Depression Is Real
Mental illness is serious, and it is a topic that should be addressed more in every race, religion, and age. People have put a certain label on mental illness and have made the world think that it is shameful, embarrassing, and sometimes pitiful. And that the look of those who suffer from it are from a lower class of people.
You are not alone in your depression
But mental illness comes in the night to every individual there is, whether you're Black, White, Hispanic, etc. If the world would stop putting labels on issues we face, I feel that it would be much easier for the ones who are living with it. The shame will slowly disappear, the suicides will be no more and this wanting to fit in and not feel so different wouldn’t be so difficult.
Being HIV positive and fighting depression
Over the last 4 and a half years I have met so many people living with HIV who are not just one age, one race or one religion and I have learned that I am not the only one who deals with depression. Before I was diagnosed with HIV, I never suffered from depression at all.
And even though I am not a doctor, I would like to still speak to you about what I have seen and heard from people who are living with the same virus we are living with and give you a better understanding. Over the years, I still get depressed and there is nothing that has happened to trigger it: it just comes. I have taught myself how to deal with it and I know for me it's triggered because of living with HIV.
How I work through my depression
Some days it will last a few hours, sometimes a day or two. When this happens, I tell my family that I am not in the best of moods, but I also work very hard to keep the depression from getting worse, like: I don’t get in the bed under the covers because I know that will make it worse, I stay active by going outside somewhere, and I talk to myself and say thing like, "Come on you got this, Davina. Don’t let it get to you, snap out of it." All these things usually work, but when I don’t try hard enough, I end up in the bed and I do not get out of it.
A safe space and support
The reason I chose to speak about depression is that I don’t want you to feel alone as if you’re the only one who is living with HIV and feeling depressed. We all need someone to vent to, to cry to, to express these feelings that we are feeling, and I don’t want you to ever feel that you are alone. You can come here in this safe space and let those feelings go. We will support you here and help you through it the best we can.
There are people who can help
But most importantly I ask you to seek help from your provider if you feel you can’t deal with it. There is counseling that helps so much and I encourage you to look for all resources out there to feel better about life. Remember mental illness is real and there are others who want to help.
Editor's note: Depression and anxiety can often occur together when living with HIV. If you or anyone close to you are in need of additional guidance on how to cope with depression or thoughts of self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). To find mental health providers or resources in your area, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).1
Have you ever experienced discrimination due to your HIV status?