December 21 will always hold special significance for me.
As much as I try not to think about it, every year it creeps up on me. Some years, it has taken me to dark places. Some years, I’ve been able to see the growth.
This is one of those years where I’ve gained a new perspective on the night of December 21, 2009.
I’ve shared my story before. December 21, 2009 is the day I entered long-term recovery.
A lot’s happenened since then!
This year, a new federal hotline service went into effect in Indiana. It’s called 988, as a phone call or a text.
“…Every person in every community nationwide can dial “988” to reach trained crisis counselors who can help in a mental health, substance use or suicide crisis.
988 is the first step in reimagining our crisis response, but there’s more work to do to ensure everyone receives the help they need — and deserve — in a crisis.” ~ NAMINational Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 988: Reimagining Crisis Response
988 vs 911
With the new service, I reimagined by own crisis situation back in 2009. What if I had been able to call 988 instead of 911?
Chances are they wouldn’t have sent the police, because I had called in an overdose and failed suicide attempt. What I needed was help. What I got was help – and an arrest 90 days later, just as I was just finishing my extended treatment at Fairbanks. With that arrest, my 19-year corporate career ended in me being fired. I lost my house. I was awarded and lost a plea bargain that could have reduced the charges to a misdemeanor. But early recovery was difficult messy and I failed a required drug test. Until recently, I had two felony charges on my record stemming back to that phone call.
I don’t sit in this awareness and wallow in self-pity. I’m glad with where my life is today. I’ve since been able to expunge my felony arrest record, which means I don’t have any more barriers to getting housing or employment. I can’t travel to Canada though – or at least I don’t think I can based on what I’ve read.
In general and thankfully, I’ve been able to land on my feet. I am self-employed, thriving as an artist and photographer, and have stable housing & transportation.
Even though I’ve suffered great losses and pain, I’m grateful to be thriving in my 50’s as an artist.
But it does demonstrate why this new 988 matters. How many lives can be salvaged, not torn apart by piling legal consequences on top of someone in crisis?
That could have been me…
It’s like the joke about what happens when you play a country & western song backwards?
You get your spouse back, your job back, you stop drinking.
Quite literally, I could have gotten the help to stop my using WITHOUT an arrest. In the long term of recovery, that would have been pretty useful.
Call or Text 988 if in crisis
So next time you or someone you know is in crisis, consider calling or texting 988 instead of involving the police via 911.
More about 988: NAMI’s Committment
NAMI is committed to advancing efforts to reimagine crisis response in our country. We believe that every person in crisis, and their families, should receive a humane response that treats them with dignity and connects them to appropriate and timely care. NAMI is calling for a standard of care for crisis services in every community that includes — 24/7 call centers that answer 988 calls locally, mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization programs — that end the revolving door of ER visits, arrests, incarceration and homelessness.NAMI Website
Keep tellin’ the story,
Thanks for listening
Professor Peacock III