We have all felt the value of peer support when sharing a common experience with people around us. When a person has a chronic medical condition or other health issue which is uncommon or deeply personal, the lack of connection and fellowship can feel very isolating and be detrimental to one’s well-being.
I do have a chronic medical condition, and have myself experienced this feeling of isolation; growing up in a small town and being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, ankylosing spondylitis in my early teens lead to several years of loneliness, uncertainty, and a strange fear of whether the way I was coping with my symptoms was ‘normal’.
My first contact with another young person who had an autoimmune disease was around seven years after my pain symptoms first began. Comparing our symptoms, our medications, other treatments, and the impact this had on our lives - me too, me too! – gave me a real sense of reassurance and belonging. It wasn’t just me, struggling with trying to lead a fulfilling life while coping with a chronic condition.
Having an online community of people who have experienced, or are experiencing, what a patient is going through because they too live with the same condition, can be hugely comforting and feel extremely validating. Patients can be active members of a community regardless of where they live or what time of day they are available, and can offer each other resources, advice, encouragement and emotional support.
Chronic conditions often impact on every aspect of a patient’s life, and this can take a negative toll on various relationships that person has with people who are not chronically ill. Being able to discuss these problems in a community that relates to them can often take the pressure off loved ones who cannot offer that first-hand empathy.
Social Code’s mobile applications enable patients to reach out to their community for this support whenever they need to. Our MyViva community is a great place to discuss a prescribed medication and get to know one another. MyViva also provides a way to engage with trusted nurses, who offer guidance and prevent misinformation from being shared in the community. The nurses are also available for direct messaging and video chat meetings, all provided within the application.