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Be in control and not feel down

All of us have the ability to be in control of our emotions.

Simple tricks such as counting to ten before making a decision and deep breathing in and out can do wonders for feeling more stable emotionally.

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Being HIV positive is something you can take control of.

Feeling stressed and anxious about how others may respond when you talk about HIV makes it harder for you to feel in control. It may help if you practice saying that you are HIV positive out loud in an unemotional and detached state.

I am HIV positive but my HIV status doesn’t define me -

The more you say it, the more you own it, you take control of it and therefore the less the power it has on you.

Start your medication to feel in control

When you feel ready, start your HIV medication, ask your HIV doctor to get the ball rolling.

Once your medication works properly, you should see your CD4 count going up and your viral load going down eventually achieving an undetectable viral load, YOU are in control of your HIV. Many people feel a sense of empowerment and achievement when this happens. If you are able to control one process or event, it makes it easier to keep doing small tasks,

Don’t worry if you have a fluctuating viral load with small rebounds, that’s a normal part of the process and lots of factors can affect getting rebounds such as the time the blood was taken and tested. As long as the viral load keeps going down overall, you are still in control.

While on the medication, HIV positive people can feel anxious about taking it every time. We would advise having a daily routine which incorporates taking your medication and it can be useful to have a reminder within your routine to prompt you that your meds are due. 

E.g., take them just before brushing your teeth, eating lunch or before you take the dog for its walk. Linking them with an activity helps to remind you to take them. 

Taking medication without a routine can mean that other daily events happen which can distract you. Use a cheap pill box with the days of the week, that will help you to check visually if you have taken your medication on a particular day and set up an alarm/reminder on your phone to remind you to take the medication (set more than one if just one doesn’t do the trick).

Tips to regain control

Below are snapshots of how to regain control in your life and reduce anxiety:

  • Offer help to others. When you shift your focus and accomplish other tasks like babysitting, taking someone out for coffee or being a listener, that helps you as you will see yourself as able to do positive, good actions.
  • Look for the silver lining. What are the positives in your life? Family, friends and/or health? Go for a walk in the park and look at what is around you that you may have missed before. Appreciate what you have. Too much negative thinking takes over your life.
  • Acceptance. You can’t control everything, there are larger forces than you and accepting that an event has happened stops you giving it power.
  • Bend to the pressure, not snap. Look at the situation that you are in and treat it as an evolving game. You drop your shopping, don’t scream and shout, just treat it as a blip and collect the items.
  • Fight avoidance. It is tempting to avoid and remove yourself from all situations causing anxiety. This does not resolve matters but gives the situations a power. Think “I will get through this just the same as the other situations in my life”.
  • Every experience helps you grow and change. No money to go out and eat? Learn a skill like cooking on a budget.
  • Be proud of yourself. You are still here. You are in control. Reward yourself for doing small tasks. Cleaning the house shows that you have achieved something concrete and it has improved your life. Be REALISTIC (sometimes we might have a bad day and not achieve a great amount) but always remain OPTIMISTIC (tomorrow is another day)

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