Why "Trying Everything" Hasn't Worked For You: 3 Reasons to Build A Support System When You're Chronically Ill
Support is everything.
"I've tried it all." I've said this, you've said this, we've all said this. But have you "tried it" with help? Good, quality help?
I minored in nutrition, I read the new research, and I'm familiar with all the trends, but I still fall short when I don't have proper support.
I'm a health coach, but I need my own coach too! My own doctor, my own professional counselor, and my own personal trainer (depending on the season). Most importantly, I need friends who understand me, which requires great communication skills (post coming soon).
Sometimes we don't have access to certain types of support, and that's ok. You don't have to have every kind in order to be successful. You just have to know how to utilize the support you do have.
If you look hard enough, you'll find support no matter what situation you're in. If you strongly disagree, let me know in the comments below, or message me privately here. I truly believe the statement above, and I know I can convince you too.
Building a support system is another post for another time, but right now I want to talk about trying "all the things" WITH support. Not without.
You've tried the elimination diets, working out, new medications, new doctors. But you did it alone, and here's why your trials didn't work.
1) Support provides you with feedback.
Sometimes we are "doing the thing," but we aren't really doing it right. We think we are, and we have the absolute best of intentions! Unfortunately, though, we're bound to make mistakes. We need those other people to be a mirror for us.
The members of our inner circle will make small comments or react a certain way towards us. These are cues for us to look deeper at ourselves, and see what we're missing. This feedback is what keeps us moving forward and growing.
2) Support = love + encouragement
When you have a solid support system, the people in that system offer positive praise and encouragement. If they’re in our circle, then they believe in us. They remind us to have compassion for ourselves when we become critical. That is... if you let them see your inner critic, which I encourage you to do.
Your friends and family love you. When they tell you to stop complaining, don't take it as a personal attack. Realize that they have so much belief in your abilities, they're not willing to accept the fact that you're unable to get sh*t done. They know you're capable, even if they don't always know how to communicate it properly.
3) We don't have all the answers - branch out
You can read all the blogs, even read all the original research, and you still won't know everything. A good support system is a diverse one. You have friends, family, doctors, therapists, coaches, teachers, support groups, etc... Each type of person brings a unique perspective to your life, which is why it's so important to involve different kinds of people.
It's true that too many opposing opinions can actually do more harm than good. That's not what I'm suggesting here. I'm suggesting that you have specific people whom you can look to for a specific kind of help. Ideally, you want a group of people with similar mindsets, but very different backgrounds. They give us the advice we need when we just feel stuck, and this gets us moving again.
4) They keep you on track, in a good way
When we know and want our support system to hold us accountable, they become our greatest asset. We want to make them proud, and we want to make ourselves proud. We might also want to encourage them to better their lives. It's a perpetual, positive cycle, if we let it be.
Forget about the judgement you think everyone has about you. It's never about you. Those who judge others the most actually judge themselves incredibly harshly. So trust your close circle of support, and tell them all about your plans, goals, and dreams. Think about how they can best hold you accountable, and then ask them to do so. They want to help, and they might need your help too.
My biggest source of accountability is my partner, my therapist, and my friends. I have also found two amazing doctors to work with in CT and GA (click the states for their website). Since my friend group is also extremely diverse, I usually talk about different goals with different friends. I intentionally choose who I want to speak with, depending on their personal experiences. As you grow and refine your circle, you’ll figure this out for yourself as well.
You want to improve, you want to feel better, and you want to be an example to others around you. So be that example. Cultivate a support system, and ask that system to help you out. Help them in return if and when you can, but don't force it.
Most treatments work when you stick with it long enough, do it to the best of your ability, and stop stressing. Support systems help you achieve all of this and more.
Everything comes in phases in this lifetime. Sometimes we'll need to help a friend out for months at a time, and expect nothing in return. Years later, they may be returning the favor to us in a completely different way. Trust that everything evens out in the end, without you keeping score.
Be good to your support system, and use it well. They're there for you.