After a bit of prodding from a close friend, I decided to attend my first support group for families with a loved one with mental health issues. I was convinced hearing others struggles would only discourage me and bring no comfort to my aching soul. I struggled to believe that I even needed such a group or could find value in other people’s pain. After all, mine was enough.
At the first group, I forced myself up the steps moving ever so slowly, wishing and pretending this was not my story. As I left the first night I thought to myself, No way this club is not for me; I do not belong. I believed by not joining the group; I could avoid being something I didn’t want to be.
As reality set in I returned to the group. On my second visit, I opened my mind to see the value each and every person brought to the meeting. I am here to tell you just how valuable you can be to a group of people struggling with similar issues. Do you know how valuable you are to a group even if you come and say absolutely nothing?
You have been brave by showing up, which tells me, I am not alone.
Do you know how valuable you are when you come and share when things are going well? It gives me a glimmer of hope, something to reach for, understanding that things can change.
You have refreshed my hope.
Do you know how valuable you are when you show up and are willing to share your failures? I most likely was headed for that same mistake, and now I may avert a massive detour. On this journey, I know that no one can succeed one hundred percent of the time.
You help me accept; I am human, and we all fail from time to time.
Do you know how valuable you are to me when you show up when your life is a mess or your circumstances unbearable? It gives me a chance to reach out and return what you have given to me.
It gives me the opportunity to put my circumstances in perspective or to see how far we have come, which gives me courage.
Do you know how valuable you are when you show up and encourage me to keep going, to keep fighting, and not to give up? Quite honestly, like many of you some days I want to throw in the towel.
Your encouragement keeps me going.
Do you know how valuable you are when you show up and challenge my thinking? When you introduce a new way of thinking about my situation, encourage patience, or challenge me to try something new, it helps.
Sometimes it is as simple as reminding me to take a breath and look at how far we have come.
Being a part of a support group has been a blessing, and it is because of people like you who show up. You can make a difference in lives of others and along the way receive the same value. Regardless of your circumstances, please do not underestimate the value of your presence.