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2011: The Year to Suck It Up

By Philip D.

February 2, 2011

In the course of our twenty-year friendship, Russel and I have seen each other through thick and thin. During those years, including eight working side by side, there was nothing I couldn't tell him or ask him and I suspect he'd say the same about me. These days, our semi-weekly power walks at dawn provide us time to explore a wide spectrum of subjects, including life with HIV, as we pant, climbing the massive hills of San Francisco.

During one of our first treks of this year, after a somewhat lengthy chat, we concluded that sometimes, you just need to "suck it up." At first we joked about making T-shirts and bumper stickers but finally just agreed that it would be our motto for the coming year. 2011: the Year to Suck It Up; and we promised to remind each other if we sensed it was called for.

To inform those who might be unfamiliar with the phrase, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I bing-ed and googled to see what I might find. gave me these simple yet effective definitions: to endure a period of mental, physical, or emotional hardship with no complaining.

It also included a possible source for our newfound motto. Turns out, pilots used to say that, if you vomited in your mask, you should suck it up or risk choking on it later. Ah thanks for that pretty picture, Urban Dictionary. And as if that wasn't bad enough, they have the balls/smarts to peddle their own "Suck It Up" T-shirts and bumper stickers right above the definitions. Hmpf.

Then I found this simple yet effective one, "To cope with something unpleasant without complaining -- usually because you have no choice." Ding, Ding, Ding! This was my favorite so far. Does that have HIV written all over it or what, I thought. But then I re-read the "without complaining" part again. Damn, this sucking it up thing might be harder than I thought.

You see, I can be a bit of a complainer. Not something I'm very proud of and something I do need to work on but sadly, it's true. Since HIV came on board, my life has seemingly become harder and considerably more expensive, and the things I could whine about have seemed to multiply.

It may not be true of all, but I suspect most of my complaints are rooted in fear. Since these are things I feel I cannot change, I'm afraid of what might happen to me if I cannot handle the burden. In short, I guess It's my roundabout way of asking for help without asking for help. But let's face it, no one enjoys a complainer.

Since I can't think of a single positive thing that comes from it, here's my strategy: every time I catch myself beginning to complain about something (or Russel catches me) I'm going to ask myself what sort of fear might be lurking beneath the surface. Once I know that, I figure I'm halfway there in effectively dismantling it.

Will it work? Not sure but it's worth a try. Ask me at the year's end. But until then, I am going to do the best I can to suck it up. I'll let you know how I do.

Anyone want a nice T-shirt?

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See Also
10 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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A Positive Spin

Philip D.

Philip D.

After testing HIV positive in 2007, I promised myself that I would make something "good" from all that I was handed. From the very beginning, each time I was presented with an obstacle or challenge, I also received some help. Usually in the form of a person, sometimes an opportunity; but I have grown so much, it has made it impossible for me to call the past few years "bad." Although I've never written much of anything before, I have been so incredibly fortunate, I feel like I must pay it forward somehow. Maybe by sharing my experience, it will help those starting later in the game, on the fast track to HAART, or anyone that's feeling a bit isolated or "stuck" with their diagnosis.

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