How Being Social Can Help With Hepatitis C
Your social life may not be the first thing that comes to mind after a hepatitis C diagnosis. However, social connections are important in a number of ways. Here are just three:
How does being social help your health?
Certain medical conditions, like hepatitis C, carry heavy social stigmas that may make connection and support harder to find. Stigmas interrupt multiple areas of social life such as access to resources such as healthcare, relationships with others, and more.1
Links between your social network and your overall health are not talked about often enough. A social network includes how your relationships work, how they are structured, and the quality of those relationships.2
Research shows stronger social connections have a helpful impact on your health. For example, studies on chronic illness have shown a higher chance of improved mental and physical health when family relationships are part of the treatment plan.2
Having strong social connections does not mean you have to share your hepatitis c diagnosis. They are just maybe a factor you decide to focus on along with your medical care.
Bonding over common health challenges
Set a goal to provide a safe sharing zone for others with hepatitis C. This can be done through curiosity by simply asking others questions about their experience.
It can be through validation—recognizing their emotions are worthwhile, just like yours.
Also, it can be through connecting your experience with theirs. Regardless of how hepatitis C found its way into your body, having a safe place to talk about the challenges you face can go a long way.
As a nurse, I’ve seen people with the same health conditions find support and healing in bonding over the emotional burdens and stigmas their conditions create. I’ve also seen people be pretty tough on each other by boxing others into a “better” or “worse” type of hepatitis C based on how it was transmitted.
Creating a safe sharing zone means the focus is on respect and understanding. You may be surprised at how many experiences you have in common.
Or, through your differences, you may gain an appreciation for what you have as well as the hardships others face.
Discussing your treatment plan with others
Talking through your treatment plan with others with hepatitis C can be helpful, or it may make you question your own plan of care. It’s hard not to compare.
Remember there are many factors providers look at when making treatment decisions. Your other health conditions are one example.
Insurance coverage and costs also play a role. Even the resources you have to play a part in how your treatment plan comes together.
Anything from social support, work schedules, getting to and from appointments, understanding your medical plan, and more can make managing your hepatitis c more and less difficult than others.
On the other hand, comparing treatment plans may help you get better care. You may learn about more options, ask more questions at appointments, or be connected to resources you may not have known about without talking to others with hepatitis C.
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