When you've got a chronic illness, support groups can be a godsend. There's a community of people who are struggling with the same issues that you are. They're up at weird hours of the night, just like you. They've been through the same tests, the same fears and frustrations. And you realize that you're not alone.
Sometimes these people have helpful information to offer you - therapies you've never heard of. Things you've never tried before. They can answer questions you might have, such as what their experience with a particular drug or therapy has been....whether there are side effects, etc.
But there's a few downsides to these groups, and here's what I've seen:
People can lash out at others who offer suggestions which go against what their experience has been. I've been told that what I've posted is "pure rubbish"....and then it went on from there, wishing that anyone who thought the way I do should experience horrible pain inflicted in a really gruesome way.
The other biggest downside to these groups is that people post detailed accounts of their suffering, day after day. And there are thousands of people in these groups, and they post their stories day after day after day..... It's almost like the wagon trains that rolled westward in the old days. They followed the same route - hundreds of wagons, traveling across the same land - and to this day you can see the ruts they left in the rocks they crossed over two hundred years ago.
This is what happens to your brain when you read the details of someone's pain....when you keep feeding your brain with stories of pain....pain.....pain.....every day.....it supports your brain in focusing on the messages of pain. It lays down "tracks"....it leaves it's marks in your brain.
Am I suggesting that you "ignore" it? Pretend it isn't there? No. You already do that anyway, so I'm not trying to add to the mask you already wear. What I am saying, my friend, is that you're so much more than your pain! You are also your love....you are your compassion for others....you are the vitality...the alive-ness inside of you. You are your breath....your ability to listen to the birds sing..... so much more than the state of your body.
So what do you want to focus on....the things that bring you down into the darkness of a diagnosis, or lift your spirits up? It's your choice. Just remember that whatever you choose, there's a consequence to that choice. Every choice takes you down a path. Which path do you want to follow?
I'm developing a webinar for people with chronic pain. If you'd be interested in it, scroll down and leave a comment, Or you can click here. You'll be asked for your email address, AND you'll get my free guide to the 3 Biggest Mistakes that people with chronic pain make. I'd also love to hear from you about your experience with online support groups. Good? Bad? Neutral? Scroll down and leave a comment and let me know. Thanks!