Yes, I truly believe this, that Peer support groups are great! Unless they’re not, in which case they’re not really ‘support’ groups at all, are they?
When you find, or start a peer support group, and begin to connect with others, who are dealing with the same thing/issue/illness or whatever it is, that is troubling your life, it can be the very thing you’ve been looking for in life, to make things flow, and go better for you.
I’m involved in a peer support group close to my home, for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The group is one I began, back when I was doing a work placement with the MS Society SA & NT, having seen a need for such a group in Gawler, which is the nearest biggish town to my home.
A happy little rhyme I wrote ‘ad hoc’ that was posted to a notice board for others to read and be encouraged by, and me, holding my two walking sticks, Jane the Cane and Mick the Stick.
At the peer support group, members could talk about symptoms, medications, thing that have helped them, and just life, as it can be, when MS slows you down, and people without MS just don’t understand what it’s like. Talking with people who truly know what it’s like, when you say you’re fatigued from having a big day, the previous day, and you just need to sit and rest today, to get over it. Oh, what a marvelous caring thing that is!
There’s a saying – “MS, if you don’t get it, you don’t ‘get’ it”. And it’s true, if you don’t have MS, you won’t truly know the deep and intense fatigue that fills you body, when it comes. And you won’t realise the absolute truth of it when a person says, “Just because I could do it this morning, doesn’t mean I can do it again tonight.”
Your peer support group members will understand though, and they will be there for you, understanding you and how things are for you, when other people, family and friends can’t understand. The same things can hold true for other illnesses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia,
Cancer Survivors, Bushfire Survivors, there are many groups, peer support groups, with people who understand what you’re going through, because they’re living the same life, in some ways, if not all.
Knowing people who’ve been through what you’re now saving, but have come through it, and are doing ok, or even going well in life, can be inspiring, and give you hope to keep in going in your life. Having hope for better times can be the thing that encourages you through the hard times, lifting you up, and keeping you going. And hearing from the inpiring people who have gone from victim, to survivor, and are now thriving, what an inspiration that can be, to know them and hear their stories!
Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things, and showing you how you can do extraordinary things too, that’s what a good peer support group can, and should be. If your peer support group isn’t like this, step up and make it so, you, and the other group members, will be thankful for it!
Peers are your people who understand, and support is help to take you higher, to a better life, a better version of who you can be. Ever peer supplier group should be like this, as an overarching principle. A peer support group that is only a weep and wail pity party isn’t actually a peer support group. Sure there are tears that will happen, but there should be cheering up and moving upward and onward too, and hugs, if and when appropriate! Peers should help, not hinder, uplift, not cast you downward.