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Mental Therapy?
Jul 11, 2010

Ive been going to therapy for 3 years at the VA, my neighbor doesnt know Im positive but knows I go to the VA...I tell him that the illness I have is ruining my life and he says dont worry it will get better, Ive found that when u become a patient you are in trouble big time....your life becomes a number and recieving disability checks everymonth reiterate the fact your in trouble....My problem is I want it to stop, I look around my house and try to keep order but I have kids coming around, a wife that tries but doesnt understand and I find myself sweeping my house every day...the store clerk says getting disability is better than alot of people but I feel useless...the meds have broken down my teeth and salivary gland disease has made my daily job drinking water, its gooten rediculous , I see everything I worked for evaporating in front of my eyes all because this disease has controlled my life and made me compulsive...its not fair and I was wondering if there is a dr that specializes in Euthenasia I could contact....I know it sounds crazy but its where Im at...I cant sweep my carpet anymore and watch as people trash my house I worked 28 years to get, its too depressing...I want out...

Response from Mr. Vergel

The first thing that you need to know is that none of this sounds crazy.

You are not alone in your experience. The problems that you write about are unfortunately common for people who live with HIV and other chronic medical illnesses. Due to HIV or from medications to treat HIV, we can lose some of our ability to function. Through no fault of our own, we may become too tired or worn out; the routine that we used to be able to handle is too much. We can start to feel bad because we miss doing what we used to do. Sometimes we feel guilty about not participating or contributing like we used to.

We can feel isolated from others because of how we feel about our HIV status. Without meaning to, we sometimes can assign ourselves negative qualities just because we are positive. We may feel guilty for having contracted the virus. We may even feel "less than" as a person because of HIV.

Fear of others finding out about our status can keep us from getting the support that we need. We may withdraw from family and friends who know about our HIV status when they could be helpful. No, it isn't your neighbor's or anybody's business what your health issues are, but having somebody's support can help us feel less alone. Our fear can stress us out, causing us to worry more and to feel depressed; it can be very draining.

These are just some of the heavy stress burdens carried by those of us with HIV. Because of these and other burdens, rates of depression are 2 - 4 times more common among us; anxiety disorders are easily twice that of those who don't have HIV. With depression you will find it more difficult to handle what you used to handle; you feel more easily overwhelmed. You worry more. Sleep quality worsens; energy drops. Concentration becomes more of a problem; short-term memory seems shot. You feel more irritable. Life at best feels like somebody took a brush and painted everything gray; often things seem bleak and hopeless, and your thoughts can turn towards death and even suicide.

Anxiety symptoms can include the compulsive cleaning that you mentioned as well as compulsive counting, hand washing, and orderliness. Other types of anxiety can present as fatigue, excessive worry, poor sleep and physical complaints (including headaches, upset stomach and diarrhea, a sense of shakiness or actual tremor and hair loss). Sometimes people with anxiety even experience unexpected episodes of panic.

As I said before, you are not crazy; it sounds like you are suffering a great deal and may very well have a clinical depression. There are many effective treatments available for depression that can help pull you up out of the pit you feel that you are trapped in. If you haven't spoken with you doctor about your mood or anxiety symptoms, you need to do this. If you are already on medication for depression or anxiety, you need to speak with your doctor about changing medications to something that may be more effective. Your doctor also needs to consider other causes of depression such as low testosterone (very common for those of us with HIV), low thyroid, infections (sometimes a simple bladder infection can affect your mental state), and even the choice of HIV medications that you are on (efaviranz, marketed as Sustiva and a component of Atripla, has been reported to affect sleep, anxiety and mood).

In addition to medications, counseling can be of great benefit to any of us living with HIV, whether we are feeling overwhelmed or not. Many times a good counselor can help us find more effective ways of dealing with stress. Be open to the idea of participating in group therapy too; our peers often have life experiences that we can relate to (and you will find that you have a lot to offer them too). Group therapy is a good way to feel less alone in what you're going through.

Please let your doctor know right away that you are at the point of considering euthanasia. Don't wait until your next appointment; go in today and at least speak to one of the clinic staff. Yes, doctors are busy but their job is to address your health issues; anxiety, depression and thoughts of death and suicide are serious health issues.

If you think that you are at the point of doing harm to yourself, you need to let somebody know right now. Speak with your wife to let her know how bad you are feeling and have her take you to the VA emergency room. If your VA is only a daytime clinic, then you need to go to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation. None of us would think twice about this if we had a broken bone; being at the point of feeling like killing yourself is an emergency. At the very least call the VA's national 24 hour suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It doesn't matter where you are in the country, you can call and speak to somebody about what you are going through.

You are not alone in this. You can get to feeling better.

Nelson



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