abusive. A searing letter from her mother soon after Emma arrives brings this point home. At first no one knows exactly what will happen with the father of Roman, Tarim or Taz. He was at the beginning in prison for drug dealing. Things take a turn for the worse when he’s released. At this point Emma on the incouragement of Casey is back at school at a unit for teen moms and Casey watches Roman until she gets home. Casey gets a call from Tash Emma’s good friend, also a pregnant teen, that Emma has taken pills as well as is very drunk. Casey rushes to the hospital to hear the story that Tarim and Emma got in a fight and this caused her to want to “show him” by attempting suicide.

After a night’s stay in the hospital and a clean bill of health, surprisingly from child and adolescent mental health services measures are put in place so that Emma doesn’t go sneaking around to see Taz. Taz clearly wants to be a part of Emma and Roman’s life and despite his past the social workers embrace this possibilitly cautiously. He has contact at the family center as well as at Casey’s house and things seem to be shaping up well. In the midst of this Casey finds out her daughter Riley is pregnant with her third child. Things seem to be smooth sailing until one night Emma comes home with a battered face. She says that they were “just fighting” and that it was her fault this happened. Though she herself called it domestic violence, she continued to defend Tarim to the end.

A couple of weeks later again Casey is contacted by a frantic Tash saying that Emma has again gotten very drunk and taken pills. Again they end up at the hospital where a nurse informs Casey of the huge shock that Emma is again pregnant! Apparently conception was the day Tarim was released. This brings about big changes for the situation with Roman and the parenting assessment as between Tarim becoming physically abusive and the suicide attempts it’s clear that Emma is in no state to care for Roman. Though Agonizing for all Roman is taken into care and Emma stays with Casey and Mike something she previously asked to do extending her stay til she is sixteen and can legally leave care.

Emma predictably falls into a state of deep depression. Meds can not be prescribed due to the pregnancy, and apparently therapy is not considered. The thing that ends up turning things around is Casey’s idea to try and have Riley motivate Emma as they were about the same place in their pregnancies. This at least gets Emma on the right track in terms of diet and thinking about her baby inside her. Riley ends up being a sort of peer counselor for Emma and she’s able to open up about Tarim and get some clarity about some things. That he really didn’t love her that many of her bad choices were due to her feelings about him and was clear that she didn’t want him in her life. That didn’t do anything to lessen the pain of not having Roman, though she did have contact with him.

Things again seem to be on a stable road until out of the bule Riley has a miscarriage. Emma ends up being so moved by this, both emotionally, and then mentally putting her own needs aside to step up and help Riley that it becomes in its own way a turning point. She offers to take time off from school to help Riley. Keep her company clean and look after the boys Levi and Jackson. This motivates Emma to get through the remainder of her pregnancy in relatively good spirets and everyone notices the maturity and clarity in Emma’s personality.

The birth of Emma’s daughter marks another huge turn of events for Emma. By this time Tarim is completely out of her life. Even an in person viset from her mom, far from throwing Emma into an emotional crisis is taken with maturity and in stride. She knows she can have the support from social services and from Casey and family to make it on her own if necessary. Four months after the birth Emma and the baby move to a supportive living house for teen moms. She works very well with social services and over time gets Roman back. She’s able to concentrate on her future goals and finds a loving new boyfriend.

While this ending might seem a bit too “happy” it being nonfiction you know it’s true. Life is like that so many ups and downs and twists and turns to the point that you don’t think anything will work out. And then somehow pieces fall into place. Or they don’t and you have to learn to live with the fallout and somehow build a new life. This experience with Emma changed the whole family. They never bargained when they agreed to have Emma and Roman as a short term placement that they’d spend two years supporting Emma through the rollercoaster this young mother with all the odds against her went through. And that she’d come out on the other side, with emotional scars but with the confidence and internal resources to persevere.

e-mail group to discuss Cathy Glass books

Hi everyone,

Just a quick post to tell people about an e-mail group that a friend of mine set up. It’s purpose is to discuss the books by author Cathy Glass.

For those who don’t know Cathy is a foster carer in England. She has written many non fiction memoirs detailing the experience she and her own children have with fostering various children with issues ranging from self-injury, severe child abuse/ DID, trauma of child labor/ loss of a birth parent, child dealing with alcoholic parents ETC. She and her family pour their hearts into working with every child and Cathy’s compassionate but firm approach around boundaries, and working through emotions most often proves to be very successful. Often the endings are not happy but are realistic.

