Navigating Epilepsy: The Road Ahead

Support Groups

iStock_000042876910Medium[1]Often times I am asked: “Why should I go to a support group meeting? I fell pretty good.” Or “I am not “like” all the other patients with epilepsy, I do not think the group is for me.” Or my favorite, “ I spend all day living with epilepsy, why would I want to go hang out with a bunch of other people who are living with it too, what I really want to do is just forget about it!”

So, I thought I would take the time to remind people of the benefits of attending epilepsy support groups and also let new members know what to expect when attending the group.

First, what is a support group?
Support groups are organizations of people who share a common disorder, like epilepsy, and who meet together to discuss their experiences, share ideas, and provide emotional support for one another. Usually a formal support group is led by a member who has had some training in facilitating group discussions. There are also informal self-help support groups are usually not led by a professional therapist (such as a social worker, psychologist, nurse, or psychiatrist) but nevertheless can be a helpful coping tool to complement formal treatment. In the case of NEREG we offer both types of groups.

Second, why attend a support group?
The biggest advantage of support groups is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have the same problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person. You now have someone who can relate to your experiences and may be able to offer you advice or a perspective you did not think of before.

Third, what do I “do” in these groups?
When joining a support group, you may be uncomfortable at first when it comes time to discuss problems in front of strangers. However, the fact that others are facing the same type of situation may help you open up and discuss your feelings. In addition, everything that takes place within the support group should be kept confidential and you are never required to share.

Fourth,  are these groups really helpful?
From almost all those who have attended our support groups we have gotten positive feedback. Many of them found it to be a positive social experience whereas others learned about new treatments and new programs/services available to them and for those who were able to help others there was a great sense of pride.

So with all this being said, please think about joining/rejoining a local support group or starting up a new one so you can help yourself and others access the benefits of support groups.

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