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Companions and Illness

Being ill has many challenges, and if you are dealing with hepatitis C you may be facing difficulties that other diseases and chronic conditions share but there are some, which may be more pronounced with hep C. One challenge I see often is around the feeling of being alone or a feeling of being on your own despite being surrounded by people. The people I am talking about can be family, friends or co-workers.

I have heard often about how “nobody understands” or “they don’t get it.”

In my work I see a kind of isolation most often when people feel fear about disclosing their hep C status with others around them. They may have been treated badly at a hospital or doctor’s offices based on their hep C status and have decided to keep it to themselves. This is a form of isolation.

For others, particularly an older population, there may be virtually nobody in their lives but the people who provide their care. These people cannot very often give us the companionship we need, unless it is their job to, and that is not always what we need or want.

Shame was never an obvious part of my own experience, at least I don’t believe it was ever something I felt despite the stigma we can experience, and none of us should ever feel ashamed to have hep C.

I did have my wonderful dog to keep me company, and I have written previously about the part he played in my most difficult days. I honestly don’t know how well I would have done without him there with me. I had family who cared but they had no real understanding of what I was going through, not that my Jess really knew but he was acutely aware of my miseries. Reaching out to others with shared experience in the hep C community helped me a lot, and it was a vital link for better understanding of what was happening to me because of shared-lived experience.

I also had someone very close to me who was terminally ill during the hardest part of my hep C experience. I spent many days with them in the hospital. They were more concerned about me than themself and I was more concerned for them than myself. It enabled me to get outside of my own misery. I am not suggesting that anyone would benefit from the experience like I had, or that it was a joy filled time in my life because it was the most difficult time.

It is amazing to me how resilient we can be in the face of difficulty. but I am not suggesting that we all have the same needs or that we all respond in the same way to things like illness. One thing, which seems universally true with humans, is that we are social animals, and we generally do better in groups rather than alone. Don’t get me wrong; we all need time for ourselves but seeking some regular companionship and contact with others is a good thing in my view.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.