a pensive man has cracks in his head that he has temporarily remedied with scotch tape

Lessons Learned

A little while back, I wrote about my going to therapy for the first time in my life. I engaged in short-term therapy that is made available by the clinic I work in.

During the middle of lockdowns, becoming increasingly aware of the danger some of my friends face due to the color of their skin, I suddenly came face-to-face with several things I couldn’t get away from with my normal coping mechanism of an overly scheduled, fast-paced life.

Anxiety I couldn't shake

I was suddenly feeling an incredible amount of anxiety I couldn’t shake.

Everything felt like I had packed a ton of bricks into a bag and was carrying them around. It all felt so heavy; I needed an objective opinion that I couldn’t get with family or friends.

So I found myself in an office of a large building downtown telling a woman I never met before that I was feeling so anxious that I was having trouble focusing on anything other than the feeling that I was losing control.

Short-term therapy for 6 weeks

For the next 6 weeks, I met with her discussing what had happened in the weeks prior, her listening patiently and providing me with ideas to help center myself and helping me realize that I wasn’t losing my mind.

The fact of the matter is that my normal distractions had been taken away from me suddenly and without my consent. I have spent so much of the last several years curating what, to the outside world, looks like that I’ve got it all together until suddenly I didn’t feel that way.

She affirmed that what I was feeling is normal when all that you know is suddenly ripped away, but also helped guide me to realize that I had been resisting my own growth.

Resisting my own growth

I, like so many, have a difficult time letting go of what is familiar, no matter how much I have outgrown those things.

I had become so habitual of going to the same places and spending time with the same people, instead of seeing how those places, people, and I had been heading down different paths and I had failed to see it.

Feeling one dimensional

I had also missed that I was beginning to feel one-dimensional. I work full-time in a clinic talking about HIV all day. I talk about HIV on social media, write about it here, sit in meetings outside of work about HIV, go speak at conferences about HIV.

My life had begun to become feeling one noted.

It's okay to reach out for help

While I think the things I do at work, online, and other spaces are an incredible privilege, I spend so much time telling other people that they are more than HIV, but I had forgotten to see myself in that same light. It’s something I think lots of people who do this work get lost in and forget to give themselves space to grow.

While it was short-term therapy, the realizations I had in that time have proven invaluable. It made me take a hard look at how I want to move forward in whatever the universe has in store for the future and taught me that it’s okay to reach out for help.

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