by Amanda Painter, South Chapter Coordinator
Why do you need a support group?
There is a bit of a stigma associated with support groups. The thought of attending a meeting full of strangers can make an already anxious person feel incredibly uncomfortable. Some may question what happens behind these closed doors. Will I be put on the spot? Do I have to share? I'm not comfortable talking in front of others.
Let me give you a glimpse into what happens behind those doors and why you should join us.
You'll learn something. The topic of food allergies is ever-changing. Join us to stay up to date on research, products, trends and more. We share recommendations for restaurants, recipes, epinephrine holders, vacation spots and favorite products.
You'll make friends. And the best thing about these friends is that they "get it". No having to explain how grocery shopping is difficult or why large family potlucks stress you out. They already understand. Exhausted from staying up all night trying to make the cake perfect? They have been there and can share some tips to make it easier next time. These friendships will move beyond the meetings. You'll have play dates, send messages with recipes and share encouragement.
Meetings are a safe place. You can complain about your extended family that doesn't get it. You have the freedom to say whatever is on your mind.
We want you to talk about food allergies. Sometimes those around us may think food allergies are always our conversation topic. Sometimes we feel that we are overburdening others with our food allergy anxieties and fears. Being able to be in a room where food allergies are the discussion topic will help you direct your food allergy questions/concerns. Of course, you are also welcome to just sit and listen. Sharing is not required.
You're not alone. Food allergies are isolating. When we come together as a group, we decrease the sense of isolation. Participating in a group allows us to see and talk to others, so we know we are not completely alone.
Empower yourself to manage confidently. Learn practical management tips for how to communicate with your child's school and how to teach your child to self-manage. Increase your skill set for problem-solving and coping.
I hear from many people "I don't need a support group. We've been managing for a long time, and we're fine." Guess what? The support group needs you.
Why does the support group need you?
Do you remember that ton of bricks that hit you with your/your child's diagnosis?
Recall the confusion leaving the allergist office with a prescription for epinephrine?
Can you still feel the fear and the tears that came after grocery shopping and being scared that you will purchase something that could harm your child?
Someone else feels that way. Help them stand confidently. Reassure them that they can manage this.
Were you ever alone in this journey? Did you need someone just to listen? Be that for someone else. Make this journey a little easier for them.
Think about all of the challenges you've already faced and conquered. Someone in your local support group will encounter them soon and needs your encouragement to do so.
When you help someone else manage food allergies, you realize how far you have come.
As a support group facilitator, I get more out of these meetings than I ever thought I would. Listening and helping others continues to help me in my family's food allergy journey.
Join us for a meeting. We share our frustrations and tears. We share our successes and laughter. The most important thing is that we do it together.
We understand the challenges of managing food allergies.
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