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.

<<< If you’re looking for a support group to join, I recently started Christian Chronic Illness Support >>>

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 I Learned This Summer

For this post, I’m linking up with one of my favorite writers Emily P. Freeman to share what I learned this summer. Emily, along with an amazing team, runs the online writing community Hope*Writers. Hope*Writers came into my life at just the right time.

What I Learned This Summer

For the past several years, I have enjoyed occasionally blogging but never made a big commitment to consistency. Throwing health issues into the mix left me without an ounce of energy left for producing creative content. Now, though, even though by the end of the day I am usually drained to my core, writing gives me a breath of fresh air. It seeps life into me – life that had been lost in this dark season of health decline and the unknown territory of it all.

This summer has pushed me to my limits. On some days, I felt like I could do this. I could do this whole being sick and going through treatment to get better thing. But, on other days…I just wanted to give up. As sad as it may be to admit, I have had many days where I have wondered if life is even worth it. I know it’s the neuro Lyme leading to my emotional distress, but when I’m at my weakest, I can’t make rational decisions.

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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.

A Wonderful Night in Muscatine

I have a smile that I can’t wipe from my face.

As I tramped up the stairs just now, my breathing became heavier, yet my smile widened.

I feel at peace. I’m happy and content with this new season of life.

This evening, I returned home to my beloved downtown dwelling after a long day of meetings and writing that ultimately ended with a nice reception event to honor the new community college president. I was ready to take a breather and relax on my new couch. I have to admit that spending time in my living room gets me all excited because having furniture is seriously the bomb. I never use that terminology, but I’m going to use it now because having furniture rocks. For nearly 7 weeks, I lived in an apartment without furniture before moving to my new place, only to wait a handful of days before the furniture was delivered. That being said, I am glad to have a place to relax. :)

I sat down for a moment before realizing that I wanted, and essentially needed, to take a walk.

Walking has played an important role in my life over the past several years. The idea of going out and exploring a new place on foot makes my heart race with excitement. It’s even better if it can be done after waking up in a hostel… Oh, traveling, how I adore thee.

While a wonderful way to experience a new destination, walking has also served as a way for me to decompress after a long day. While in China, the stress of my large workload as well as the language and cultural barriers made walking an appealing outlet. When I was missing my family, home or Jonathan, I would put on my tennis shoes, grab my iPod and walk circles around the campus. Some days, I’d meet up with my coworkers and go on a 4-5 mile walk just for fun. We’d tell stories and laugh about the crazy things we’d experienced. It was delightful.

Tonight, I ended up going out alone. I walked briskly, while taking in the soft breeze and warm evening air. It began to get cooler and cooler as the sun set. I ventured past Pearl City Station and toward south end along the Mighty Mississippi River, passing some faces I knew and other I did not as I went along.

When I turned around to head back toward home, I passed a group of three gentlemen with a lady a handful of yards in front of them. I commented to the lady that it was a beautiful night and that sparked a discussion between the two of us. We ended up walking and talking the rest of the way, which was a real joy.

That’s one of the things I love about Muscatine – the opportunities for community to blossom. While I had never met the woman I encountered, she knew my family. We were able to have a genuine conversation and enjoy each other’s company as we finished our individual walks together.

Living in Muscatine makes me happy. Tonight is just one example of why I adore this river city.

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.