I forget when I found these books I think it was just when looking up things on amazon. These books are extremely popular for those in education, psychology/ human services, foster care/ wanting to be foster parents, or just anyone interested in reading a story of helping a child heal from extreme trauma in early life and how a person balances care of an abused child with care of their own children.

My friend has set up this e-mail group for anyone interested in discussing the various books. Which could inevitably lead into a discussion of healing from child abuse/ issues presented in the books, the differences in the foster care system in the US and other countries ETC.

To clarify the workings of an e-mail group. You would subscribe by sending a blank no subject e-mail to:


You’ll an e-mail saying confirm your subscripition hit reply to that and you’re in.

You then can go in and adjust settings. You can choose to receive all e-mail, get a daily digest or go no mail and view/ post using the website exclusively as you would a forum.

I hope many people join this group and I meet new friends.

the week so far

Hi everyone,

So have gotten to Thursday of my long week! It’s been well long LOL!

Monday was good as I might have said scheduled my first CTL shift for Friday six to ten. That will be my normal shift for a year hopefully.

Just kind of hung out that day. Tuesday was the anniversary of my breakdown in 2013. I thought it would be an emotional day but it wasn’t really. I was anxious that day and yesterday about stupid things in the future like getting my paratransit recertified in June and my caseworker leaving sometime in 2016.

For some people they wouldn’t even think about these things at all. For me it’s like no matter how many months away it is if I know something bad is gonna happen it might as well be now. I’ve just always had that sense that weirdness about time. Edith said once that the past is very present for me. Something that happened a long time ago I’ll say oh that was just last year even if it was like four years ago.

So anyway for some reason I was anxious and a bit withdrawn and depressed. Seeing my friends struggle is also hard. There’s the friend I told you about who’s really not doing well and is in a rural part of IL. Living in a facility not adequate for mental illness and with no treatment for her serious issues except the possibility of this mercy place.

Another friend just got out of a horrible psych unit experience in Idaho after a near fatal suicide attempt and is really struggling. The conditions he described were the worst I’ve heard of in awhile.

Another friend lives in CA and is getting very poor care using county behavioral health, though she’s out of the hospital for a few months now and was promised help with getting Medicaid going and all these services that has yet to happen. She finally had her first meeting with a service coordinator just this past week and is continually struggling for money to buy even basic food as well as meds running out. It makes me so mad and helpless to see this, as well as another friend who moved from Albabama where she got bad services to CA as well. Seeing people fight day by day for basically the scraps of whatever Medicaid will cover and continuing to just be shoved off breaks my heart. As much as there are issues with Albany care and similar facilities and a lot of improvements need to be made I so wish other states had such facilities. Because I don’t feel it’s fair the life they have to live fighting for every little bit of what they need day by day which includes food and meds when they’re not even able to work, as well as having an additional disability of being blind.

So that’s weighing on me.

Then yesterday I had quite a stressful day. Was sitting up here hanging out at eight thirty at night and the nurse comes in with a slip of paper saying I have an appointment the next day at a local hospital health clinic that I’d been at before for the gyno stuff. I was edmediately anxious and overwhelmed as getting hit with even small things stirs up a lot for me. I had a hard night thinking about it. In the morning at which time I was exhausted from lack of sleep I was told it was a gyno appointment. Considering everything has been fine in that department for the past few months and I thankfully never took the progesterone prescribed I didn’t need to go.

But a staff came in from the nursing department staff that kind of work under nurses to make sure residents are getting their needs met and she said I had to go and make sure that progerstone pill was off my chart and everything. So I had to get everything together and get ready and go with this escort staff who was really in her own world. Chowing on food and not offering any. Not helping me carry stuff listening to music loud in the waiting room and singing along LOL! And generally being a pain. I was so stressed and getting agitated and anxious. I did a very extremely slight scratch to my wrist. Which temporarily relieved some of the pressure both about what was going on currently and just the suspense of hey I haven’t scratched in awhile what will happen when if I do ETC.

Anyway saw the stupid gyno. Got the pills taken out of my chart. Didn’t get home til almost one which was my therapy appointment. We discussed the very small, so small it didn’t need to be documented scratch and what lead to it. I felt better after talking but still withdrawn in ways feeling like I had a lot of strong emotions and no words for them in a lot of ways.

