a woman pokes her long neck through the gloomy rainy clouds and she peeks above into the bright sunshine and rainbow with flowers.

8,760 Days

There have been 8,760 days of my life that I had to learn how to cope, deal with, get over and adjust to my HIV status. How many of you can comprehend what I am saying?

Purpose is what pushes me

Not every day since the first day has been a great day and I can admit that there were moments or even days when I felt like a ton of bricks were holding me down mentally, but I got through it. I can still hear my cries of pain, my cries of "Why" and "Did I do something wrong to have this thing they call HIV?"

And 8,760 days later, I see that something was given to me and that was purpose. This is a word that pushes me 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Purpose wakes me up to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves and for those who live with that deep internal stigma.

I could have given up

8,760 days and counting. Why do I still count? I do this because I could have given up. I could have drunk myself to death. I could have crawled in a corner and let the depression suck me in. I bet some of you get what I am saying right now at this moment as you read this.

The power of having faith

Something was given to me and that was faith. This word has gotten me through all my negative self-talk about who I am and how the world sees a person who lives with HIV.

Faith has been my strength through it all and it still is today. Without it, I know that I would not be here. It has helped me change the way I think by turning things into a positive and letting go because it always turns out just fine. Our lives can be amazing when you look at it that way.

Believing in what I wanted for myself

Out of the 8,760 days of living with HIV, I went through 6,205 of those days just there, not really waking up or living. I was withdrawn from life, living in a bubble with everything around me still moving while I floated in one place.

Although it took me years to realize that I was lost since getting my diagnosis, it happened when I started to believe in what I wanted for myself. The word "believe" opened up my eyes to a new me. Believing made me stronger mentally and helped me push past the pain of hopelessness. I wanted to love myself again and be happy again.

The process started with me finding a purpose for something in life. Then, that led to faith in my purpose and believing everything will be alright. As long as I had these three words and spoke them to myself daily, I got through all I thought was painful inside of me. For 8,760 days, I made it so. And for 2,555 days and counting, I have never felt so free.

8760 = 24 years of living with HIV

6,205 = 17 years of living in silence

2,555 = 7 years of HIV/AIDS advocacy

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