Finding Multiple Sclerosis Support in an Online Community
There are many degrees of friendship. There are the precious few with whom we share our innermost thoughts, there are casual buddies, and there are passing acquaintances. Where do online relationships fit in?
If I read your blog and you read mine, does that qualify us on some level of friendship? We leave comments for each other, we lend our support, and we “listen” by reading. We give each other food for thought and share what we’ve learned about MS. We spend a lot of time together.
Of course, we’ve never actually met face to face. That doesn’t sound like a normal friendship. Maybe in the new world order of web 2.0, we’ve created a new level of friendship. It’s an easy relationship. No knocking on the door at inconvenient times, no phone calls in the middle of the night. Just sit in front of the computer and connect.
These relationships can’t truly take the place of traditional friendships. You can never be certain about the person on the other end. You can’t call on them when in need, and they can’t call on you. But there is something to be said about being able to connect with people from all over the world from the comfort of your own home.
For people with MS, getting out and about can be difficult, if not impossible. The social life takes a hit and we find ourselves becoming isolated if we’re not careful. The friends we meet online bridge the gap.
When I was first diagnosed with MS, I didn’t know anyone else who had it. Other than a doctor with little time to spare, I had no one to commiserate with. It wasn’t until I reached out online that I realized how much company I had. I soon found out that many of the strange things I thought were unique to me were anything but unique. There were people out there... people I couldn’t see or touch, but who would teach me what I needed to know about this new part of my life.
These online friendships have become part of my MS treatment regimen, just one of the many things I do to cope with the MonSter.
I am very grateful to have found these friends and for what they have taught me. For the newly diagnosed who happen upon this site, I hope that I can do the same for you. I hope that by reading about my experiences, you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
I hope that you gain a sense of community with us. I hope you become a friend.