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Newly Diagnosed

Jul07

The journey of finding support

Monday, 07 July 2014 Written by // Joshua Middleton Categories // Newly Diagnosed, Joshua Middleton, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific

Joshua Middleton with advice for the newly diagnosed. “Surrounding yourself with a support system of both positive and negative people who will stand by you through thick and thin is essential” he says.

The journey of finding support

An HIV diagnosis is one of the toughest things someone can go through. There is so much uncertainty, emotion and confusion that the combination of all three can equal a disaster if not handled correctly.

People do not know where to turn, how to handle the situation, nor a way to continue on in to the future.

For those of us who have accepted our diagnosis, HIV might be a little bit easier to deal with; however just like anyone living with a chronic health condition we have our good and bad days.

Finding out about an HIV positive diagnosis can trigger many different feelings inside a person and if not dealt with accordingly can have dire consequences including thoughts that the person might have never had if in a stable mental state. An HIV diagnosis is going to mess with your brain, simple as that. It is going to trick you into believing their is no hope or future, but nothing could be further from the truth. 

Though it is a very serious condition to be dealing with their are many of us who are living happy, healthy, and productive lives. Yes it takes time to accept the diagnosis. However throughout this whole journey, no matter how many years we have been living with it, we are all in need of support.

Back in the 1980′s when many were dying by the thousands support groups were set up to help people deal with it, so people could connect and relate to each other. As HIV has converted from a death sentence to a manageable condition, support has also changed. There are many in person support groups still out there, mainly available here through local AIDS Service Organizations (ASO’s). However, technology has advanced and people are seeking out other ways for support. Bottom line is, though if you are positive you need to have some sort of support system, no matter how strong you think you are.

Without a good support system around you, eventually, all the emotions and feelings kept inside will be like a soda bottle pumped with air, it’ll explode. If you can find an in-person support group and that is what works for you, fantastic. If you cannot their are other options out there for you to help continue to get you through this process. Never hurts to have someone who knows what your going through, though many of us have negative affected friends/family around us that support us tremendously, no one truly knows what it is like to walk this journey until they are in our shoes.

The International Place for People Living With HIV/AIDS and Those That Love Us along with the sister Spanish group “Grupo Internacional Para Personas Viviendo Con VIH/SIDA y Las Personas Afectadas” are two groups on Facebook founded by Maria Mejia, international HIV activist and good friend, that have been a pillar of support since my diagnosis. The two groups together equal around 20,000 members, a diverse group comprised of all different races, sexualities, economic statuses, countries, cultures, religions or lack of one, and so much more. They are both closed groups so no one can see what you post except the members within the group. We have two fantastic administration teams in both groups which I have the honor to be a part of and it truly is a family feeingl. There are members who are long term survivors of 25 – 30+ years as well as newly diagnosed who have just found out within the last couple of days or weeks. We are here to offer a safe, comforting, and educational space where we can come together to share our thoughts, experiences, and feelings.

It is interesting to see how HIV is handled in a variety of countries and to see just how many brothers/sisters we have throughout the world fighting this daily. Our group continues to grow and we would like to welcome you if you are looking for support to check out either group. We would be happy to have you. There is also a variety of other HIV-related support groups on Facebook as well as on other social media.

Surrounding yourself with a support system of both positive and negative people who will stand by you through thick and thin is essential. No one is equipped to handle this diagnosis all on their own, it is not a matter of being weak or not being “strong” enough to take it, it’s more about connecting with others and taking the proper steps for your health.

We only have one life to live, so why not make it a happy one? HIV or no HIV, we are still here, and still must continue to push through each day with the best attitude possible. Know that you have people out there to support you, talk with, open up to, and not be judged for what you are feeling.

For those who have accepted a diagnosis you might be saying "well why do I need that?" You can’t tell me honestly there hasn’t been a time it has gotten overwhelming, a time when you could really just use someone else going through it to talk to. Of course we all have our own individual life stories and issues aside from HIV; however this is a bond that we are connected through by blood. We have a virus running through our system, it doesn’t have to control us. Lets keep pushing on and lean on each other for support when necessary. We can get through this, together, one day at a time.

Thank you for reading my blog and I invite you to check out one of my supporters PositiveLite.com which is a fantastic website doing great work for all people living with HIV while also providing a wide access to blogs/vlogs from other activists as well as the most current articles on HIV. I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the day, please remember to always use protection and get tested to know your status.

Feel free to contact me at any of the links below, I am not a medical professional and cannot offer you medical advice, however I am someone that has some experience living with this virus and can offer you my unconditional support. Much <3 to all, take care, until next time.

This article previously appeared on Joshua’ own blog PositiveHope here. 

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