RE FRIENDSHIP... offline/online RESEARCH shows IT'S IMPERATIVE

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by victoria, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. victoria

    victoria New Member

    From adbusters org, parts of an article about importance of friendship. IMHO, online friendship and support is important too:

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    by Jenny Uechi

    ...People have long known that friendship can serve as a buffer for life’s hardships, but it’s only recently that we’ve found a scientific rationale for why our thoughts and emotions are so profoundly affected by the people around us.

    A newly discovered class of brain cells known as “mirror neurons” reveals the truth in the old adage that a faithful friend is the medicine of life.

    Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizolatti and his colleagues from the U. of Parma first came across mirror neurons in the eighties while studying the brain activity of macaque monkeys.

    Rizzolatti found that parts of a monkey’s brain would light up when observing the actions of another monkey: more than simply responding to stimuli, the activity of the monkey’s brain would start to mirror that of the other monkey, as if it were performing those actions itself.

    This discovery was like a flashlight shining down on the dark caverns of the human psyche, illuminating enigmas such as empathy, imitation, and shared experience. It was also the evidence that explained why people who are surrounded by friends seem to live longer and bounce back faster from setbacks than those who are socially isolated.

    “The emotional status of our main relationships has a significant impact on our overall pattern of cardiovascular and neuroendocrine activity,” says John T. Cacioppo, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.

    “My hostility bumps up your blood pressure, your nurturing love lowers mine.” When a cancer patient’s wife smiles at her husband while holding his hand, his brain tracks her emotions and mirrors her calm and reassurance. This kind of interaction lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity and promotes healing.

    In his book, Vital Friends, Tom Rath mentions a study by the Duke U. Med. Center in which heart disease patients who were socially isolated (four friends or fewer) were more than twice as likely to die in comparison to patients with a strong network of friends and family.

    No other factors, such as stress, social status, income, or severity of disease impacted the death rate of patients as much as social relations, or lack thereof. Other studies have found that social isolation triggers as many negative health effects as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and even drug abuse.

    The discovery comes at a crucial time. It revalidates friendship – and with it, all the intangible human qualities of kindness and sympathy – that tend to be sacrificed in the pursuit of material wealth and career success.

    In the July 2003 issue of Vogue, former Wired editor Katrina Heron recalls reducing her personal relationships to either a “worthwhile investment” or a “waste of time.” If you count thousands of dollars of health expenses and years of life expectancy, bonding with friends is an investment with very high returns.

    Science proves that friendships are vital for life. More than the number of names in your address book, however, the real measure of friendship in our ability to feel another peoples’ joy – and suffering – as our own.

    In his blog “The Leukemia Letters,” U. of Texas professor John Slatin reflects on a New York Times article on mirror neurons and their effect on human health; his words encapsulate the healing power of genuine friendship which no drug or diet can replicate:

    “So the mirror neurons work both ways. I send a post about the difficulties of waiting, waiting [for medical treatment], and within hours the voices come back: we’re here with you, we’re waiting too. How astonishing. How beautiful.”

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  2. mymichelina

    mymichelina New Member

    This made me feel sad....reflecting on lost friends and my isolation. Yet it was a confirmation of how much we as humans mean to each other and our importance in this world no matter how small. And how much I am missing.
  3. victoria

    victoria New Member

    You're welcome Sweetpotato, I agree!

    MyMichelina: I'm sorry it made you feel sad really...

    When I was reading it, I was just reflecting on how thankful I am to have the 'true' friends I do still have, few tho they may be;

    but also thankful for the friends I have made online here and elsewhere who have been of great support to me!

    All the best,
    Victoria

  4. budmickl

    budmickl New Member

    I don't have CFS or FM but I enjoy reading the posts on this board. A lot of what is said here applies to depression and anxiety suffers.

    I don't have any friends. I just don't seem to keep friends long term. There are no fights, no dramatic endings, just slipping away due to job changes, moves, different directions in life.

    I wish I had a friend that I felt so secure with, that I could tell her everything and she would cry along with me, not leave the room and call someone to tell them the secret I just shared with her. (My sister is like that, she is always telling me things that were told to her in private, but she tells them to me. I can't trust her now).

    How do you make a friend when you feel so bad with depression, pain, anxiety, and isolation? It's not like we can meet mew people every day..

    Thanks for listening.

    budmickl
  5. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I was becoming increasingly isolated because of my fatigue... then I found the local support group. I would recommend finding something similar if it's possible. It's understood that you don't talk about what "secret's" etc are revealed during meetings to anyone outside the group.

    I have to say that it is a wonderful lifeline... we do all get along well enough that we now meet several times per month actually, once in a private setting, the other times for lunch that is sort of hit-or-miss as to who shows up.

    I've also developed some email friends over the past few years, they've all been great support as well. My husband is supportive and understanding, but it is so helpful to be able to talk to those who have to deal with it first-hand of course.

    Hope that helps with an idea to start...

    best,
    Victoria



  6. budmickl

    budmickl New Member

    For some kind of support group then. I just know sometimes I feel like I could explode with no one to talk to.

    Thanks
    budmickl
  7. victoria

    victoria New Member

    noticed you were around KC... that's a large metro area, I'd think there would more than a few, so hopefully you can try some and see where you fit...

    And, for me at least, it does help to come here and some other messageboards as well... but there's nothing like face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice contact, that's for sure.

    All the best,
    Victoria

  8. Mini4Me

    Mini4Me New Member

    I have two best friends. One is my sister, Jacquie. Unfortunately, a few years ago she was diagnosed with scleraderma and only has a few good years left.

    My second best friend has just found out that her breast cancer has spread to the lining of her brain.

    I'm beside myself with grief for these two dear ladies whom can never be replaced!

    And wouldn't you know it, they are both more concerned about me than they are about themselves!
    Mini
  9. Fmandy

    Fmandy New Member

    Victoria :}

    Thanks for the mention of friendship... I am kind of a cross between a shut in and a hermit. I find so much support online. I am a member of more than one health forum, and I find that just a bit of attention from my friends can make my day.

    Everyone needs some attention and self validation I think :}

    A friend,

    Andy
  10. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I think that with chronic illnesses, one finds out who are really our friends... I remember telling one person that I thought was at least sort of a friend I had CFIDS and she literally backed up 10 feet, turned, and started talking to someone else!

    And so I cherish those who are my friends all the more.

    Thanks,
    Victoria


  11. budmickl

    budmickl New Member

    I am sure there are support groups in KC. I just have a hard time going to someplace where I don't know anyone. I have a hard time going to places where I do know people. I wish I could find a way to never have to leave the house. I would certainly not miss the anxiety of trying to act normal.
  12. victoria

    victoria New Member

    that people in support groups are usually very open, accepting, and giving. One doesn't have to 'prove' one's self as with other types of groups.

    I know I'd been at times at the point where I didn't want to put forth any effort to be around people, it was hard due to fatigue and inertia which in turn causes self-consciousness etc., etc. I still get that way when I'm feeling bad.

    But once/if you push yourself to go (it took me at least 4 months to be able to go due to fatigue) you'll probably be glad you did. I know that having done it, I always got a little bit of a 'high' off the contact with others as they were so welcoming and accepting...

    Hope that helps, imho it is hard to be isolated for too long. You have dogs, right? Maybe take them for walks, lots of walks... that is often a natural way to meet people just on a casual basis, at least, in one's neighborhood.

    all the best,
    Victoria

  13. mymichelina

    mymichelina New Member

    Thanks for the response to my post.

    hugs
    mymichelina