We are all at different stages in our recovery. And we are all under stress. For many of us, it’s so much stress that an outsider would wonder how on earth we manage to carry on.

I suppose I am fortunate, in one way. My loved one died ten years ago, and it’s twelve years since I had to remove him from our family because he put all our lives at risk. I started coming to Peer Support because I’m in a good space in my life now, and I want to be supportive to others who are going through the nightmares I’ve endured.

But the lessons in recovery never end. This month I arrived late, stressed and anxious, and I was eager to offload when my turn came. And when I’d finished speaking, I realised that my reactions to the difficult situation I’d put myself in were really reactions to events from long ago. My viewpoint shifted and I could feel empathy with the other person involved.

As we went round the circle, the sharing reached a depth that was truly humbling. We were all held and supported by the format – no judging, no interrupting – and able to speak the truth about our lives and our feelings in a way that would be impossible in our daily lives.

After wards we have tea and coffee and yummy cakes and can chat and laugh again, and carry on with our lives and struggles knowing we are not alone. We are heard. We are understood by others who have similar experiences. We are supported, and we can support others. Mutual aid – peer support – call it what you will. It works.