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Justin Learns to Relax

A Video Blog

By Justin B. Terry-Smith

February 20, 2013

So, I've decided to take my doctor's orders seriously. When it comes to HIV, it is really important that one keeps their stress levels down and, unfortunately, it has been harder for me than not. I've decided to not let anything or anyone stress me out and if that means cutting people out of my life completely or putting them in another category, so be it. I also emphasize to always look after your own health. I've decided to go to bed earlier, drink less and really try to quit smoking.

I had a situation where I accidentally made a mistake and was persecuted for it. The one person who I thought would believe me didn't and I got upset, but this time it wasn't a normal upset. Some of the things that he said to me started making me have physical reactions. First, I started to breathe irregularly, sweat and my chest started to hurt; I didn't know it at the time but I was having an anxiety attack. I was with friends when this happened but I was clever enough to sequester myself in a room in the house because I didn't want anyone to see me at this time. After that moment I decided NO MORE STRESS.

So, my son and I had a SPA/SHOPPING DAY and that was a great way to de-stress.

Even more recently there was a situation that happened at home with our son and I stayed calm and didn't fly off the handle.


My husband and I have a rule for the house that NOBODY is allowed to be in the house without permission or us being present. We both had Maryland Defense Force Drill last night when I get a phone call. It was another foster parent named Paula. Paula asked me if I had seen her foster daughter, Jade. (We noticed that whenever Jade and Londyn hang out together she badly influences him to stay out late when he is supposed to be home, hangs out at our house without her parents' permission, etc.) I said to Paula, "No, why?"

"Jade said she was going over your house after school and I haven't seen her. My husband even went to your house and knocked on the door and nobody answered."

Keep in mind, school is out at 2 p.m. and it was about 7 p.m. when I got the call. I immediately called my foster son Londyn. Londyn didn't pick up after me calling twice, so I tried one more time. His butt picked up the phone before he did. His phone was in his back pocket and he didn't know it had picked up the call. I could hear Jade and Londyn in the background talking. I put it on speaker for my husband listen to make sure I was not going paranoid. I then called back a fourth time and Londyn finally picked up the phone. "Hi Dad, how are you?" He sounded out of breath. I asked, "You sound like you're outside what going on?" He said, "I was just walking Jade home." I said, "From where?" "The house," he replied. I said, "Okay, you know you're not supposed to have anybody over when we are not there and without permission, you could've either called us or texted us to ask if Jade could come over, right?" He said, "Well, yeah." "Okay," I said, "I'm happy that you are alright and that you didn't lie about her being there, BUT you will be disciplined."

When we got home the house was a mess. He is home today from school. GUESS WHAT? TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE, ROOM AND BATHROOM ESPECIALLY. Also the broken light will be coming out of his allowance, AND NO X-BOX for a week. He is not allowed to hang out with Jade.

So I've decided to make a little list. It's like a bucket list, if you will:

  1. Skydiving
  2. Bungee jump
  3. Become more active in HOPE D.C.
  4. Climb a mountain
  5. Take more trips out of state alone
  6. Horseback riding alone
  7. Indoor wall climbing
  8. Act in an indie film/series or movie short
  9. Camping for a weekend alone
  10. Go on more spiritual retreats (non-Christian based)
  11. Monthly spa treatment
  12. Be more serious about yoga

This is a short list and I will add to this after scratching some of them off as I go. I have to learn new ways and tools to calm myself down. I am a bit of a thrill seeker -- an adrenaline junkie -- and I now have to exercise that more than ever. It tends to relax me more often than not. It's what I call a good type of stress.

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See Also
Guide to Conquering the Fear, Shame and Anxiety of HIV
Trauma: Frozen Moments, Frozen Lives
More on Coping With Stress and Anxiety


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Justin's HIV Journal

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith, M.P.H., may be one of the most public African Americans living with HIV: He has his own website, and he's even on YouTube. He is a noted HIV and gay civil rights activist and the creator of "Justin's HIV Journal," a popular blog in which he shares his trials and tribulations of living with HIV. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Justin resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his husband, Dr. Philip Terry-Smith, and their son, Lundyn. Presently, Justin is working toward earning his doctorate in public health. He welcomes your questions.
(Photo credit: Don Harris)

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