8 Reasons to Take a Break From Your Illness Support Group
by Lisa Copen
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When the diagnosis of an illness arrives, it's very common for everyone, including your doctor, to recommend a support group. Studies have shown that support groups are in fact very beneficial and can impact how well a person copes with his or her illness. However, it's not uncommon for people with illness to have no desire to attend a support group. Just as with any kind of group, there are some support groups you will connect with well and others that you will not. Don't conclude all support groups are the same; just because one doesn't seem like a refreshing place to be, doesn't mean there aren't any groups for you.
But do you really need a support group right now? Whether you are looking for a amyloidosis support group or a diabetes online support group, just as there are many changes that happen to our bodies while living with chronic illness, there are seasons in our life when a support group may be our lifeline and other times when we feel we simply don't have the need.
Below are eight signs that a support group may be something you do not need right now:
1. You are handling the day-to-day aspects of living with illness with ease. You don't even have time to analyze how you are coping with your illness because you're simply too busy living life.
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 experience feelings of anger, bitterness or resentment towards healthy people -- at least on a regular basis. You can have relationships with people with comparison of your abilities (or lack of) ever entering your thoughts.
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 confident in how you are able to be a good advocate for your health and illness. When more information about symptoms or tips about living with your illness are needed, you believe you are well prepared to do the research.
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 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 successful support groups are those led by people who have overcome the daily aggravations and animosities that occur during the first years of being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Since you have coped with the initial rollercoaster of emotions and have survived, a support group of people still struggling with them would benefit from your experience and expertise.
If leading a support group does not seem to be part of your calling, that's a typical reaction! Go enjoy other activities you feel passionate about. And don't forget that there are amazing people in support groups who will be there when you feel you need them.
Get a free download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from "Beyond Casseroles" by Lisa Copen when you signup for HopeNotes invisible illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the coordinator of Invisible Illness Awareness
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Lisa, this is so true. I had to quit going to my IH support group website because it was so full of angry, depressed people. I still go occassionally to ask a question and its nice to know its there but I prefer other ways to get help, tho. How do you not let your illness define your life, tho? That is my question. Thanks for sharing this article;) Laury