Web-based support networks offer help
Angie Pennington was a nervous wreck during the entire flight.
She worried and fretted over what was to come. But it wasn’t a fear of flying that had her stomach in knots.
It was concern about meeting the woman that awaited her when she landed.
The woman Pennington was to meet wasn’t a complete stranger to her, even though they had never actually met. They had communicated through email for more than a decade. They had shared personal stories and served as sources of support during times of tragedy.
“She was a great support for me when I needed it most,” Pennington says. “We were a support for each other.”
After trying for several years to have another baby, Pennington suffered a miscarriage in 2000. She was overwhelmed by a sense of loss and turned to an Internet support group for help. It was there, in an Internet chat room, that she met Gina Campbell, who was going through a similar experience.
The two women lived almost 2,500 miles apart, but they emailed and offered support to one another for more than 14 years.
“We have developed a friendship over the miles that has survived thanks to the Internet,” Pennington says.
Pennington is the office manager at Mountain Telephone in West Liberty. Campbell is a homemaker near Seattle, Washington, but broadband Internet erased the miles and brought them together.
Pennington knows now that there was no need to be nervous the day they met in a hotel lobby in Seattle. The two women hit it off great and haven’t looked back.
“It wasn’t like we were seeing each other for the first time,” she says. “It was like we had known each other for so long.”
Campbell says Pennington wasn’t the only one worried about the meeting. She was afraid 14 years communicating online would somehow not be the same in person, but there was no need for concern.
“I didn’t want our relationship to change once we met, but the second I saw her it was as if I had known her all my life,” she says.
Pennington and Campbell, both of whom have had more children, continue to communicate regularly. They continue to email, text and share pictures of their families. And although they have only met in person that one time, they continue to be a big part of each other’s lives and are making plans to see each other again.
“It amazes me how two moms all the way across the country can have so much in common, share the same concerns for our children and be concerned about the same issues,” Pennington says. “She’s become one of my best friends, and she is someone I rely on for advice.”
Support groups bring together people with similar experiences and situations to help each other cope with difficult times. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and may also offer practical advice and tips.
To find a support group, search online for state or national organizations devoted to your condition or situation. Email lists, newsgroups, chat rooms, blogs and social networking sites are available for people in need of support for almost any reason.