Among all the incurable diseases out there, HIV/AIDS is perhaps the hardest to live with for anyone. Some might say that unlike mental disorder, the illness does not require the patient to see a psychiatrist often or keep the person stuck in their head for hours. Unlike an autoimmune disease, you won’t need to see multiple doctors your entire life and deal with the failure of many body parts due to it.
While both reasonings are valid, the mere fact that HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease makes it look more extreme than any other illness. After all, there may be people who have no criticism in their bones, but there happen to be some members of the community as well who might be verbal about condemning the infected victims. The others who don’t speak yet don’t make contact either are possibly judging the patients internally too or are afraid of contracting the virus if they get in close proximity.
“Stigma prevents people from getting tested for HIV. Stigma prevents people from coming to the clinic and engaging in care. Stigma leads to social isolation and chronic stress, both of which increase mortality for all people, not just people living with HIV,” writes Parker Hudson, M.D.
We know that merely telling you to pay no one any mind is not enough to help you feel stronger to manage your thoughts in such situations. In case you want an idea of how to live normally despite having HIV/AIDS, though, you can take note of the following:
- Remember That Blaming Yourself Or Others Won’t Help
When a doctor confirms that you have a sexually transmitted illness, you might either blame yourself for being promiscuous or blame the partner who infected you. You get mad; you want to yell or curse at everybody. It is as if your head is only filled with hateful thoughts.
Regardless of how you got the disease, you should know that starting the blaming game will not do anything. If the specialists can’t find a cure for you, so can’t the person who transferred the virus to you. It will help you more to learn to accept the illness instead.
“Since you can’t change something you are not aware of doing, the first step is to catch yourself every time you say or think, ‘could have’, ‘would have’ or ‘should have’ and substitute a neutral, non-judgmental mantra, like, ‘It is what it is,'” writes Georgia Witkin Ph.D.
- Know The Things You Cannot Do
Since HIV/AIDS mainly affects your immune system, there are perhaps a plethora of activities that you may be unable to do. For instance, you are not supposed to go to public places much without a mask to cover your nose and mouth because of the other viruses and bacteria you might catch there. If the disease targets your nerves, you cannot be physically active as well, to the extent that even driving an automatic vehicle may be problematic.
Instead of complaining about it, you ought to understand everything that can promote the progression of HIV/AIDS. That is more important than focusing on activities you can do.
- Stop Thinking That You Will Die Soon
Perhaps because practically half of the known victims of the sexually transmitted disease worldwide ended up dying, many individuals who have contracted the virus not too long ago may be thinking that they don’t need to try to live since the illness will kill them anyway. The truth, however, is that there are already drugs that may eliminate the viral infection in its early stages or slow down its development. That is more acceptable than having no treatment at all, albeit a long-term cure is nowhere in sight.
HIV/AIDS is a tough adversary not only because it is incurable but also because you have to deal with the stigma once you get diagnosed with it. Nevertheless, other people are living with diseases that the medical world cannot heal either. If a person with diabetes, a cancer patient, or someone with autoimmunity can find some normalcy in their life, you should be able to do the same. It may help if you focus your attention on sites like BetterHelp, which supports people to conquer life amidst their illnesses. Seeing encouraging posts from mental health professionals every day on Facebook and Instagram can help you shift your mindset.
“Illness is rarely purely biochemical, and as such, purely biochemical treatment rarely leads to cure when emotional, psychological, and spiritual factors that contribute to illness are left untreated,” writes Lissa Rankin M.D.
Learn to face your new reality and don’t let the narrow-minded folks get to you. You are fantastic with or without illness. Cheer up!