Hi, I'm fairly new to the board, but I have noticed some squabbling lately with some people feeling judged or needing to leave and so forth. I got caught up in one myself and it really hurt my feelings. I am overly sensitive, which is my problem, but in case anyone else out there is the same, I thought I'd just mention some things that might be useful for keeping things as helpful as they were when I first joined. For a while I had the privilege of facilitating a chronic illness support group that met in a church. I consulted a professional therapist for advice, and the most helpful piece was this: "Ask people to speak only from their own experience." It was very good advice. People could say anything regarding their own thoughts, feelings, what had happened to them, what their personal beliefs were, interesting things they had read about, what goals they had, what disappointments they had, and so forth. This seemed to create a respectful atmosphere where no one was expected to agree with anyone, no one could logically argue with someone else's feelings, and sweeping generalizations or attempts to dominate or be seen as an expert, or worries over slandering a doctor or a facility were less troublesome. We were by no means always successful, and I often felt like I was way in over my head, but I had a lot to learn all at once. For instance, I discovered from the people there that it seems to be human nature to want to warn people of danger, or teach them something new-- but it is also human nature to become a little put off by someone adopting a superior tone. This seems like common knowlege, yet we all do it to a degree, and it's natural. So, I found that the group worked much better when we phrased things like, "I've had worries about...", "I had great success with..." "I am confused about..." "I didn't have luck with..." "I feel better about..." "I'm struggling with..." when it came to sharing information. The tone then stays closer to "Here's what's going on with me and that has nothing to do with what's going on with you..." or "Here's where I'm at... please don't insist that I be somewhere else that you think I should be" We get enough of that in the rest of our lives, which is why the support group is special. I think the threads that seem to benefit the most people are the ones where I notice people ask for information first before they start suggesting things. "Have you already tried..." or "What do you suspect?" are good questions they use if someone has posted a problem that is short and vague. I've observed that factfinding is a good start before I start assuming I understand. I don't always remember to do this because my desire to be a rescuer gets ahead of me. One tricky area is also the wonderful desire most people have to defend those who are perceived to under some sort of threat. However, we must be mindful that even if we feel offended by something that doesn't mean someone else is. So, instead of immediately jumping in and explaining who meant what, let the original person posting decide whether or not they want to engage. If I don't have any experience in the topic, it's probably best if I just stay out of it. However, if I feel that something that wasn't addressed to me, specifically offends my own sensibilities, then I would want to address that, rather than play the role of diplomat or interpreter. I would want to use a more direct approach, such as "When you replied to so and so with this statement, I felt blah blah blah, because I heard you saying blah blah about all people who do blah blah and I'm one of them." Obviously this sounds very stilted and formal, but I find that it does take a certain amount of effort to keep things positive when we're dealing with such personal, multi-layered issues among people we hardly know. I am often guilty of not following my own advice, so please, don't think I see myself as some sort of psychological guru. I just felt like I would be backward to not pass on the assistance that I was given when I needed it. I, myself, do not often have the energy to express myself with all the polite forms and I very much enjoy people who phrase things simply or use humor or colorful language. The last thing we need is for a part of our lives to get even more difficult. I find this forum to have a wonderfully refreshing balance of strong, researched opinions and supportive encouragement and occasional silliness to break the tension the dds create. A huge thank you to all the people who keep this up and running. This place you've created here feels like a godsend, and I don't know what I would be doing without it. I have tried several times to upload my personal bio, and I am fairly certain I can't due to my dh's complicated computer setup-- it's great to have a computer engineer in the family, but sometimes they make things harder. He is away on a trip right now, so I don't have his expertise at hand. In the meantime, here's how I would fill it out: I'm 39, mother of two girls, and have had FM since adolescence and CFS for the last seven. I was diagnosed six years ago by an osteopath who was treating me for a back injury. I met my husband in college where I studied Creative Writing and French. I grew up in Ohio, but have lived in Arizona since I was sixteen. I wish I lived in England, and had the best time of my life in London. I love to read and for completely useless fun I like to design clothes using paper doll stencils. I find that to be one thing that doesn't require me to sit up or use my arms in big motions. I sincerely hope that this is helpful and useful, and that any mistakes I make in the process will also be tolerated. I think you guys are great, and I want to do whatever I can to help "protect and serve". Any other advice that someone might have for me as a particiapant would be great. Lisette P.S. I may have completely worn out the "I" key on my computer after this post.