My story is not an easy story to tell. I have asked myself why I want to explain my past to you? Is it to educate, so you won’t make the same mistakes as I have? Will it make me feel better? Maybe if I was an Academic, this story would contain big, flash words and be riveting for you all to read.
It’s none of those, so this is my story…
I have lived with the knowledge of one day sharing my experience. In fact, for 15 years. Every day for 15 years, I am reminded of my diagnosis. HIV has changed my life in ways I never would have imagined. Every night, for 15 years, I take my pill (a very harsh pill.) A hard pill to swallow…
When I was diagnosed, I spun out into another world. I walked out of a Specialist Clinic, cars whizzed by, and pedestrians nonchalantly walked along the footpath, blissfully unaware of my state of mind. I was watching from afar. It was like a movie, and I wasn’t in it. The experts tell me this is shock.
I remember the night I became HIV positive. I had been tested three times, once before this relationship, and twice within the prescribed window periods, during the relationship. I was negative. We always used condoms.
This particular night, I was deceived. I’m not sure why I didn’t go to a hospital and take that ‘special pill’, which was available at the time.
I decided it was all in my imagination. So, I thought…
What I want to say here is: Always trust your gut feelings.
For 6 years I kept this secret under wraps with my doctor. It has been tough and still is. Speaking out is not something I am good at, as I am a shy person. However, if this story can help just one person, this will make me happy.
Times have changed. We have PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) now, so relying on condoms as the only form of protection doesn’t carry with it the same anxiety we once experienced.
Right now, telling you this story, I am back walking down that footpath, after leaving the Specialist Clinic.
Every few weeks I visit my therapist who helps me to identify stressors in my life. I’ll be talking with my therapist about this story, as understandably this has triggered my emotions.
But wait, there is a good side to my story. You become aware of your body’s needs. What’s good for you. What’s healthy. I now take care of all aspects of my life, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It might seem like this diagnosis is the end of the world, but today our society has good medications, with knowledgeable Health Professionals and organisations.
What I am saying is there are places to go, and they will not judge you.
Hope this story has helped.