From Meth to Mindfulness
It was an odd sensation, coming to terms with what my doctor was telling me. At 22 years old, the week before graduating with my Bachelor's, when I should have been thinking about the great potential ahead of me, I was getting this instead. Not only did I have HIV, I learned, but the burning red blisters on my legs were lesions and I was dipping into AIDS territory. I was dying, and I knew it wasn't only the HIV that had ravaged my system.
Facing my addiction
I was a functioning addict, managing to convince myself I did not have a problem, when in reality, I had been using meth on weekends throughout the past year. I had lied to family, friends, and ultimately, myself. And it was killing me. I knew I had to make a change, and fast.
Accepting the past
I couldn't stop what I was feeling, both guilt and longing, the addict's cycle. I couldn't change the past. But I could control what I did, how I acted, in each moment. I began to focus, to meditate on positive or neutral aspects of the present and make room for other thoughts and feelings; to tell myself the past was in the past and I was in the present. It came from Buddhism, my father had told me. He was the first person I told -- not because we were close, but actually because we weren't.
Support from my father
Having someone close enough to care but distant enough to not "out" me was so helpful in those early days. He called and checked in on me daily, and we would center and ground over the phone. I started doing it on my own in-between. It became easier to let go of the pain and accept the situation, despite it not being "ideal". Making room for my anxiety, I came out as poz to friends and family, which made moments better moving forward. Soon, I was looking back and realizing it had been weeks since I had used. Then weeks turned into months, months into years.
Undetectable and sober
I celebrated 10 years sober May 15th, 2019, and as I write this, I plan to celebrate 11 years tomorrow. My CD4 count rose without meth battling my recovery, and I have been undetectable over 10 years. I find pride in these things, but even they are in the past. Each moment is a new one, and I will continue to adhere to my values and be the best version of myself every chance I get.
Interested in sharing your own diagnosis story, treatment experience, or another aspect of living with HIV?
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?