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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

The Power of Knowledge

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

May 13, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Knowledge is a powerful thing. We can use it for greatness or use it against the natural order of the life that God has given us. That's with every single thing in life. Just because you know how to make a bomb, does not mean you have to use it to destroy others. Nope, even the "baddest" technology can be for a greater good.

Now, my issue today isn't that complicated. In fact, in the scheme of the universe it's a small issue, but for me, it weighs heavy on my heart and in my freaking back, tummy and arms. Two weeks ago, I made a declaration about my weight. I laid out a good argument on why I need to hit the gym. I was good that week and then last week it went to hell in a hand basket. CLICK Here to Read!

My nights were so sleepless last week that I was dragging and cranky all week. Everything I did was a struggle because of sleep deprivation. That's why I didn't blog last week. I was too tired and cranky to even think.Menopause is kicking my tail. I guess they call it pre-menopausal. I haven't stop my menstrual cycle just yet, I have one every 2-5 months, but these night sweats and mood swings have been all consuming. Let me tell you, waking up from sleep in the middle of the night because it feels like you are on fire from the inside is not pretty. Waking up twice in the middle of the night is like a nightmare from hell.

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When I made it to therapy last week, I thought that I was losing my mind. We tried to unpack this issue as best as we could. The fact of the matter is I have a lot of discipline and I do every single thing I put my mind to, so what is the darn problem?

Maybe there are a few issues. One problem I think is that somewhere deep inside, I'm feeling a tad defeated by HIV in the area of weight. I started out 20 years ago in a size 8 at my lowest, a steady 10 and a 12, when I was eating more than moving.

Then I made a transition to AIDS and in 4 months I went from a 12 to a 10, to a 8, to a size 6. Then I went from a size 6 to a 4 and stayed there a while. And then I went to a size 2 to a 0. I stayed there for a while and that's when I started to see death staring me in the face. Every time I looked in the mirror, death said to me, "I'm waiting." I'm so glad that God has power over death.

Then I started the new HIV medications and I went back up to a size 6 and I stayed there for almost two years. Then after a couple of years on the new HIV medication my weight shifted. I woke up one morning and I was a size 14 at the top part of my body, a 8 at my waist line and a 2 at my thighs. I was a hot freaking mess and I cried all the time. HIV lipodystrophy is a trip.

Can you image the clothes drama that I have had with all these size changes with HIV? Can you image what it's like to go from magazine cover ready to photo shop ready?

At one point after my weight shifted, I was able to get it under control. I met this trainer Cornell McCleanen and working out became a way of life. I was able to get the top part of my body to a 8-10, and the waist down to a 4 and build the bottom up so I didn't look so freakin disproportionate.

Then drug resistant herpes came and I spent more time in bed then walking. For sure, working out was not on my agenda because it hurt too bad to walk.

Working out had became a way of life life for me and it was taken away right before my eyes, without any recourse. The doctors are clear that the damage done to my immune system in those early day has made it possible for Herpes to become this aggressive nightmare for me today. (There are other post on herpes just search the labels)

BUT... I have not had an herpes outbreak in 3 months that means NO IV medication! I thank God everyday, but underneath I'm holding my breath, crossing my fingers and praying that it stays away.

The point is, right now I am healthy. I have no barriers to working out. Even my therapist thinks it's a good idea. She said that working out regularly works as well as antidepressant for mild depression. Menopause does cause depression and mood swings that is for sure.

So with all this knowledge about how good working out is for me, and my success in the past with working out, what's the freaking problem? Why can't I use this knowledge for my good and wellness?

Sigh.... I have to come to terms with the fact, that I can only control what I can control for the time that I can control it. I may never get my body to shape exacty how I want it. Lipodystrophydoes not stop because you work out. I have to work extra hard to see some improvements and I then have to work to maintain those improvements.

And guest what? Herpes still may come back and then I will have to start over again. It is what it is... You can control what you can, with the knowledge that you have, while you can control what you can.

I have got to come to terms with this. That's it.... Oprah says often, "When you know better you should do better. "I say often, "Knowing better does not mean that you do better." Sometimes doing better means letting go of the easy, the familiar and the possibility of failure. In the end, as powerful as knowledge is, we render it powerless when we don't act on the goodness of what we know.

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See Also
Ten Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV
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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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