We all need someone to talk to….

When you were a teenager you hung around with other teens. When you were newly married you hung around with newly married couples and when you had children you socialized with other new parents. The why to all of this is simply because you needed support. You needed to know what others were doing in the same situations in case they had better information or advice and you needed to know your frustrations and anxiety were not abnormal but normal.

We all need someone to talk to. When the people we talk to today have no idea about a problem or diagnosis you have just been given then you need to seek out others that do.

Doctors are fine for explaining the causes and cures for things but not so good with moral support and sometimes even worse with just listening. They usually are so busy that they don’t have time to fulfill a patient’s need to be heard.  After all sometimes just the fact that someone listens is enough to allow you to either get it off your chest or to clarify  information so you don’t feel like you are crazy.

We all feel crazy from time to time asking ourselves did I hear that correctly or did I do something wrong to end up getting this condition. When we or our parents are diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness the questions that surface are numerous and varied. Most times the best information comes from those who have navigated these grounds before you. No better place to find such individuals than at a support group.

There are support groups for just about everything. As I write this I am actively participating in a support group for older woman who are afraid to retire.  Sounds crazy? Well I thought so too but it has been significantly informative and helpful. Although I am not ready to retire yet there are many in the group who are navigating through that process and the steps they share and the work they have started to do outside of the workplace allowed them to make the transition smoothly. Watching them before it’s my time will give me an advantage when itis my time.

I used to run a support group for Cancer patients and I cannot tell you how many lifelong friendships developed from that group. Sometimes helping someone else takes your mind off your own problems. Support groups are not just about taking but giving as well. We all know how good it feels to give as opposed to taking.

I can almost guarantee there is a support group for almost any condition there is. It may not be a formal group that you attend in person but one that you sign into online. This is becoming more and more prevalent as technology savvy individuals age. If you can’t find something ask any social worker for help, they are skilled in this arena. They can talk to you about what it is you are looking for and can identify alternative type groups. For example if you are diagnosed with a devastating chronic illness where the progression is very unpleasant but there doesn’t appear to be a specific group related to that disease they may find a group of individuals who are going through traumatic health issues. The group may have a varied assortment of conditions but all with devastating outcomes.  It definitely will suite the purpose.

If you go to a support group and you don’t like it make sure you try at least going back another time or go to a different group before giving up.  Different people go at different times and from week to week the dynamic of the group can change.  Also depending on where you attend the people can vary a great deal. Some groups may have too many of one sex or not enough people that you can relate to based on educational levels  similar to yours. You must feel that the fit is right and there must be at least one person in the group that you feel comfortable talking to or feel that you can relate to.

Being new to any group takes time to feel comfortable so give it a chance and don’t just quit after going once unless you felt it had nothing to offer you. I have never started a new school, job or met new neighbors after moving where I didn’t feel awkward being the new person. Growth is awkward and after all growth is what you want. Unlike a lot of other situations everyone in the group was new to the group once and since we are dealing with adults it is rare that people are not friendly and supportive in this environment. It is called a support group for a reason.

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