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5 Tips for Surviving an Online Chronic Illness Support Group

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We have all been there. We come home from a doctor appointment with a new diagnosis and we start to Google. We find a support group on Facebook. We have found our people! We are not alone!

Online support groups can be great for information and resource sharing. They can also be pivotal for those facing isolation and seeking advocacy as well.

But it is not all sunshine and lollipops.

Some things to consider when participating in an online support group:

1. Everyone is on their own road to good health. What works for someone online may not work for you.

2. Think critically. A “scientific paper” may not be as it seems. Is it a peer-reviewed study? Is the source reputable? Is it linked to a product someone is selling? Is it “fake news?”

3. When you disagree – keep on scrolling. Illness is a very personal and passionate thing. This is where a tremendous amount of conflict can arise. Has anyone online ever convinced you to change your mind on your health? Yeah – me neither. When I disagree with a post, I simply move on.

4. What you post online is never private. Never. Don’t disclose anything that you would not want to read about in your local newspaper. Screenshots can come back to haunt you.

5. Online support does not replace real life and in person relationships. Chronic illness is incredibly isolating already. It can be helpful to make sure your social circle does not become entirely online.

All this said, online groups have been helpful to me. I discovered specialists in my community, I determined a healthy diet for my illness and I can share some giggles over a meme that only folks who are ill can understand.

Getty Image by oatawa

Originally published: April 6, 2018
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