Like for example yesterday was my parent’s anniversary. They’re Finally!! Getting along truly seeming to be happy with each other. It’s honestly some kinda weird unexpected miracle because they were so bent on divorce/ emotionally killing each other especially my mom she was like planning my Dad’s emotional murder, so we figured when Krissy and I were out of the house they’d follow separately.

It turns out they actually got much closer together. And my mom’s trusting him now and not accusing him of having afairs every other week, not drinking thanks to her neck surgery and actually wanting to take care of herself not emotionally abusing. It’s just stable. And it’s like great! Excillent! But why the hell did it take your two kids leaving the house and basically having their own lives for you two to figure it out? If we could have had even a little true stability like what’s happening now, not fake let’s make Sam happy stability it would have meant so much. Because deep down when my mom’s not drinking and not emotionally on a rollercoaster she’s a really great person. And my Dad’s always a great person he used to just deny his feelings a lot. But I think going to this one particular therapist and doing active listening really got him to be more emotionally involved. As did him talking to Jonathan after my breakdown. Since they are doing well I do wholeheartedly feel comfortable with going for a viset sometime after the new year. Mostly because I miss my cats to death! Especially Lucky kitten who is not a kitten anymore but still acts like one. And yeah I’ll say it I guess I kinda miss Toby yellow lab too.

Just brought up a lot of memories about how things were and wishing things would have worked out sooner even if it was temporary peace.

Today is my sister’s birthday! I can’t believe she’s twenty. How time flies. She’s doing well though even though she hates her classes most of them. But it’s always good to talk with her about riding and horses and just life.

Tonight I have probably my last meeting with awesome Heather from CTL to go over the platform finally and make sure I know where everything is for my first shift tomorrow. I’ll really miss working with her. She’s an awesome person and so e dedicated helpful and passionate.

That brings everyone up to date. Oh Friday I’ll also be going to Walmart hopefully I can go this week and not be anxious and stay home. And this weekend we’re getting my haircut.

long week ahead

I’m so mad! I just wrote this whole blog post and then it disappeared.

Anyway I have a long emotional week ahead. Finished up with CTL and will be going over the last things on the platform with Heather tomorrow.

Tomorrow is two years to the day of my breakdown in 2013. It’s incredible how far I’ve come and everything I’ve accomplished the relationships I’ve formed and what I know about myself. I still know I have a long way to go and I’m also really worried about set backs like everything seems just too good to be true. I will definitely talk more with Jonathan about this Wednesday.

Wednesday and Thursday are big for my family. Wednesday is my parent’s anniversary. Don’t ask how many years LOL! I think this year is the first year they can genuinely say they’re doing well. Even they thought after Krissy and I left the house that they’d finally just divorce. But they ended up coming together in a really deep way. They’re clear as a couple now and that’s amazing and sweet. But hard in a way. I so wish they could have found this strength within one another and have used that as the foundation of our family. As it was for years we had no foundation and everything was about arguing and emotional abuse and drinking. You can’t take back the hurt of the past. I somehow have to figure out how to piece together their current way of being with everything I went through in the past which was is quite traumatic.

Krissy will be twenty Thursday. I’m beyond proud of her and her work with horses and passion for animals. I love hearing her stories about training and riding them. She’s grown into such an amazing young woman and held to her inner strength and values in spite of what happened to her at home.

And Friday we go to target instead of Walmart since Walmart is like the day before thanksgiving.

Then the holiday stresses coming up. How much money can I spend on presents? What do I realistically want for presents? Whether Jess and I will have yucky thanksgiving food here or at some restaurant.

So just a lot in my head coming and going emotionally and sometimes it’s hard to put into words and often I just don’t want to talk at all. I’m glad to write it here as I know many following get where I’m coming from emotionally.

I’ll keep everyone posted day by day on things.

honest opinions of Mercy Multiplied/ mercy ministries residential treatment program

Hi everyone,

So I’m writing today basically on behalf of a friend that’s really struggling. She’s living in a very rural part of the state I live in and struggling to get the most basic health care mentally with a lot of diagnosis. She’s dealing with a quickly developing form of anorexia, self-injury, borderline personality disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.

I’ve been trying to help my friend for the past six months or so find treatment. It didn’t work out for her at a group home that took forever for her to get into, because they said she needed a higher level of care and was apparently hospitalized too many times for them.

The intermediate care facility that I’m in and others, said that her BPD self injury and eating disorder behaviors are beyond the scope of what they can handle. Which surprised me as these places tend to accept clients with severe disorders, psychosis, mood disorders ETC. A couple residents here have SI issues but not to the extent she does. I’m tired of hearing people say she needs specialized care or even acting like she’s some germy thing they won’t touch, yet giving no duidance or compassion.

