Supporting a loved one with HIV
When I first was diagnosed, I only told people who I was close to because I considered these people my support system. Something I noticed is people responded differently. Some people didn't talk to me for a while then came back when they finished dealing with their emotions. Some people wanted to fix it in some way. A lot of people became over protective or pitied me. Now don't get me wrong there was immediate support from some people but most of this came after I went public with it on my YouTube video.
I believe my strength could only allow for this. But 9 years ago my strength was not like it is today. I was lost confused and hurt. What I needed more than anything was a listening ear and someone to cry on.
So, you may be one of the chosen people who have the opportunity of knowing this sacred information from someone who is not open about their business and may not know what to do or how to respond. This may be your first time personally knowing someone who has this illness. Your world may be shaken up because you care for this person and now may feel their life is over. So knowing this info can make you feel a certain type of way. A huge question you may ask is what can I do to support this person? I have a few tips for you on this topic that may help you understand your friend, family member or even your partner.
My first tip is to just listen to them. Listen to them share and listen to what their heart is saying. Is their heart saying I'm hurt,I'm ashamed or is their heart saying I need you to be here for me. See what they need before you put your own feelings in it.
Ask them how you can support them through their situation. Talk to them they are still who they were before their diagnosis. You don't have to treat them like they are broken down, trust we are not seeking a pity party. Simply be there for them, check on them show them you care. With HIV the stigma is bigger than the actual illness, we need you. This is why we mustard up the courage to tell you this part of our life.
Get educated about HIV. Educating yourself about the disease will allow you to love and fully support them. It will break down your own fears and stigma about HIV. It will also allow you to support them as they began to go through life with this chronic condition.
Find a way to cope with your own emotions. This is very important because not dealing with how you feel about it can lead to destruction. When I went public with my diagnosis a lot of my family didn't know. To be honest I wanted to tell them but I got scared. It was easier to make that video and let them reach out to me instead. I felt like telling them the info would delay my purpose because I would get caught up in how they felt versus how far I have come.
After my video, I got a lot of opinions about how I should have handled my own situation. I believe it was their own feelings being projected on to me. It was very difficult because they didn't get it. I was only asking for support in this matter and that was it. I didn't want pity or someone to fix it. For me God had already done that. The person who infected me didn't need attention and honestly I didn't care about making sure he paid for doing this to me because it is like opening old wounds that I healed already.
Eventually, I did understand that was their way of coping and also there was no one talking about what to do when you find out your loved one has HIV. Find an outlet a way to discuss your feelings about this situation. There are support groups out there for people affected by HIV. Coping with your feelings allow you to continue to love and support your loved one.
These are a few key things you can do to start to understand your loved one better and be that support system. Always consider them and what they are going through as well as care for yourself in the process. If you need some personal advice about this or support for yourself reach out to me here.