The benefits of being in a support group

me+ Members

by Ella Willard

My name is Ella. I am 14 and I belong to a support group called Diversions Family Support Network.

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The first time my family and I went to our support group, I didn't understand what it was about and the point in going. (I was only 7 and very shy) I didn't have a stoma so I was ‘like why are we here - this is stupid.’ Looking back my mum was a genius for taking us. I now consider that group my 2nd family and have made many good friends.

Leading up to getting my first stoma (I have had 4 different stomas now) I made a chart counting down the days to my surgery. It was called ‘a countdown till my life starts again’. By this time I had met people who had stomas. They had told me about how it changed their lives for the better. This meant I wasn’t scared but very excited instead. I wanted my life to be better because I had been ill for so long. It meant I understood what it was all about and could see that I would be able to do the things with my friends that I had missed out on when I was ill.

Ella Willard Diversions photo for me+ blog

I don’t know about you but I find that being in a group where people are similar to each other is very comforting. I am always waiting and looking forward to receiving information about the next event. It's so nice to have people who just get it. We all have our stomas for different reasons but they are all still stomas. When you are with them you don't have to talk about your stoma but you can if you want to and to me that's great.

Diversions is not just about supporting those with a stoma. My younger sister, Ruth, has had a hard time dealing with me going into hospital so much, particularly as my hospital is so far from home and she couldn’t visit. She seemed to think we were having fun – we were not. When we are with the group she can talk to other brothers and sister who are probably feeling the same. I know my mum and dad have also got tips and ideas from other parents about things like dealing with leaky bags, how to cope with school trips etc.

I can guarantee you will make friends for life. I was so shy up until two years ago and I really regret not talking to anyone before then (we had been going for years). During the annual trip to the Dalmeney hotel near Blackpool I started talking to a boy called Taylor. Now he, my sister and I can't be separated at Diversions events and arrange to meet up outside as well.

In my group called Diversions we do about 4-5 events a year. The best ones (in my personal opinion lol) are the camping weekend and the Dalmeney. I can't explain it too well but being in a support group could be one of the best decisions you could ever make. 

For more information about Diversions please click here

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