But I’m getting off track for this post. The one option we have been able to find is an organization called Mercy Ministries now called Mercy Multiplied. It’s a Christian based program that works with girls in their teens and twenties with such issues as recovery from abuse, BPD, eating disorders, self injury teen pregnancy ETC. It uses The Bible and other Christian counseling techneques and claims great success. And it’s free basically. I think you only have to pay two hundred dollars or something.

So it’s definitely a big plus for those on very low incomes and with Medicaid as all doors to residential treatment seem to be locked for those on Medicaid unless you happen to be lucky enough to be in a state where a program accepts Medicaid and then who knows what hoops you have to jump through to get in.

I’ve researched the place obviously. And found a lot of contradictory information. There were a good number of course that said the treatment center worked really well for them and they’re happy they went. That it brought them closer to God and this was very healing. There are however a whole run of articles over the years stating that Mercy is a cult, that the leaders are extremely controlling and control all aspects of the resident’s lives including what they read listen to or even talk about. That there have also been cases of recovered memory therapy and cases where a girl coming in with no history of abuse leaves believing she was sexually abused.

This worried me from the outset that this organization is and was taking advantage of very vulnerable girls. Knowing of course that they have really no access to care of that kind at all with their low income/ Medicaid status. I am biased as I do have a counseling degree but have not researched at all Christian counseling. So don’t really know where the line is between what’s ethical counseling and what’s spiritual abuse.

As time went on and my search for alternatives turned up nothing, besides people who really didn’t care yet are so eager to talk with those who can hand out thousands of dolars, I’ve started to realize Mercy Multiplied might be the only option. It frustrates me not that this place is on the list of options or that it’s necessarily all bad. But that out of the whole country only one place no matter what it is is the only option for in depth residential treatment. When so many centers are open and waiting for those who have the ability to pay.

So I’m asking for honest opinions good or bad about this treatment center. And if possible and comfortable if you could lay out concretely as possible what the treatment consisted of. I’m particularly interested to hear from those who went in dealing with eating disorders, BPD, and self injury.

I’ve read all the articles pros and cons and would like to personally talk with those involved in order to get a better perspective on the center. Thanks so much.

geting closer to becoming a CTL counselor

Hi everyone,

So to update you all on CTL stuff. Happy to say believe it or not my training is almost over. Just one more wrap up session. Will be taking the last part of my final tonight. Then it’s all done! I’m so excited to be starting this important work with such an awesome team of volunteers trainers and everyone.

Will let everyone know how the next couple days go with finishing up stuff. I’m very confident I’ll do well and as I said am so looking forward to joining a supportive community.

Book review: The Dream where the Losers Go by Beth Gobie

I finished a really good book this week. I like it because it combines elements of fantasy with very realistic and heavy subject matter.

Skey is sixteen and has spent the last five months in a “lockup” after attempting suicide by cutting her arms. Five months in and she still has yet to remember why this happened. She is allowed to attend her own school by this point. Every night Skey dreams of tunnels. Either the tunnel of dark or the tunnel of light. The dark tunnel is comforting and safe because you can’t see anything and it’s cool and quiet. She feels her way along the walls and notices carvings, that tell stories and speak to her of her past emotions, things in her family and express ideas in general like summer or rain.

The tunnel of light is so intense it’s terrifying. It gives you a headache due to the intensely bright lights and high pitched noises. The carvings are sharp and cut your fingers.

The night before going to school Skey is walking the dark tunnels as she does when a rock lands at her feet. It’s kicked by someone but she doesn’t know who. She picks up the rock which is her bridge to the dreamworld. And also imaginary.

The lockup is for kids with depression aggression and other mental illness. The staff seem nice but Skey is pretty closed off to them. Terry is her favorite counselor as she’s very perceptive. When other attempts to get Skey to open up fail she asks her to tell her what color she’s feeling each day so that when Terry is there and Skey is away she can think about that color.

Skey enters the world of her old school, and there the world of The Dragons. An aggressive and dangerous group of boys and some girls tagging along. Her boyfriend Jiger is head of the gang along with Pedro, Balford and some other guys I can’t remember. Anyway they’re very dominanting and bully other kids at school and are very sexualized. In school she floats between reality of classes, meeting a new student tutor, being pressed into the high tention and aggression of the gang and anxiety and flashbacks.

