A warning to those who participate in support groups: They’re both wonderful and terrifying!
In these groups, you’ll meet people who share your disease. You’ll see how strong they are, how resilient they are, and how weak they are. You’ll see people live with your shared disease…. and die from it. You’ll see the obstacles they overcome, but also how terrifying those obstacles are.
The support groups will show you just how bad your disease can get. They’ll surround you even more with the reality of what it’s like to live with your disease. You’ll have your own medical appointments, tests, hospital stays, visits to the ER… but then you also get to see everyone else’s as well. Not only are you living with your illness, but also the illness of those you support.
These groups offer so many benefits, but they come at a price. They are an amazing thing to be apart of. It’s truly wonderful to be connected to people who know what you’re going through. You can get so many answers to questions and also validation for much of what you’re feeling. But they also keep your illness at the forefront of your mind. You fear what new symptoms you might get. And when you do get a new symptom? Suddenly you’re terrified about what that new symptom might mean. You look up diseases that others’ have that you haven’t even heard of.
It’s like Dr. Google telling you that that bug bite you have is actually cancer. Only worse. Because so many other people with your illness showed the same complication and now has the same new diagnosis.
Never mind the fact that the support groups seem to bring out the newly diagnosed and those with the worst cases.
Thank God for the old-timers of the group who are there to remind you that you’re not likely to die any time soon.
So while I love the support I have received from the groups, sometimes I need to remind myself that everyone is different. Having the same diagnosis does not mean that my illness will follow the same path.