Why I Can't Support Some Support Groups

Support groups are supposed to help you out, right? Offer some help and emotional support from people who’ve “been there”? I’ve always been an advocate of them, particularly when they’re related to Scary Medical Stuff. I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m feeling a lot less stable tonight than before I joined. I don’t think I can afford to go back if they leave me feeling this way after one meeting. My experience this weekend certainly did more harm to my state of mind than good.

One of the women there was incredible. Greeted me as I walked in. Lots of hope and help and information. Incredibly upbeat. I should have left in the first 5 minutes. If I had, I would have been walking on sunshine for the next week. She was actually the most factual, too, sharing personal and medical information that I can use tomorrow morning. I’d had a similar situation online and this was the kind of support I was expecting.

It was the people descending on me afterward with opinions and judgments that threw me. It was funny to get the judgments from people in the same situation. It was as if somehow they were better than me or less deserving of their medical concerns because they’d been brought to it in a different way. I rolled my eyes at most of them, a little angry with their behavior and getting out of their path as soon as possible. I was, after all, the newbie to the group.

But the ones that had me so upset were the ones who fauned over me and seemed so supportive I think some really were trying to be supportive or what they thought was supportive. They weren’t, though. There was no encouragement or positivity at all–except they were positive that the worst was coming to me. One of them hounded me for 10 minutes about what I needed to do for imminent surgery. As it turned out, she’s not had to go that route–that’s the ironic part. Her idea of support is to prepare the newbie for the worst case. I could not get away from her fast enough. She just kept blurting out more. She took me to fears where my mind hadn’t gone.

I was in a fairly even place before I joined but I’d been upset, crying a little, and angry a little. When I left the support group, I was upset, crying, and angry A LOT.


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