Mind Over Circumstance: Why “staying positive” is a duh! and something you must do, even if that phrase makes us cringe, mentally–in order to beat how HIV stigma makes us negative.
In an extensive (and embarrassingly long) article over at The Body, I was asked how do I keep positive about being HIV-positive. Here is the the answer and reason that I choose to keep that smile and use my new “positive” status to my advantage and need to keep my mind level and well, “positive”:
Well, I also think that a lot of what I’ve gone through is mental, you know? I decided how I was going to attack this disease. I decided how I was going to tell people. And I did it on my terms. Little things used to really bother me. I’m one of those people where everything can bother me. But since January 2012 I just don’t let that stuff bother me, you know? If I can’t change it, then I can’t worry about it. So I think that’s part of it, too. I’ve stayed really connected with things that really encourage me. I love Steve Jobs, so I was reading his book and his quotes.
Getting involved with other people online through social media, just talking to them or checking up on them, and that sort of thing — kind of investing, virtually, through the Internet, in some other people’s lives, to just check up on them and see how they’re doing. It kind of took the focus a little bit off me and made it more about… being a crusade for everyone that is going through this [HIV].
A large part of the reason why I feel I’m doing OK is the way that I just decided to think about things and be positive. I’ve always laughed when everybody says, “Stay positive,” because I’m always, like “Well, I am positive.” But now I just said it! “It’s so important for other people that have HIV that in any way feel like they’re scared or feel less or whatever. I want them to know that they’re still the same person, that they’re OK, and it’s going to be fine.”
(The Body): What advice would you give to someone else who has just found out they are positive?
If they just found out that they’re positive: One, that they are the exact same person they were the hour, the day, the year before they found out that they were positive. That they are still them. Now they just have something that is going to make them choose relationships more carefully and, really, how things are going to be valued.
The one suggestion that I would give is find at least one person that you feel that you can trust, and tell them.
Don’t try to do this by yourself. Whether it’s a therapist, or somebody that truly loves you in this moment. Try to find at least one person to tell that you’re positive. Get online, create an anonymous Twitter account, and find other people like me that are able to talk about it, that you can communicate with, and that it’s safe. If you email me anonymously then I’m going to respond. [ firstname.lastname@example.org ] And I won’t know who you are but you at least start that chat. … Learn as much as you can about HIV.
But the main thing is that you’re still you and that the way that you think about yourself is as important as getting treatment for the disease.
It’s funny that the phrase we all hear all the time: stay positive is actually a bit less cliche and now more meaningful, so get your mind right!!! Okr!?!? [ + ]