In every area of life finding the right community to support you through life’s ups and downs can make a real difference. Whether you’re dealing with grief, chronic pain or simply looking to share a hobby, involving yourself in a community can be incredibly powerful. The expansion of social media has made this so much easier over the past few years now, especially when you take into account the Covid-19 pandemic which shut down many in-person support groups. In just a few clicks you can be connected with people dealing with the same struggles as you. Like everything though, there is a balance to be found and finding the right type of community for you is vital.
I think one of the most important things to be aware of is just how involved you are in a community. Balance is really important, and in the past I have been guilty of revolving my whole online identity around my chronic pain and illness. I think especially as a young adult looking for people to relate to it can be tough, because when you do finally find the right community you want to throw yourself into it completely. However, my experience was that actually my mental health suffered as a result, and I started losing parts of myself until my chronic pain was the biggest part of my identity. I ended up isolating myself from other parts of my life, which only made me feel worse. Now, I tend to reach out to online communities for support when I need specific advice on something, rather than sharing my whole medical history, and I find this works really well for me.
Thinking about what you want from a community is a really good place to start as well, are you looking for advice, a place to vent or just people to relate to? There are so many different types of communities from Facebook groups to in-person support groups, and what you want to get out of it will help guide you to figure out which is best for you.
Vitally, it’s really important that you maintain boundaries within a community. This means both protecting your own boundaries and respecting others. You don’t have to share your whole medical history online, and it’s not your right to request someone else's. Protecting your boundaries will protect your mental health, which is so important to do.
Like everything with chronic pain management, it’s all about trial and error to find what is right for you. We all need and want different things, and there is absolutely something out there for everyone! The right support can make all the difference.
If you would like to get in touch with Shona you can follow her on twitter, instagram or drop her a message via her website.