Support Groups & Group Therapy are SERIOUSLY Underrated

Prior to my hospitalization last September, I had never been exposed to any kind of group therapy. I just never felt like I belonged in any specific group since I had ulcerative colitis for two years, and then had a Jpouch for one, an ostomy on and off for four, a kock pouch for six years, and now an ostomy again. I just could never find a place where I felt like I could belong. Granted, I had never actually been to a meeting. I could never bring myself to do it so I just looked online and my mom made a few phone calls for me since I get too choked up to talk about my situation on the phone with a stranger. The ostomy groups seemed more to be for older people who had colon cancer. By the time I was actually ready to even consider going to a support group, the Crohns/Colitis foundation just didn’t seem like the right way to go anymore. I have had so many different types of surgeries and alterations to my body that I so desperately needed to talk about and to be around others who shared similar feelings but I felt lost. I had no idea where I belonged.

When the end of September of 2011 came around, I was finally exposed to the kind of support groups I needed. It didn’t matter in many ways what reasons brought someone into group therapy. The circumstances behind it weren’t as significant as the emotions that came along with it. I found people who had no idea what ulcerative colitis and ostomies even were but who still could take the words right out of my mouth in terms of how I was feeling. When you are going through difficult times, it makes you understand the world and how people react to it. It gives you a very unique perspective on life. I honestly wish I had no idea what this perspective was but since I do, I might as well put it to good use and talk about it.

When I was in group therapy, I was with all different types of people, most of which had nothing to do with the reason why I was there. But, the overwhelming anxiety and loss of identity and normalcy that many of the people felt were all still the same. The feeling that nothing in life is in our control and things are just too overwhelming is not something that only people with IBD face. These are emotions that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. I have tried to make this blog as general as possible so I could reach and hopefully identify with a wide variety of people. I want the things I write and say to be comforting and help show a lot people that they are not alone with their emotions and frustrations.

The bottom line and point of what I want to say to you guys is that you shouldn’t waste time trying to find a support group where you think mostly everyone has the exact same situation as you because at the end of the day, that part doesn’t matter too much. At the end of the day, all that matters is you recognized the need for help and to be surrounded by others who “get you” and you decided to put one step forward and go to a support group, of any kind. And once you are there and start listening and maybe begin talking a little bit, I am sure you will find so much comfort and support. These types of groups are extremely underrated.

I am thinking about going to an ostomy support group in the next couple weeks. I’ve never been able to admit that I have one which is why I have shied away from them for a while. So, I am just thinking now…and trying to focus on what I have just shared with you…

  • Sherri Troy

    I LOVE this blog Ris! I completely agree with what you shared…that support can come from so many different avenues. Support groups can be a wonderful forum for listening, sharing and feeling less alone. I will go with you to any group…be good for me too. I love you my GF…you make me so proud! I know this blog is going to touch so many people.. it sure touched me, You’re awesome!

  • val0525


    You have such a talent for writing. I look forward to reading your posts every time there is a new one. You are doing an amamzing thing here, because you are AMAZING!!!!!!!!

    Way to go!!!



    I love your conclusion that it isn’t which group you visit or join, but what you can get out of the similarities there are of feelings and aloneness your group shares. I also think you are dead on in you becoming a contributor to the group by speaking articulatly towards improving someone else’s life. You touch everyone with your blog. You have a natural talent at communications. Love you.

    • rissy26

      thank you so much alan. love you

  • hollie barnett

    Bravo! Thanks for sharing! Keep fighting the good fight! **hugs**

    • rissy26

      Thanks Hollie!! xoxoxoxoxo

  • Jodi

    You continue to be “right on”. When did you get so wise? Support and comfort come in so many different ways for different people. I would say that you being out there and having this blog is helping and touching so many lives. You are a superstar. I know I’ve said it before, but you really should get on a show and bring it to even more folks. Or, as you write so beatifully and thoughtfully, write a book, a column, something in a magazine perhaps?
    love you and so proud of you.

    • rissy26

      thanks jodi!! i hope to write a book one of these days : )