5 years after my diagnosis, I’m ready to heal
The month of April marked five years of living with HIV for me. Depending on who you are and how you view time, five years can be either a short or lengthy amount of time. For me, as it relates to the amount of time that I have been knowingly living with HIV half a decade is somewhere in between, considering that there was a point in my life that I assumed I wouldn’t make it past a year, let alone five. I recently reflected over the years and noted a few things that have come to my realization lately. I have reflected and realized that I have been able to make extremely big strides in the field of advocacy and activism as it relates to HIV and public health in general. I have also realized that I have never truly healed from the trauma of my diagnosis and everything that was attached to it in some way. Lastly, I realize and acknowledge that although there have been many amazing accomplishments and milestones in the field of HIV, we still have a long way to go.
From starting my advocacy in my hometown (Beaumont, TX), where I began sharing my story with locals in the community and my church, to sharing my experience and lending my voice on national platforms and media outlets all over the world. I can’t help but to acknowledge that I have been privileged to have and personally charged with ensuring that young folk like myself (ages 13-24) have seats at tables where key decisions are being made on our behalf. Over the years I have felt that it is my duty to not only have space for folks like me but to also create space for folks like myself who can help aid in this fight against HIV. Whether it be by helping to educate folks in our communities, or by offering our opinions and expertise to organizations that seek to have an impact on our communities, it’s been imperative to me that younger folks have seats at these change making tables.
At first it was just about being able to spread awareness and help as many other youth and young adults by educating and letting them know that they were and are not alone. However, the more I began to research and share, the more opportunities began to present themselves for me. As I began to share my experience of being a young person living with HIV across the nation, I began to consider the work that I was doing was part of my healing. However, I was wrong. I now realize that what I considered to be my healing, was my way of coping with the things that I wasn’t ready to truly face head on. If there was ever a time to deal with things from my past and find healing, it’s now.
All the things that had ever been traumatizing in my life, have come back and to the forefront of my thoughts causing me to fall into a state of depression that I hadn’t ever noticed or felt before. Over the past few months I have noticed myself becoming more and more distant from people, reality, and the things that once fed my soul. I notice that I have a huge lack of energy and often, absolutely no desire or inspiration to do anything other than sit idle and think about all the things I’ve been through and sit in my own sorrow and feel bad for myself, which is not helping me at all. I used to think that, if I prayed about it, it would just go away. I thought that I would be able to seek and find healing on my own, but I truly believe that it is impossible to begin the journey to a positive mental health without the help of a professional. Which is why I’m beginning this new road to healing. I’m finally ready to face all the issues that have accumulated over my life that I have never actually dealt with. I’m ready to accept, to forgive, and above all heal.
Although we have made tremendous strides in the field of HIV, we still have a long way to go. There are many issues that many people living with HIV and people at high risk of HIV acquisition still face. From access to better healthcare and retention, to ensuring that every youth in this country is receiving comprehensive and inclusive sex education. From a community stand point, we have work to do. The fight towards ending the epidemic must continue. From a personal stand point, I have work to do. Although some will say I should have done this five years ago, the work towards a mentally healthier and happier me, starts now.
Written by: Deondre Moore