Friday, July 15, 2011

"healKick: Support and Friendship" - Guest Post by Rachael

First of all, I want to thank Sarah for letting me hijack her blog today. My name is Rachael and I met Sarah at which just so happens to be exactly what I want to talk to you about today! It’s a social network for young people who have neuro-immune illnesses like Fibromyalgia, it’s like a support group but it’s so much more.

Have you ever felt alone, like no one understands what you’re going through? Have you lost friends since becoming sick? Do you struggle to find peers you can relate to? This used to be the story of my life. I have been at least marginally sick for the majority of my life but the symptoms didn’t interfere with my life until I was 14. After being diagnosed with Fibro (and other conditions) it was hard not to feel completely different than my peers. After all, they could seemingly do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. They didn’t seem to suffer after a late night or ache for days after overdoing physical activity. I tried my hardest to fit in, to suck it up, to do what they did. In the end I had to take a step back and realize that in order to heal I had to take time off and let my body have a break. The hardest part for me was that this break involved giving up work and school, two things that previously defined me. Without them, I didn’t know who I was. Without them, I didn’t relate anymore and I lost the close friendships that I previously had.

I didn’t know if I was ever going to have close friends again until the day that I stumbled across healKick. I had tried other online groups before but never felt a connection to the usernames and comments. I wanted more human connection and I especially wanted to connect with people my own age on levels other than a shared medical problem. This site is so special to me because for the first time I feel like I am being validated as an entire person, not just a syndrome or condition. The site allows people to go beyond a conversation about shared symptoms or a new treatment and develop genuine friendships.

At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I want to mention a few of the things that make healKick unique and wonderful. We have an instant messaging chat bar that allows you to talk to anyone on the site in a group chat or private chat. Recently we added a group voice/video chat feature that accommodates up to 20 members at the same time. You can choose the site’s language which allows users around the world to connect with one another. There is a member map you can search to find people in your area. Also there is a points system so you can earn prizes just by being an active member of the site. And every Friday we host a virtual movie night where everyone watches the same movie and then uses the IM feature to chat about it.

Like I said before, healKick is a social network for young adults 18 to 40 with neuro-immune illnesses. There are many people on the site with Fibro, but we also have members with ME/CFS, Chronic Lyme, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Sarcoidosis, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and Mold-related Illness.
It’s a place that goes above and beyond a traditional support group by encouraging members to share about their lives beyond their illness and their personality rather than just their symptoms. Regular support group’s members are from all stages of life but have the same condition. HealKick is different because it brings together people with different but similar conditions who all are in the same stage of life.

If you have ever felt isolated because of your illness, you don’t have to anymore. Come join us today at healKick. It helped me and I hope it will help you just as much.

I can’t wait to meet you!

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