When I was working full time, my job was 75 miles away from my home in Delaware. Because I was unable to manage that commute, I found a place to stay during the week that was only seven miles from the office. It was my home during the week and on weekends when I was too tired or ill to drive back home.
While I was there, I found an MS support group in Bowie-Crofton (Maryland) that has been a very successful support group for about 20 years. It was (and still is) a large group with a newsletter, lending library, interesting guest speakers, holiday parties, and nice people to talk to. I found comfort and support from that group, and was introduced to organizations and local resources that helped me obtain work place accommodations and counseling.
Now that I have stopped working and am back in Delaware, I’m able to explore the local MS support groups and resources. Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Main Street Circle of Friends support group in Newark. This group is fairly new so is not as well established as the Maryland group. Although there were only four other people there last night, I found a lot of comfort from the personal discussions.
Now that I have experienced two very different support groups, I have discovered that the end result is the same: I feel understood.
There is a lot of positive power in that statement for me. Having an invisible illness that I, myself, can’t explain, it is comforting to spend time in a room with people who can joke about fatigue, memory loss, bladder control problems, and lack of coordination while at the same time cry together about the loss of personal control over our lives and the impact on our families and friends.
For that hour or two, I can put my guard down.
I can complain, I can exclaim, I can be myself, warts and all. It also gives me an opportunity to reach out and help some one else. By just exchanging our stories, we connect, we learn, we heal.
Support groups are not right for everyone. But they are for me.