I speak a lot about the benefits of support groups following the diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness. What we should remember that the key is the word “group”. There’s a website, www.meetup.com, that has lists of groups in your area that meet socially for a host of topics and activities. I’m a big proponent of this group because social connections can be as important as medical treatment in the holistic spectrum of things.
Last night I attended a men’s group in the Denver area. The group has been meeting regularly for the past 35 years, and only recently was it added to Meetup. I was surprised to see over 20 men in attendance. The group was quite diverse in age, ethnicity, and I’m assuming religious/spiritual beliefs. This group meets weekly so there’s an opportunity to connect with these individuals on a regular basis, giving me the opportunity to make friends, and develop a support network.
While I was sitting in the circle listening to people sharing it occurred to me that we really all are on a continuum on each and every issue. If you’re attending a support group focusing on people who have the same diagnosis as you do remember that people will be on a continuum; everyone won’t be at the same place at the same time.
In a support group meeting there will be those who are healthier than you, and some who are sicker than you. You’ll find some people who have fully integrated their diagnosis into their lives and those who are still having a pity party and are very angry. Sitting in the rooms you’ll experience some people who make connections and depend on those connections between meetings, and others who are satisfied to interact during the group but don’t want to integrate the group into their life outside the group.
Why do I heed this warning? Because as I sat in the group last night I could have easily decided not to return because I felt I was ahead of the pack (I’ve spent the past 25 years on self-development, spiritual development, and lots of therapy). All it takes is one person with one nugget to make the experience worthwhile.
I’ll go back again and will see what other nuggets I can take away from the group and what new friendships I can develop. I’d love to hear about your group experience. If you share your group experiences it may help those who are still a bit leery about joining a support group.
For more information you can check out the website, www.survivingstrong.com