Sometimes Just Having Someone Listen When You Are Depressed and Lonely Is All You Need

Sophie describes herself in a Ted Talk video as a teenager who was lonely, isolated and depressed, and quite "off the rails" after her mother had left home, leaving her vulnerable to her sexually-abusive father and his friends.  At fourteen she reached out for help by calling the helpline in the UK run by the volunteers known as "Samaritans".

Sophie describes how the Samaritans are trained not to offer advice, but to "just listen" to what the callers have to say, guiding them gently through this process.  In the simple act of listening, along with a caring, gentle tone and words of encouragement, Sophie found her way through the daily trauma, and ultimately was able to leave her destructive, traumatizing family environment to live in a nurturing place through her teen years.

In her early adulthood Sophie describes becoming a volunteer for Samaritans herself.  She saw this as "paying back" for the help that she had gotten as a troubled, suicidal teenager.  While she had appreciated the professional help she received in her life, her most valuable help came from the caring, non-judging, confidentiality-keeping trained volunteers at Samaritans whose non-advice-giving empathy encouraged her to want to provide a similar kind of help to others like herself.

Watch this wonderful Ted Talk to find out what else Sophie did more recently to help others with loneliness and depression.  
Have you experienced how helpful it is when someone listens deeply to what you have to share without giving you advice?  If you have had a transformative life experience that you believe was the result of being listened to and affirmed by a trained volunteer, perhaps a helpline 'counselor', please share in the comments below what your experience was. (You can remain anonymous. We believe that you have an inspiring piece to share that will encourage others. Thank you!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This video really spoke to me. I have suffered spiritual abuse from my church community such that I have stopped attending. I quit because some members were no willing to listen to me. However, there have been some who have listened and some of these have also stopped attending.
Being listened to feels like you are part of a group.


Turn off the news. Throw away the newspaper. Get outside and go for a walk. Dr. Christiane Northrup said going for a walk is a perfectly acceptable form of treatment for certain types of depression!