I am Mel and I am well, healthy, happy and living with HIV. 46 years old, 14 years with the virus, and I believe with its help, I have finally grown up! Not quite a wise woman yet, but aware enough to know how far I have come and the journey still to travel.  I live just outside of London, with my 2 daughters and menagerie. I work as a waitress, dream in my allotment and sing in a choir. I wake every morning with gratitude that I can embrace another day, breathe in and out, and smile.  It has not always been this way. I have been angry, depressed, grieved, isolated, abused, judged, self loathing and so full of hate. Now I meditate, I forgive, and I live! I do not take medication, my doctors marvel and support this choice, as my blood counts remain consistently good, but I am going to start to take daily multivitamins in the new year. I look after myself, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I don't drink…. occasionally I enjoy a good brandy. I don't smoke… a little marijuana on celebrations (looking forward to New Year!). I eat healthily…a bit heavy on the chocolate, I exercise regularly…but can also coach potato with reality TV. I enjoy life!

Why Mel wants to be a part of A Girl Like Me:  I want to contribute to A Girl Like Me because it will help me gain the strength to fully disclose to all friends and family. When I read others' biographies and blogs, I know that I am not alone. I am part of the same picture, that I share something in their stories. The sisterhood and support stops the isolation and I feel it is now time for my inclusion.  Stigma, or the release of fear of being stigmatized, is the final step for me and my HIV. I want to be able to speak up, and so it starts with writing here.

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