Fighting Loneliness & Isolation: Our Advocates Share Their Advice
For many people, hepatitis C can feel isolating, leading to feelings of sadness and loneliness. Because of the unfair stigma surrounding hepatitis C, it can be difficult to talk about hep C openly, or to find others who understand. To better serve our hep C community, we asked our HepatitisC.net advocates, "How can we combat the loneliness and isolation faced by people with hepatitis C?" Check-out their responses, or comment below to share your own thoughts!
“Many people feel the sting of stigma and choose to isolate. With the danger of isolation, you have a higher risk of depression, discouragement, and hopelessness. Studies have shown that people who have support from a spouse, friend, or group have less depression and handle treatment much better. Making people feel safe and understood in a caring environment is a great way to encourage others and fight loneliness patients can often feel when dealing with a chronic condition. If doctors would recommend a list of support options for patients, that would be a great way for patients to connect to support.”
“Expanding the support network so those impacted have an opportunity to participate in dialogue through webinars or by contacting those with experience in what they are or will be going through. Outreach to hospitals would be good so when one receives his/her diagnosis, they are aware of the availability of support groups such as HepatitisC.net. None of these existed when I was diagnosed. I was handed a pamphlet and that was about it. Now with the internet, support can be offered to those most isolated geographically, socially, and economically. Hosting meetings at various locations could also help expand and extend the community, and offer the opportunities to have more one-on-one face time.”
“Combatting loneliness is not an easy task... We are all different, and some of us can feel all alone in a crowded room. The best medicine is what works for you and may not include medicine at all. One important thing I learned in my hep C journey is that there are people in community who care and understand what it feels like. Not everyone faces loneliness with hep C, but if you do, reach out to others for help, there is no shame in feeling lonely or asking for help.”
“I think HepatitisC.net is doing a great job of helping the loneliness and isolation by providing a place where people can talk openly about what they’re going through. When we actually see another human being on the forum who is telling OUR story, we instantly connect. It’s like, “They get me!!” and we feel less afraid. We see success stories and begin to believe we can have one too.”
“Talk. It's one of the hardest things to do, but talk about it. Write about it, just for yourself. Remind yourself about the journey you're on. Allow others to take the journey with you. The first step in combating loneliness is being open. It's hard to do, especially when experience tells you it probably won't go well. Then again, I was on treatment six times, and it failed five, so maybe I'm just advocating persistence.”
Do you experience long-term side effects from hep C treatment?