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HIV, anger and control of my life
Nov 17, 2004

Dear Doctor, My question might be complicated, so therefore, I'll have to give you a little of my history. I'm 32 yrs. old now and have been HIV+ since I was 18 yrs. old. I came from a physically abusive father, an ex drug using mother and a family who generally does not accept me since I am gay. I now have a partner (who is HIV negative) who has been loving to me for the last few years and his wonderful family has accepted me as a part of them. We share a monogamous, caring relationship and I get a lot of love and affection. You would think that I'd be happy but I'm a very, very angry person, not because of my partner, but because of past circumstances. I feel angry that after I escaped my father, HIV came into the picture to take over where he left off. I'm TIRED of something/someone else having control over me! It's my life and I don't want a virus telling me what I can/cannot do, like my dad.

I should be happy now, with a loving partner, but for some reason all these issues from the past are coming up and disrupting my life. I cannot let go of anger and have been focusing on revenge. I have dreams of terrible things that my family did to me, as well as terrible things I did in my past. I have these dreams on the RARE nights that I'm lucky enough to get an hour or two of sleep. I feel like I'm going crazy from insomnia and I cannot let go of my obsession with anger. I haven't been able to sleep well for almost 3 yrs. now. I used to be very sad and let people walk all over me. Now, I want to get back at everyone who are bad people. How come I cannot be happy since I now have a relationship that anyone else could only dream of? I hate HIV controlling me, like my father did, and I REFUSE to let it take my dreams away. I also feel like I'm not good enough for my partner to love me. I'm so full of constant anger now. There is not a single day that goes by where I am not either irritable, grouchy or want to attack everyone around me. I am on an antidepressant (Wellbutrin XL) but I'm not in therapy. I've been honest with my partner about everything EXCEPT therapy. He thinks I'm going. My view on therapy is, why do I need to go to therapy for what someone else, hateful, did to me!!! I'm afraid therapy will also get me angrier because I will need to relive the past and face HIV in my life.

What should I do? I feel like something very bad is going to happen since my emotions escalate higher with each passing day.

Thank you for any advice you can give....

Sincerely,

A Vengeful Heart

Response from Dr. Horwath

You definitely need to get into some psychotherapy. You would benefit from a treatment center that has some expertise with people who have experienced childhood abuse, such as you have. A group in which others have been exposed to abuse may be helpful to you. If that is not available, an experienced psychotherapist should be able to help.

The anger, insomnia, dreams, low self esteem are all common symptoms in people with histories of abuse. It is not your fault that you were abused, but it is up to you now to seek some treatment so that you can get on with your life and put it behind you as much as is possible.



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