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#AskTyler: I'm HIV-Positive and I Don't Feel Like I Want to Live

#AskTyler: I'm HIV-Positive and I Don't Feel Like I Want to Live


A new HIV diagnosis can leave anyone feeling alone, but here's why you should have reason for hope.

David from Alabama writes, "I just found out that I am HIV-positive and I'm losing my mind. I'm afraid I'm going to lose my job and my family will hate me. I don't think I want to live."

David, I can assure you, with every fiber of my heart, that you do want live. If you didn't, you wouldn't be writing to me for help on how to figure this out. But the question you have is not how to just live, but to have a happy and fulfilling life worth living while managing a disease that can come with stigma, shame, and judgment.

Now, please read the last sentence carefully. I said can — because HIV does not have to encompass those things for you if you don't want it to. It does, however, require for you to work on creating this life for yourself. And it has to start within, and currently, you are judging yourself for something that you do not deserve to be judged for.

Have you ever watched a scary movie from the '70s? Let's say, for example, The Exorcist. Supposedly, people were throwing up in the theaters and leaving halfway through the film in a tearful panic. It was, at the time, the scariest movie ever made. Some people couldn't even get through the trailer, believe it or not.

If you watch it today, however, it may send a tingle or two down your spine, but it hardly packs the punch that it did when it was newly released. But no matter what, just hearing the title of The Exorcist evokes a certain fearful awe because its reputation still holds up.

Today, HIV is kind of like that. This might surprise you, but what was once the scariest disease out there now pales in comparison to others, which are truly something to fear. The truth is, your physical health will probably be the easiest part to manage. Once you find a doctor comfortable with and have navigated your insurance to find a treatment that works for you, it can be easily manageable. Sure, there are certain issues and complications that you need to be aware of, but after more than 30 years of research, there is hardly anything that can surprise your HIV specialist. Almost anything can be monitored and treated early to minimize any severe health concerns.

Then there is the hard part – managing your emotional health. But guess what? You have already started the process in getting better by asking for help and talking about things that you don’t want to. Now, you need to take the next step, which is creating a support system within your own community. Maybe it is a best friend, a close relative, or maybe it is a health professional. It doesn’t matter as long as it is someone who you feel comfortable talking to about the struggles you are experiencing. This is important. This is crucial. This, alone, will save your life, because it will give you a mirror to look at whenever your self-image is distorted by the shame and stigma of HIV.

Finding a good doctor who you are comfortable with is compulsory to living with HIV. But building your own support system is vital to living well. You deserve people in your life who allow you the room to pick yourself up after falling without judging you for why you slipped. Find them, and reject anyone else who only can see you for the mistakes they believe you have made.

You are never alone.

If you or someone you know is a person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline now at 1-866-488-7386.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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