Welcome to another blog post from ‘My Brain Lesion and Me’!
This month, the folks at WEGO Health are concentrating on ‘Health Activism in Real Life’. So, instead of the focus on being on online support groups or on those like me who blog regarding a particular health condition or cause the focus is instead on those organisations or even on specific people who use the more face-to-face approach to health activism. This could include any of the following:
- Non-Profit Organisations, i.e. charitable organisations
- Support Groups
- Meet-Ups with fellow patients
- Awareness Events
- Conferences focusing on health conditions or causes
So, I thought that I would share my thoughts and views on this topic and its role in providing support to those who are dealing with chronic illness or disabilities. Now, I have found great comfort in online support regarding my own health condition and subsequent disability – the internet has made it possible for me to forge friendships and a strong support system with people who may not have the exact same condition as me, but who are nevertheless exhibiting similar symptoms that I face every day. Without the internet, it would not have been possible to speak out about my condition, increasing the awareness of my condition and what it is like to live with through the 12-12-12 Project over at Abledis.com.
Without the technological advances that are available at our fingertips – the computer, smartphone, tablets and so forth I am afraid that I would probably live a very lonely existence indeed, stuck in the house constantly with only my parents and the dog for company. So, the internet and the support networks available are such a godsend for thousands of people out there who are housebound or who are unable to get out as often due to their health condition, giving the ability to be able to connect with others and not feel so lonely.
However, this isn’t to say that there is no place for the offline, there are many non-profit organisations out there that are doing a fantastic job in providing and support for patients or service users, advocating them in times of problems and providing an ear for them when they are struggling. I myself volunteer for a great non-profit organisation providing support for those living with mental health difficulties, called Mind and the support they provide for people and the others services that they provide. Not only that but it provides a safe, comfortable environment for people to make new friends and talk about their problems and experiences without judgement or criticism.
There are times when I just wish that there was a support group out there for people like me, experiencing a similar condition to myself where I can get support, advice and make connections with others – but there just doesn’t seem that there are any organisations or non-profit charities that my particular health condition and situation really ‘fit’ into. Even searching on the internet hasn’t helped!! But have started going to a new group, although wouldn’t class it as a support group more of a group for ‘meeting-up’, learning about different topics and hopefully going on trips around the local area. It as been great for me – enables me to get out of the house for a few hours (something I can’t do with online groups!) and chat and meet a wide range of different people, most of whom living with a chronic illness or disability.
So, I am starting to get the best of both worlds – using the online and offline resources for health activism and both definitely have their advantages and disadvantages but still both are equally valuable in providing patients, carers and other people involved within the health community to share personal stories, gain knowledge, connect with others…
So, which of these do you prefer – using the online for health resources and enjoying the privacy and anonymity it provides or do you prefer the more personal touch and connect with others face-to-face, enjoy getting to know others on more of a personal level? Would love to hear your views on this topic!!….