The Value Of Support Groups

Thanks to Jason at aintnoshameinchronicpain.com for this incredible content! Please go check out his page and his support group!

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With the struggles many of us have living day to day with chronic pain and illness many of us utilize support groups in one way or another. Some of us use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or apps like Ouchie to reach out and find others who struggle like us to connect to. Others attend regular meetings that are local to gain support on a more personal level. No matter what way you find support there is value to be found. I know for me at first it was so I had someone who could relate on a personal level to what I was going through. I wanted some kind of validation so I knew I was not going nuts and it truly was not all in my head as Doctors had suggested. I was hoping for resources, pamphlets, or information other than what was available through doctors offices or quick google searches. I had already spent over 7 years with little to no answers and my health was slowly begging to decline. As I built up a hidden profile on Facebook so my normal friends and family would not catch on, I started to find some groups based on my symptoms to explore and try and gain some insight. This lead me to be able to than try and discuss my issues with doctors in hopes to maybe one day getting some sort of answers other than your labs are normal and we can't find anything wrong with you.

 
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Through support groups online I was able to find some local people who shared similar symptoms and problems. This lead me to discover local doctors, an in person support group, and people to chat with that understood what I was going through. For me this was huge! Having found this kind of support and knowledge made an impact on my life. It lead me to several changes, both small and big, that would alter the direction my life would go.

After some struggles with local support groups not being able to continue for various reasons I started to feel I was slowly going backwards instead of forwards. Knowing the way my life changed having access to support I decided to start a group of my own. One thing I felt was important was not to attach the group to just one diagnosis. No matter the diagnosis we have we all share similar symptoms and treatments. So I decided to make a support group for ALL Chronic Pain and Illness. It started out as a Facebook group that was worldwide. Soon I added a local group on Facebook and also found a place to host monthly meetings. I contacted several nonprofits, national institute for health, and a few other resources and gathered all kinds of information to have on hand for people who came to the group. I gained access to all kinds of tools I could use as a coordinator and that individuals could use to better themselves, teach themselves and others more about their issues at hand, and to educate the community about the many struggles people with Chronic Illness face.

My support group Ain't No Shame In Chronic Pain/Illness now has a small but strong following. We have had meetings with guest speakers about Chiropractic care, different diagnosis, dealing with friends and family, intimacy, suicide, and many other topics. We also held a Together Walk to raise awareness about Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain. This fundraiser also raised funds for research and development for the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association. We have a few more fundraiser being held this year as well. The power of fundraisers is what helps us achieve better education, faster diagnosis, new research, access to new or better medications, and so much more.

If you struggle with chronic pain and illness please try and find a support group to help you. If there is not one local start one. There are plenty of organizations, non-profits, and other avenues that will assist you in getting started. If you or someone else is interested in more information on coordinating a support group you can contact me and I will do my best to assist you.