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Articles tagged with: personal stories of people living with HIV

Sep22

Still "dealing with it"

Monday, 22 September 2014

After living with HIV for ten years, the UK’s Patrick Ettenes says “you don’t know you have anything to offer anyone until you realise you have your own life experience and that is a gift if you use it well.“

Still

Well ladies and gentlemen, after a long anticipated wait I am back! 

Let me first say, when your mom or dad says" a lot can happen to you in a month", trust those very words, because a month can go by so fast or it can be the longest and most interesting time of your life. Who, for 1,000 points, would like to guess which direction mine went? 

Yes to the gentleman in the corner, you are right. It was the longest and most exciting month of my life, but not without some issues. So let’s elaborate! 

I’m re-visiting one of my earlier articles ‘Deal with it!’ today. The reason being that this article actually saved someone’s life while they were in the waiting room of a sexual health clinic after being told they were HIV-positive. The guy was planning on killing himself when he looked down at a magazine on a coffee table and saw my page. Apparently my words deterred his plot and he went out of his way to thank me. 

So why is this article important to me now? Well this last month it was the 10th anniversary of me finding out I was HIV-positive -  on August 17, 2004 to be precise. 

No, I didn’t have a good time then, and it’s still sentimentally a hard time for me. When your boyfriend isn’t there in the morning next to you after telling you the previous day that he was HIV-positive and from that day on not one partner or boyfriend was there to support you, things get hard (and not in a sexy way).  

The human brain recalls significant events which are triggered by numerous things - smell, sight, touch, hearing, and even dates.  Believe it or not since I wrote that article, every year I remember this time and I tend to fall apart.  I get depressed. If I’m not working I am self-destructive, I miss my family. I cannot explain it, it’s just there, a reminder that my life, although not that bad, is still ia struggle.

I don’t have that guy to cuddle, to wake up to and say “hey babes, I’m here for you”  and to be honest, sometimes there is a good reason why. So for those of you that do have someone special don’t take him or her for granted! You are much envied as you have a luxury that many of us don’t have! 

So with my slow self -destruction on its way I braced myself, and said to myself like I always do, “the universe will give me a reason to write soon enough.“ You know what? He, she, it, them, the powers that be made it happen - or just by mere coincidence it all fell into my lap! 

I have lived with this virus for ten years, and when I read back my own words it brings comfort to me now. I wrote “you will never be the same person, and you will find the reason to go on, and if you ACCEPT that, you have changed “; the part where I mention you will never be the same person again, is very true. 

I still wish my boyfriend was here next to me in the morning. I wish he was still alive today. I wonder how my life would have been if I did have support and a cuddle from whomever around my anniversary. I know I’m sentimental but as I had my breakdown I took control but not in a good way, and started spiralling down and down. Drugs awoke the infatuation for the ever-so-endless desire for sex. Self- harm was on my mind and all I wanted was a purpose.

Why am I still here? Why do I write all this in the hope that it will help others when I don’t have someone there for me? 

And then it hit me. One morning when I was recovering I received a text from a young guy who I had previously met and spent time with for his birthday; he was alone, so it was the nice thing to do.  We never met again. He messaged me asking for narcotics, not the delightful party ones, and coming from an individual like him it was quite shocking. To cut a long story short, this young guy had contracted HIV and was crying out for help in a new town. He felt lonely, asking why had this happened to him? So he turned to drugs, and was on a suicidal path. 

You see he was very similar to me. He had managed to get the stuff he needed to overdose and as a result I had to spend six hours with the police mental health team. I managed to see him and get information from him to help him out (behind his back). His words: “would you mind knocking on my flat mate’s door and making him aware that I’m dead please after today, thank you 

I couldn’t stop crying. That same weekend I found out that my friend took his own life due to being lonely and HIV-positive and another guy I met for random fun spent the weekend with me and we just cuddled and he said he was also on a mission to end his life. 

The epiphany came that day: if I did take my own life I wouldn’t have been around the next weekend to help him out, to help the other guy out, would I? Yes I would still fall apart but the amazing thing is... and why it would take me another month to remember, I came home and found out that I had been offered my own apartment. After a year of being literally homeless and destitute, I finally had a beautiful flat in the most prime location in the city! All this happened after I came home from a long day of trying to convince someone that someone else cares about them! 

What the hell does this have to do with my article? Just remember that people do care, even if you are convinced that they don’t.

We all watch TV and see romantic film fantasies about amazing acts of kindness and wonder when it will happen to us, but open your eyes, and see that it’s right there in front of you!

My older self has reminded me that no matter how old I get, I have my own purpose - to help, to be there, to offer a  little bit more of myself if it means someone else gets the message and understands that life is worth living. Because when you are this amazing, you will survive, but how you cover up those scars and wear them is going to be the most amazing, fabulous trend-setting thing you ever do in your life! 

Your scars are what are going to help shape your life and help change other people’s lives for the better. Believe me when I say that if I can get that message through my head after all this time, even despite my best efforts to destroy everything I have going for me, than so can you.

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