Whether you live with family or live on your own having a support network is one of the key ingredients to living with a long-term or chronic illness. There are different types of support that can make up your support network and each type is just as important. There is practical support, which helps you with your day to day activities such as grocery shopping, cleaning your house or driving a car. The second type of support is companionship. Someone to watch a movie with or to sit and talk with can help take your mind off of your suffering. The third type of support is that of acceptance, accept the fact that you need support to get through your illness. Going through this journey alone can be extremely difficult. The final type of support is that of understanding, the sense that others know what you are going through.
Different people will fill different voids in your support network. The key is to match the right person with the right type of support. It is recommended that you have at least 5 people in your support network so that one person does not become overburdened covering all your needs.
A support network can also consist of a support forum or group to which you belong. Support groups and classes are a way to meet fellow patients and also provide you with information on treatment and doctors in your area. Just as it is important to find the right people to be a part of your support network, it is also important to find the right support group. Unfortunately, some groups can be negative in tone and spend time focusing on being the victim of your illness. Some groups can be dominated by one or a few people and not allow others to express themselves.
When choosing a group, you want one that includes everyone and asks for participation from each group member. A helpful group is one in which you feel a sense of belonging, that gives you something to take home with inspiration or practical tips and a group that models living successfully with your illness. Make sure to evaluate the support group based on the effect it has on you.
The definition of the word “support” as a verb is “bear all or part of the weight of; hold up”. A support network should be beneficial to you. Your support network is unique and only you can decide what works best. You might find the need to change pieces of your support group depending on where you are in your journey. Remember this is your support group and the support is there for you.
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