Support system…… what is it? Where do we find them? Why do we need them? Who needs it? A Support System is defined as a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support. Anyone and everyone needs support this doesn’t have to be something just for people with chronic illness. People who have gone through a bad marriage, or abusive relationship or drug addiction all need a support system as well.
Research has shown that those with large social support systems often will have better health, live longer, and overall better well being. Friends and family have the ability to make you more resilient in times of loss, stress, or setback and they can even make those periods of good times better. There are lots benefits to having supportive relationships, such as knowing that you have people who can provide you with information, advice and guidance. As well as assistance in times when you are uncertain. This aspect of support systems can be comforting and make you feel more secure. When someone has a chronic illness or is in a bad relationship, they often feel isolated. And feel that no one ever understands them. So a support system is a must. No matter where you find that support. Some find support in the church, or their family, or friend. Or maybe you have found support groups for their illness that you feel like you can open up to and lean on. No matter where you find this support it is essential that you find something. Once you find a support system, how can you use it to your advantage? Well, that kind of will depend on what kind of support system you have found. Family members for instance when it comes to things like lupus will naturally step into the supportive role at times because lupus runs in families. So you may have someone in your family who has been in your shoes. Or it may go the other way and your family will be little support, simply because they don’t understand. A little education can oftentimes change that. Family also has known you through everything unlike anyone else and can oftentimes provide that unconditional love that is necessary! Friends and neighbors can often provide food in stressful times since they are close by. If you are close to your neighbors they may also provide a sense of comfort during times of stress. Friends can provide the laughter and love you need. And sometimes those days away for fun so you can forget about your current situation. Co-workers can provide support many times because you spend more time with them than you do your family. You have time to talk to them about things that you don’t have time to discuss with your family or friends. Health Support Groups (or any support groups) can be a really great source of support because you are with a group of people who are in similar situations as you. If you can find local groups this is the best because they are people you can hang out and talk to in person. But online support groups can’t be just as effective. I myself have made some of my best friends in online support groups with people I haven’t and may never meet. They get me and my situation and I can talk to them about anything with any repercussions. (Here is a shameless plug if you are looking for a support group for autoimmune issues on Facebook. I along with a few other admins run Lupie Groupies. If you want to join we are a closed group and you will to request membership. If yuh can’t find it comment below and I will help you) Once you have that support system in place it’s important that you make sure the people on the other end understand how much you appreciate their love and understanding! Make sure that you do your best to stay in touch with them even when that’s the last thing you want to do. If you don’t do your part to keep the friendship or relationship open you can’t expect the other people to do the same. Support is essential really for all people. But especially for those with chronic illness. -Amber