Critically Ill Use Social Networks to Gain Support
What do those who have been diagnosed with a critical illness need most? Support.
Yes, there are other things that are needed including good doctors, information about the disease, and medical insurance coverage. But more than anything else, critically ill patients need support to help deal with the emotional roller coaster of a potentially fatal illness.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to find that support. Our loved ones may want to help, but busy lives, distance, and other obligations interfere. That's where social networks can come into play. Social networks are a place that critically ill people are finding the support they need. Social networks can provide information and much-needed social interaction.
At a very basic (but important) level, social networks are a way for people to get information about the illness that they are dealing with. Doctors are great at giving information, but sometimes your best resource may be others who have gone through the same illness.
Perhaps you want to know how you find health insurance when you have a pre-existing condition. Maybe you want to know how other people dealt with different types of medications or the side-effects of certain treatments. The chats and emails exchanged on social networking sites can provide you with quick answers to questions like these.
Although the information is nice, what many critically ill people are looking for when they sign on to social networks is distraction. Having a critical illness is terrifying. Thoughts about it consume your mind. Many times, you need to get outside of your own head for a little while in order to better cope with what you are facing. Critically ill people may spend a lot of time discussing their health concerns online, but they also exchange basic daily information with others. This can be a great way to calm your thoughts and deal with your condition.
Most important of all, of course, is the fact that online social networks can provide serious emotional support for the hardship that those with critical illnesses experience. Social networks connect you to people all over the world who may understand the fears, feelings, and changes that come along with a critical illness. When no one in your life seems to know what to say, someone from your social network may provide the right words. When you hit a rough spot, the outpouring of caring messages from your social networking friends can brighten your day.
A critical illness can make you feel disconnected from everyone around you. In order to get through this experience, you need to have many wells of support. Just knowing that there are people out there rooting for you can truly save your life. Online social networks are providing that for people in an era when support may be difficult to find from other sources.