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cambr9
Newbie

Reged: 12/20/11
Posts: 1
Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC
      #259549 - 12/20/11 01:41 AM

I'm a 34 y/o gay man living in New York City and I've been HIV positive for two and a half years. I'm having a harder time now than when I was first diagnosed... Just thought I'd post this in case anyone else has experienced the same thing.

When I was first diagnosed, I knew that it would be challenging, but I always assumed that my friends would rally around me and I'd have a good support network. Now it turns out that I don't have anyone at all. My closest friendships have fizzled out, and I never expected HIV stigma to be as bad as it is. It doesn't help that I got HIV from my boyfriend at the time, and I haven't dated anyone since then.

In a city like New York, you'd expect there to be a huge support network. But I haven't found that to be the case. It's an extremely disorganized city, and most of the support groups are for special populations (women, minority, youth, etc.), or meet at times when I work in the evenings. There seem to be some good resources for people who have no job or housing, or for those with great jobs and fabulous health insurance -- but not for those of us who are working hard and struggling to pay for rent and insurance.

I just feel incredibly overwhelmed with no support system at all. I'm in a stressful graduate school while holding down a stressful job and trying to pay rent. I don't really have any relationship with my family, and my self-esteem is too low to deal with the "gay scene" and all the bitchy beautiful boys who are eager to reject me.

And it makes me angry when people say things like, "Just be glad it isn't the 1980s," or "Anyone can get hit by a bus and die tomorrow." No one seems to understand (or care) how it really feels. I just don't know what my life is ever going to amount to... I feel pretty hopeless right now.

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BrianM
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Reged: 06/21/07
Posts: 8
Re: Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC new
      #259551 - 12/20/11 06:47 PM

You know... I often feel the same way. I'm 31 and live in Chicago where I have been my entire life and still, days, even months, go by where I feel isolated, despite all the groups, networks, and support for people. They are good for the aging or for homeless youth, but I have yet to find an honest open forum for those in the middle who are, well, just average. So, my direct answer is - you just have to build your own self-selecting group.

When I seroconverted, my friends changed. This was just as much due to my interests and moods changing as it was to not being able to talk about the same concerns in life, especially when I need to have a serious conversation. They can still fuck at will; I can't and am just not interested in that any more. I don't go out much to bars or clubs, and where I work I'm surrounded by straight business-minded Republicans (the irony is that I work at a univeristy) who wouldn't have a clue about HIV stigma. There simply isn't anything else to compare it to. My boss just got cancer, for example, but nobody stigmatizes that. They're sending him flowers, while we get weird looks.

I would say, first, ignore people who compare our situation to the situation of another time period or place. It's just plain ignorant, especially given that people are indeed still dying from HIV and AIDS. Competing with one's victimization doesn't help anybody. We each have our own unique life and circumstances to deal with.

Second, try not to think too much. That's probably the hardest part for people like us who are natural born thinkers. Rumination can be just as harmful as it can be enlightening. Most days, there isn't much to make me feel better about the fact of my HIV status, so I focus on work, school, and happy free time. Ultimately these are just sugar coatings, not cures, and THAT fact is the hardest one to tolerate.

Third, when you're feeling really down, then fake it. Make yourself laugh. Watch sitcoms. Go to fmylife.com and giggle. Seratonin is an odd thing - you can actually trick your body into feeling genuinely good.

Finally, forget about what it is that might forge a connection by the fact of your status. Instead, connect with others based on what you like to do, what you like to talk about, where you like to hang out, what makes you laugh, how you like to spend your free time. School is a great place to find other people to hang out with. The comfort and support network will happen naturally over time. Support is subliminal and occurs as an extension of other connections. For example, I started going out this year every week with a bunch of friends to dinner and we talkall night. None of them are my age, in fact, they're much older, but so what. Over time, we've gotten closer and I've been able to open up about things and share my own sob story just as they have, because we've realized that with age and experience comes baggage of all shades and sizes.

-Brian

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notinterested
All Star

Reged: 09/07/11
Posts: 127
Re: Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC new
      #259553 - 12/20/11 10:43 PM

That's a wonderful post Brian and all so true

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Normand1
Newbie

Reged: 12/21/11
Posts: 1
Re: Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC new
      #259558 - 12/21/11 07:57 AM

Your post has so moved me. I have been positive and healthy for over 20 years and so I am proof that meds work and do save our lives. Isolation is part of life, not just having HIV. New York City, where I live as well can be the most wonderful, exciting, hopeful city in the world, or the loneliest on the planet. I have found that it is up to me to make New York work for me. I have a few dear friends, but tend to be a loner. I am long past the clubs and drinking all night long, not that that was ever something that made me very happy. I have two wonderful dogs who keep me warm at night for now and I take moments to have a great dinner, catch a movie or a great play. At times I have joined groups, there are many that are focused on doing things not on being positive....focusing on HIV was never my thing at all.

All that I can say is, be kind to yourself, accept HIV as only a piece of the pie, not who you are, accept rejection as a badge of courage and you will find caring, loving people as you walk through life.

Have a wonderful Holiday, be grateful for having your health and look forward to 2012.

Norman

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fveryspecial
Newbie

Reged: 12/22/11
Posts: 3
Re: Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC new
      #259574 - 12/22/11 05:30 PM

I second that. We have plenty to be greatful and look forward to the bright and better New Year for us all. Life is what YOU make it so it is up to YOU to find true happiness and comfort in yourself first. If you need me for ANYTHING, holla at your gurl LALA., for she is sure to put a smile on anyones face especially at times like these. Much love you all .LALA

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Lorenzo
Newbie

Reged: 12/30/11
Posts: 1
Re: Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC new
      #259688 - 12/30/11 01:52 AM

Hello NYC! I feel your pain. You are not alone in this. We all experience/ed this. It does suck, I'm not going to lie. However, most of the time it doesn't'. Try not to be too hard on yourself. I know it's easier said than done. I've been + since 2006. I'm been rejected several times. Does suck but the reality is that it made me a stronger person today.
I find it very hard to believe that NYC has no support system. There must be many. Have you received any updated information since your last posted this? What about NYC GMHC?
http://www.gmhc.org/get-support/get-connected/services-for-men
Try to keep your head up. It does get better. There is hope and remember you are not alone. I'm sending you love and light and HUGS from San Francisco.

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KyleBob
Newbie

Reged: 01/02/12
Posts: 1
Re: Feeling isolated and overwhelmed in NYC new
      #259781 - 01/02/12 09:21 PM

Hey,
When I read your post I wondered if I wrote it and forgot!
As you see many r in the same boat as you.this should make u feel better; you r not alone!
Try to connect with other guys who feel like u and u can support each other.
This will be a great idea for you

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