Yet another Caregiver-to-Caregiver (C2C) class is coming to an end, and it truly is bittersweet. I quickly bonded with class members, many of whom were parents. I learned a lot more about their tribulations and their journey as both a parent and a caregiver. Unexpectedly, I learned so much about myself, which I never would’ve learned otherwise. Some see it as a sensitive topic when they want to ask about my experience with mental illness, but honestly, I like it. Apart from just offering a different perspective, sharing with them my experience and answering questions forces me to reflect on my past. Moving on, these are the two most important things I have learned:
1. “Recovery is like a marriage”
My understanding of the concept of recovery is similar to a particular member of the class. I was never able to put it into words, but she did it brilliantly – recovery is a commitment, not a stage in life or an end goal like a lot of people believe it to be. I shan’t speak too much of it since it isn’t my idea, but I’ll talk to her and see if she’d like to add on.
2. I’m a traitor, but it’s okay
A few times during class, I have started sentences with, “Me seven years ago would hate me for telling you this”. In the past, I never would’ve thought I’d be where I am today, saying these things. Not because I didn’t think I’d be able to go so far, but because I didn’t think I’d be able to sink that low and commit such acts of betrayal.
In the past, I had a soft toy which I cut a small slit in to hide my blades. I had a false base in a box to stash blades. I was part of an exclusive community of self-harmers on the Internet, where all my people were. We tried to help each other but often ended up sinking together. All it would take is one member to fall and, because we’re all holding hands, we’d fall together.
Today, I’m speaking to caregivers and revealing the “trade secrets“. I’m sharing potential hiding spots and signs to look out for. I tell them about the existence and possible dangers of the self-harm community. Everything I’m doing today betrays the secret community I once sought refuge in; it violates all the rules within the community. It’s definitely disloyal to act as such, and I sometimes question whether or not I should be doing this at all, but I know it should be done.
First published 25/07/17 on The Mental Health Repository