Chronic pain is an often times invisible illness that can make it incredibly difficult to connect with others, especially with those who may not truly understand what you’re experiencing. If you have chronic pain or a chronic illness, there are times when you might feel alone, depressed, or misunderstood. Maybe you’ve been accused of being overly dramatic, or “faking it” when you don’t feel well. This can be extremely upsetting.
You know that you’re in pain and/or sick, but no one else seems to get it including possibly your own family, spouse, or health care provider.
In this case, where can you turn for support, if the people who know you best have let you down? You can go to a traditional in person support group or you can join a free online support group. According to the Pew Peer-to-peer Healthcare report of 2011, approximately 23% of internet users living with a chronic condition report going online to find out how others copy and manage. As of 2012, there were at least 138,000 different online patient and caregiver groups in Yahoo’s “Health and Wellness” category alone.
What’s the point of a support group?
A support group may turn into the family you always wish you had: kind, supportive, and helpful. The best feature of any support group is the overall understanding of your situation. After all, these men and women walk in your shoes every day, with many of the same problems and frustrations. So, what are the main benefits of participating in an online support community?
The bottom line? Nothing feels better than finally hearing someone say, “that happens to me too and I know exactly what you’re going through.” A good support group will help you feel understood and valued.
What should you look for?
When you first join an online support group, it can be tempting to jump right in and start posting messages, but it’s best to sit back for a few days first and see how the group works. For example:
There are some other issued to watch out for, too:
Should you start your own group?
If you have a rare disease that doesn’t have many online support groups available, you might want to start your own. You’ll have a chance to make a big difference in the lives of other people, but you shouldn’t take this responsibility lightly. It takes work and a real time commitment to create a group and keep it running. There are websites that can give you detailed instruction; some links are at the end of this article. If you have a health issue that’s pretty common (like “chronic pain”), it might not make sense to add a new group to the growing stack. Try searching for a group that suits your needs; you can sort the groups by the number of members or how long each group has been around.
Support group links
Below are some support groups that you can look into and use for a great starting place. Happy networking!
The American Chronic Pain Association
Patients Like Me
Don’t let chronic pain steal another day! Call Dr. Adrian C. Dumitru, he’s a board certified and fellowship trained pain management specialist. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment please call (713) 461-8555 or visit www.houstonpainservices.com