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In Denial -- Getting to the next level

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koksi:
I tested positive on May 5.  Immediately after diagnosis, I drank heavily for a few weeks.  I was depressed but also weirdly relieved.  I was infected sometime in March.  I know when I was infected because I was testing very regularly because of a few incidents that had put me at risk, so the time of seroconversion -- and in fact, the exact encounter -- were known to me.  The seroconversion illness was hell.  I had high fever, sore throat, profound fatigue, etc.  Swollen lymph nodes.  Eventually, however, my symptoms settled down.  The physical ones.

Since then, I have been dealing mainly with feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment.  I feel/felt stupid for what I did, for allowing myself to get infected, etc.  I went to a few support group meetings for newly positive gay men, and they were not at all helpful. 

For the last two months, I have found myself drinking heavily again on weekends.  I am realizing now that this behavior is attractive to me because it releases me from the feelings of guilt and the feeling of being polluted.  I am realizing now that I think I have been trying to deny the fact that I am positive.  I have been imagining HIV as:  asymptomatic followed by illness and death.  I haven't psychologically committed myself to living with the virus, to surviving it.  I realized that in part today when, reading this site, I became enormously anxious and upset.  I felt hot.  Uncomfortable.  Panick-y.  My skin started to crawl a bit.

I fear:  medications, fatigue, bodily distortion.  I fear rejection from colleagues should it come to that.  I fear greatly discrimination.

A wrinkle in my story is that the week after testing positive, I was offered a wonderful job here in Europe.  So in addition to dealing with my diagnosis, I am in a relatively remote Euro city with NO visible HIV poz population, no awareness, and no friends with HIV.  I have a dream job for the time being, but I also have this condition that terrifies me.

My question is:  How can I start to move beyond this self-destructive denile 'phase.'  I feel that I need reassurance that things are going to be ok.  But coming to a site like this only reminds me how badly things can go for someone with HIV.  I'm just not sure what to do.

I am seeking friends in the virtual world that I can talk to who might be in similar positions. 

RapidRod:
Seek the help of a support group or a counselor.

Queen Tokelove:

--- Quote from: koksi on October 31, 2006, 04:13:53 PM ---.

Since then, I have been dealing mainly with feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment.  I feel/felt stupid for what I did, for allowing myself to get infected, etc. 
For the last two months, I have found myself drinking heavily again on weekends.  I am realizing now that this behavior is attractive to me because it releases me from the feelings of guilt and the feeling of being polluted.  I am realizing now that I think I have been trying to deny the fact that I am positive.  I have been imagining HIV as:  asymptomatic followed by illness and death.  I haven't psychologically committed myself to living with the virus, to surviving it.  I realized that in part today when, reading this site, I became enormously anxious and upset.  I felt hot.  Uncomfortable.  Panick-y.  My skin started to crawl a bit.

I fear:  medications, fatigue, bodily distortion.  I fear rejection from colleagues should it come to that.  I fear greatly discrimination.

A wrinkle in my story is that the week after testing positive, I was offered a wonderful job here in Europe.  So in addition to dealing with my diagnosis, I am in a relatively remote Euro city with NO visible HIV poz population, no awareness, and no friends with HIV.  I have a dream job for the time being, but I also have this condition that terrifies me.

My question is:  How can I start to move beyond this self-destructive denile 'phase.'  I feel that I need reassurance that things are going to be ok.  But coming to a site like this only reminds me how badly things can go for someone with HIV.  I'm just not sure what to do.

I am seeking friends in the virtual world that I can talk to who might be in similar positions. 

--- End quote ---

Welcome to the forums, let me say first. There is no need to feel guilty or ashamed, this is all new to you and a lot to digest. We have all made poor choices at one point in our lives, we learn from our mistakes and move on. The same holds true for becoming infected, none of us asked for this to happen, it just did.

I can understand being in the denile phase, I went through it as well, but the problems are still going to be there after you sober up. Just take things one day at a time. I'm sure there are people here that will be able to advise you on how to get with support groups in your area. It's not the end....

Eldon:
Hello Koksi,

It is unfortunate that you have tested positive for HIV. In fact, all of us here have experienced the same thing that you are going through right now at this very moment. It is a phase and in time this phase will change. It does get better further down the road.

Both Queen Akasha and Rapidrod are on point with this discussion. With this, there is more of a pshycological impact than anything else. It is a harsh reality to deal with. Unfortunately, after you sober up, this very same problem will be right there waiting for you to address it. You will want to focus on building you a strong support system. With this system it will help carry you through many phases that you will encounter in your life.

I wish to extend to you a warm WELCOME here at the forums. Here you will find the encouragement, communication, understanding, support, some cries, some laughter, and many of your questions relating to HIV/AIDS answered.

We have a great group of Real people who will listen as well as answer you. We are here to encourage one another and to learn from each other.

Talking to other people helps us see that we are not the only ones with problems. Feel free to come and vent with whatever is on your mind from time-to-time as it is highly therapeutic.

In the interim, eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy and avoid processed foods, saturated and trans fats. This will also help you maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Make the BEST of each and every Day!

Nashvegas:
Hang in there, bud.  AIDS is not the disease it once was, especially for people who know about their HIV status and get on meds before their health declines.  With appropriate medical care, there's no reason you can't live a good full life.  But you've got to take care of yourself. 

I got very sick in August of this year (high fever, body aches, fatigue), and I strongly suspected that I was going through a seroconversion episode.  But I didn't go to my doctor immediately. A part of me didn't want to know my HIV status, because I wasn't sure I could deal with the consequences of a positive test result.  But I was thinking about it every night, and dwelling on the negative possibilities.  As it turned out, I went to my doctor about a month later for a completely unrelated, minor ailment, and I somehow managed to blurt out that I was concerned about HIV, so he drew some blood.  A week later, I got the bad news. 

Upon getting my positive test results, I felt a lot of the same guilt, shame, and embarrassment you've described.  I'm a well-educated, grown man, in a happy long-term relationship, and I should have known better than to put myself in a position to become infected.  But after kicking myself for a couple of weeks, I realized that I couldn't change the past, and all that kicking was doing me no good.  I could only change how I chose to deal with the situation.  So I'm trying to be as optimistic as possible.  Sure, HIV is no cakewalk, but there seem to be plenty of people who survive and thrive notwithstanding their infection. 

As for denial, it seems to me that you're denying the very real possibility that, with appropriate medical care, you might just be able to deal successfully with your HIV infection, just the way lots of people deal with chronic, but incurable diseases.  My doctor is a diabetic, and he opined that his diabetes is likely to affect his life span more than my HIV.  He also predicted, "You won't die from AIDS."  Of course, he may be wrong, but I don't doubt that he sincerely believes what he said.

So my advice is to find a good doctor.  Get your labs done, monitor your numbers, and take better care of yourself.  And don't forget to do the things that make you happy.  Once you take those first steps in dealing with your HIV infection (rather than denying it), I'll bet you'll feel a great weight lifted from your shoulders.  (I know I did). 

And remember this: there are a lot of us in the same boat -- people who care about you, and want to be here for you.

Take care, my friend....

Will

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