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Author Topic: Processing, sharing, venting  (Read 1968 times)

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Offline Naxos

  • Member
  • Posts: 12
Processing, sharing, venting
« on: December 24, 2013, 12:11:42 AM »
Dear brothers and sisters,

I'm writing to share my thoughts, emotions and realizations over the last week, and looking back over the last decade of my life.  First, thanks for the support in this forum.  It's been very helpful for me.

I've had HIV around me since my adult gay life began over fifteen years ago.  I began volunteering at a local ASO during my freshman year of college.  I'm not sure what called me to the issue, but it seemed to be a good way to get some community history, knowledge and connections outside of campus.  I often think it was the spirit of my cousin Jimmy (whom I never met) who died in the early 80's.  My family never spoke of him much or of his death, but what little I could discover led me to believe he was gay.  He died of an unexplained infection, and his lover disappeared.  That's where the trail ends. 

During my volunteering I met a ton of great people.  Many of them older, wiser and part of a community responding to a bigger problem that I couldn't see or understand. I could feel it, and I could sense the pain and passion, and the changes coming.

One of those people became an important friend, mentor and guide in my life.  Over the course of many years we became very close, traveled together, danced, dined and even did prevention work together through lectures to local schools.  He is an amazing force, diagnosed over thirty years ago and in very good health today despite every possible complication and challenge with the disease.

Imagine my surprise when I start to suspect something wrong over the last month.  My lymph nodes swelled, my throat got sore, and my body ached with a pain that I'd never felt before.  And just as quickly as it came, it disappeared.  I always practiced safer sex technique.  I was adamant about it.  I had unprotected sex once in my life.  That one time resulted in an infection.

I've always been a person who takes risks when they are worth it.  It defines me, my personality, my career efforts.  Heck, I sometimes have a few too many drinks and eat red meat and french fries. 

I know I'm amazingly lucky.  I have an amazing network.  Four of my closest friends (the only ones I've told) couldn't be more supportive.   I have good insurance and access to great care here.  I know in my mind that my medical outlook is positive, and I'm very thankful for that.

What I can't get over is the emotional fog.  I've struggled with intimacy and letting people get close to me in the past.  This new wrinkle helps a lot!  I find it ironic that the biggest challenge today with this viral infection is often not the medical prognosis, but the emotional and mental one.  Odd.

I'm confused and scared about relationships.  I'm mad about going back into the "closet" after working so hard to be an out professional.  I'm pissed this world still has stigma associated with HIV.  I don't know how to feel/act/talk now.  I'm embarrassed. I'm not looking forward to a life of drug therapy.  And I'm f**king infuriated that I have to think about Christmas and wrapping paper right now.

I know there will be a turning point.  I guess my message is that it is okay to feel some pity, shame, confusion, sadness and hope.  I say go ahead and feel it.  Tough emotions are better than no emotions. I suspect this will strengthen me, but I'm okay not knowing where this is all going right now. 

I know many of you are going through tough times, and there are many who came before us who went through much worse.  Honor them, and most importantly yourself, as you face this challenge.

Ubi sunt qui ante nos. In mundo fuere?

-Naxos
Be still, wild and young

Offline vertigo

  • Member
  • Posts: 139
Re: Processing, sharing, venting
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 02:54:54 AM »
What an eloquent and expressive first post.  Sorry about your diagnosis.  It sounds like you are dealing with things pretty well, all considering.

You reference the feeling of having to go back in the closet.  To me, the whole experience sometimes feels like a second coming out.  Just like when being gay used to feel like a big scary deal, then eventually wasn't.  I don't think I'm that far down the road yet, but it feels like a familiar path.

We are fortunate today that the meds are so effective, with so few (if any) side effects.  That wasn't the case just a short time ago.  So you can count on being OK physically.  And as you become more chill about your new status, the emotional side will improve, as well.

Thanks for posting.  I'll look forward to hearing more from you.  Best wishes --

Offline Joe K

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  • Member
  • Posts: 3,621
  • 31 Years Poz
Re: Processing, sharing, venting
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2013, 12:15:01 PM »
... You reference the feeling of having to go back in the closet.  To me, the whole experience sometimes feels like a second coming out.  Just like when being gay used to feel like a big scary deal, then eventually wasn't.  I don't think I'm that far down the road yet, but it feels like a familiar path. ...

Hey Naxos,

I agree with Vertigo, that becoming poz is similar to coming out as being gay.  You will experience many emotions and I urge you to give yourself to feel, whatever is it you feel, without the need to do anything about any of it.  Feelings are neither good, nor bad, they just are.  It is the actions that can accompany feelings that can create real problems, so let the feelings flow and trust yourself to know when real action is required.

