Despite the fact that I’m naturally an introvert, I absolutely love support groups. Not everyone does but I understand how beneficial they can be. Whether you find a supportive community online or go to an in-person group that has regular meetings, they can help you not feel so alone in your struggles or journey.
When I was in an Intensive Outpatient Program for my anorexia recovery, I went to an ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) group every Thursday. It was one of the best parts of my week. I met plenty of other people who understood my struggles, encouraged my recovery, and celebrated my accomplishments with me. After going to several meetings, the others in ANAD started to become like family. No one else in my life truly got it. But these people did. I could talk about anything going on with relatives, friends, or my job and know that I wouldn’t be judged. It was a safe space for me. There were a few people there who had been in recovery for decades. They continued going to the group because 1) recovery is a lifelong process, and 2) they were extremely supportive for all of us who were still knee-deep in ED.
One of the greatest parts of support groups – at least for me – is the fact that they don’t necessarily have to be organized. Sure, I enjoyed going to these moderated groups with specific topics that we could discuss. But every Friday, I would go to dinner with some of the other girls who were in the outpatient program with me. We would always go have sushi and talk about how we were doing. We would talk each other through dinner, since some of us were still struggling to eat. We would sit with each other for a while afterwards to make sure none of us followed through on post-meal urges. We were there for each other, no matter what.
Perhaps you don’t know where to start. Support groups are everywhere but they’re sometimes hard to find. Whether you’re struggling with an addiction, grief, trauma, or anything else, there’s support group for it. Check out Facebook groups and google online communities on specific topics. And don’t feel like you have to stick around. If you go to a group and you don’t feel that sense of belonging, you don’t have to stay there. I always suggest to try one group three times, as the first time is sometimes simply awkward. If, after that third time, you’re still just not feeling it, find another group. Keep trying different ones until you find what works for you. And keep going. The days that we don’t want to go to the support groups are usually the days that we need it the most.
ANAD Support Groups
Other Eating Disorder Support Groups
Additional Eating Disorder Support Groups
PTSD Resources for Veterans
Additional PTSD Resources for Veterans
Other Mental Health Support Groups
Additional Mental Health Support Groups