When you think of a support group, do you think of a windowless room, carpeted floors, in a church or community building. A group of people sit in a circle and one by one they introduce themselves and how long they have been struggling with a common ailment. With a styrofoam cup full of stale coffee in one hand and a donut in the other, the room shares their pain and the group in a whole feels stronger knowing that they are not alone. This is a common belief of what a Parkinson’s disease support group looks like. Some people are afraid to go because they might see “how bad” they could get or maybe they don’t like “dwelling on the negative”. But have you ever thought of a fitness class or a lunch at the local burger joint as a support group?
The first Saturday of each month marks a day when after our Parkinson’s fitness class is over, the class all goes out to a local restaurant for lunch. We call it lunchmates! As I am woofing down my cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and of course a milkshake, I look around the table. Everyone around me was in deep conversation. Some were chatting about what medicine they take to control their symptoms while others talked about what their plans were for the Super Bowl. Then it became clear to me, that support happens on all different levels. Some of us might like the structure of a traditional support group while others may like to go to my fitness class and nudge their neighbor to ask them who their Neurologist is.
In the end, it is whatever form of support you are most comfortable with. Much of my support comes from helping others. Being around someone who might be needing a little encouragement, makes you step out of your own pain and worry. It is only then that you can see that you are not alone.