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Old and no fight
Jul 30, 2012

I wonder about your response to the man who is 48 and living just for the disability check. I have been + for 18 years and been on disability and have been seeing a shrink for the same time period. I am a physician. There is nothing that seems to work to make one feel better when your entire identity is taken away by a disease like HIV. Therapy and meds have been useless. I spend most days in bed and have become 50 pounds overweight. I see little reason to go out due to my weight and even if I lose weight, I am poison to other gay people I meet. It sounds like there are lots of solutions to try but nothing has worked for me. I just take my meds, sleep and wait to die.

Response from Mr. Vergel

I am so sorry that you are feeling that horrible. I have gone through what you are going through for a few weeks but have been able to find a way out of that mental jail that some of us put ourselves in.

You obviously do not want to die. If you did, you would not have reached out for help here. You want to feel better and be your old self again. Hopelessness is rampant in our community and it takes an extra effort (and some coaching) to help people start enjoying life again. Hopefully I can do that for you.

Like you, my ego and self worth were attached to my career as an engineer. I went on disability since I thought I was going to die and wanted to take care of myself and do something important in the world to at least leave something behind. And like you, I have survived.

The challenge for most of us who have been on disability is to either reinvent oneself or to try to go back to your old life, something that is extremely hard after having such empty space in your resume. Here is more about this issue:

The Long-Term Survivor Dilemma

Depression quickly sets in, making it more difficult for us to "join the living". And the worst part is that I could not talk to anyone about it who could understand. Even my therapist would remind me that I should be glad to be alive and be celebrating. But one day something "clicked" and I started seeing things in a different light.

First, I needed to treat my depression and fatigue. With those two obstacles, there was no way that I could become productive enough to regain my old self. Treatment helped for a while. You can read more about this in this two previous posts: Tips for fatigue

Is Clinical Depression A Side Effect Of This Too?

As a physician you can understand that not all antidepressants work for everyone. In fact, I read a report on consumer reports that said that many people have to switch antidepressants 6 times until they find the right one. Also, not every therapist is good for everyone. I wasted a lot of time and money on therapists that had no "method". As a technical guy, I needed tools.

In my search for solutions, I found a 3 day class that really helped me to get over the nasty self talk that I had in my head. It is called the Landmark Forum. You may want to give it a try. It really saved me hours of therapy. Here is the schedule in different cities in August:

Landmark Forum

If you want to jump start your healing, I would strongly encourage you to do something drastic like taking a chance of a new way to shift your perception of life. I hope you can somehow start using some of the tips I provided. Be gentle with yourself but firm about having a plan for recovery. Let me know along the way if you need some coaching. That is why I am here!

Wishing you a fast recovery to regain your old self

Nelson



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