Below is a blog post I wrote to promote my RA support group on a local blogger's website. Go to Kimberly Hartke's blog to see the original post!
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Diabetes…what these diseases all have in common is that they are autoimmune diseases.
Today, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, approximately 50 million, or 20 percent, of Americans suffer from autoimmunity. So, how many of you reading this have an autoimmune disease? Or a “my immune system has no idea what theheck it’s doing disease,” which is what I like to call it sometimes, exceptthat I don’t use the word heck… I bet a few of you reading this have been diagnosed with one, and if you haven’t, you probably know someone who has one.
The truth is that these diseases are often pushed out of the media’s and the public’s attention because they don’t pose enough of an immediate threat to the life. Not enough people die from autoimmunity to make it a bigger issue than cancer. As a result, a lot of people are out there, in constant pain, depression, and frustration, without any support. I say this has to end!
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was eleven, and I’ve been on my own since then to navigate the emotional side effects. My parents and siblings have always been there to be on the receiving end of nasty emotional outbursts, whether it be a few hours of tears, or a short temper, or a bout of bitchiness (my specialty), but how much can they take? And, how much of what I have to dish out can they really understand and help me cope with? What I really needed, along with a good punching bag, was a friend who was going through it too. No one can understand the emotional repercussions of the never-ending pain that these diseases cause.
Because I don’t believe that anyone should have to go through it alone, I’m starting up a support group. The official name of the group is The Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group. The name derives from my own diagnosis, but it is a group for anyone dealing with a life-altering and physically or emotionally disabling autoimmune disease. Friends and family of those dealing with it are welcome.
For the first meeting, I am inviting members to my home on September 12, 2009 at 1pm. Come hungry because I will be making some nutritious snacks for us to enjoy while we sit around in comfy chairs and talk about our experiences and what we’ve done to try to ease our troubles. I will personally have a few laughs and advice that I’ve gleaned from friends with RA, and a local nutritionist will be there to talk a little bit about changes you can make in your diet to reduce inflammation and pain. We will also talk about what we want this group to be.
You can find more information about the group at http://rasupport.wordpress.com and you can sign up for the group and view the calendar of events at www.meetup.com/gfarthritis. If you or anyone you know needs support, please refer them to these sites, it may make their world a little less unbearable.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I offer it for anyone to vent, ask questions, and find support. You can also visit my personal blog at http://thetruthaboutjra.blogspot.com for more information on me and JRA!