“Finding meaning and purpose is a benefit of participating in support groups.”
-David, Support Group Leader
When you’re faced with an uncertain or challenging journey, it helps to connect with others along the way who can empathize with your experiences, offer advice, and remind you: you’re not alone. At PMD Alliance, we believe support groups are the lifeblood of our communities. Wondering if you should join in? Here are our top 7 reasons to participate:
1. You’ll discover: you’re not alone.
You may feel like you’re alone in the world with your or your loved one’s disease until you show up to your first support group meeting. Suddenly, you realize the concerns you thought were yours uniquely and that previously felt isolating are shared – and this lets you exhale. I’m not alone. Someone else understands what I’m going through. Feeling like we belong, even in our challenges, is powerful. And it means you’ll now have access to a whole network of people who can support and encourage you. What a relief!
2. You’ll gain a safe space to express your feelings.
Being able to speak the truth of your feelings in a safe and supportive environment is cathartic and healing. Support groups allow you to be heard with compassion and nonjudgment by people who celebrate you for being vulnerable and open.
3. You’ll pick up practical tips & resources.
Navigating a movement disorder means continual change. Do you have a new pressing concern you need advice on? Support groups are a great space for asking about the best tools and resources for improving quality of life – from everyday items that make living with PD a little easier, to the best educational programs to check out, to which medications and movement disorder specialists others have had success with, and more. Many group leaders will also provide suggestions for helpful books, websites, and seminars that you can peruse outside the meetings.
4. You realize you’re stronger than you think.
You may feel unprepared for the road ahead. Through support groups, you’ll connect with others who are navigating similar twists and turns and it will remind you: they’re doing it. Whatever comes up, I can do it, too. You’ll gain perspective and discover your resilience. You can do hard things.
5. You’ll access greater inner peace.
Knowing your support group is in your corner can feel like a big relief. In fact, having their encouragement and simply getting to connect with support group friends on an ongoing basis is comforting. This leads to reduced stress and a greater sense of your ability to navigate the waves of PD.
6. You’ll deepen your self-awareness.
When you dedicate time to sharing your feelings, reflecting on your experiences, and listening generously to others, you may experience “aha moments” that reveal who you are, how you cope best in challenging situations, and how your own needs might be shifting over time. These insights will help you find the best strategies for moving forward and making healthy decisions.
7. You’ll uplift others.
As you share your experiences with the group and even provide tips of your own, you’ll help other members grow and feel less alone. We often think about what we’ll receive from joining a support group, but one of the fundamental benefits of any group experience is the opportunity to help others. As you impact others, you’ll feel a deeper sense of meaning and purpose – and that feels good.