a giant woman with boxing gloves stands on a red HIV awareness ribbon

HIV Thought It Had Me

Have you ever felt alone being diagnosed with HIV? These three letters can make you feel so scared, lost and confused with many emotions running through your head at one time. Well, that’s how I felt the year of 1997 when I was given my HIV diagnosis.

Not only that, but I thought for sure that my life would be over real soon. That’s when I realized how real depression was because I never had to face something so devastating as this in my life. I lived inside my home for three months without coming out and all I did was cry myself to sleep.

The emotions of an HIV diagnosis

Why did this thing that they call HIV scare me so much, why did it make me feel like it was my fault or that I did something wrong? I know that I knew nothing about this condition that I was living with. Five times I took an HIV test and all of them were positive. Hoping, wishing and praying that with every test, the results would change.

I just wanted it to go away, but I had to face what I thought would be the end and leave my daughter who was just 6 years old. It’s funny how we put thoughts into our heads and then begin to believe them. The mind can play so many tricks on us, don’t you agree?

Starting HIV treatment

After being diagnosed for two years, being severely depressed, and then put on protease inhibitors (HIV medication), I started to drink and every day I took a drink until I became an alcoholic. The HIV medication made me so sick I felt like I was dying anyway.

What alcohol did for me

I felt that the alcohol took away how the medication was making me feel. There were so many pills that were prescribed to me: one, two, three, four...and it didn’t stop there. I was taking 14 different medications, with one being for my depression. How can anyone cope with living this way? That’s what I use to say to myself.

Practicing self-care with HIV

After two years of living with this condition, I knew something had to change or I was going to be the cause of my death; it wasn’t going to be this virus they call HIV.

How I motivated myself

I started reading books to motivate myself so that I can feel better about who I was. I went to counseling, and I started to realize how much I mattered to me, how much I loved me and how much those around me needed me. I kept the faith and believed in it too because I knew that if you really believed, things can and will get better. Mentally, I learned that changing how I saw myself made me feel better about who I was, and it didn’t matter to me how others saw me.

It is now 2019 and I am still living: I’m healthy, happy and my daughter is a grown woman. Remember that believing in tomorrow can get you through each and every day.

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