I created the group I was talking about in my last post. It’s for everyone who is in need of support while looking after someone going through either CAMHS or adult mental health services.
If you would like to join the group, you can search CAMHS and Mental Health Services Support Group on Facebook, or access the link here.
I don’t believe in a lot of rules. There are enough things to remember every day without that. I do however, believe in kindness. So that’s the watchword if you’d like to join.
Everyone’s experience is unique to them. Everyone deserves to be listened to. Everyone in the group is as important as everyone else. I have made it a group rather than a page, so that we can, hopefully, form a proper community.
At the moment there are only two or three of us posting and commenting. That’s not because we’re the best ones, it’s because everyone can post/comment/lurk/read according to what they’re most comfortable with. Obviously it would be great if you joined and felt like jumping in from the get go, but not everyone does, and that’s absolutely fine. Do what works best for you.
I posted this update, earlier today. It gets to the heart of how I hope we can use the group going forwards:
Many years ago I married a man who was an alcoholic. After 12 months of being married he started to get sober using a 12 step programme. I found it incredibly difficult to live with him while he was getting sober, and I had problems of my own to deal with. I ended up going to an Al-Anon meeting. For those of you who are not aware of this programme. Al-Anon is a partner fellowship which works to support families and partners of those with alcohol addiction (and other addictions actually. It’s a broad church). It uses the same twelve steps as AA but with relation to co-dependency.
It saved me, and my marriage (for the next nine years). It taught me self care, compassion and how to put the focus back on me, while still being able to love and support someone in crisis. It has been the bedrock of how I have been able to cope with a teen with mental health needs.
There were a few things that really stuck out for me about those meetings that I wanted to highlight for this group. Firstly that not everyone talked about their addict or their relationship with the addict. In fact, what made me finally go was losing a baby, and not having anywhere else to take my feelings of grief. I was able to share my experiences, get things off my chest and find enough peace to process what I needed.
The group is there for you, not you as a shadow of the person who brought you there in the first place.
Secondly, it was the first place I had ever gone where I felt genuinely listened to. There are only a few rules to the groups, but one is that when someone is speaking, they hold the floor and nobody can interrupt. Similarly they ask that nobody gives anyone else advice or feedback other than thanks during the meeting. The space is for you, and you can say whatever you want without fear of judgement.
Thirdly it was the first place I had ever gone in a therapeutic sense where I didn’t feel broken and that I needed someone to fix me. Because of the support, the listening, the safe, confidential nature of the space, I could say what I wanted, knowing it was ok, and that was when I first started to realise that I would be ok.
I’d like this space to be like that for everyone here. I can’t wave a magic wand and make it ok for you to trust this space or feel good about sharing, but I can offer it. I can suggest that if you want to just post about your feelings and you don’t want anyone to comment or offer advice, to please say so in the post and we will respect that. I can let you all know that every single one of us is doing the best we can right now, and that’s good enough for today.
I’d ask that you please respect the confidentiality of the group members, if you do decide to join. I’m perfectly happy blurting my business all over the internet, but not everyone is, and nor should they have to be. There is also the added issue that it is important to respect the confidentiality of those people we care for too.
I hope you come, and I hope you find comfort. Actually, my biggest hope is that you never need to come, but if you do, the door is open.