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Author Topic: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?  (Read 3669 times)

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Offline jimbalaya

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Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« on: September 25, 2012, 06:30:07 AM »
Hi all,

So I went to see a therapist yesterday for the first time since finding out I was POZ back in May of 2012....we talked through a lot of the issues that I was feeling, and although most of them have been resolved, I have some lingering self-anger and guilt over having put myself into situations that were not safe, and ultimately led to my status.   The therapist was semi-helpful...but kind of annoyed me because she kept talking about me having 'AIDS'...which is not a big deal, but for some reason bugged me.  She also had me talk to her for about ten minutes to explain about HIV/AIDS because she was not 'informed' about it (I live in a very small town).....

One of the biggest struggles I've had was whether or not to disclose to my mom.  Her brother died of AIDS-related causes in June 2011 and that has had a lot to deal with my guilt as my Uncle was very adamant that I protect myself always...and I didn't.   Anyway the therapist's take on the situation was that it would be 'selfish' to disclose because it would be more about me, and ultimately would just make my Mom worry more....I feel guilty for not telling her because at his funeral she was so upset that he never talked about his health with her, I want to build a closer relationship with her and feel bad keeping something so 'big' secret from her.......I did make another appointment with a different counselor who has HIV/AIDS listed under his 'specialties' so maybe that will help.

So I left the appointment more conflicted than ever....was curious to hear some other thoughts on it from those with experience.   Did you disclose, if so how did it go?  Are you not planning on it, and for what reasons?   Thanks so much!!

Offline Ann

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2012, 07:24:26 AM »
Wow, Jim, sounds to me like you might want to find another therapist.

As a mother, I can tell you that I would be absolutely devastated if my daughter were to become hiv positive and didn't tell me. Even though I've drummed condom use into her head since she was a teenager, I would not be disappointed in her or angry with her.

We're all human and we all make mistakes. It's a mother's job to help her children when they make mistakes - no matter what age they are - to get through the aftermath and lend support in any way we can. Even if that only means listening and administering plenty of hugs.

I don't see where this therapist gets off saying that disclosing to your mother would be "all about you". Well, duh! It IS all about you and rightly so. Your mother is going to want to be there for you. You already know that it made her sad that her brother kept her in the dark - don't do that to her yourself.

Just make sure that you make her understand that being diagnosed in 2012 isn't anything like being diagnosed in the early years, when your uncle was likely diagnosed. You have every chance of living a long, full life and dying of causes unrelated to hiv - like, you know, old age. Or you could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Your mother is going to worry about you regardless of your hiv status. I worry about my daughter and she's 25, in a stable relationship and has a good job. I still worry. That's what we mothers do best. We want to protect and be there for our children and it can be a hard blow when we find out that our children aren't telling us about important developments in their lives. It says to a mother - "I don't really trust you and I'm not sure you really love me".

Another thing about this therapist - if you do see her again, tell her upfront that you don't appreciate her constant reference to aids instead of hiv. Explain to her the differences. I do this with people all the time. Just be polite about it, but firm. But yeah, your plan to find a new therapist sounds good to me. Good luck.
Condoms are a girl's best friend

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline emeraldize

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 08:06:57 AM »
I agree with Ann on all counts - especially trying to find a new therapist if one is available in your small town. Can you go outside the town?

Absolutely confide in your mom when you're ready. I withheld the info from my mom because she'd been through a near-death cardio event. It was more than a year before I disclosed and the first thing she said was -- "Why did you wait so long to tell me?" and of course, understood when I explained that I didn't want to contribute in any way to her health challenges.

Everyone assured me my news wouldn't rock her the way I envisioned. So, here it is 8 years post-disclosure to her and HIV is never a topic because we're too busy talking about family, wildflowers, presidential elections and more.

Your therapist needs a tad more training in the definition of selfish along with AIDS and probably other stuff, too. Just like auto mechanics, lawyers and doctors, there are varying degrees of skill for sale.


Offline britchick

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2012, 06:46:35 AM »
Hi jimbalaya

Im sorry that you had a crappy therapist.Im sure that a different counsellor will make a difference.

I do agree with emeraldize...to take your time and wait until you feel readyIt doesn't need to be today, tomorrow ...just when you feel the time is right.Your mum sounds like a kind and caring person.

Best wishes


Offline jimbalaya

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2012, 07:49:33 PM »
Thanks all for the kind replies!   I do have another appointment in 2 weeks with another therapist who has listed under his 'specialties' HIV/AIDS and gay & lesbian issues....so I'm sure it will be a better fit for me.   :) 

I agree....and went to my HIV support group last night, and felt a lot better afterwards....it's amazing how being around supportive people who have been in similar situations can help so much!   Thanks to all who responded.   :)   

Offline emeraldize

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2012, 09:31:39 PM »

That was fast--great move forward. Please keep us posted how your new therapist treats you and how you feel about seeing him.

I like that he is out about his specialties.


Offline vertigo

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 03:04:29 AM »
Hi jimbalaya,

I was actually diagnosed same time as you -- May of this year -- and have been wondering about the same issue, whether to disclose to my parents.

The reaction from people who do know (my partner, doctor, a few close friends) has all been along the lines of "You have to tell them!"  (Direct quote, in some cases.)  But increasingly, I don't think that's true.

In my case, my mom will be fine with it, but my dad is a big worrier and it will definitely make his quality of life go down if he knows.  So, since I don't need their involvement on this issue at present, my disclosing is only going to result in a net loss in family happiness.  My dad's going to feel like crap, and then I'll feel like crap for making him feel like crap.  It would be -- in a word -- selfish.

However, this choice is incredibly personal, and my experience can't really inform your own decision.  Talking to a therapist sounds like a great idea, and finding one who isn't clueless like an even better one.

Good luck and best wishes --

Offline lost_boy

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2012, 05:06:49 PM »

Just to add my tuppenceworth, I've not disclosed to my parents either. At first I felt like I should, but my mother was going through chemotherapy so had a lot on her plate (kind of like Emeraldize's situation), and my brother has always been unwell too so I didn't want to add to the family pot o' problems!

A few years later and nothing terrible has happened to me - I'm just glad the drugs I am on are so forgiving compared to my mum and brother! - so I think I have been justified in not telling them. My mother also has a tendency towards the dramatic that I would rather avoid, and I dealing fine as it is at the moment  ;)  I have friends I can lean on if I need to talk, and also this forum is a great source of help/advice/comfort/sounding board too! :)

/edit: basically only you can say what is right for your situation! So don't worry, you'll know what is best.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2012, 05:09:26 PM by lost_boy »

Offline spacebarsux

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Re: Disclosure = Selfish?? huh?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2012, 04:33:10 AM »
Hey Jimbalaya,

I agree with Ann and Em with the caveat that there is "no rush". Take your time.

See the thing about HIV is that even though it is a serious chronic illness which should not be trifled with, the strides in treatment have made it a very different condition to what most people conjure in their heads- the images from the early 90's and stuff.

I had the same apprehensions as you and the guess what- My mom found out by accident anyway. Yea, she was shocked and upset but she got over it. And pretty soon.

Your mom is more resilient than you think and when she sees you getting on with your life and everything, your diagnosis notwithstanding, she'll feel all the more relieved.

You obviously know your situation best.  :)
Infected-  2005 or early 2006; Diagnosed- Jan 28th, 2011; Feb '11- CD4 754 @34%, VL- 39K; July '11- CD4 907@26%,  VL-81K; Feb '12- CD4 713 @31%, VL- 41K, Nov '12- CD4- 827@31%


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