8 Secrets Why You Shouldn't Be Attending an Illness Support Group
Posted Apr 28 2010 8:28pm
8 Secrets Why You Shouldn't Be Attending an Illness Support Group by Lisa Copen
Upon the diagnosis of an illness everyone, including your doctor, likely tells you to go to a support group. Research has shown that support groups can be extremely helpful in how one copes with disease. And yet, not everyone finds a group to be the answer to the kind of support for which they are searching. Like any kind of group, there are some support groups you will "click" with and others you will not. So don't rule out all support groups just because one doesn't seem like a good fit.
But is a support group really necessary right now? Whether you are looking for an amyloidosis support group in New York City or an Aspergers support group in Dallas, the real question may be, is this a season in your life when you need the support that a small group offers? Just as changes occur while we living with illness for decades there are seasons in our life when an illness support group may be where we find our very best friends; Other times it may feel like we have no desire, or even need, to attend.
Below are eight signs that a support group may be something you do not need right now:
1. You are managing your illness on a daily basis without any trouble. In fact, you are so busy with other things going on in your life, you don't really have time to analyze just how well you are coping with illness.
2. You are surrounded by a group of people like friends or family members who are a good influence on you. They understand that you are making a choice to live the best you can despite your daily pain and they can appreciate that.
3. You don't feel anger, bitterness or resentment toward people who are physically healthy. You are able to have relationships without comparing your abilities (or lack of) to others.
4. You easily carry on conversations with people without ever bringing up the topic of your illness. You don't believe that your illness is such a fundamental part of who you are that it's necessary to describe your medical challenges to total strangers.
5. You don't look at others with envy. You've gotten past the frustration of seeing healthy people not appreciate their health.
6. You have discovered that sitting around at a support group and talking about your illness is more emotionally draining than helpful. You are in a place emotionally where you don't find the need to talk about your illness that often.
7. You feel comfortable researching symptoms or making calls to find the information you need in order to be a good advocate for your health and illness.
8. You have formed a friendship with at least one other person who has an illness. It's important for you to have someone with whom you can vent openly and share your vulnerabilities with in regard to how you live and cope with illness. And contributing your own ideas with another person who understands the details and "language" of illness will be helpful too.
If some of the examples above sounded like a description of where you are at with support groups, it's likely you don't really need a support group right now in order to live emotionally healthy with a chronic illness. However, you may be surprised to find that you could be an excellent leader of an illness support group. All of the statements above can be an easy way to create a proposal for starting up a support group.
The best support groups are often led by people who have overcome the daily frustrations and bitterness that accompany illness during the first years of diagnosis. The fact that you are past the initial roller coaster of emotions would greatly benefit a group of people still struggling with them.
If the idea of leading a support group doesn't sound appealing right now, that's fine too! Go have fun with any activity you feel passionate about. Just remember, there are remarkable people in support groups who will be there to offer comfort when you find you need it.