The Covid stigma

I spoke to someone in-depth about this yesterday and she suggested I write about it. So here we go….

It’s not until you have had Covid-19 that you fully realise the stigma that’s attached to it. Feeling like lepers is an understatement.

As myself and family recover from Covid, it’s totally understandable that people are wary. Of course. No-one wants to catch this virus. And I certainly don’t want to be responsible of passing it onto someone. I’m very fortunate also that I didn’t have any ‘close contacts’ on my positive result. But even to hear people’s response when you tell them you’re positive is alarming.

You can hear it in their voice. You can sense their immediate wariness. And this is all ok. The fear factor associated with this virus is huge. And rightly so. But the stigma those that have had the virus come across is another part of the Covid experience.

The health guidelines regarding Covid symptoms are pasted everywhere. Everyone is an expert on Covid-19. Or so they seem to think. There’s more facebook doctors now than ever before. Such qualified folk they all are (not). But when you get Covid, you are immediately put under a care package. The HSE make immediate contact. They talk you through your symptoms, your isolation, your restricted movements, your recovery. Having just mild symptoms I still quizzed the HSE representative on everything; from my sons recovery at that stage, to my own medical history and to the role I must take regarding being around others. The HSE have played a very positive and influential role in our Covid experience. From the testing as soon as symptoms were present, to call-backs to overnight results, it was all positive.

But the stigma lingers on. I’ve spoke with others who have recovered and they say the same. People have crossed the road to avoid them (weeks after their recovery). Friends not replying to texts and phonecalls no longer happening. It’s a lonely experience when one is forced to isolate with covid. But the stigma which is very real too, makes it an even lonelier experience.

So if you know someone who has Covid, pick up the phone and give them a ring. Send a wee daily text. Don’t switch off because they have Covid. Be more present than ever, by staying away but by always staying in touch.

Loneliness is proving part of life for everyone at present. But it doesn’t have to be so. Take away someone’s loneliness by keeping in touch. And don’t make your contact all about Covid. If they want to talk about the virus, they will. But don’t make every contact about it.

No one should be in the position of feeling uncomfortable around someone in the present day. It’s ok to stay apart but try not to make the virus centre of everything. Try not to make a sufferer feel guilty about having it. This virus is so easily picked up and passed on. I was careful. I got it. No one is immune to this. And no-one should be made to feel like a leper.

Covid is very real and it’s very dangerous. I’m fully aware that I and my family are lucky having only had mild to moderate symptoms. Unlike most stories, it was the youngest person in my family who was worst affected. Covid knows no boundaries when it comes to age.

As Christmas is upon us, take care not to pick up or pass on this virus. And try not allow the stigma to be part of life. Support those with the virus by letting them know you care; not by distancing in the wrong way. Be the Covid friend in all the right ways.

Happy Christmas: stay safe and stay well. And remember to wash your hands, wear your mask and always socially distance.


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