I filled out a questionnaire today. It was about wise words that I would offer to someone newly diagnosed with HIV. It's interesting to me to see how my perspective has changed over the years and how it's stayed the same.
I thought I would share a few points about my answers. I won't presume that they are wise words- I'm not some Oracle or Know-it-all with all the answers. I'll just sit them here and let you do with them as you wish. I also don't think they are just for the newly diagnosed as I believe even mid-term or long-term survivors stumble from time to time in emotional growth and peace in their HIV Journey. I most definitely have a time or two (or three).
Number one - HIV is a virus. You are human. Those are very different things. The virus can be controlled. It should not control you. Live your life.
Number two - choose your language wisely. The words that come from your mouth you are first to hear. Your brain processes them and then you say them. Thoughts become actions and actions become habits. Words really do have power, and the words that you use to describe yourself can affect your health and mental well-being. Don't let anybody talk to you any kind of way, including yourself. You are not infected. You are affected by a virus. You are not sick. You are living with, and can learn to thrive with with HIV. People can't "catch" HIV from you. It's not a ball. U=U, medication adherence and safer sex practices will protect your partners from acquiring HIV. Sex is not only still an option, I highly recommend it for the endorphins and physical release it offers!! Lol! Think of HIV not as a disease process, but as a life process, and you got this.
Number three - create a village. We all know that there are friends and family who are not always supportive of our journey in just regular old life. The beautiful thing about YOUR JOURNEY though, is you can choose who walks with you. Choose people who choose you. Create your village as though you are creating it for someone that you love, and that is infinitely precious to you. HIV is not your permission to settle for less or shortchange yourself in what you desire. People who say or think differently are not your people.
Number four - pick your battles. Stigma exists and ignorance is real. Chill. Take it from someone who has a strong clap back game and a Scorpio temper. Pick your battles. If you take offense at every affront, you will hear micro-aggression and disrespect in honest questions and curiosity. That's a sure fire way to end up bitter with no peace. Some folks like living in ignorance because it makes them feel invincible. I firmly believe in each one teach one, but not everybody wants to learn. Trust me. Chill.
Lastly, educate yourself. We fear the unknown, because it IS the unknown. The more you learn about HIV, and the more time you take to get to know yourself within the process, the less fear you have AND the less likely you are to accept less than what you deserve. You will be better able to thrive. I promise you that peace and joy are there, you just have to reach out and hold on to them.
Be well. You matter.