Inside the Life of an IMAlive Volunteer

Sandy
from Illinois

More of us have been personally touched by suicide than we’d like to admit. I went back to school in my early 30s and became close with a classmate who later died by suicide due to a long battle with mental illness. It came shortly after a roller derby teammate of mine lost a battle to postpartum depression. Having faced my own challenges in my younger years and knowing the pain one can face from long, dark bouts of depression, I felt the best way for me to cope with the grief and turn a devastating loss into positive and meaningful energy was to find a way to help others struggling with the same challenges. I signed up to volunteer with IMAlive last summer and have found it to be an immensely rewarding and eye-opening experience.

While volunteering for a crisis hotline is challenging sometimes, it is such an invaluable tool to develop deep listening skills and an ability to conduct difficult conversations. Nothing has taught me to be in the moment and steady myself like this work has. It’s changed my life as much as it’s changed our users’ lives.

You wonder what I do when I am not responding to crisis chats? I’m very active and enjoy a number of adventure sports, most notably skydiving, aerial silks, and indoor rock climbing. I work as a software developer in downtown Chicago. I am just trying to live life to the fullest and experience as much of it as I can while connecting with others and trying to bring a smile and a different perspective to everyone I meet.

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