I have been poz for 30 years and my experience has taught me a few things.  Learn to distinguish between those things you have control and those that you do not have any control over.  You can change the first, but not the second, so do not waste time lamenting your situation because of things beyond your control.  You will experience many emotions and it is all perfectly normal and I promise that it will get better.

Right now, I encourage you to take care of yourself and that includes your body, mind and spirit.  Do something you love, everyday, even if it is only for fifteen minutes.  You matter, so make sure you show yourself you do, by being kind to you.  Please realize that testing poz is one of the most traumatic experiences you will ever have, so give yourself time to adjust and there is no right or wrong way to adjust, as what really matters is that eventually you do adjust.

I am happy that you found us, as there is a wealth of support here, as we all share the same disease.  Nobody cares how you became poz.  I have no idea how your journey with HIV will unfold, but we will be here to support you, as often as you need us.

Welcome to the forums!

Joe

Offline Naxos

  • Member
  • Posts: 12
Re: Processing, sharing, venting
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2013, 09:46:03 AM »
Thanks guys.  I think the advice to take care of oneself is critical.  It hasn't been easy over the holidays with me, to be honest.  But that's why we have New Years resolutions, right?  Those ALWAYS work....

As the journey continues, I'm finding myself struggling with an emotional roller coaster.  There are very dark and sad times followed by normalcy.  It's quite annoying, but I suppose we carry on.

Thanks for all the support.

Naxos
Be still, wild and young

Offline tavopav

  • Member
  • Posts: 3
Re: Processing, sharing, venting
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 03:35:09 AM »
Thank you for this amazing post.

As a person who has been recently thrust into the new, scary world of HIV it feels strangely comforting to know that if I struggle I do not have to be alone.

As you stated, it is surprising the way the emotional aspect of the diagnosis has overshadowed all the practical evidence regarding the health and general prognosis of the disease. You cannot be prepared for the feelings of fear and loneliness that creep into your mind. Although on a cerebral level I know that with treatment I can lead a healthy life or that my family and friends will treat me no different, the anxiety does not escape me.

I begin to worry not just for myself, but for future partners, for the stress that I will be putting on my parents, for my ability to be a good brother and friend. It becomes so overwhelming until all I can do is attempt to push it out of my head all together. That, and tell myself that in time things will get better.

But anyway, it would be amazing to hear more about your earlier experiences and life history.

Offline Naxos

  • Member
  • Posts: 12
Re: Processing, sharing, venting
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 12:03:54 PM »
Hi tavopav, welcome.

Glad you found the forums too.  I've been going back and forth for weeks reading, venting, crying, getting angry, feeling hopeful, resolved, scared.  It's probably the most emotional and "human" I've felt in a very long time.  Odd, eh?

I think your reaction is normal.  It certainly mirrors mine.  I've found over the last few weeks that doing normal things like going to work allow me to stay distracted and focused on what's in front of me.  It's only when I stop and think, dream or meditate that the overwhelming feelings take over.

I think too about future relationships.  For now, I am keeping this information very close to me and my trusted network until I resolve a few things.  In time, I expect that will change.  I would suggest (for both of us) trying not to "worry" too much on behalf of others, whether it's this issue or any other.  I've found that to be a wonderfully sensitive and empathetic trait, but one that rarely does any real good.  Worrying about how other people feel or react usually takes that attention away from yourself when you need it most.  As we learn on airplanes, secure your oxygen mask first before helping others.

Hope your journey continues to get smoother.....

-Naxos

Be still, wild and young

Offline Jmarksto

  • Member
  • Posts: 485
Re: Processing, sharing, venting
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 11:13:00 AM »
Naxos, and Tavapav;

Welcome to the forums.  I certainly went through the emotional rollercoaster - I think it is normal.  A few comments from the forums that stand out for me during my rollercoaster ride were:

1.) Things will get better -- I know it is hard to see that when you are in the middle of this - but day by day, they will get better.  Remember to enjoy those moments of normalcy, they are indications that things are getting better.

2.) Someone told me that my life would probably not change that much -- I must say that my life has changed much less than I thought it would.  I held back on a few job opportunities, social opportunities, etc. -- when I realized that I was holding myself back more than HIV was.

Again, welcome, and I wish you the best,
JM
03/15/12 Negative
06/15/12 Positive
07/11/12 CD4 790          VL 4,000
08/06/12 CD4 816/38%   VL 49,300
08/20/12 Started Complera
11/06/12 CD4   819/41% VL 38
02/11/13 CD4   935/41% VL UD
06/06/13 CD4   816/41% VL UD
10/28/13 CD4 1131/45%  VL 25
02/25/14 CD4   792/37%  VL UD
07/09/14 CD4 1004/39%   VL UD

 


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