Find your Community
When you or someone you love is diagnosed with a medical condition, itís easy to feel alone. Even though youíve talked through the diagnosis with your doctor, made a plan, and are seeking treatment, you may feel like you donít know where to turn next. Big lifestyle changes can have you feeling lost and unsupported, even if you have a strong support system.
One of the best things you can do for yourself or for your loved one is to find a support group. Chronic illnesses like Hepatitis C can be managed, but not cured. This reality leaves patients and their caregivers searching for answers. Turning to a group of people who understand your medical condition can provide the support and comfort youíre looking for.
Read on to learn about why support groups are so valuable, and how you can find one near you:
Make a Connection
The support you receive from friends and family is amazing and unlike anything else. Having your family and the people you love in your corner is so important. Thatís why some patients donít venture out of their close support system, looking into other options.
Support groups offer a different kind of connection. Even though your family and friends are there for you no matter what, they canít relate to what youíre going through. A support group with members that know what itís like to have the same challenges can provide different tools to help you cope. Being around like-minded individuals always brings a sense of comfort and inclusion.
The same is true for caretakers. If you are the primary caregiver for your family member with a chronic illness, it might be hard to find people that can relate. There are support groups just for long-term caregivers. These are a place for people to share their experiences and gain strength together. Being a caregiver can be a difficult job, mentally and emotionally, but you can learn to share your experiences with people that understand.
Build your Support
Support groups are usually formed by non-profit groups, hospitals, or other organizations. You can expect to meet with your support group weekly, sometimes more if there are special circumstances. These groups can be led by professionals like nurses or psychologists, or even experienced members of the organization.
Each week youíll be able to express your feelings and talk about your experiences. In return, youíre building a network of people that understand what youíre going through. Support groups allow people to feel less isolated, help them learn to cope, and even talk about diverse treatment options.
While support groups should never be a substitute for medical care, they can help you navigate the endless doctorís appointments, tests, and medications. Different people receive different treatments. For example, one patientís Hepatitis C treatment may be a little different from anotherís. These groups allow you to learn about yourself and your options, giving you more to talk about with your doctor.
Find your Group
Now that you know how support groups work and how they can benefit you, itís time to find one in your area. First, ask your doctor about support groups offered by their office or affiliates. They should be able to refer you to the person or department in charge of these groups.
If their office isnít involved with a support group, you can simply search online. Lots of major non-profits and organizations have group locators. They may also eve have online support groups for more convenient meetings.
Living with, or caring for, chronic illness is trying. There may not be a cure, but there is treatment and support to help you make it through. Youíll never have to feel alone with the comfort and community of a good support group.