psychological issues hamper me from testing again
Jun 23, 2008
Dr Bob, I wrote to you a while back and your response helped me through a troubled time so thankyou again. Basically, despite testing negative out to three months Im still not able to get on with my life after what happened. I have developed some unfortunate mental side effects from what happened e.g. long black out periods when I drink alcohol (this may sound stupid but this never occurred before!) and globus hystericus which is medically defined as having the sensation of a lump in your throat which I have put up with for the last 9 months. I have no worries that these conditions are HIV related as I personally feel them to be elements of post traumatic stress. It wasnt just the fact that I had a possible exposure, but also the way in which it occurred which have made this so hard to deal with. I also think I have a form of bi-polar disorder (which I think has developed since my early teens) as many of the problems I have had over the last decade (aside from worrying about HIV for the last year) can be related to the common symptoms of this. As a result I feel such psychological issues have made the ordeal worse and perhaps help to explain why I cannot put this in the past. They also act to fill me with fear as I think Im not as strong as people like you in dealing with HIV and because I suffer with depression etc I just wouldnt be able to cope should I turn out to be positive. I know you say 3 months is conclusive but now Im too worried to go out and get one more final test. It has now been one year since my possible exposure. I know you suggest that additional testing after 3 months is usually only advisable to obtain peace of mind, but Im afraid that this final test will show that Im positive. This may sound irrational but I'm still not convinced I'm clear. I have had counselling before and after my possible exposure, but Im just not sure what I should do next. Is there anything you could recommend? Thankyou,
Response from Dr. Frascino
I believe you sum up your problem well: ". . . despite testing negative out to three months I'm still not able to get on with my life . . . ." There is no doubt HIV is not your problem; getting on with the rest of your life is! This becomes a psychological/psychiatric problem focusing on your ability, or lack thereof, to accept the overwhelming and conclusive evidence that you are HIV negative. You don't need more HIV tests, but rather psychiatric help to accept the truly wonderful news that you dodged the HIV bullet and are definitively HIV negative. Additional reasons for psychiatric intervention are also alluded to in your post: ". . . I have developed some unfortunate mental side effects . . . . long blackouts . . . globus hystericus . . . post-traumatic stress . . . bi-polar disorder . . . depression . . . irrational fear . . . ." Hmm . . . that's an impressive list of psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses. No wonder you're having difficulties coping! So to answer your final question: "Is there anything (I) could recommend?" Sure! A good shrink should definitely be your next step!
Good luck. Remember, HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. OK?
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