HIV/AIDS is an emotional journey that I have been on ever since 2012. It can be stressful, exhausting, and at times extremely difficult to deal with. As with anyone, HIV negative or positive, we all have our ups and our downs. When we are positive it brings out a variety of emotions in us including sadness, anger, fear of the unknown, guilt, and confusion. I have spoke in the past about accepting ones status however even once someone has done this, every once in a blue moon, these feelings can still arise. The continued issue of stigma and discrimination serve as a constant reminder and a trigger for these feelings to return. Their have been studies done to show that patients living with HIV/AIDS can often suffer from PTSD, a disorder usually seen from someone who has went through a life threatening or violent event such as witnessing war ext…. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence however the diagnosis alone can be enough to make or break somebody, depending on their mental attitude and approach that they take towards this virus.
The mental aspect of living with HIV/AIDS is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. It is what will decide the direction that a person will go. Starting on treatment and consistently adhering is a very important aspect however without the right mental attitude then it is null and void as it might cause the person to not take their medicine as they should be. One has to be ready to start on this journey, accept their status, and move forward much like a warrior would on the front lines of the battlefield. It is perfectly normal and healthy for someone to grieve and give themselves time to come to terms with their new life of living with HIV/AIDS. For some it may be considered a drastic change as they now have to go for constant blood draws, doctor visits, and deal with possible side effects from the life saving HIV medication we have available. Some stay in a stage of guilt for a long time, beating themselves up inside, thinking that they put themselves in this situation. It is true we must accept responsibility for those of us who contracted this virus through unprotected sex however there is no reason to beat ourselves up or to live in that state forever when in reality we did something, human. We just happened to be the unlucky percentage that contracted HIV, plain and simple. Guilt is like a poison to the soul and can drag us down causing us to lose sight of our self worth, beauty, and attributes.
We know that HIV/AIDS can have a major impact psychologically and mentally so what can we do about it ? I always suggest to seek out a support system of others living with this condition and that way it helps you come to terms with HIV/AIDS. Wether it be an in person support group in your area or one of the many HIV groups online/Facebook, bottom line is you need someone to talk to about your feelings. If what you are feeling inside is causing you to think of any self harm, professional help through the form of a psychiatrist or therapist is always helpful. Through speaking with others living with the condition and surrounding yourself with a support system of friends and family, you WILL grow to accept this condition. It will make you realize though some things have changed, life is in many ways no different than it was the day before you were diagnosed. The stigma and discrimination only have power over you if you let them, it takes thick skin to live with this virus. Don’t worry or care about what others think about you, be yourself, and live for you.
This virus has grown me so much mentally, spiritually, as well as emotionally. I have a better since of who I am and what direction I want to take in life. It is not to say that since I have accepted my status the bad days are gone, I still have them sometimes, but it gets to a point where the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad. You are worthy, you are someone who deserves to be loved, you are much stronger than you think. In my opinion everything happens for a reason. Their is a reason that all of this happened to me and I have went through what I have, it has grown me into the man I am today. Don’t let HIV/AIDS define you for the worst but rather let it be a stepping stone to something much greater in your life, an inner strength you’ll find that you never had before. It is not an overnight process and does take time however their is no rush. Take care of yourself in all aspects including physically, mentally, and emotionally. No one else is going to walk your journey for you, don’t expect the trail to be cleared out in front of you, rather go where there is not a trail and leave one.
Thanks for reading and please check out my continued sponsor http://www.positivelite.com. They are an amazing group of activists who are sticking up for all PLWHA. On their website you can find many different articles, video interviews, and blogs of different people just like myself who are living with this virus day in and day out.
HIV/AIDS is not the end but simply a new beginning, mentally accept that, and start the new chapter of your life 🙂
Joshua D Middleton
firstname.lastname@example.org (feel free to email me any questions regarding HIV/AIDS, everything stays confidential, I am not a doctor and do not offer medical advice but all I can do is offer you insight from my experience, much <3, all stays confidential)