Most of the time when we talk about self-care, we’re focusing on how you can support yourself when you’re going through a rough time. That’s obviously important, but what about when you’re spending a lot of time supporting someone else?
This came up recently when I was talking with some colleagues about the issues around abortion stigma. When we were talking about resources, I mentioned that I’ve taken a number of counseling calls from medical practitioners during my time as a a counselor with Exhale. I know that’s not what most people think of when they think of a support talkline, but I wasn’t expecting the level of surprise and interest that folks had! While we’ve given out those resources for years, the idea of using them for ourselves had never come up.
But in fact, a lot of the people who use these kinds of hotlines are people who are supporting someone else. Exhale’s very first call was from a father who wanted to support his daughter after her abortion, and counselors on all kinds of talklines and support sites have worked to help people be able to support others more effectively. Especially when it comes to issues that involve a lot of stigma, like abortion or sexual assault, having a place to get support anonymously can be particularly important. You often can’t share details with your normal support systems, like your family or mutual friends, but you will often have your own feelings that you want to work through.
Supporting other people can be rough – making sure you’ve got ways to tend to your own needs is crucial, both to make sure that you don’t burn out, and to help you be there in the best ways you can for the people you love. So, if you’re looking for some advice on how to support a friend who’s going through a tough time or want to discuss how it’s affecting you, here are some resources that may be able to help you both:
Exhale – post-abortion talkline
Backline - talkline addressing abortion and making decisions about unplanned pregnancies
Trevor Project – crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth – hotline and online support and community
RAINN – sexual assault hotline and online support
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Hotline and online support