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A person surrounded by a scary environment but walking towards a bright light.

Overcoming Trauma and Finding Purpose

I live by the quote stating, “Try to look at your weakness and convert it into strength.” My life was not easy, and I have learned to be an overcomer. Through time, healing, and developing as a human, I now have passion and purpose. My weaknesses now serve as fuel for my purpose in life.

Seeking treatment after trauma

Unfortunately, I was raped in January 2011. I was embarrassed and scared, so I shut myself in my dorm for a month and a half but started seeking treatment because I had several issues arise. It became hard to sleep, hard to urinate, and hard to concentrate. I knew it was time to swallow my male pride and head to a facility immediately. When I arrived, I was welcomed with warm hearts and great smiles. To them, I was not the living dead but simply a human that was suffering. The sincerity of the facility stays with me to this day because, as I will explain soon, my body was breaking down and needed help.

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The doctor saw me and asked typical questions. Some of the questions I did not feel like answering because of my situation but tried to give as much information as I could without stating the obvious. I’m pretty sure after me saying, “I remember waking up with blood coming from my anus and wanting to be alone,” gave away what I had gone through. He later asked to take some samples of blood for testing so that I would not be misdiagnosed, and this really impressed me because people I have encountered in the past usually spoke negatively about doctors and how they just wanted to get you in and get you out. I do not know if my situation had a lot to do with the change or if the doctor and facility were just that friendly.

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Receiving a diagnosis

As a few days went by, I kept being nervous because I wanted to know what my body was going through. About a week later, I received a call telling me to go to their facility. That day was so painful, but I wanted to get to the office. When I saw the doctor, he told me that I had contracted syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. I wanted to cry, but for some reason, I could not. My mind just started racing, and I knew I needed to get treated for everything I could as soon as possible.

I was also informed that given my background, it was not safe to say I was HIV-negative, so we made an agreement that I would get tested every two weeks or whenever the previous test results came back in so that I would know something as soon as possible. That procedure went on for three months, and then I received a call to come into the facility. This call was different because usually the doctor would call and say we need you to come give some more blood. When I arrived, he told me that I was HIV-positive and positive for HSV1 and HSV2. He asked me if I was alright, and I responded, "Yes, sir."

Coping with HIV and other conditions

All I can remember thinking in that moment is that I need to start treatment or at least continue getting my blood drawn to see how my numbers (CD4 count, viral load, etc.) were looking. I remember him giving me a book to read and a folder filled with information to help me in the process. After getting all that information, I knew I was going to be alright, or at least so I thought.

As October approached, I noticed my body became weak, and I was struggling to get dressed, eat, take a shower, and walk. I knew I had to push through the semester to the best of my ability, but my body was saying no. By December, I could not do anything on my own, and I finished the semester in my dorm with the help of my best friend.

I left Pittsburgh, PA for good to return to my hometown, Dallas, TX, to not only seek treatment but to have some caretakers, my parents, because I needed constant care since I was wheelchair-bound at this time. Doctors were telling my parents and me to plan for my funeral. By March of 2012, a glimpse of light came across after being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis caused by all the STDs in my body at one time. I started treatment for the arthritis, and my body slowly but surely bounced back.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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