Online Forums and Chronic Illness

Life can sometimes deal us a tough set of cards. Dealing with a chronic illness is no exception.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics believes that as our population ages so does the prevalence of chronic illness. Whether it is cancer, diabetes, obesity, Lyme disease or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, managing a chronic illness can often feel like a marathon. Dealing with pain, disability, time off work, loss of employment, loss of independence and social isolation can be very overwhelming for sufferers and their families.

So where do sufferers and their families turn for support? Online forums. Often hampered by a lack of mobility, financial resources and often not enough self-confidence to leave the house, the online world becomes an absolute saving grace for sufferers and their carers.

I have witnessed first-hand how transformational the support from online forums can be. I have several friends who have children with chronic illnesses who get such solace and support from their online communities. Consciously trying to avoid ‘exhausting’ real life friends with the day-to-day saga of the chronic illness is a genuine concern for many. Finding a network of like-minded people who are experiencing the same challenges is extraordinarily powerful and genuinely helps alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Of course good cyber safety practice still applies in support forums and chat rooms. So please remember the following:

  • Always abide by chat room rules
  • NEVER share any personal information
  • Don’t use your real name. Instead choose a nickname that isn’t going to attract the wrong sort of attention
  • Be very cautious if you decide to meet up with ‘online friends’ even if you are an adult
  • If you develop an online rapport and feel comfortable enough to meet in person always choose a public place
  • Do not upload pictures of yourself
  • Do not be afraid to block or report someone in the forum or chat room if they are being in appropriate
  • Be wary of people trying to sell you unnecessary products, remedies or miracle cures —unfortunately these types do exist

So, if you have a relative or friend who is suffering from a chronic illness, why not research a few relevant forums or chat rooms for them. Feeling connected and being part of a community is very powerful and can have a huge impact on a patient’s outlook.

Till Next Time

Look out for your mates!

Alex x

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