Support can be one of the most important pieces of our lives, in basically anything and everything we do. We get support from our friends and family, we get support from doctors and medical professionals for our healthcare needs, and of course there are support groups for pretty much anything you can think of. The most well-known support groups are those like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), groups for parents of children with disabilities, and grief support groups. With the changing world we live in, and all of the amazing technology right at our fingertips 24/7, it should come as no surprise that you can find support both in person and online.
Everyone has different needs when they go in search of support, and as every person is different, it’s great that there are so many avenues to find what you need. Often, people are uncomfortable with the idea of in-person support groups, because you are forced to show up somewhere and talk with a group of strangers about your problems openly. Online support offers significant advantages for people who feel this way, as there is a level of anonymity with talking through the web. Another advantage to online support groups and sites are that you can go anytime, and talk with people from all over the world, whom you probably would never have had the opportunity to connect with otherwise. I know that in my involvement volunteering with MS World, I have met people from around the country, and the world, who understand what I live with daily, and have grown to not only be some of the best support out there, but have become some of my very best friends.
Online support can come in a variety of formats. There are online chat rooms, set up specifically for you to talk with others in real time. There are also message boards and sites where you can post questions, get answers, read threads written about a wide variety of subjects, and so much more! I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have all of these resources at my fingertips, just a click away. It’s nice to have the chat rooms where you can go and ask others questions, talk about what symptoms you experience and find out if others deal with the same things. Often a chat room is a great place to discuss ways to ease our symptoms with others who have dealt with something very similar, and a lot of the time you get ideas for home remedies that you may not have thought of previously. I find that hearing about other’s experiences helps me feel like I’m not alone and that there are other people who understand some of my daily struggles.
For some people, in-person support groups are the best option. They feel more connected to those who they are speaking with and feel like they can share more face to face than over an anonymous internet chat room or message board. I understand the feeling, though I don’t feel like I’ve ever found the ‘right’ support group for me. I think it takes the right group of people, the right timing in your life and situation and the right mediation of the group. It’s great that there are different options for all different styles of support, and that means that there is something for everyone out there. No matter what method you find works best for you, it’s good to have people to talk to, who understand you and listen to you. It’s also good to listen to others and share your experiences and advice. Whatever avenue(s) you use for giving and receiving support, know that there are lots of options and you can always change what you’re doing if you are not finding your current situation is satisfying your needs. Support is a basic human need, and helps a great deal if you have something bigger than you feel you can deal with alone, MS or otherwise.