Online Support Groups Work
Start writing a post
Politics

Where Do You Go For Support?

Online support groups about anything you could imagine are everywhere, but do they work?

258
Where Do You Go For Support?

Where do you go if you have questions about an illness or a child's behavior? Where do you find support if you're thinking about getting divorced? What if you have different religious views than your friends and family? What about if you thought you might have a mental illness but wanted to know more? If any of the above were true, would you search for and join an online support group?

I have been struggling with symptoms of illness I don't know much about. Gastroparesis sounds complicated and weird and the symptoms are so diverse, I just wanted to know if there were people out there, like me, who found eating to be something that was no longer able to do like the rest of the world. I had developed a complete aversion to food in a society built on the stuff.

I posted on Facebook. I posted on Twitter. I received pity and wonder and of course the expected, "I wish I didn't want to eat," but no one understood. Then I searched for gastroparesis support groups.

It wasn't too long before I found my people. Those people for whom food was a literal four-letter-word. But are support groups always supportive? I posted this question in a small fraction of the various groups I am a part of.

I was surprisingly overwhelmed with responses. It seems that the concept of having a group of people who understand an element of what we are going through, providing that much-needed empathy, is not something uncommon whatsoever.

Chelsea shared a life-changing experience with me, "My son was 6 months old. He'd just been diagnosed with left hemiplegia. I found the children's hemiplegia and stroke association parent support group... and the welcoming presence and advice and support... it was just amazing to know I wasn't alone and I wasn't crazy for thinking something was wrong to begin with. Most of the people in my life said I was being paranoid... that he was just gonna be slow on milestones and he was lazy. Turns out he had a stroke in utero."

Amy shared this, "We have found comfort but we have also been confused and scared by the support groups when the beliefs of the group go against what the therapist says and does," illustrating an important caution. We must take what we need and learn not to allow the views of other laypeople overwhelm professional opinions.

I found that I wasn't the only person who belonged to multiple groups for multiple types of support. Chris shared, "I am a part of a homeless group, an addiction group, an anxiety group and some hobby or for fun groups...any time u can connect with others that feel the same as you it is empowering."

In the case of Stacy, a person with a condition she didn't know anyone else with, she found, "it's helpful to talk to others with similar experiences."

Support groups not only work to help people get that much-needed connection but in some instances, they can assist with a diagnosis by making the patient and their family more aware of what are symptoms and what are not. Cryss shared, "I actually began to learn the names of certain maladies, such as Allodynia, and Fibro Fog. Before long, I was in tears. It wasn't just me. I wasn't "crazy". I wasn't alone. It later prompted me to begin a YouTube channel called Cryss' Fibro Chronicles."

Another thing a support group can effectively do, is connect people with resources. I found this out while I was living in a car. I became a member of a support group that a man named Mark Horvath, from Invisible People, runs for homeless people called, "We Are Visible." I'm not the only person that group has helped, Mark shared a story with me about another, "A homeless mom with six kids in desperation posted her first live FB video to this group. This one still blows me away https://www.patreon.com/posts/homeless-woman-11789765."

Whether you are in need of resources, a diagnosis, or just someone to bitch to about your kid climbing the walls or your puppy chewing your carpets, there is someone out there who has experienced the same thing. The overwhelming consensus is that support groups work. So the next time you are struggling with a new diagnosis from your doctor or perhaps a child who just won't sit still. Search for a group to share your struggles in...there are other people out there just like you waiting to share something with you that they wish someone would have shared with them.



Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Ready or not, here come the holidays, friends, and if you're as obsessed with the spirit of the season as I am, you are much more ready than not. Thanks to Hallmark Channel's Monopoly game making it possible to celebrate all year long, you can be ready now, too!

Keep Reading... Show less
Stephanie Tango

The pandemic has been in our world for more than half of 2020 and people are still acting stupid. If anything, they're getting stupider. They think that the virus is gone. It's not. Stop going to frat parties. Stop trying to go places without a mask. I wish things were normal, too. They're not.

Keep Reading... Show less
Kai Parlett

In the summer of 2017, 20 type 1 diabetics completed a 10-week 4,000+ mile bike ride from New York to California. They biked against the advice of doctors, family, and friends. Many were skeptical that people with diabetes could complete such a physically challenging trip without putting themselves in danger due to their disease.

Keep Reading... Show less

That's right, you heard that correctly: Demi Lovato and Max Ehrich called off their engagement after the couple originally announced their engagement in July after beginning to date in March.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

Demi Lovato's Called-Off Engagement Reminds Us Of The Importance Of Taking Our Time In Relationships

While this may be another hardship she sadly has to endure, I know she will find a way to inspire and help others through it.

6345

I am heartbroken.

Keep Reading... Show less

We all love a good ol' sappy Christmas movie and this year, the Hallmark Channel is finally giving us what we want: diversity.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Seasonal Depression Is Real And It Deserves Our Attention

Check in on your friends throughout the winter season, it can be brutal.

446

As we transition seasons and enter the last few months of the year, some are feeling grand about this natural shift. But that doesn't mean everyone is thrilled that the weather is cooling down — it's important to extend your knowledge to the phenomenon that is seasonal depression.

The lack of sunlight during the later seasons of the year, beginning with autumn, triggers a state of depression for about 15% of the population. This results in the lack of serotonin provided by the sun, causing it to be hard for some to do a lot of the things that would normally be deemed simple tasks to do during the earlier times in the year like getting out of bed, showering, going to work/school, etc. A major difference is an intense need for sleep similar to a hibernation effect.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

September Is Suicide Awareness Month, But Mental H​ealth Is An Everyday Discussion

Mental illnesses deserve our attention 365 days a year.

1306

September is Suicide Awareness Month, providing an opportunity to raise awareness, further educate yourself, and remember the reality that mental illnesses present. Yet it's critical to understand that suicide awareness is not an annual Instagram hashtag to use and forget. Actively advocating for mental health resources, progress in education, and a broken stigma is an everyday ask — an activity that we can each participate in.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments