The Good and Bad of Support Groups for Chronic Illnesses

The Good and Bad of Support Groups for Chronic Illnesses

When I was first diagnosed with several chronic conditions, I felt lost and alone. It felt like nobody in my life understood what I was going through.

They tried.

I had a lot of well-meaning friends, but at the end of the day they just didn’t have the background to understand the magnitude of what I was experiencing.

So, to feel a little less alone, I turned to online support groups.

On Facebook, there are hundreds of groups for those suffering from chronic illnesses. I joined the groups and started reading about others’ experiences. Members of these groups got me. They could relate to what I was going through. While our symptoms may have been different, our experiences often looked similar. We each were facing some level of debilitation. Chronic illness was changing our lives.

After a while, though, being part of Facebook support groups began to grow draining. I’d see posts pop up in my newsfeed when I was just trying to think about other things. Sometimes, the discussions would bring down my mood. What, at first, was a place of support seemed to turn into a place that drug me down.

I thought about leaving all of the groups. I thought about not talking about illness anymore and just avoiding the subject altogether. But, still, I felt this sense of calling from God to connect with others who are suffering to help bring a little hope. It didn’t make sense for me to completely leave the groups when I desired to help encourage others. It was also good for me to keep learning about what others do for treatment so I can make educated decisions when talking with my doctor.

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.

What to Do When Others Don’t Understand Your Chronic Illness

What to Do When Others Don't Understand Your Chronic Illness

Dealing with a chronic illness that most people don’t understand can be isolating. It is discouraging when we can no longer live “normal” lives but everyone else we know seems to be living life as usual.

It gets even more sad when the people who should be closest to us, like family, seem to disregard the pain we’re experiencing.

For me, living with Lyme Disease is complicated because of the misinformation out there about the disease. There’s a big difference between early diagnosed and chronic infections. Like others with different chronic illnesses, Lyme Disease patients often need to try many different treatment protocols before they find something that works. Symptoms come and go, and pain migrates. It’s hard to explain how you’re doing when things can change drastically in a short period of time.

When I was first diagnosed and finally had names for the symptoms I was experiencing, I was always frustrated by the fact that others didn’t understand. I tried explaining, but it felt like I couldn’t express myself enough to make others recognize that I wasn’t able to live up to the expectations that had been formerly placed on me. I wanted people to know that I was sick and my life was a lot different than it used to be. It wasn’t easy to explain.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned a lot about explaining what I’m going through.

Here are a few thoughts on what to do when others don’t understand your chronic illness:

1. Accept that not everyone will understand

This was a hard one for me. I am usually effective at explaining my point, so I figured that if I shared information about my chronic illness that others would start to understand. But, I quickly realized that not everyone will understand, and I had to be okay with that. While some people may begin to see what we mean, we can’t expect that everyone will choose to learn enough to comprehend what we’re going through.

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.

Making the Most of Life with a Chronic Illness

Making the Most of LIfe with a Chronic Illness

Life with a chronic illness can be incredibly hard. Most of us who face chronic health issues have one thing in common: our lives do not look the way they did before we got sick. No matter the level of debilitation, the symptoms we face change the way we function.

Changes may be big or small depending on the severity of symptoms at the particular time. For some, it’s a roller coaster of symptoms that get better or worse (or both) each day.

Some people are able to be functioning members of society, while others are confined to their homes, unable to get out into the world to do things as “normal” as grocery shopping.

I’ve been in both camps. I know what it’s like to try to manage a full-time job while very ill. I also know the challenges of being unable to get out of bed for long periods of time. In both situations, my life was vastly different than it was when I was healthy. Accommodations had to be made to conserve energy and meet my needs. I was often discouraged.

So, how do we make the most of our situations?

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.

Trusting God When Healing is Slow

Trusting God When Healing is Slow

The process of healing from chronic illness (or at least getting to a place of stability) has gone nothing like I thought it would.

About fourteen months ago, I was officially given names for the host of symptoms that gradually led to the debilitation of my body. I saw various symptoms come and go over a period of five years, but it wasn’t until February 2016 that my health began to decline to the point where I needed serious help to get better. By the time of diagnosis, I was exhausted, in constant pain, unable to function at work, and deeply depressed.

Many days of research, blood work, and doctors appointments led to the discovery that I had Chronic Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, several co-infections, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and more.

For some, receiving test results that pointed to multiple conditions and food sensitivities would be devastating. But for me, it provided a glimmer of hope. I finally knew what I needed to treat so I could move forward toward better health. I had a plan for healing, and I love plans!

In my typical Type A fashion, I followed my doctor’s treatment protocol to a T. This meant giving up all my favorite foods and focusing only on the things I needed to get better. I had to quit my serious Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup addiction and instead fill up on Vegan Chocolate Shakeology and a (mostly) Paleo diet.

My health protocol was overwhelming, sometimes consisting of 60+ pills a day. My weeks were filled with detoxing, sleeping, lying on the couch while listening to podcasts, and working as much as possible to maintain some sense of normalcy in the office and get a paycheck (gotta pay for all those supplements and meds!).

I was doing everything “right” in my journey of healing, but instead of finding stability, any step forward was met with two steps back.

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.

5 Things to Remember When You Have Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease - Con-infections - Bartonella - Babesia - Chronic Illness

You have Lyme Disease, huh?

I’m so sorry!

Lyme Disease is rough, and facing it can often leave us questioning everything we thought we knew about health and ourselves. Some days we may have moments where we feel relatively “normal” before we’re spun into a place of pain, neurological symptoms, and grief.

For me, personally, most days are pretty rough. Since my diagnosis, I have seen some better days, but they are always followed deep valleys. Treatment may be working, but when you add in Herxheimer (die-off) reactions and flares, healing doesn’t seem to come as quickly as I would have hoped.

Each day is a battle of both the body and the mind. In order to help myself heal effectively, I have to remember a few things. If you’re also fighting Lyme Disease and co-infections, these simple reminders may make a difference for your outlook.

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.