Coping Skill #42. Attending a Group of Similar People

Joni Earkson Tada

Club SODA with Joni Earkson Tada

One of the new activities that I have been involved with on campus is with the disabilities service office. Several of us students banded together a few months ago to form a group. Now our name is Club SODA (Student Organization for Disability Appreciation). Planning events for students, speaking on panels about our struggles and strengths, and helping professors understand their students have been some of our goals.

Being part of this club has been an amazing experience. Not only have I grown as a person, I have also been able to touch the lives of others. Finally, my mental illness has a purpose: helping me to understand and love people. Now, I can be a bright light for those suffering even while I move forward in recovery.

Attending a club or group of people similar to you can be a great coping skill. There are numerous reasons for this. It helps to establish new friendships or strengthen old ones. Depression can rob people of their interests. If you force yourself to join others in  discussing or doing a subject you enjoy, it will be difficult at first. In the end, however, you will probably feel more fulfilled and joyful. At the lowest point in depression, this might not be possible. That still does not mean that you should toss aside this coping skill without trying it.

The group that you attend can be any kind that you feel drawn to, so there is great freedom in where to look. If you are struggling deeply, a therapy group might be the best option. Others might want to be with people who understand but are further in recovery. Then an awareness or advocacy group might appeal to you.

However, the group that you attend does not need to be directly related to your illness or disability to serve as a coping skill. Book clubs, dance classes, bird watching groups, political rallies, community classes, karaoke nights, gardening groups – the possibilities are endless. Plus you can always start your own club if there is not one currently near you. Invite over some friends to enjoy tea and a BBC movie together once a month, meet with other writers to compare work, or clean up trash in the area with others who care about the environment.

Attending a group of people can be frightening, especially if you do not know anyone. However, being with others who are like you can be very affirming and liberating. As I begin to join more activities at school, I find more and more people who I enjoy being around and who understand at least one element of who I am. Trusting others takes courage, but the sense of fellowship is worth it.

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8 thoughts on “Coping Skill #42. Attending a Group of Similar People

  1. 80smetalman says:

    I can attest to this. Joining a social club helped me a great deal after I moved to a new town when my first marriage ended. Again, you are amazing for bringing things like this up.

  2. That sounds like an awesome club to belong to! They didn’t have any club like that where I went to school. I have joined a lot of Meetups, but it is hard to find one where they do things besides hang out at bars!

  3. […] “Coping Skill #42: Attending a Group of Similar People” (Rose with Thorns) […]

  4. So glad to hear you promoting the benefits of joining groups. I think my extracurricular involvement in high school and college likely kept the symptoms of my mental illness largely at bay.

    I have included this post in the “Mental Health Monday” feature on my blog this week.

    Keep up the faithful blogging.

  5. […] Helping to start a disability appreciation club – With another sweet and wise student, I began to reach out to those who have disabilities to support them and those who do not to raise awareness. For years, this has been a dream of mine, […]

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