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Suddenly Depressed and Lonely
Sep 19, 2002

I was diagnosed HIV+ in January 2002 and then full blown AIDS February 2002. I was pretty ill for a while and now I feel "okay", health wise. Suddenly, I feel so lonely and so afraid that I don't know what to do. I am close to DC but living in an area that's more "secluded" when it comes to HIV activities, etc. I am tired all of the time and rarely have the oppty to get out. I could go into so much more detail, but this could take forever. What suggestions do you have? I take my meds, I get plenty of sleep, my family is supportive (though I don't think they understand the full scope of everything). My friends abandon me so I spend the majority of days sitting home alone. Any suggestions that are "reality" related? Thank you.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

It sounds like you are suffering from a clinical depression. You really should get this evaluated.

I strongly suggest that you call the Whitman Walker Clinic in DC and ask them for a referral to a good therapist who is an HIV/AIDS specialist. They may be able to suggest someone who is closer to you than actually in DC. Talking to someone, even a mental health professional may help you to feel better. But you may also need a prescription for anti-depressant medication. If this is the suggestion of this professional I urge you to follow it up.

In addition you obviously need social contact and more emotional support than you are getting. Again Whitman Walker offers support groups, but may also know of an AIDS service organization closer to where you live that you can call and where you can begin to attend support groups and social activities.

It is terrible that people who you once considered friends have abandonned you. As difficult as that is it can be overcome. If you begin to attend support groups and perhaps even begin to volunteer at an AIDS organization you will have the opportunity to meet other people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS that all have the potential to become friends, or in the beginning at least social companions to go to a movie or outing with.

So if you make this one phone call now and follow up on the opportunities that will almost certainly result from your learning about the various options and referrals available to you, you can take important steps to become less isolated and less depressed.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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