Stigma of HIV and Mental Health

I find it interesting that I'm very confident about being HIV-positive, but I feel insecure about speaking about my mental health.

At the end of August, I experienced psychosis for the first time, which involves hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear). It’s one of those experiences that is hard to describe in words, which adds to my discomfort of not knowing why this happened.

I can say that this experience is helping me become more mindful of how mental health varies from person to person.

Surpised by my experience with pyschosis

I used to think everyone's internal space was in a similar range and that people who have mental health issues somehow "deserved" it. I was very surprised that I experienced psychosis because I considered myself a person who takes great care of herself, now I’m questioning if I do or not.

I find myself wanting to blame myself, but I often have to remind myself this can happen to anyone. So now I’m going to be more mindful of how I treat my body because I used to be a workaholic, which meant I overworked myself and neglected my own needs such as eating and cleaning.

This has never happened to me before

I never went through a mental crisis before, so I am deciding to deal with it day-by-day instead of projecting how I would like to be now. I know that, with time, I will get through this challenging time as long as I'm supported through the healing phase.

Taking the time to listen to my body is teaching me a lot about myself; maybe I don't want to go back to how I used to be.

Transforming my life after a mental crisis

I want to transform my life into a more loving one. When I got home from the hospital, my body craved physical touch, which was a new desire for me. It helped me realize the importance of having loving relationships with family and friends in order to heal from trauma.

I have learned a lot about my body from just listening to it throughout the years, and I think change is beautiful. Change can also be terrifying, but I'm trying my best to look at it as an opportunity for me to transform into the person I always wanted to be.

Loving relationships over money or material things

I'm now envisioning myself as a person that puts loving relationships first over money because money doesn't buy happiness. My crisis really helped me realize that true love can not be bought; it's a connection that has to be built based on investing physical time with people. I know it will be challenging because it seems like people care more about the material world, which is one of the leading causes of depression.

I know that, through writing, I can heal from my mental crisis just like I have with my HIV status. I used to be really paranoid about people knowing I have HIV because I thought people would discriminate against me; this is how I feel about my mental health.

Owning who I am and my experiences

I’m trying to remind myself that owning who I am and my experiences are what I need to do if I truly want to be happy in life because I can’t expect people to be mindful of what I’m going through if I’m not open about it. I find people are more understanding when I’m transparent.

Being born with HIV gave me so many lessons that I am able to apply to other life situations which is why I love being HIV-positive. It gave me the strength to be myself, no matter what.

Now that I’m over the stigma of HIV, I feel ready to move on to the mental health aspect of living. I look forward to continuing to share my ongoing self-love journey.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you ever been unhoused or insecurely housed?