Be it formal or informal support groups have been around for a very long time, and are naturally an effective way to gain support, understanding and encouragement. Being sewing circles, coffee cloches, gathering around the water cooler, card games with friends, and the list can go on.
Support groups are a valuable way of sharing joy and pain, and they will always be. Let me elaborate. When you share your happiness, you multiply it, when you share your pain you divide it. Very often, I find in my life and in my work that this is completely true. Everything what is separated from others is not natural. Human beings are created to be social creatures. We are not meant to be alone and disconnected from one another. Which in our current time, is more and more common, due to working from home, or at great distances from our family and friends, technology which removes the personal face to face interaction which is so vital to our over all well being and connectedness with one another.
Support groups join people together with a common purpose, a common situation, difficulty, and experience. Together, they share in one another’s journey by identification. They share what they have learned from their own struggles. They share in resources. They gain additional insights, which alone they may not have, and as a result, perhaps a different perspective. At the very least, they learn that they are not alone, and there are other’s who are facing the same situation.
A Long time ago they were not called support groups, they were simply called life. Let me share a story about fishermen’s wife’s from far and away cost of Northern Brazil. Their husbands would go on the big ocean for days and ocean sometimes know how to show a cruel side of nature. Some of them became very young widows. Having a husband on the sea or not, they would gather together and using old fabrics they would make Fuxico, beautiful colourful flowers that are made with gathered pieces of fabric. Looking at the Fuxico, I realised how advanced therapy that was. Then they didn’t call it support group, those ladies were together because their longing, worries and fear were turn into creativity. This is a simple story about normal human behaviour.
Support groups now a days are more structured. They are a group of people who gather for a specific cause, to support each other in a particular problems such as, depression, cancer, addiction etc.. A peer member or a mental health professional member can guide it. In Saudi Arabia it might be difficult to find a support group in your area, I encourage you to contact any social consultant center or clinic, you might find guidance from there. If you weren’t successful you may try to join a support group online, there are many.
Support groups can help people battling with chronic illness or diseases. According to research support groups helps cancer patient in many areas such as providing a unique sense of community and unconditional acceptance (Ussher, J., Kirsten, L., Butow, P., & Sandoval, M. 2005). It also provides an educational environment for the discussion of new clinical trials, treatment experiences, and additional support from people who are undergoing the same exact situation.
Though there may be a hesitation in joining a support group, embarrassment, fear, not wanting to share, not wanting to face your situation, it is still well worth the effort. I strongly suggest that you go to several meetings before you come to a conclusion on if it’s for you or not. Usually 6-8 sessions is a good number. If that group isn’t for you, try another! The benefits have been repeatedly proven to be a significant contributing factor in one’s over all well being. In the case of dealing with illness, it does help a great deal in treating the illness.
Ussher, J., Kirsten, L., Butow, P., & Sandoval, M. (2005). What do cancer support groups provide which other supportive relationships do not? The experience of peer support groups for people with cancer. Social Science & Medicine, 2565-2576.