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Top Ten tips for banishing HIV WOES

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PNís five minute guide to lifting spirits

By: Patrick James

1 Be good to yourself

Society puts so many negative connotations on HIV, itís easy to develop guilt and self-loathing. Remind yourself HIV is only a virus, not a moral judgment. Some of us may have been a bit daft in catching it but we are not to blame. There is no logical reason why we have to give ourselves a hard time. In the UK we now have the drugs to keep the virus under control compared with 30+ million who donít. Learning to love and like yourself again and enjoy life is an important lesson.

2 Get professional help

When we see someone with a broken leg, we all know they need help and support, so why does society offer so little to people with depression? HIV clinics are now beginning to address mental health problems and offer referrals to psychologists and psychiatrists. It takes a brave soul to admit thereís a problem and ask for help, but itís not as scary as you would imagine. Self-medicating with recreational drugs and drink is no substitute and can make you feel worse.

3 Seek support

Psychological and emotional support from others with HIV, who have lived through similar experiences, makes you realise youíre not alone. Your positive brothers and sisters can give practical tips to safely navigate through living with this illness that doctors, family or negative friends would never understand. Most local HIV charities have safe, non-judgmental peer support groups for people with HIV. They are an invaluable starting point on the road to recovery and feeling better about yourself.

4 Get out more

Isolation is a common cause of depression and mental distress in people living with HIV. Staying at home mulling over your problems can make them seem even more insurmountable. Humans are social animals and we need each other for health as well as happiness. Even walking around the local park can lift a negative mood. Better still, start an exercise programme, sport or hobby which makes the brain release natural endorphins, so-called Ďfeel goodí chemicals. As well as making you feel instantly better, youíll become fitter and more confident about your body, too.

5 Treat yourself

Having something to look forward to, be it a night out, a trip away or a holiday, will lift your depressed mood. And giving yourself a treat you know you deserve will make you happier and more optimistic. So why not have that trip to the sales or even that week in the Spanish sun this winter?

6 Talk to friends

Most of us find out who our real friends are when we tell them we are HIV positive. Some surprise us with their empathy and understanding while others run a mile. Donít blame yourself; ignorance about HIV is rife in our so-called Ďenlightenedí society. If youíre isolated and depressed, getting out of the house and visiting friends can lift your mood and make you see your problems in context. The band of brothers or sisters living with HIV can become your most supportive friends and allies. Community activism has made a major difference for people with HIV and is now being copied in other disease areas.

7 Look after both your body and mind

Learning to cook with fresh ingredients, rather than throwing a frozen meal in the microwave, will improve your nutritional health and provide a sense of self-worth. Developing pride in how you look and giving time to your appearance will not only cheer you up but also make you more attractive
to others. Feeding the mind and soul is also important. Donít just rely on easy media, like TV, but listen to soothing or uplifting music to raise your spirits. And donít be afraid of reading books, for pleasure and relaxation as well as expanding the mind.

8 Get creative

Writing out your feelings or expressing them through painting or the arts is a wonderful way to release pain, give feedback to the mind and move on from the quagmire of depression. Many of historyís greatest writers and artists were manic depressives and used their artistic skills not just to tell a story but to express their fears and hopes as well as their dark secrets. Try it. Youíll be surprised how good you actually are and how interesting your story can be.

9 Get a pet

Research has shown that people with pets have lower blood pressure and are more relaxed and focused. Pets actually work as therapy and giving unrestricted love to a dog, cat, or even to a goldfish will give you a friend, a focus and a sense of proportion. Make sure youíre not allergic to them, though.

10 Get a life!

Many people with a major illness like HIV can become so obsessed with coping with their disease they seem to put the rest of their lives on hold and stop functioning. Every waking hour is spent thinking about their plight when the best solution is to move on. It can sometimes seem impossible to get on but medical advances in HIV medicine mean most of us will not die of something associated with the virus but with some disease related to old age. Building a future, saving for retirement and trying to enjoy life and be happy must be major priorities for us all. Itís an old clichť, but we only have one life and itís up to us to make the most of it. People with HIV are often risk-takers, otherwise we wouldnít have ended up with this condition. So donít be afraid to move on. Remember: the greatest risk in life is to take no risk at all.


--- Quote from: Cliff on July 03, 2006, 08:25:31 AM ---Building a future, saving for retirement and trying to enjoy life and be happy must be major priorities for us all. Itís an old clichť, but we only have one life and itís up to us to make the most of it. People with HIV are often risk-takers, otherwise we wouldnít have ended up with this condition.

--- End quote ---

Saving for retirement... "ending up" with hiv... is the author poz or neg?? ??? i will try to re-read this later today, w/ a better frame of mind

I personally don't know his status, but would assume he's positive.  You don't think saving for retirement is a good thing for people living with HIV?  Admittedly it's not a one-size fit all list, as many people are unable to save for retirement, but where possible one should don't you think?

11. Save the lists for Dr. Phil

These kinds of lists are so Oprah to me...and frankly a little patronizing.

ps. I am using the money that I would normally put into retirement to pay for my shrink, fresh food, and my pet. He's right, I am daft.

Is an Oprah an OI I have to worry about?  Is Dr. Phil an ID Doc?


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