Are you just beginning your hepatitis C journey? If so, today’s blog entry is for you. These tips are from people who have lived with hepatitis C, the true experts.
Support, support, support. Seek support from as many sources as possible, such as the Hep Forums, your medical team, friends and family.
Get the facts. Don’t rely on hearsay, undocumented sources and unvetted opinions for information. Your medical provider can help you find reliable sources of information.
Use caution when disclosing your status. Self-disclosure is a complicated issue, and what may work for one person could backfire in a different situation. Consider all the angles carefully before announcing you have hepatitis C.
Think positively. Positive thinking is a term we often banter about without fully understanding how to practice this. Seeing the “bright side” is both an art and a discipline. One patient told me that sometimes she worried about hepatitis C so much that it interfered with her sleep. When she found herself tossing and turning, she would just tell herself over and over, “I can beat this.” She did.
Do not let lab results or other people tell you how you feel. A patient told me that he went to bed because someone at his doctor’s office told him that his lab results “looked terrible.” When his doctor got back to him, he was told his results looked “great.” He went from feeling well, to feeling awful, back to feeling well all based on external factors.
Talk to the winners. Many people have completed treatment and are cured. They have great insight as well as hindsight as to how to succeed through the process.
Try to lead a normal life. A diagnosis of hepatitis C or other potentially serious medical condition can be jarring. Try to engage in as many normal activities as you can, particularly those that help you feel good.
Do not make decisions during the night. The night hours can be lonely and frightening. Few of us feel courageous and strong while in the throes of sleeplessness. Save assessments and decisions for the daytime hours.
Challenge your thinking and self-talk. Try not to overgeneralize or turn difficult moments into catastrophes.
Maintain balance. Establish healthy and regular eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns that are attainable.
Consider that bravery is an action performed while feeling afraid. If you find yourself feeling scared, remind yourself how courageous you are.
Seize the opportunity for humor. Studies show that laughter has a positive effect on the immune system. Plus, it feels good.
Engage in enjoyable activities every day. This is a time for healing. Healing is more than just taking medicine. Do something that is rejuvenating on a daily basis.
Do something for someone else. Reach outside of yourself to keep from becoming too wrapped up in self-concerns. However, do not neglect yourself. Find balance between helping others and staying healthy.
Try not to fear discomfort and uncertainty. Fear can be more uncomfortable than the object of fear.
Remember that all journeys are an opportunity for self-knowledge. Enjoy the adventure.
Know that this will pass. Hepatitis C is curable in the vast majority of cases. One day, you are very likely going to be able to retire this diagnosis and be free of hepatitis C.