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5 Ways to Build a Support System That Understands Your Health Condition

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When you live with a health condition, finding a support system can feel daunting.  You may find that your family and friends have difficulty providing you with the support you need as someone with a disability or illness, or you may not know where to look for a community that truly understands your needs and emotions.  No matter your condition or current support system, though, you can find supportive people who can help you navigate your life with a medical condition.  Here are five ways to build a strong, loving support system.

1. Openly share your health needs with your loved ones.

If you’re one of the only people you know who lives with a health condition, and your loved ones often “help” you in ways that don’t actually help you, being open and specific about your physical and emotional needs can help you forge a stronger support system.  If your family and friends are generally warm and accepting, start conversations about what you need as someone who struggles with their health. Be as clear about your needs as possible, and reassure your loved ones that you understand that no matter what, they want to help you to the best of their abilities.  When you share what they do well and gently introduce things they could change, they’ll be more likely to change how they help you to fit your health and support needs.

2. Seek out support from others with your health condition on social media.

One of the best parts of social media is its ability to bring people with similar backgrounds or challenges together, which can be especially helpful if you live with a medical condition.  If the people you know in “real life” struggle to support you in ways that feel comfortable for you, search for social media pages and groups that focus on your health conditions.  Though every group is run differently, and they may not all resonate with you, there are plenty of groups for almost every health condition, so don’t give up on looking for the best group for you.  Once you find a group that welcomes you with open arms, try to participate in any discussions that speak to you.  You just may find several people who remind you that your needs are valid, and you aren’t alone.

3. Talk with people who are open about their health.

If you know of someone — either online or in “real life” — who is often open about their own health conditions, then they might be willing to listen to you share about yours.  Those friends who own who they are, health conditions and all, are valuable because they can inspire you to be vulnerable about your own.  If you know people who frequently discuss their health, reach out to them and express how much you appreciate their perspective.  Share how you relate to their experiences and ask if you can share some of yours.  Although connecting with others this way may seem scary, sometimes it just takes a few conversations with one health-positive person in order to feel supported and connect with others in similar circumstances.

4. Join an organized support group for your medical condition.

If you prefer formal support groups to large groups of people with the same condition, look up local or online support groups in your area.  A smaller group setting can help you form closer bonds with people with your condition and allow you the opportunity to share your experiences in a safe space.  You might even find people you want to forge friendships with outside of the group — and those “group friends” can become an incredible source of support as you navigate life with your health condition alongside them.

5. Join support communities on The Mighty.

The Mighty isn’t just a place to publish stories; it’s also a safe space to give and receive support.  If you’re looking for like-minded people to listen to your frustrations or cheer you on when you have “good days,” The Mighty’s diverse range of communities can be a great place to connect with people who truly understand you and your needs.  The Mighty not only has a plethora of health-focused communities for common and rare conditions alike, but it has also created communities that focus on other important parts of life, like self-care, movies and TV shows, memes, crafts and pets.  Whether you want to share the ups and downs of life with your condition or escape thinking about your health for a bit, The Mighty has just the right support system for you!

Getty image by Rudzhan Nagiev.

Originally published: September 7, 2021
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