Are People Seeing a Defective Me?
Having hepatitis c can be lonely and isolating. Once diagnosed, you do not do much except worry and fret about it.
It can consume thoughts of others and, more critically, thoughts of self. Feeling defective or no longer good enough can affect your self-worth and esteem.
Recently, I had a woman who reached out to my foundation and asked me what I would suggest she do now that this “label” is put on her. She has a hard time going out in public.
At work, she sits, and her thoughts wander off. She started eating alone at her desk instead of joining colleagues for lunch.
Feeling afraid after being diagnosed
I could tell this woman has reached what everyone reading this has faced at some point: fear. It is normal to feel this way.
I shared that I understood her feelings as I was certainly there too. I was scared and felt like everyone around me could tell I was infected.
After years of living with the knowledge I had hep C before getting on the clinical trial that finally cured me, I realized that no one had no idea of the health situation I was facing.
All the made-up stories, worry, fear, and uncertainty were in my head. Frankly, no one knew what I was faced with until I made them aware of it.
Coming out publicly was the first time my family, friends, employees, and customers knew what I was struggling with.
It was not until I gained freedom about this disease that I felt more comfortable talking and sharing my story. I had to educate myself (first and foremost) about hep C.
Then after knowing all I could, I felt like I could move forward.
Here are steps I share when out in speaking engagements to others about hep C and their journey.
Even if you do not believe you have been exposed to or been in contact with anyone with hep C. Caregivers, medical professionals, if you have used IV drugs now or in the past, or have had a blood transfusion before 1990.
Accept the diagnosis
Stay driven to move forward and seek treatment. Do not stop in the process of this diagnosis.
Follow up with your physician. Complete all the necessary bloodwork needed, as well as scans, biopsies, etc. Do not stop moving forward.
Find local support groups at your hospital or even online. You can join many support systems in the comfort of your own home.
Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek that support. An unanswered question could be the key to holding you back from your cure.
Keep in mind that everyone shares a different story. We all have hep c in common but may share a different journey on how we contracted it.
Also, remember that some may share horrible stories, but that is not everyone’s journey. The same goes true for the ones getting cured right away.
Things just happen to fall into place for them. Our journey is unique, and we must also respect others' life journeys here.
Stay positive and focused
This disease is dark enough. Full of pain, discomfort, emotional stress, you name it.
Do not allow it to penetrate your mind to the point you become relaxed and just accept your fate. Educate yourself about hep c and have that list of questions you need your doctor to help with.
There is a cure; no matter how one contracts it, it does not matter. You matter.
You deserve this cure just as much as the person next to you.
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