Many folks with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, myositis, and other related rheumatic conditions may have a hard time getting “out and about” to socialize. Friendships and relationships may take a toll; some are unable to work or attend school any longer.
So, to avoid the isolation, loneliness, and depression that can often come with a disability or chronic illness, what do you do?
Modern technology has allowed for a new kind of socializing — and the world of social networking can cultivate long-distance friendship and can grow vast systems of support for those who need it most.
Of course, “virtual” friendships are no “real” replacement for real-life human companionship, so it is important that you at least try to build a “real-life” system of support. However, finding friends via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other similar communities can be a great supplement to real-life relationships, and can also be an amazing way to find support from others who are dealing with the same stuff as you.
I cannot tell you how many times in my life that I had lamented that “no one understood” what I was going through. Through high school and even some of college, I felt very alone…that is, until I discovered the world of social networking. Since then, I’ve “met” so many great people who are dealing with similar – if not the exact same – health situations as me. It is a relief to know that others can relate, and, from the comfort of my own home, I can communicate with others about my health drama, laugh about the nuances of chronic illness, cry and vent when I’m having a particularly painful day (physically OR emotionally) and who cheer me on through the tough times — as I do for them. I have met so many inspiring people who have helped me cope in a way that my healthier “real-life” friends, family, and peers simply cannot.
I encourage all of you to find an online support group, or community to join, where you can share the joys, sorrows, trials, and triumphs of living with arthritis or other related rheumatic conditions.
The Mid Atlantic Region of the Arthritis Foundation is very active online and has a great virtual community. You can like them on Facebook here — the posts are always up-to-date, informative, and relevant. They’re on Twitter, too, at @MidAtlanticAF!
You can follow my Twitter and Facebook pages, and there’s also Rheum to Grow for Teens & Young Adults with Arthritis and Related Disease. For kids, tweens, and teens with JA there’s the Arthritis Foundation Kids Get Arthritis, Too site, also.
The national office of the Arthritis Foundation has a great Let’s Move Together blog & community, and the INSPIRE network has an Arthritis & Joint Support Community online which is also affiliated with the Mid Atlantic AF.
A great way to get arthritis news and thoughts on living with arthritis is to follow the #rheum hashtag on Twitter. Other great online communities are Fight Like a Girl, the Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior site, RA Chicks, and the Arthritis Today, AF Advocacy, and American College of Rheumatology Twitter pages.
These are all great resources and I encourage you all to check them out!
We must stick together – through it all.
Thanks for reading! See you online!
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