In my opinion, the most valuable thing one can have around when recovering from a mental illness, regardless of the severity, is a group of positive people around you who want to succeed.
For as long as the internet has been around people with difficulties have been networking to help each other to ‘recover’. The internet provides a degree of anonymity; people can discuss and learn about how to conquer their demons without having to involve their family and friends who, in some circumstances, may not be entirely supportive or understanding.
For years there have been forums dedicated to supporting those with mental health issues but Facebook’s ‘groups’ feature has also brought thousands of people together.
At the time of writing it’s been just under 14 months since I first joined a recovery group which was one of the larger ones at 13,000 members at the time. As a guy, I was massively outnumbered by girls but I found it useful nonetheless. I also began talking to a young Grecian lady by the name of Natassa. We seemed to click and within a couple of months we had set up our own group which can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/edrecoverymentalhealthsupport/
In the 12 months the group has been active we have accumulated over 4000 members. I thought I would ask some of the members how they think the group as helped them to highlight the importance of finding a bunch of people you can share your recovery with and lean on when things aren’t going so great.
We start with Queen Natassa who says that: “When I am feeling lonely and all weird late at night and I am able to chat with members and keep my self busy without being destructive.”
Jenevieve found that the support of the group helped her get through her breakup with her fiancee.
Bea states that “This group has helped me when I am feeling overwhelmed to understand why I am feeling like I am and how I can help myself get back to me. It gives me support and empowerment to make the changes in my life. I learn so much new everyday about everyone and it makes me less alone and more ‘normal'” Kimberley agrees with Bea that the group makes her feel less isolated and more ‘normal’. She also brings up the fact that people who haven’t experienced it don’t always understand.: “This group has helped me feel less isolated. no one in my family, friends or work place know I’ve had an ed for 14 yrs, and been in treatment almost 3. it’s very lonely and isolating and sharing here or offering advice for others is really helpful. and can share something without being judged, as you guys understand” As does Katey who says: “When I have so many emotions and need feel like nobody would understand I vent here. Everybody is SO supportive and kind”
Jo’s statement particularly resonates with me. “When I am feeling down in the dumps or not worth anything, I come here and talk to people or look for status’s where people may need my help so I don’t feel so useless” I also finnd helping other people in the same boat as me gives me a sense of purpose. As does Lize who finds that “This group helps hold me accountable. If I want to lead by example, I have to keep checking in with myself to make sure I’m doing the right things in my life to stay healthy. Knowing that I can possibly encourage someone else helps keep me honest in my own recovery”
There are many groups and forums out there. You may even be lucky enough to have a group of people that you know in real life who you can rely on for support and understanding. It’s important to have a support network of people in some way though. Ultimately, they make it feel as if it is not just you vs the whole world. That you have a team too.
Thanks for reading