The “Stigma” of Testing Positive for COVID-19

COVID-19.  You can’t turn on the news or scroll through social media without hearing or seeing the word.  

We’ve spent the last year and a half doing everything possible to prevent our exposure to it. Wipe down your groceries. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Don’t gather in large groups. Shut down schools. Close restaurants. Don’t go to public places. Wear a mask. 

But guess what?

Despite all the steps we’ve taken and the sacrifices we’ve made, it’s still happening.  People are still testing positive.   

I’m one of those people. So is my husband and so is my daughter.  

It’s as if those of us who have tested positive need our own support group. Because one thing I realized from my family’s experience with COVID is this: There is a stigma that goes along with getting COVID. And there really shouldn’t be.

The "Stigma" of Testing Positive for COVID-19

It’s no secret that COVID-19 is a controversial topic of conversation.

Everyone has different beliefs and views on what we feel is the “right” thing to do.  But even after all the guidelines on how to prevent it or stop it, it’s still here.  And just because people test positive doesn’t mean they haven’t been trying their best to be a “part of the solution.”  Or that they have been careless.

When the coronavirus hit my family I felt so many different things;  shame, guilt, stress, fear. 

I remember all of those feelings very well.  The day the doctor called and told me that my daughter’s test had come back positive I went into my bathroom, locked the door, sat down on the floor, and cried. 

Looking back, there was only one thing I wanted during our time in quarantine– support from others who knew what we were going through.  But why didn’t I feel as though I had it?  Why did I feel like I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, share our positive results with others?

The reason is that I was too afraid of being judged. 

I was worried about what others would think of me and my family if they knew that we tested positive.  The thought of others making assumptions of things we must have done wrong made me feel as though I needed it to be a secret.  

Part of me felt as though I had no other choice.    

I know we are just one of the MANY families who, despite our best efforts, were still affected.  COVID-19 didn’t affect our family because we did something wrong; I know that now.  But the mind can play crazy games when you spend months trying to avoid something just to one day wake up and realize it’s found you.

I consider myself and my family a COVID-19 ‘success’ story. 

But why is it that we rarely hear or talk about those who test positive but make it through okay?  I do understand that many are not so lucky, and I’m aware that some COVID stories don’t end well. My heart goes out to all those in that circumstance.

But we shouldn’t have to feel things like shame or guilt because of a positive COVID test.  It’s life.  Whether you’ve personally dealt with the coronavirus or not, we are all in this together.

Instead, we should support each other and be there for one another.  Let’s make it okay to talk about our experience with this virus and help one another cope.  

Because no one deserves to go through it feeling alone. 

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Ashley is a ‘small town’ girl who moved to the ‘big city’ of Cedar Rapids after high school. A graduate of Coe College, Ashley is currently a kindergarten teacher and a true lover of yoga pants, cozy sweatshirts, chai tea lattes and cookie dough. Ashley and her husband, Mitch, first met each other back in middle school, dated when they were freshmen in high school, then reconnected one final time via Facebook back in 2006 shortly after Mitch returned from his first deployment. They've stood by their vows of ‘for better or worse,’ and as they approach their 10 year wedding anniversary, they aren’t afraid to admit that marriage isn’t easy. They welcomed their first child, Stella Grace Bass, in May of 2013 and their second child, Archer Mitchell Bass, in December of 2017!

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