It is the season of reflection; a time to pause and embrace all of the lessons, gifts, and opportunities the past year has brought into our lives, and into the lives of those around us.
And it never ceases to amaze us here at the FIRST office, how many lives are affected, changed, or have even been transformed, when affected members find solace in the experience of another affected member. Perhaps it’s just the simple knowing that someone out there is listening, and at a very deep level, truly understands your situation.
Social media is making that possible every single day. Members are seeing the value in engaging in daily conversation with those who walk in the very same shoes. In fact, without these online social groups, many people have never had the opportunity to connect with anyone else that has ichthyosis.
Sometimes the discussion focuses on a unique issue, like starting a new relationship, or dealing with the social difficulties brought on by skin shedding, or alopecia – or maybe its a topic that most feel uncomfortable discussing, like how to inform co-workers of your skin condition, or meeting a roomate for the very first time. (A FIRST staff member oversees conversations in each group, and if there are questions or concerns that arise that require our input, we are more than glad to join the discussion.) Other times, social media groups offer a simple way to check in and say “Hello, I’m here and glad you are too,” or to post a photo of something spectacular; a simple connection that warms the often icy feelings of struggling with ichthyosis all alone.
At this time of Thanksgiving, we are grateful that so many people have discovered the many valuable resources available at FIRST. It is very validating to our staff, board, and volunteers, and continues to assure us that we are involved in a mission that is making a real difference in the lives of others.
But there’s something more.
We’re so delighted that so many of you are bravely answering the call to not only educate and inform yourselves as much as possible, but to share your experiences, your thoughts, and your personal stories of living with ichthyosis, with those who have reached out and expressed the need for connection. Please accept our bottomless thank you for reaching back.
If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to find a FIRST Facebook group that speaks to your particular stage in life. FIRST Facebook groups include: Adults with Ichthyosis, Young Adults with Ichthyosis (18-30), Parents of Children with Ichthyosis, or Teens with Ichthyosis - and they are all currently accepting members. Additionally, we are excited to share the news that these groups have been engaging in spirited and supportive conversations daily, since the very first day they were created.
So join the conversation, meet some friends, and, hopefully, gain some much needed support, tips, and information along the way.
Have a safe and happy holiday!