Sunday, 19 June 2011

Support groups

What do you think of them?  Whether they are for single parents, parents of Special Needs children, people with mental illness (including depression / PND etc.) or Something Anonymous they are out there.  You can find them in real life and on line.  You can find some that meet daily, monthly or yearly or something in between.

So you go to them?  Do you laugh and think people who go to them are losers?  Or do you think that they are beneficial at times but can become mired down in negativity where people feed off each other’s neurosis or crises or whatever?

I’m in the latter category.  I kind of think that groups can be useful and relevant if they are useful and relevant rather than becoming an all out whinge fest or one upmanship on who’s life is the worst.

But I’m having a dilemma.

There’s a group to which someone else joined me up.  It’s an online group about a particular subject but where it is becoming very clear that members of the group are expected to interact both on line and in real life. If you don’t interact enough on said group the owner / moderator tends to get a little narky and writes things about how meet ups are only so many times a year and that it’s an interactive group and everyone should participate regularly.  Comments have been along the lines of: THIS is not an information group or a group for lurkers.  Now that has only been mentioned recently it was not mentioned in the past.  And obviously someone was told to pull their head in a little because it did become less authoritative in the following few days.

I don’t want to burn any bridges but I struggling with how a support group can be supportive when you are told in what ways and how frequently you must participate.

What do you think?  Can support groups actually support?  And what if they are being extremely prescriptive about the level of participation?  Note: it's not a 12 step program where it’s generally known that there are 12 steps to follow etc.  Can a support group run effectively if one person decides how things should run and basically ostracizes those who don't play by those (at the time unwritten) rules?


Suzi said...

Well, that doesn't sound very supportive at all! The authoritarian in this instance should probably remember the group is to support ALL it's members, not just them. You take what you need to feel supported and you give back what you are able to at the time. Within these groups people tend to be at very different places anyway and that must be respected by everyone.

Madmother said...

I am the same as you - the second one is what I believe.

That being said, most of these groups I have attended have been like the second - bogged down by people stuck in "poor me, my life sucks" cycle, unable to change, and a lot of the time, unwilling.

Someone signed you up and then told you how to behave? Tell them to take a long jump...

Anna said...

I am not a support group type person except for the one that is specific to Ryley's syndrome.

I would be leaving the online one too if they are telling you how to participate. God knows we all have enough to deal with daily, sometimes you just don't have the energy to deal with someone else's crap.
I left a group on FB recently because it was just people whinging about stuff that really was fairly minor things. It did my head in. There are always some really nice people, but it isn't enough to keep me.


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