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I think I'm losing it now - more than a year after diagnosis
Jun 6, 2012

I was diagnosed in February, 2011. I find I'm dealing with it less well now than when I was first told. I'm 50, single, alone and scared. I can't bring myself to find a partner. When I do meet a guy I sabotage it so I don't have to reveal my status. I push people away. I feel like a looser, scum, and have thought about doing myself in. I see no future.

Help

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Nearly half of the people diagnosed with HIV find themselves grappling with a variety of mood disorders, including major depression. This can be due to the virus itself, pre-existing vulnerabilities to mood concerns and, of course, difficulty adjusting to this new status and all the fears, anxiety, stigma, and other problems that go with it.

As you note, adjusting is a process. There will be an initial reaction and then, slowly, everything else - relationships, goals, friendships, and so on - get reevaluated as we learn to make peace with this unwelcome presence in our lives. There is no single, correct way to do this, except to say you cannot do it alone. If you haven't already done so, I recommend getting a mental health evaluation to see if you could benefit from an antidepressant. Medical literature shows that a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the most powerful way to combat mood disorders.

It is also extremely important to reach out (even when you really don't want to) and connect to a support system. Whether it's a structured group or an informal set of friends, these supports are essential in finding balance and meaning in our lives again. Here is a link to TheBody's mental health help page - you may find some useful information there.

You absolutely have a future, and most likely the most significant part of your life lies ahead of you. Find meaning in your diagnosis and then take action. You will feel better and I would bet you will help others in the process.

-David

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