Hep C – Isolation and Self-Stigmatization

I have talked a lot about the stigma around hepatitis C both here and elsewhere. It is impossible to not include stigma in the narrative around HCV in my view.

One thing I talk about often is how people stigmatize themselves and how this often leads to further isolation, loneliness and other challenges with self-identity. Identifying ourselves as lesser in any way can take it’s toll over time and makes it even more difficult when dealing with an illness like hep C because there is baggage that we can certainly point to as very real. Nobody should be defined by any illness, or his or her place in our society.

Perhaps you have done this to yourself and understand what I am talking about. I can full well imagine it is not so different with other disease or conditions. Those of us who are older can recall the myths surrounding HIV which caused additional emotional pain for those affected. It still exists for some but great strides have been made with the public perception of HIV. This is not so with HCV even decades after it’s discovery.

I do not suppose to have the singularly best answer to how we can solve this, by a long shot. I think attitudes that are held by large groups develop over a long period of time with many parts that are difficult to pull out. Mostly I think it comes down to discrimination, or judgement as some call it. Right or wrong we measure/judge others and ourselves against the norms around us. What is acceptable by the group becomes the norm and if we feel outside of that group view we can feel ourselves less worthy or have less value in some way.

As a person who has always wanted to be outside the norm in most ways I was not prepared to feel this self-stigmatization thing.

After my own diagnosis I was depressed for months and it was not just about my fear and ignorance about the illness but because I felt like I was now alone and chose to isolate which made me even more alone. It was not a good situation but I was able to overcome it once I was able to connect with a community of people who not only shared in my disease, but much of the baggage that comes with it. We vented, we shared stories and experiences and gave each other hope.

I am not saying that this is the answer for everyone, but it sure went a long way to helping me and it continues to help people who engage in community, like here on HepatitisC.net. Isolation and self-stigmatization is unhealthy in my opinion, and if you are living with this I hope you seek out help. Help can take many forms and look different to us all but there is help and as I have said many times there is hope, as hopeless as things seem now, you can feel better and I hope you do. Living with hep C can be hard enough without feeling alone.

Please don’t blame anyone for your situation, least of all yourself.

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

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