Aug. 26, 2015

An Insider’s Perspective: Support Groups

An Insider’s Perspective: Support Groups
The Lupus Foundation of America, Lone Star Chapter Blog
By Samantha Alvarado

As an intern for the organization, I know about its various services offered to lupus patients, their families, and friends. One of the services offered are support group meetings that meet up every month.

Movies and TV shows have helped place a negative view of support groups into our minds. We might visualize a chilly, small, cramped room with a circle of people sitting in chairs. It’s not exactly the most appealing picture, but it was somewhat of my painted view. It wasn’t until I sat in on a meeting for the organization that my view changed.

It’s 10:10 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I found myself late and lost. After figuring my way around, I had finally found the room. It was not that chilly, small or cramped room that I had imagined. Instead, it was a large conference room with not a circular row of chairs, but a long table that could fit up to 25 people. I sat down in the nearest empty chair nervously while someone was talking. Once I got settled, I realized there were more people than I had anticipated, all varying in age, gender, and race. I listened as everyone talked about their “highs and lows” for the week. Some individuals expressed feelings of accomplishment in something as simple as going to work, while others expressed feelings of depression and no self-worth. It was sad to hear, but this is daily life for a lupus patient.

The meeting wasn’t entirely sad. Every now and then, someone would crack a joke and laughter would peer through the gloomy fog. Where there were words of sadness, there were words of encouragement. It was at this moment I realized that this place isn’t just some Saturday morning get together, it’s a place where people gather and lift each other up as they are going through this journey.

Not just alone, but together.

I left that meeting feeling connected. In just two hours, I managed to meet about 20 people and was able to learn far more than I anticipated.

Overall, my experience sitting in on this meeting was great. As someone who is still learning about lupus, I was interested to hear everyone’s story and see how their feelings and emotions are shared so openly. No pamphlet or fact sheet can express the realness of a lupus patient’s feelings and symptoms, than the patient. I have read pamphlets and informational sheets listing symptom after symptom, but hearing it from a patient makes it more real and you see the person, not just the disease.