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Reflections of my time as Support Group Facilitator

This page created 17 August 2007
By Jess

As an ADAVIC support group facilitator, I have been one of the privileged few who many of you have trusted to provide a safe environment to express your personal thoughts about dealing with anxiety

I am now finishing up due to a change in circumstances, but I want to acknowledge and thank all the facilitators and group members who come along each week and really make a difference to the lives of many people.

It is a heart warming experience to see how complete strangers can reach out to others in their times of pain. People come to the groups with a range of life experiences and yet every night common ground is found. I think that listening to others allows us to put our own problems aside for a while, and even gives us ideas and solutions to deal with our own anxiety. Every night I have come away with a positive new perspective of life.

One thing I notice is that for many people the answers are already there waiting for them. It just takes time for them to speak about their feelings in a safe environment so they can clarify their thoughts. Sometimes all it takes is speaking to someone else who really understands and can relate to what you’ve been through to put your thoughts into actions.

As Facilitators, we often hear of the frustrations that people have when first being diagnosed with anxiety. Like many other illnesses there is a defining moment when the person seeks help. This time period is crucial because it may have an impact on the further action a person takes in dealing with the problem.

There are important choices to be made. Who should I tell? Should I see a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist? How will this impact on my relationships? Should I take medication? Who can I get answers from?

Basically no one but you can answer these questions. Still some people find that by speaking to fellow sufferers in a support group situation they can gather the ideas and perspectives of others, and choose what they think will work for them.

Anyone who has suffered from anxiety is likely to tell you there is no quick fix, but there are many small changes you can make in your life that may have a positive impact.

Here is some wisdom group members have kindly shared over the past year…

    * Acknowledge that you are unwell. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Take time out to get well.
    * Get help. If one way doesn’t work, keep looking until you find a way that works for you and that you are happy with.
    * Be kind to yourself- Stop putting yourself down.
    * Get enough sleep.
    * Cut down on caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and too much fatty or sugary food.
    * Exercise- get outside in the fresh air.
    * Give yourself small achievable goals, then work up to some bigger ones.
    * Be patient- this will take time.
    * Talk about it to someone you trust and in a safe environment (like the support group.)
    * Stop worrying about the things you can’t change
    * Stop comparing yourself, your life, and your circumstances to everyone else’s.
    * Stop the negative self talk.
    * Don’t give up!!
    * Avoidance will not get you anywhere in the long term. It feels like the easy option, and provides instant relief, but will become a destructive pattern if you constantly avoid situations you may feel anxious in.
    * Know that recovery will come in peaks and troughs, but that the knowledge and changes you have put in place will make you stronger and you will be able to cope.
    * If life does get hard again, know that it will never again be the same as the frightening moment when you first felt anxious. Why? Because you can identify what anxiety actually is, and you are stronger because you know what you are dealing with.

Thank you to all of the brave people who take the time to attend the support group meetings. I have learnt so much from you all. To those of you who are thinking about going along to a meeting, I can tell you that the support group facilitators are warm, caring people, who understand how isolating and difficult the experience of anxiety can be for many people. I encourage you to take a chance and go along to a support group meeting.

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