Have you tested positive for COVID-19? You are not alone. Around the world, there have been stories shared about people feeling ashamed and afraid to share that they got the novel coronavirus. Perhaps they are anticipating some sort of a blame game to ensue, fear of judgement, or are just in a moment of denial. There could also be the thought of social shame which could add to anxiety and stress levels, worsening your symptoms from a mental or even physical standpoint.
“Several patients with COVID-19 have struggled with feeling excessive guilt as if they did something wrong, even if they followed all the recommendations to stay safe,” said Sheehan Fisher, a psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
However, we want to de-stigmatise being COVID positive; there is no shame in it. If you have followed proper precautions, the blame you are fearing is misplaced. We need to be kind to one another because of the widespread and infectious nature of this virus. In truth, everyone is at risk. To report your status and contact trace is paramount to our ability to move forward.
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I tested positive in July of 2020 and admittedly was quite nervous to let anybody know my status. However, after much thought, I shared my experience and helped friends who needed advise when going through the symptoms themselves. Oftentimes, people do not know what to expect or what they should be doing to care for themselves. To learn that you are not alone, that your peers or people that you look up to also went through the same experience, can be quite comforting. This is also true when it comes to learning about vaccinations and their efficacy in battling tough symptoms.
While you may not want to share your story publicly, don't be overwhelmed by concerns about what others will think of you. Contact tracing and coming to terms with how to care of yourself mentally and physically often means discussing your status with your family or a doctor.
We spoke to five friends who shared what they went through when they tested positive, and what they have to say about COVID-19 shaming.