The Power of Peer Support Groups

I wasn’t going to go to my weekly DBSA meeting. I was tired, it was dark, and I had a long day. In fact, I’ve been stuck in a rut for the past two weeks–nothing severe, just low motivation and returning to old poor habits. But something pushed me, I got myself out the door, and I drove to the church where my peer support group meets every Wed.

I shared my struggle with motivation and the general heaviness I’ve been feeling lately with the rest of the group. As usual, I got helpful supportive suggestions from people who also struggle with anxiety and depression (e.g., making daily lists of small tasks, embedding a reward system, focusing on one goal at a time, being gentle with myself).

As the meeting progressed, I found myself becoming gradually more interested and invested in others’ stories and even offering feedback and encouragement. One thing is certain: it is very difficult to feel down when you are helping someone else. There is also comfort in feeling like you are not alone and no one is judging you.  Participating in peer groups also takes me out of my own head and my own self-doubt and worries.  In fact, peer support group is one of my strongest allies in fighting this disease and keeping my depression at bay. These people get me. Or as Sally Fields would say, “they like me. They really like me!”

And if that isn’t enough of a reason to drag myself off the couch, this last part is. After the meeting, a young man (19 years old) came up to me and told me that he remembered me from when I spoke at the hospital when he was hospitalized in September. He thanked me and told me my story inspired him and I was the reason he was there.

He will never know how much his words mean to me and how much I needed to hear them. A huge smile spread across my face and I swear I floated out that door.

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