I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile now. As a person-in-recovery (PIR; a term I learned working with this organisation) working with Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), I have learned many things.
A little background about CAL:
CAL is an organisation devoted to supporting caregivers of those with psychiatric conditions (we prefer to refer to them as brain disorders though). While it’s a rather new organisation, it has already reached out to hundreds in Singapore. Apart from providing lessons for caregivers, CAL also offers free counselling services and introduces caregivers to support groups.
A colleague of the boyfriend introduced said lessons to him. The caregiver-to-caregiver class (C2C) is, as its name implies, conducted by caregivers for caregivers. Well, it’s mostly conducted by caregivers. There are some PIR trainers as well. I got the opportunity to work with a fellow PIR when I first started working with CAL as a support leader for a class.
After the twelve sessions of C2C, the boyfriend and I attended two courses – one to be a Certified Care Support Specialist, and one to be a trainer. We have just finished our first class as volunteers, and I have to say that I have learned a lot from both the classes I’ve attended.
Here are some of them:
- The things that people don’t tell sick people
You’re right – you cause misery. But you are a teacher and you cause a lot growth. Apart from having to learn skills – skills that can be applied to help others in the future – your caregivers also learn more about themselves. They realise their potential, and this in turn affects their self concept as they see how strong they really are.
- Suffering brings people together (and that’s a good thing)
The members of the classes stick together and remain in contact after the lessons are over. They’re still there to support each other, which is brilliant. I have to say that I truly underestimated the power of support. From the very first lesson, it dawns upon the members that they are not alone, and this is a great source of strength for them. Apart from just supporting each other, and apart from bonding over misery, they are able to become friends that laugh together and have fun together. It definitely isn’t easy to find such good friends that you can count on no matter the situation.
- Supportive relationships care not about religion
There are members of different faiths in the classes. Yet, they are still able to get along well. What’s even more amazing is that they are able to share religious scriptures with each other, and they encourage each other to fall back on faith.
- I help caregivers, and caregivers help me
I try my best to help the caregivers, and they have helped me a lot, whether they realise it or not. The more I tell my story, the more I realise how far I have come. The more I hear of their tribulations, the more I realise how much those who love me are willing to go through for me (and how much effort of those who love me I’d be wasting if I let my illness win).
- Love conquers
Okay, I suppose this sounds cheesy. A member of the group stressed on this, and throughout the twelve sessions, I’ve come to realise how true it actually is. This member, whose name I shall not disclose, could very well leave his wife at any time. But no, he chooses to stick by her side. He does what is best for her, even if it means quarreling with his relatives. There are several similar cases in the class. Then, there are those who know of their loved one’s condition before marriage. Still, they choose to stay, knowing full well what they’re getting themselves into¹.
These are just a few of the lessons I have learned. There are many more, and I’m sure that there are many more to come.
Just a shout out to the counsellor for the two C2C classes – Judy has been extremely supportive, and she has made the challenges of working as a PIR a lot easier on me (and the boyfriend).
¹Another shout out to the boyfriend for getting together with me, knowing what you’d be getting yourself into (albeit perhaps not the full extent), and staying with me for so long.