HIV and emotional wellness

 

Find people to talk to

Often stress comes because we’re carrying this big load that we feel we need to carry ourselves. But I’ve realized that we can share this load... Once I learned to cry in front of others, I was able to express what I was feeling while I was feeling it, without letting it build up to a point where it would become too stressful. A huge weight was released.

—Janet

As a person living with HIV, you may at times feel lonely or isolated. With stress, anxiety or depression, your feelings of loneliness may become even more pronounced. Even though it can be difficult to do so, now is the time to seek out understanding friends, family and community members who can provide a shoulder to cry on, lend a sympathetic ear and help you explore your options.

In addition to, or instead of, friends and family, there may be supportive and nonjudgmental counselling and support services in your community that you can turn to. Community health centres, hospitals and clinics, some HIV organizations, telephone or online helplines often offer such services free of charge.

Through her AIDS service organization, Krista met Ron, another Aboriginal person living with HIV: “Meeting Ron really soothed me inside. It diminished the shame, the pain. I wasn’t alone. He lit a fire inside me and I felt that I needed to find a space within the circle. I started to stand up for myself and say, ‘This is me. This is my story.’”

—Krista

These services can help you build good coping skills and deal with the issues you are facing. They can provide you with support and help you deal with drug and alcohol issues. You may be able to meet other people with HIV through these services, especially at your local AIDS service organization, where support groups and social events for people with HIV are often held. Meeting other people who have gone through what you are going through can help you develop a positive, hopeful outlook, improve your self-esteem and build a network of relationships with people you can rely on for companionship and support.