The symptoms of Crohn's disease can feel like such a struggle that some days you want to just lay in bed, close enough to a bathroom that there is no question about making it or not. During these painful and embarrassing bouts, it may be hard to believe there is anyone who could understand.
Unfortunately, this type of thinking is only going to lead to a life spent cooped up indoors, away from friends and family. If you let Crohn's rule your life, you will never get out and experience all that you can do.
Finding a support group—a group of people who have Crohn's and understand what you are going through—is a great way to find the strength to face the challenges and get on with your life.
Why Find a Support Group?
You may have a very supportive spouse, best friend, or family member, but they cannot know what it is like to have Crohn's disease.
Only someone else who has had an accident in public, who has received the diagnosis, and who has experienced your pain will be able to understand what you mean when you explain the struggles you face in your daily life.
A support group also gets you out of the house and permits you to interact with people. Instead of isolating yourself, you get to meet new people and talk about the shared problems you face. You realize that you are not alone and that there are strategies for working through issues.
Support groups are a great way to deal with the symptoms of depression and anxiety that often come with a Crohn's diagnosis.
Traditional Crohn's Support Groups
Traditional support groups are great because they get you out of the house and interacting with people who have experienced the same symptoms that you face.
In these in-person meetings, people usually sit in a circle and discuss how they deal with Crohn’s.
Some groups may even bring in specialized speakers, such as local doctors and nutritionists, to provide members with different strategies for dealing with various aspects of the condition.
The easiest way to find a traditional Crohn's support group is to ask at your gastroenterologist's office.. If they don’t know of any local groups, call a few local hospitals. Many times hospitals will sponsor support groups and provide meeting rooms for members.
You can also try researching a support group through national Crohn’s organizations to see if there is a chapter in your area. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America has chapters all across the country that offer support groups and activities. Similarly, The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease in the United Kingdom and Crohn's and Colitis Australia offer support groups for patients in those regions of the world.
Online Crohn's Support Groups
Finding an online Crohn's support group is an easy way to find a community as well. Simply type the words into a search engine.
Online support groups are a great way to quickly find people to share your experiences with and discuss coping strategies. Just don’t forget that attending a face-to-face support group is recommended because it will get you out of the house which is important if you suffer from depression.
If possible, participate in an online support group that is offered through a national agency, such as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. You still need to be cautious when forming friendships and giving out personal information, but at least the group is run by a reputable organization. Use online support groups with caution and be aware of misinformation or even possibly hurt feelings.