What's the Point?
At any given moment someone living with an on-going, long-term health condition such as HIV or AIDS may find themselves feeling frustrated and hopeless, and asking themselves, "What's the point?" What's the point of keeping a positive attitude, of following doctor's orders, of eating properly, of exercising, of even getting up in the morning? In other words, what's the point of trying to go on?
Such questioning is both normal and serious at the same time. It is also a healthy signal that changes need to take place. To ask "What's the point?" is to question one's current path. It is a survival instinct indicating that the present set of circumstances is neither adequate nor satisfying. Although you cannot change the basic reality of living with HIV or AIDS, you can make changes to your daily routines and self-care habits that help you regain control over how you feel and the direction in which you're heading.
Sometimes we may fail in our attempts to feel better physically or emotionally, to gain more energy or a better outlook, or to get back some degree of daily normalcy. Then we're faced with the old adage of picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off.
And though it may be comforting to know that others in a similar situation are dealing with the same types of problems and issues, that knowledge doesn't make the challenges in our own lives any easier to overcome.
So where does that leave us? It basically comes down to either continuing to try or quitting. Continuing to press forward or giving up.
If you're of the mind that life overall is still worth living, and that the obstacle you've come across or the black hole you're in is something you want to overcome and conquer, then a restructuring of your priorities and goals may be in order.
What is important is to feel some degree of success with each attempt we make. The best way to achieve this is to start with small, achievable goals.
If lack of energy is a problem and some form of exercise is your goal, start small at first by simply stretching at home. That's all you do. Stretch and breathe deep. Then you can slowly build up to a walk to the corner or a short visit to the gym.
If nutrition is a problem and better eating is your goal, start by adding a protein drink such as Ensure or Boost to your daily intake. Look for snacks that are easy and appetizing for you such as peanut butter or granola bars or fruit. Then you may consider seeking the advice of a nutritional counselor to help with meal planning. Or you may seek out a meal delivery service in your community provided for people living with AIDS.
If daily structure is a problem and feeling more productive is your goal, start small by choosing one simple task to complete, such as cleaning out a drawer or writing a letter to a friend. Eventually you may work up to planning an entire day with things to do. But even in that case, be sure to leave yourself time to rest and eat properly and realize that it's okay if you don't finish everything on your list.
Keeping a positive attitude is not an easy thing. And for most of us it's not something easily achieved on a daily basis. But it helps to have a positive outlook as your overall goal. Some days you meet that goal, some days not. But knowing in the back of your mind that moving forward is your overall game plan can help you get through some of the rough times.
Taking your medicines as prescribed, seeing your physician regularly and adhering to medical advice all take a conscious effort. But these positive steps toward maintaining your health can become the basic building blocks to a more pro-active approach.
To think "What's the point?" is to feel overwhelmed and "under-capable." The trick is to assess what you can comfortably accomplish now, and then add just a little challenge the next time around. Pretty soon you'll look back, see how far you've come and be amazed and proud of your achievement.
What's the point? The point is living a life that is full and satisfying, whatever that means to you.
Seth Engber has been HIV-positive for 12 years. He lives in West Hollywood, California, where he is certified in hypnosis therapy and guided imagery, and promotes the benefits of these techniques for stress reduction and self-care awareness to people living with AIDS.
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