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Who can help me?
Sep 5, 1998

I am a +hetro woman in a realitionship with a -man. When we met 8 years ago I was positive, when I told him I was very upset and had a hard time telling him. His responce was "is that all, what do you want for dinner?" He was very loving and understanding. We lived together for a year before we married. We talked openly and I said we must keep communication open to deal with this. Well that did not happen. He abused alchol and withdrew farther and farther from me. I reacted by spending money trying to fill the emptyness, he became angry and more and more distant. In 1995 my brother died from aids I went to care for him and was gone 7 months my husband was very supportive long distance when I returned things were much different he had a wall up, I felt that the death of my brother brought up fears, I tryed to get him to talk we even went to a councler once, he wouldent go back.The past three years he has not been able to make love to or even to be comforting. I had a major illness last year Toxoplassmossis, he was supportive and loving in the hospital and for the first weeks at home then started treating me with comtempt and discust because I had no enegery could not keep up our home.I also had a hard time getting back all moter functions, he told me I was not the same woman he married. Things have gone from bad to worse. I left, but was so broken hearted when he asked me to come home I did. things have not changed, when I ask if he will go to counceling he says no. He has stopped drinking and thinks I should just be glad to be in my home. I need communacation,to be loved held I can understand his fear of transmition and have never and would never take any risks,he has been repetedly tested and is remaining -. I have been clear I don't expect sex but I need some form of effection. I have abanonment issues from child hood, my father died when I was three and my mother gave me to my grandmother to raise. I was molested by two uncles first before I was 5 and later at 11. My first marriage was to an abuser at 14 it ended in divorce, my x stole my children when they were 7,8 and hid them from me for two years. their paternal grandmother told them I dident love them and abandond them, much like what my grandmother told me about my mother. This was not at all true I did every thing possible to find them, and finaly did but so much damage was done, it took years to heal the realitionship with my boys. My problem is I can't find the will to go on and try to make a life for my self. I can be rational and realise that this is a distructive relationship. but my fear and hurt keep my crying, wounded, debilatated, with no hope for the future. Just keeping up with my meds is a job....Ive asked my dr if he could recomend a councler here that has hiv experance and he says that he doesent know of one that is any good and suggested i take zoloft, I dont want to mask my problems I need to fix them, at least to be able to deal with them. Do you think zoloft would help? Im so hurt that I go form prayer to planning my death to stop this pain. I need help, I feel so bad. I have no self esteem, I feel diseased and hopless. what can I do? thank you for being there please try to give some advice..

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am very concerned about the complexity and severity of your situation. The traumas of your life have obviously and understandably affected you and the way you feel about yourself. I have several suggestions. If there is an AIDS service organization in the city where you live, call them and ask them if they have support groups for women with HIV/AIDS. You could definitely use the support and understanding of other women who are living with AIDS. Also ask your local AIDS organization if they can refer you to a mental health professional who is skilled in working with people with AIDS. They should have a resource list of such people that they can provide you with.

If you do not live somewhere that has an AIDS service organization then contact the social work department of the hospital where you were treated for Toxo. Make an appointment to speak with a social worker there and share everything with him or her. Also ask them about locating a person who you can see for individual counseling. The same hospital where you were hospitalized may also offer groups for people living with AIDS.

Now, do I think that Zoloft can help? Yes, very definitely. Only I would prefer that you not begin to take it until you can be evaluated by a psychiatrist who is a specialist in working with people with AIDS. I understand your concerns that by taking the medication your problems will be masked. This is not what happens when people are correctly prescribed psychiatric medications AND they are also in therapy or counseling with a skilled professional at the same time. While your primary care doctor legally can prescribe Zoloft, it is really best to be evaluated by a doctor who is a specialist in this area. These are psychiatrist who are psycho- pharmacologists.

You have shared that your life has been plagued by abuse and subsequent losses. You are also recovering from a very serious illness and have suffered the loss of your health and of a supportive and loving spouse. You have an obligation to do everything in your power to learn how to take exquisite care of yourself. You need and deserve help in accomplishing this. Therapy and correct medication can be important tools to assist you in regaining your equilibrium and self esteem. Please try to follow some of the suggestions I have outlined above. How could you not be overwhelmed and feel at the end of your rope? But there is hope that with support, love and professional help your life can be turned around. Do it so that at least the rest of your life can be less painful than so much of your life has been up until now. Best of luck in your journey.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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