Joining a MS Support Group: Why I’m Happy I Joined | MS BLOG

I wrote a few weeks ago about my initial decision to join a support group and why I sought one out.  Making that decision was a much better move than I could ever have imagined.  I have gained so much insight, found so much comfort, and made so many friends that I never would have had the opportunity to gain without a support groupIt is important to find a support group that fits you but once you find the right fit it is sure to be a life changing thing.

Pic 1 resized 600How I found my perfect match…

I wish my personal story of finding a support group offered more insight on the actual process.  For me the whole journey felt more like dumb luck than anything.  I asked my neurologist if he had any references for me and he pointed me towards the National MS Society and their resources for support.  He assured me it was a good thing to seek out and wished me the best in that venture.  I went to the website and followed the links to my local chapter and resources but for some reason I never followed through.  My best guess is that I was still nervous about the whole thing and needed a bigger and possibly more personal push in the right direction.

A few months later I was out to dinner with some friends catching them up on my current health status when one of them mentioned the upcoming Walk MS Event.  A co-worker of hers had MS and invited her to join her team for the walk which she did gladly in my honor.  I was so moved by this loving gesture of my friends that I asked to join the team as well.  The actual Walk MS event was and continues to be a great experience for me but that first walk presented me with a much greater thing.  I met some fellow young MS patients that day and started talking to them about living with this disease.  They invited me to join their monthly support group and I felt that push in the right direction I had been waiting for.

Pic 2 resized 600 Even though I was genuinely excited about joining a support group, it again took me a few months to jump into action and again I’m going to blame nerves.  After receiving a few emails from the group facilitators about upcoming meetings and finding reasons not to go, I finally ran out of excuses.  I got ready to go that afternoon before my first meeting and pumped myself up thinking that at worst I wouldn’t like it and waste a few hours but at best I could do some serious healing and maybe have some fun with this disease.  I’m happy to report that my experience has always been the best.

Why I keep coming back…

I barely spoke beyond introductions my first meeting but I quickly felt welcome.  All the members of the group were around my age. Being around the same age meant that for the most part we were all going through the same life experiences.  I remember that by luck of timing I wasn’t able to return to a meeting for a few months.  The difference in this break in action was that I wanted to go back!  I wanted to return to the group and speak up.  I’ve been a member of that group for almost four years now and I drop most things to be able to attend meetings now.  I look forward to sharing my recent experiences and concerns and enjoy helping talk people through theirs.  I have found the knowledge gained in my support groupinvaluable

 

I have said it before but can’t reiterate enough, it is so much more comforting to hear “it is going to be OK” from someone who has been down that road.  When I am feeling bad because of side effects of some treatment, it helps to hear what others have done to remedy the same ailments.  Being able to share my own experiences and offer advice to others is equally therapeutic.  I have found that often when I am talking someone through a  difficult time and offering advice, I can come to some conclusions about life of my own.  We are all young and stumbling through life so to speak so it is nice to have one another to lean on.

Pic 3 resized 600

This particular group happened to be the perfect match for me and that is why I keep coming back.  If I didn’t feel attached in some way to the people in the group there is no way I could give or gain as much as I do in the meetings.  The other thing I have learned is that attending meetings consistently makes a huge difference.  When you meet regularly with the group you can keep updated on everyone and feel more connected to their experiences.  How can you trust or care what someone has to say if you don’t know and trust them?  You can only get as much as you give in a support group and feeling connected to those around you can make all the difference in how that goes.  My experience with joining a support group has been nothing but positive.  It may be hard to take that first step in finding one or open up once you do but what you can gain is so worth it.

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