Should You Join A Support Group?
Last updated: December 2020
I once joined a Crohn’s and colitis support group. A wide range of individuals attended each week.
The ailments they spoke about ran the gamut: skin issues, abdominal pain, frequent trips to the bathroom, a colostomy, side-effects from a heavy dose of steroids. While group members were friendly and I acquired insights into treatments on the horizon, I ultimately didn’t quite fit in.
Not that I haven’t had my struggles. And not that I don’t like venting about my issues. Believe me, I can vent with the best of them (I’m a world-class neurotic).
Depressing stories from others with Crohn's and UC
It was just that, frankly, as well-intentioned as everyone was, I found the support group a bit overwhelming. This was not the fault of any of the members. Nor the group leaders. It was probably at least in part on me.
All I can say is, hearing these horror stories was depressing. After all, I could barely cope with my own horrible situation, let alone be supportive of others. I just didn’t have it in me back then (I’m in a different place now but that’s another story).
Staying positive and not thinking about Crohn's
Maybe this was selfish. Not sure. All I can say is I had to honor my own free will and detach myself from the group for my own benefit. This was a matter of survival. I needed to stay more positive and hopeful so I didn’t become extremely self-destructive, and I found it easiest to do so by spending less time thinking about my illness.
Granted, this doesn’t work for everyone. Some do better by focusing on the worst-case scenario so they are more prepared. Others, too, find opening up about how horrible matters have become with other sufferers is just the thing they need to get past them.
I also realize that not everyone can be upbeat. Sometimes you are just in too miserable a condition to ever think positively about this illness. If you fit into any of the above scenarios, I empathize with you entirely and think a support group would be a great choice. For me, though, it just wasn’t where I seemed to belong.
Support from standup comedy
Instead, I found another type of support group, a support group that is not even really a support group. By that, I mean the world of standup comedy. When you are a standup comic, you meet many like minded individuals.
What is more, when performing, you share with others what is going on. Sure, at times, other comics, or audiences, don’t relate. But you try...at least...to make light of your problems.
In sum, standup comedy offers the performer a place to vent, to pour out all his emotions, to try to find some joy in personal tragedy. This was just a better arena for me, a means of coping that kept me from getting too dejected.
Granted, standup comedy is not for everyone. Some are better suited in a traditional support group. I just know, for myself, the comedy world was a more upbeat world where I could cope with all my hardships more effectively—even if not always addressing them directly.
Find the best support for you
So my advice is to find your tribe. Any tribe. It does not have to be a traditional support group.
It just has to be someplace you can express yourself and feel you belong. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to comment below.
Does living with IBD impact you financially?