How to Deal When Living With HIV Feels Like Too Much
BY Gary McClain
May 18 2014 2:14 PM ET
Living with HIV isn’t always easy. Like when you’re not feeling well and those scary thoughts come up. Or when you disclose to someone and they don’t exactly react the way you thought they would. Or when you are going out for an evening and you have to think about when you can get away to take your medication. Or when…well, you know what I mean.
You have a lot to think about to keep your self-care on track—diet, exercise, monitoring your numbers, disclosure, medication compliance. Sure, you don’t need me to tell you that. And yes, you’re committed to staying on the path. But still, even if you’re doing everything right, things just seem to go a whole lot more smoothly on some days than others.
And if you’ve had a few of those not-so-great days in a row, chances are you may be just about ready to scream: “Enough already! I’m tired of this! Why me?”
Feeling a little burnt out? Here are some ideas to help you cope:
First, let yourself be human. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or experienced, you may sometimes hear that voice that says: “If I stop cooperating maybe the bully will give up and go away on his own.” Or, that louder voice that just wants to have a temper tantrum and scream: “I shouldn’t have to do this. It’s somebody else’s turn!” Managing HIV can be a pretty bumpy road at times, and it’s only human to get frustrated. Show yourself some compassion.
Shift your focus toward the benefits of self-care. Sure, your treatment regimen presents some challenges at times. But what’s the upside of managing your HIV? Maintaining your self-care is what makes all the good things in your life that much more possible!
Give yourself some tough love. If there is one thing that living with HIV will make you aware of, it’s what can happen if you don’t take care of yourself—physically and emotionally. Remind yourself that taking the best possible care of yourself is what you do. Whether you are “feeling it” or not.
Keep an eye on your mental health.The challenges of life can take a toll on your emotions, and that can lead to depression. Symptoms of depression include helplessness and hopelessness, and a “why bother?” attitude toward taking care of yourself. If you suspect you might be depressed, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Connect with others who are living with HIV. After all, nobody knows what it’s like to live with HIV than someone who is traveling this road along beside you. Talk, vent, share ideas. Spend time with friends who are also living with HIV. Connect with a local or an online support group. This kind of support is critical.
Like I said, living with HIV isn’t always easy. So show yourself some compassion. And then, put that compassion into action by taking the best possible care of yourself. Seize the day!