a person weighed down by a big rock of depression

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Challenges with mental health can drastically affect all of us in some way.

When I talk about mental health, I’m specifically talking about depression and anxiety that so many people who live with HIV deal with and, sometimes, without knowing exactly what is going on.

20 years of depression and anxiety

Having any medical condition can put stress on anyone, but being diagnosed with HIV affects our mood in a lot of ways. I talk about this because it is something that I have dealt with for over 2 decades.

There are days I can wake up and not want to get out of bed or do anything at all. I know it is mental, but when that anxiety or depression sets in, it sometimes becomes hard to shake it off.

I know many of you can understand the feeling on those days when you want to be left alone without opening the blinds or curtains.

The impact on our mood and drive

Once a person gets that diagnosis, it does something to them. There is a feeling of not wanting to live because the stigma impacts a person. It’s like a huge rock holding you down and you can’t move.

Feelings of depression or anxiety may last for a day or two and can even go on for days at a time. Anxiety can physically stop someone from doing anything and then that starts to affect you mentally.

It's okay to ask for help or reach out

The best thing that anyone can do is reach out for help and find someone to talk to, whether that be a counselor, physician, family member, or close friend.1

It is not a good feeling to feel as if you are trapped with your thoughts and your mind is racing. Finding an outlet to communicate these emotions will help significantly.

There was a loneliness inside that I use to feel, but I have learned that loneliness is a feeling that can be worked out. Depression is a mental health issue that stays for days at a time, can last for years, and does not seem to go away.

Make your mental health a priority

I ask anyone who is reading this to work hard to take care of your mental health; please don’t put it off.

When you feel like you can’t go on or feel that you don’t want to interact with life, it’s time to do what is best for you and your health. Take the time to take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be.

Don’t let your HIV diagnosis take over because you are still the same person you were before your diagnosis. HIV has changed over the years and, although it may seem hard to deal with right now, I can tell you that it will not feel this way forever. But, taking care of your overall health matters most of all.

Never feel that there is no one out there that can help you; that is how I use to feel years ago. The HIV community was my outlet and has given me my voice and guided me to be more than I thought I could be.

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