People in her life can tell she’s drifting off. Her student tutor Tammy describes her as “ hovering.” Not really being in the world with much substance. She brings Skey nutricious food and that seems to help her stay grounded in their sessions.

By this time in her dreamworld she’s found the rock kicker. A boy like her lonely and in pain and with many secrets. He doesn’t know his name and hasn’t been outside the tunnils in a long time. He’s often found swearing which is to him its own language. He scares very easily and once ran away for nights at a time when Skey accidentally touched him. Then there’s Lick at school. He has some long weird name so I’m glad that’s his nickname. Due to the fact he’s anxious and licks his lips a lot.

He’s extremely jitery and very much a nerd. Skey feels an instant connection between them an attraction not necessarily just sexual and the rock pulses in her pocket when she’s around him. She discovers that Lick too travels somewhere in his mind often and loses time but he doesn’t know where.

Jiger continues to pressure Skey for sex as well as to get a key to the lockup so they can do night games. Basically going through the place destroying stuff and hurting people, and later Skey realizes to possibly hurt/ kill her.

Jiger sees Skey with Lick and is wuite physically abusive to her at that moment. Says never to catch her with him again even though it was totally innoscent. The two however are assigned to work on an English assignment and Lick even comes to the lockup to study.

Meanwhile Skey gets to know the boy in the tunnil more and more but still doesn’t know what caused him to be trapped there or why she tried to kill herself.

At one point the lockup is victim to a riot started by an aggressive group of girls. Skey and three other girls hide while the others literally tear the place apart putting huge holes in the walls breaking furniture tearing down plaster. It was surprising there was still a building left and to me one of the things not very realistic on the realistic side of the story, because who would be able to do that much damage to a locked psych facility area? Also unrealistic that the patients helped paint rebuild and redecorate.

Anyway in all this she forgets about calling Jiger one day over the weekend. He someone finds out about Lick coming for the project though she had lied and said it was a girl from the group. He and the others beat Lick severely until he is in critical condition.

Skey is heartbroken and helpless. In the dreamworld something even weirder happens. The boy comes out of the tunnil and into Lick’s body/ mind and Lick goes into the tunel. They essentially switch places. It takes Skey awhile to figure this out. Then another crisis at the lockup forces her to fully relive the original trauma. She stops another girl mid suicide attempt (cutting her throat actually) and this somehow sends her into the part of her mind that’s blocked off what happened.

Basically she was lured into having sex with her boyfriend who she was very much in love with and then gang raped by the other Dragons. She was ashamed of her body’s natural response as well as deeply traumatized. When she’s able to tell Terry about it that’s when healing really begins for her. She presses charges against the boys and works with her social worker more in therapy.

She also realized at the time she was reliving the trauma that a part of herself was trapped in the place it happened. And by reclaiming that part she was no longer able to enter the tunnels without the rock and basically more whole.

Her final task is to put things right with Lick. She does a similar thing using the rock as a bridge insisting the part of Lick now in the present touch her hand and bringing the two together. Lick’s trauma was sexual abuse by his brother and other boys. As with Skey he is able to bring these parts together and feel more whole.

Months later she is able to leave the lockup with a solid sense of self new true friends and a real rock to remind her of her special dream.

Like I said I thought the chracters basically had a lot of depth and were quite perceptive especially Skey and the counselor terry. I also liked how the word “losers” changed connotation. In the beginning she described the girls in the lockup as losers she had nothing in common with. By the end she realized they were losers in that they all had lost parts of them somewhere and the tunil dream was where they might journey to get them back.

good suggestions for books for people dealing with self injury?


First I want to say I so appreciate the people already who have reached out around online support for people with eating disorders and I look forward to hopefully getting more comments.

Now I wanted to ask another favor. If anyone can recommend any books specifically for people dealing with self injury. There’s an awesome book the clinical director of my facility found called Self Injury: Simple Answers to Complex Questions by the Alexian Brothers self-injury recovery center. It’s a great book answering every question under the sun from anyone effected: people who do it, parents/ friends/ teachers/ family/ therapists/ doctors ETC. But a lot of it is full of professional language and reads like a textbook. It’s great for the staff here but I’m looking for something that’s more user friendly for people living with the problem.

Any suggestions? One thing I don’t want to use is the SAFE literature. I read Bodily Harm and just don’t agree with a lot of their approach. Anything else is fine.

Please I’d love some suggestions! You’d be helping lots of people with these recommendations!