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8 Secrets Why You Shouldn't Be Attending an Illness Support Group

Aug 20, 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 the question still arises. Regardless of whether you are looking for a colon cancer support group or a endometriosis support group, the real question may be, do you really need a support group at this time in your life? Many changes occur while we live decades with illness and there are seasons in our life when an illness support group may hold our very best of friends, and other times when we have no need to attend whatsoever.

Here are eight signs that you may not need a support group right now:

1. You are coping well with the day-to-day aspects of living with illness. You don't think about your illness non-stop because you're simply too busy living life.

2. You have a trustworthy group of people who influence you in positive ways. Friends or family members appreciate the magnitude of the choice you make to live your best life possible, despite your daily pain.

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 watch others with envy. You feel you have overcome any annoyances you may have previously felt toward people who have their health, but who do not seem to be appreciating it.

6. You have found that when you sit around at support group meetings talking about the highs and lows of living with illness, you rarely leave the meeting feel better. The support group you are in is more depressing than refreshing and talking about your illness doesn't seem to be helpful.

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 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
Receive 200 tips from "Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend" by Lisa Copen when you sign up for HopeNotes chronic illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the founder of Invisible Illness Awareness Week
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