You never truly understand a situation until you find yourself in that very situation. You can try your best to empathise and be understanding, but you will never be able to ‘completely’ understand. It is for this reason that support groups are vital to anyone in a particular situation. Being surrounded by people that do ‘completely’ understand can you help you through the good and the bad times.
Having that someone to talk to, to either rant or rave is extremely important. Knowing that you are not alone is vital part of the process or journey that you find yourself on.
In the case of having a child with special needs, support groups can become a second home, a second family. Being surrounded (virtually or otherwise) by families in the same boat can help you to feel less isolated. You become part of a majority, whereas in everyday life and everyday situations you are more likely to be part of a minority. You find yourself in unfamiliar situations where you are not always understood and it can be lonely place. Yet with the help of technology you find yourself in an instant in a safe place. A place where you can laugh or cry openly. You can share achievements that are enormous, but to the outside world seem minuscule.
If your child is undiagnosed or without a prognosis support groups can give you real sense of hope and inspiration. Just hearing about the wonderful achievements that other children have made can fill you with optimism. Seeing videos and pictures of children that have taken their first steps or spoken their first words are simply magical. You find yourself sharing that special moment with their parents and feel immensely proud. You then imagine what that long awaited moment would feel like. It leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.
Sometimes though the openness of what people share can awaken your fear within. Life without a diagnosis or prognosis is a scary place. You take each day as it comes and have no idea what is around the corner. You live in fear. For the most part however, you put that fear to one side, but it nags at you from time to time. It catches you unawares and you find your fear can creep up on you out of nowhere, when you least expect it maybe whilst you are running everyday errands or at night when you are trying to sleep. Sometimes it is when another family goes through what you fear most. You really feel for them and are sometimes lost for words. You want to scream at the top of your lungs at how unfair life is. The situation makes your fear more real. It gives your fear a face. Your fear can suffocate you and sometimes it takes ultimate strength to push it back inside. You cannot let the fear consume you and eat you up, but on occasion it does. You feel guilty for feeling this way, maybe even selfish, as it’s not happening to you, but the fear that it can happen is all too much. So you may take a step back, allow yourself to breath, allow yourself to cry, and find your strength again.
Your fear is pushed within once more and you go about your business until the next time. You know there will be a next time, you just don’t know when. You know however that you are not alone in feeling this way and that there is wealth of support to help you fight that fear when ever it raises it’s ugly head again….