Literature exists because people need stories of others. Stories are why communities have libraries. Books of woe caution us. We’re encouraged by tales of people who advance against overwhelming odds. We’re quieted by stories of people with hope. Stories of others are important because they allow us to put ourselves in another’s place.
Stepping outside the world of literature, we seek stories about others directly. We ask, “how is ol’ so-and-so doing?” We keep track of people in our communities through the stories we share of their lives. (Of course, this verbal tradition can easily slip into gossip when our motives are too self-centered.)
Here’s the target of this post: In addition to reading books about people who struggle with and overcome the effects of Multiple Sclerosis and finding online support in web sites, consider joining an MS support group.
A Multiple Sclerosis support group is typically comprised of people who have multiple sclerosis. Some support groups invite family members (if not to every meeting) at least to celebrations like a Christmas party or afternoon in the park.
MS support groups are typically not psychotherapy groups. Rather, they are groups of people who offer support to each other as they are able. The focus is usually on how to manage life, maintain health, access resources in the community, and share personal experiences which might help others.
Support groups are not for every MS patient. Like me, some people are not disposed to hanging out in groups. However, the benefits offered by a support group greatly outweigh the discomfort of easing into the group at your own pace.
How does one find an MS support in their community?
First, ask your doctor. Many support groups meet in conference rooms in hospitals or clinics. Also, visit the web sites of the national MS-related organizations.
For example, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America has a web page devoted to support groups at http://www.msassociation.org/programs/support/. MSSA maintains a list of support groups which you can review online. MSAA also offer a toll free phone number for people searching for a Multiple Sclerosis support group: (800) 532-7667
For years, my wife has been active in an MS support group in our little community. In many ways her participation has been a good experience for her. And now I must end this post because I need to hurry and get ready to go to her MS support group’s annual Christmas party!
Caregiver Tip: If the MS patient for whom you care does not participate in an MS support group, discuss the possibility of attending. It’s a great way to find support and hear the stories of other MS patients.