Building a Support System

Everyone needs a solid support system. A network of family and friends that can be with you through the good times and the bad, whether you have a chronic illness or are perfectly healthy, we all run into situations in life where we need a person (or people) to just be there for us and with us. Sometimes this system is made up primarily of family, sometimes it’s friends we’ve had since childhood, and sometimes it’s friends we’ve made more recently. When you live away from where your family lives, it can be even more crucial to build a network made up of friends. If you have a chronic illness, having a solid network, whether it’s big or small, is also incredibly important.

IMG_0139Just a little throwback photo of me and my sibs.

I live away from where I grew up (I’m a whole province over) with few opportunities to go home to visit (though luckily I have parents and siblings who have come out here a few times each, a family group chat which is usually hilarious; and a mom whom I talk to on the phone daily), and I have an autoimmune disease, so the need for that solid friend network has become integral to my mental well-being. As much as I want to say, “lucky for me this has happened,” it wasn’t really luck so much as I set forth to make friends, and these friends have turned out to be just awesome people with whom this network came naturally. Whether it’s my guy friend, who always offers to drive me around because he’s concerned about my pain levels, or two of my girlfriends who have no problem travelling with me even though we sometimes may need to make accommodations (actually one of them says I walk too fast, so maybe we’re not making as many accommodations as I think we are), or my other girlfriend who also has an autoimmune disease so we just have an understanding of what the other is going through and offer advice when needed. This is the core for me, though the network is growing as I make new friends, and as some of my friends from back home have moved closer and I can see more often (plus FaceTime is an amazing invention).

tcuzRO4FSTiQuGvnAzgOscar party antics with a few of my peeps and their SO’s.

Through these people, I feel safe and secure, I have people to support me (and whom I in turn can also support), and who are available to hang out with (even if they move a little outside of the city). Utilizing your network, your people is something I highly recommend. And hopefully they utilize you too. And telling them that you appreciate them is also important.

IMG_1042My parents and I in Vienna in 2016.

Dedicated to my friends: M, K, K, N & C – you are all the best.
And to my family: Mom, Dad, Spence, Andy & Lynda – I love you