A sliver of a sliver
A 'sliver of a sliver' is a quotation from Verne Harris who writes about power, memory and archives in the context of South Africa. Seeing this contribution as a 'sliver of a sliver' is a perfect summary of what I feel I have represented here through my narrative. It is a sliver of the whole context for the mental health recovery archive as it comes only from me, and it is a sliver of that sliver because it cannot capture the whole of my perspective. The multiple, rich, complex and changing nature of my contextual reality does not fit on these pages, it cannot be expressed, I cannot grasp it all, and I cannot represent it.
Of the parts I have grasped; the parts I am conscious of; the parts that I have churned through my thoughts; I choose which to communicate here and what to leave unrecorded. Archivists call this selection process 'appraisal'. So here is an acknowledgement that I have appraised my own narrative and selectively represent it here.
In my personal motivations I have not communicated about how lived experience of mental health is woven and embedded in my family background and current family situation. I know the experience of living closely with others who have struggled to find mental health is as much a motivation and an influence as my own experience of post-natal depression. Yet I haven't written and acknowledged it beyond this passing statement here. Why not? Because who controls the story is important, and I do not feel I have the right to express it here.
Although I have left out some things that could be said because they seem peripheral to me, and some parts because they are still too vague for me to communicate, it is the negotiation between private and public that has been most influential in my selection. The extent to which I see something as personal to me or someone else has helped me to decide how to write.
I will end my narrative by re-stating my belief that capturing context is important, it can enrich understanding and helps us to make connections, but that it comes with a caveat - a captured representation of context is only ever a 'sliver of a sliver'.