Being in my mid-20’s isn’t easy, add HIV on top of that and we have one hell of a complicated life. I’m making the best out of the hand life has dealt me and the decisions I’ve made along the way. Writing helps free my mind. Hopefully these words will help you understand the plight of others like myself, and inspire you to live each and every day in the moment.
Week 36 (May 3 – May 9)
My latest doctor visit went very well. I did miss a few doses of medicine in April because of my trips to Atlanta and leaving my meds behind. Even with that mishap I am still undetectable and my CD4 count is still over 900. I was feeling a little under the weather this week. My stomach was acting up and my head was killing me. What I want to touch on this week is really what pains me the most about being HIV positive – my self image.
I know I’ve talked about my body and my head several times before, but this time it’s different. I got back on Grindr after a three-month hiatus and the flood of messages started right back up. I think I’m back on there because I’m a glutton for punishment. I don’t find myself attractive anymore, and having random people on a sex app tell me that I am doesn’t really help me. Ironic isn’t it? I must love making myself feel like crap, right? I have to be a glutton for punishment. Why else would I put myself through these motions that lead to so much self-hate?
In the last four years I’ve gone from a healthy 180 pounds to 210 as of this morning, a 30-pound weight gain that can be chalked up to the virus, medication and mind games. I do go work out. I try to eat right and take care of myself, but when I look at what is staring back at me in the mirror, I hate it and I feel like throwing in the towel. I feel fat and gross. I’ve always had image issues since having an acne riddled face back in middle school.
Being HIV positive is stigmatic enough without me beating myself up about the way I look. That’s the worst part in all of this, you know. I know what I’m doing and yet I continue to do it. I’ve tried for the last few years to talk to people about what I’m thinking and feeling inside, but I don’t think those professionals get me. Where’s a slightly overweight, HIV-positive therapist when you need one?
I enjoy it when people walk up to me, offer me a hug or handshake and say they’ve read what I write and that I’m so brave. I am by no means writing about this problem I have so that people walk up to me and give me sympathy. I don’t want to hear it. I’m just writing this today because I need some sort of outlet to express my frustration with myself where I’m more focused on the words I’m writing instead of crying. It’s a good thing you can’t stain a keyboard.
Ryan Dixon Ryan Dixon