What is a Support Group?
A support group means more than two people who regularly meet to provide help and companionship to one another. Support groups are comprised of others who have been through or are going through the issue at hand. Support groups differ; from Member-only or Self-Help to Professionally-facilitated, and even online support groups. No matter the structure of the support group, they all have a common goal and that is to help their members deal with and overcome psychological challenges.
From research, we see that infertility just like HIV, Cancer, and other terminal illnesses is a major cause of depression in patients, especially in women. People faced with the challenge of infertility tend to struggle with the stability of their mental health. This is because they conceal their emotions and thoughts. This is not surprising because they may be yet to identify, accept, or understand what they feel let alone think of summoning the courage to express it to a third party.
Infertility even affects marriages especially when the challenge rests on just one spouse. The communication bridge is not always built or reinforced and as a result, both spouses are on different edges of the same bridge with little or no understanding of what goes on in the mind of the other partner.
For people dealing with infertility, there is almost always an issue with discussing topics related to infertility as they don’t believe that anyone that hasn’t been in their shoes has absolutely any understanding of their situation. Apart from seeing it as a waste of time, how easy is it to bare your personal life to just anyone and endure their scrutiny, judgements, misconceptions, and prejudice? Most would rather not go through the stress.
Infertility support groups, a community of people faced with the same challenges come together to relieve themselves of all the unexpressed and miscommunicated emotions that has welled upon within them and also give a listening ear to others who need the same relief.
Why do I need a support group?
It is very helpful to have a form of support from family, friends, infertility self-help or professional support group. This is as vital as breathing especially in Nigeria where the pressure is exhausting as the society in general dishes out its own pressure to you in addition to the one you have to deal with within. Without support, it’s no wonder that many people lurch on the brink of depression, low self-esteem, suicide, or insanity. Don’t you dare think you may be able to handle all that emotion by yourself because when it rains, it pours and as long as you bleed, you hurt. And truth be told, invisible hurt is tougher deal with.
If you want to get or fight through the challenge you need to find your strength, you can’t possibly fight and hope to win without the right tools and skillsets. Now, you may not know this but your mind is the tool you need. How do you program a disturbed mind to fight? How do you picture your children? How will your dreams come to life when they can’t even come to mind anymore?
No matter how isolated you feel, just remember that no man is an island. At some point you have to let someone in. That someone who understands and help you to make sense of your mixed emotions, anger, pain, jealousy, helplessness, hope, and whatever you feel (you can even invent a new emotion and they still get it lol). You just need sincere help on the go and support groups do a very good job with this. Do you know why? It’s filled with people just like you. Don’t be surprised that the emotion you think you invented or even named when you just didn’t know what you were feeling has already been named by someone else.
What are the benefits of the support group?
Support groups offer you a community of people just like you who understand your pains, fears, and even your hopes. You are surrounded with people you can freely express yourself with. You won’t have to worry about your feelings being misunderstood. No need to fear that you might be judged because everyone either feels the same way or was once in that position and have a total understanding of your emotions.
Some moments of your day will be worry free, cherish them. Members may share some embarrassing stories about the treatment process or even conception that can be rather humorous and, in that moment, you can feel a sense of solidarity over things like a shared loss of dignity. You get to loosen up too and feel comfortable seeing parts of your experience in a humorous light.
Going through a tough journey with someone creates a strong bond between the both of you. Some of those you meet in support groups may end up sticking with you even after the treatment procedures and help you through the negative and/or positive results and even pregnancy. Some may go on to be your life-long friends. Friends are always welcome.
It even makes clinic visitation less scary because you develop emotional resilience. Don’t underestimate the power of a familiar face among strangers and acquaintances. Rather than battling with awkwardness in the waiting room, you’re full of smiles and hope when you see someone from your group waiting in line. Someone you can relax and just talk shop with. You could mutually motivate and support each other…cheer each other on. Even the silence is comfortable because you are with someone who gets you.
You get relevant tips. You get to have access to solutions, care, or coping strategies that may never be documented. You get to learn from those who have been through the pain and now have their positive results or even others still undergoing the treatments but have discovered a few things to make dealing with the challenges even better. It is advisable to join a support group as soon as possible, it will surely help.
How do I join a support group?
A support group doesn’t have to be strictly formal or professional. As long as you can find people who sincerely share your pain and want to make you feel better one way or another, that’s also a support group. Sometimes, they find you. Your friends and family who sincerely care about your emotions and are emotionally available for you when you need them and even when you think you don’t need them are part of your support group. What would you do without them?
But for infertility support groups, I can recommend a few. There are online support groups like https://thefertilechickonline.com/ , and https://www.beibeihaven.org that you can be a part of. These have physical presence in Lagos, Nigeria. So, if you feel the need to, please get in touch with them. Remember, you are not alone.