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8 Reasons to Take a Break From Your Illness Support Group

May 13, 2008
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 a 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.

Here are eight signs that you may not need a support group 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 have a solid group of people who are a good influence. Friends or family members are supportive in your efforts to live your best life possible despite having an illness.

3. You don't feel resentment, anger, or bitterness toward people who don't deal with chronic conditions. Your relationships with others aren't tainted by you comparing your abilities (or lack of) with others entering your thoughts.

4. You can have conversations with people without your illness ever entering into it. You understand that your illness is not such a vital part of who you are that you need to explain your medical history to every stranger you meet.

5. You don't gaze at others with envy. You feel you have risen above the exasperation of seeing healthy people taking their health for granted.

6. You find that sitting around talking about your illness with others at a support group is more depressing than refreshing. You leave your meetings feeling worse than when you came.

7. You are able to be a good advocate for your well-being. When you need information on symptoms or tips about living with your illness, you are equipped to find the information.

8. You have found at least one dear friend who lives with illness. Being able to talk openly with a good friend who has a realistic idea of what you are coping with can be extremely helpful in your daily living skills. You have the chance to vent or contribute ideas with another person who understands the details and "language" of illness.

If you connected with some of the examples above, it's likely that you don't really need a support group at this point in your life. But surprise! You could be an exceptional facilitator of an illness support group. All of the signs above make a simple outline for your proposal for starting up a support group.

The most thriving support groups are those which are led by people who have conquered the daily exasperation and bitterness that arise during the first years of a diagnosis. Since you have dealt with all of the emotional ups and downs, a support group of individuals still feeling under attack would benefit from your knowledge and understanding.

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.
About the Author
Instant download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from "Beyond Casseroles" by Lisa Copen when you subscribe to HopeNotes invisible illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the founder of Invisible Illness Awareness
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