In about a week or so, it'll be five years that I've been positive and I'm sort of having mixed emotions. The phrase in my head "I can't believe it's been this long already" can go one of two ways. Sometimes it's in a proud way, like, "Look how far I've come, five years already". Other times it's more of, "I can't believe it's been this long and I still have the rest of my life to go."
Sometimes it's difficult to wrap your brain around the notion of having HIV. I don't really feel any different because of it. I've made better life choices because of it. Healthier now than I've probably ever been. I'm fortunate enough to not have gotten sick because of it (aside from medication side effects) but knowing my life falls into the hands of this tiny little pill that I have to take every single day can be daunting. It can be overwhelming and it can feel, five years in, that this journey has only just begun.
Life is about perspective. If you focus on the negative and the bad "what-if's", then that's all you're going to get and attract. Our mind sees what we tell it. How we speak to ourselves dictates how we show up in life. I do my best to look at my status as a good thing rather than a bad one. I choose gratitude. I truly feel so fortunate to have been diagnosed when I was. In a time where treatment has advanced so much. Where testing has advanced so much as well as the resources that are available to us. I have met individuals who have been positive for 20-30 years. I've heard them talk about the stigma from their friends and family. I've heard them talk about living with this virus when they didn't even really know what it was, when they didn't have medication to treat it. When people were taking AZT and getting sick. When they had to take 15 pills a day, at all times of the day; morning, night, with food, without food, on an empty stomach, etc. When they watched friends and family dying all around them. I know how lucky I am that I can take one tiny pill every morning and go about my life. I have the security of knowing my pill works and I am healthy and strong.
I choose to not let being HIV positive define my life, but allow it to be a part of who I am and my story. Being HIV positive forced me to think about my life and what I was doing. It forced me to really think about my health and my future; what I wanted that future to look like. I've taken the opportunity to educate myself on HIV and to use my story to help others who are positive as well.
I'm far from perfect or from having it all figured out. There are times my status can leave me feeling down. I just do my best to look around at the good that is in my life and be thankful for every moment I get.