Step 2: Search for like patients.
The second step is to find someone very specifically who has a like illness or condition that you can begin to work with. This person may be found through your doctor or through a hospital or clinic information session or just from hanging around the waiting room. I know for me, it is not hard to find other patients who have Crohn's disease. I sometimes just run into them at the pharmacy when they are ordering their prescriptions or medications.
Now not every patient that you will come in contact with will be experienced in patient empowerment, or even espouse it for that matter, but at least this is a beginning of the very important social networking function...you have to reach out and find support from real-life patients.
If there is one thing that I have learned in my life it's this: misery does love company. There is something about an illness or a condition that plays with your mindset - something that goes deep into one's own pshyche where the patient believes, at least to some extent, that they are responsible for their own illness. Somehow, we did something wrong or bad and that's why we are sick.
Of course, there is no truth or validity to this, but patients just cannot help but believe this - certainly when the condition gets first diagnosed. We become ashamed of our condition and it then becomes harder to reach out. But reaching out is SO important. Once you find that others have the same illness, you just do not feel as alone - and, as a result, not as bad.
It gives ones whole condition a sense of normalcy by seeing that others have been afflicted too - and these other people did nothing wrong - so maybe I did nothing wrong too. Once there is this awareness, starting to work on improving your health becomes a lot easier.
Moving from feeling better about one's condition leads naturally to trying to improve it - which then leads to self empowerment. This is not an easy jump and as stated requires much work. One of the main ingredients is to know what can and cannot be done within the environment of healthcare in today's world. That's why a mentor or fellow patient is needed to guide you. Sometimes, you may need to reach out beyond your own illness to find a good example to follow - because there are just so few leaders to date.
There are some who have written books and are available thru consultation on the Internet - these are the first places to seek guidance. This is a very important and necessary step!