What a roller coaster of a year. First Diagnosed with HIV in March 2010 and with follow up labs in April 2010 told I had also contracted Hepatitis C genotype 1a (non IV drug user). At the same time I was dealing with an on and off again love affair with methamphetamine. I went away to The Pride Institute to get support with my dual diagnosis and addiction to methamphetamine. I can say it's now been a full year that I have not touched methamphetamine, and the compulsion to use has lifted. I realize I must still remain mindful of my prior addiction, and therefore meet with a talk-therapist on a weekly basis.
In this year I had to give up a job that I loved in NYC (but wasn't making enough money at) and moved to rural Upstate NY to be closer to family, and especially my ill Mother awaiting a lung transplant. At first I moved into my Father's house and began treatment for Hepatitis C. Halfway into treatment I moved back to Fort Lauderdale, FL where I had lived 5 years previous. After 2 months in Fort Lauderdale I moved back home because I had problems getting my meds and the healthcare I needed, due to the ADAP Crisis. I moved back into my father's house, and with the help of an ASO was able to get into my own apartment.
As is often heard and seen with those who are met with such life altering challenges; one of two things can happen. You are either defeated by these challenges or you rise above them and emerge stronger. I chose to rise up above these challenges, because to give into fear would mean that I was powerless and that HIV and my addiction had won. I may have been powerless at a point in time, but I am no longer.
As my campaign above states, my HIV became my strength. Had I been diagnosed with cancer or another life altering health condition that would have been my strength too! Was I destined to become HIV positive so that I could be a voice in the community, share my experiences, advocate, and help others? Hmmm. Maybe, it makes me wonder if someone had a better plan for me. It's definitely not something I welcomed.
Of course, I would never wish HIV or any illness on anyone, but to those out there who are newly diagnosed with HIV or any illness; you have 2 choices. Give in to your fears and hide away from the world, continue down a path of self-destruction, and just stay silent. Or; educate yourself, reach out to others, find the support and assistance that you need, and speak up. Your voice matters, you matter, and there is a community of support waiting to help you. Take this challenge and use it to re-assess and re-define who you are, what you stand for, and what you want with your life.
Fear, hopelessness, and fatigue diminish the spirit; to combat these feelings. Take a walk around the block, smile more, call an old friend, make a new friend, laugh more, volunteer, eat well, rest, take your meds, meditate, and take a few deep breaths and "begin to design the life you always imagined." It may take a bit of time, but be patient with yourself and the process. Soon, you will be standing on your own again, and have re-defined, or rather found that person within you; a human being with so much potential that you never knew how to uncover, or perhaps never knew was there.
You are somebody and the World is better with you in it!
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