When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I asked my doctor if she thought that joining a support group would be a good idea for me. She hesitated, then said, “No. There will be people who are depressed, negative, and very, very ill. You don’t need that kind of atmosphere.”
I was surprised. From what I had heard prior to my diagnosis, patient support groups were good places, where people could seek support, encouragement, and information.
A few weeks later, with my flare raging and all sorts of emotions and questions swirling in my head and heart, I located a support group for lupus patients and went, a little scared, to a meeting tucked in a community room at a local mall. There were two patients who were negative, angry, and who painted an awful picture of my future life with lupus. But, there was also the group leader – a positive, gentle, encouraging woman who had battled many awful flares, but whose spirit had not suffered. She took me under her wing, and we’ve been friends ever since. Most special, she has been a tremendous mentor as my life with the disease has unfurled.
Distinctive from being merely a friend, a mentor is, ideally, someone with more experience, cultivated wisdom, and the desire to assist others who are not quite as far along in their health journeys. He or she is the person to whom you can go with the “what do I do now?” or “how do I sort this out?” questions that inevitably arise. A mentor is a marvel! And a true treasure.
I’m glad that I went to that support group. I totally understand what my doctor meant by discouraging me from going, but if I hadn’t made the effort, I would not have found the mentor who’s been so very, very wonderful.
Whatever stage of your health-challenged journey, keep your eyes open for that special person who has been where you are, understands, and is willing and eager to give you just the inspiration – of a human kind – that you need. You’ll be so glad you did!
Blessings for the day,