Accepting My Status and Myself

When I found out I was HIV positive, I didn’t know much about the virus except for what I remember learning in my high school health class. I thought I was going to die young. I thought I would look sick and be sick all the time. I thought I'd be tired all the time. I was pregnant and feared I wouldn't live long enough to be there for my daughter. I also felt dirty and broken; like damaged goods.

When they told me I would be fine and live as long as anyone else, I didn't believe them. I was actually kind of angry because I thought they were just lying to me. I thought they were trying to make me feel better in the moment. Like I was stupid enough to fall for it. Finding out I was positive when I got pregnant was difficult Throughout my pregnancy my main concern was, of course, my baby. Everything I did was for her. The doctors appointments, taking the medication, and not breastfeeding; for her safety. To do everything in my power to make sure I didn't transmit the virus to her. I wasn't really thinking of myself. I still had all those same fears.

After my daughter was born, the stress became heavier and I fell into a depression; one I hid well from everyone around me. My depression left me feeling anxious and angry all the time. I reached a point where I couldn't feel this way anymore. I was tired of being angry, I was tired of being sad, I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to be a better mother for my daughter, she deserved to have a happy mom. I began listening to personal development videos on YouTube from people like Toby Robbins, Jim Rohn, and Mel Robbins. It really helped me to pay attention to my thought patterns and delve into the thoughts I was feeding myself on a daily basis.

I made the decision to be HAPPY. I believe our personal happiness is a choice and it is our own responsibility. I had decided this virus wasn't going to define me and take over my life. It was just a part of who I am and I would use it to do something good. I signed up for my first AIDS Walk in NYC back in 2017. I raised a little over $300 and felt amazing afterwards. I've done it it every year since. Shortly after doing my first walk I reached out to one of the women who had been in the room when I was diagnosed. I asked her what else I could do to get involved and help. She told me about the NYS peer certification program from the AIDS Institute. I began taking trainings in August of 2017. What I learned in these trainings bolstered my belief that I was going to be ok. There's proof and science behind this fact. I saw that treatment works beyond a shadow of a doubt. I sat in rooms with people who have been positive 20-30 years. I had living proof, and for me, that was all the reassurance I needed. For the first time, I KNEW I was going to be fine. I went on to complete the process and as of May of this year I am an NYS certified peer working for other people living with HIV.

In my journey, I've worked to help other individuals feel better about their status and give them the information they need, to KNOW they are going to be just fine. I've helped give them the tools they need to make sure they can advocate for themselves, adhere to their treatment, speak up with their doctors, and disclose if they are ready to. I have done my best to let them know they are loved, they are worthy, they are life. Anyone who treats us differently because of our status is a person we don’t need in our lives. They did us a favor by showing their colors. Our status doesn't define us, it's a small part of us. As a friend of mine says, I don't live with HIV, HIV lives with me.

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Ayyyye!

ci.ciiiiii's picture

I know that's the eff right!!! So relatable. 

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Thank you! 

Escalice's picture

Thank you! 

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<3 ... "they are life" ...

Red40something's picture

<3 ... "they are life" ... Yes. WE ARE

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Absolutely! Thank you for

Escalice's picture

Absolutely! Thank you for reading! 

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Hi! My name is Michelle and I

Michelle.Arias's picture

Hi! My name is Michelle and I'm working on a school project about HIV. It was really inspiring to read about your perservience and your passion for helping indivudals. In my project I want to focus on the personal and the science behind HIV. I would be very grateful if you could respond and answer a few questions for me.  How was the experience of telling family members and how did your personal relationship change ? What are ways to support someone when they are through the procces of acceptance without overstepping boundaries?   Again thank you, Michelle

 

 

 

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im so sorry that i never saw

Escalice's picture

im so sorry that i never saw this comment until now! my apologies

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im so sorry that i never saw

Escalice's picture

im so sorry that i never saw this comment until now! my apologies

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Hope

Dream90's picture

Hello. I'm glad I found this support group. Many members post have been helpful including yours. I recently found out my status last month and haven't been able to speak with anyone about it other than healthcare professionals. I'm the strong backbone of the family and I know telling them will bring much anxiety. After finding out during a routine wellness appointment I almost passed out. I immediately went into survival mode knowing that I had to live for my kids. I want to see who they'll become and my future grandkids. 
I was dating at the time and decided to end that relationship. I'm not ready for disclosure as I'm still process this. I am on medication. I am hopeful. But I'm also highly frustrated. The guy I contracted HIV from was bisexual and told me after I confronted him. I blame myself for not using a condom every time. I'm frustrated with him because although our friendship is strained o don't want the spread to continue or for him to get sick. He still has not seen a doctor. Then I'm frustrated that I still care about him at all. We we're together 4 years. My routine checkup was one month after our break up. I worry about telling my kids still in high school. I worry if I'll every be in a romantic relationship. I'm angry that I have to take a pill everyday to survive. 

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Hello Hope, Im glad you have

Escalice's picture

Hello Hope, Im glad you have found the well project. It is an amazing resource for us HIV positive women and a great place to find support and community. Im so sorry about your situation. I had went for my very first prenatal check up when I was pregant with my daughter when I found out I was positive and I was devestated and terrified. I was reassured that I would be ok but its so hard to believe that in the beginning. A woman working at the clinic (who i am still friends with today) said to me In a year my life would be so differnt and she was right. Its hard to take the word of a stranger but I promise in time you will see that you will be ok. Ive been positive for 5 years and have been undetecable. Treatment today WORKS. I too, had the fear that I would not get to see my daughter grow up and that I would die young but I was very wrong. What really helped me the most in feeling more confident in my health was educating myself on HIV and the treatments. I promise, you will be ok as long as you take your meds and care for yourself and most importantly, BELIEVE that you are worthy and deserving of all those things. As for your relationship, im sorry. There is nothing wrong with still caring and wanting th best for him but if he wont seel treatment for himself, you cant worry yourself about that. Your focus should be on YOU and your family. I too have those moments where I cant believe I have to take this pill every day for the rest of my life but I think of those who came before us and had to take numerous pills throughout the day not even knowing if it would work. Its hard in the beginning but dont isolate. Find someone you can trust, just one person to talk to helps. And continue to come here for information and support. We're all in this together. Im sending you so much love and strength.

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