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Where is the Line?


Almost exactly one year ago today I was diagnosed with HIV. As the one year anniversary of my diagnosis quickly approaches, I find myself struggling with knowing when to live without letting my diagnosis alter my decisions and when to acknowledge the reality that being HIV positive does effect my life. I don't want HIV to be a crutch that I have to drag along, stopping me from running at full speed. But I also believe we all sometimes need to slow down in order to deal with the emotional reality of being diagnosed and the physical complications HIV sometimes brings. So, where do you draw the line between those two conflicting realities? Do I take the advice of a wise, long-time survivor who advocates for "healthy denial," or do I give myself a lot of space and time to feel, to cry, and to take advantage of all the support services I can find?

This week these questions came to a head when I was offered a prestigious, highly sought-after writing position at my school, and had a really difficult time deciding whether or not to accept it. My classmates and colleagues told me I was crazy to even consider declining the position; I would be "shutting doors" on my own career. But my classmates don't know about my status. Maybe if they did they wouldn't think I was so crazy after all. This particular position would have to be squeezed into my already jam-packed schedule, would cause additional stress, and would undoubtedly lead to less self-care.

I was conflicted. I cancelled my Saturday night plans and sat alone in my apartment thinking, writing, talking to people whose opinions I trust, and making lists of the pros and cons. But no matter how many pros and how many cons, the same questions kept creeping back into my mind: Would I accept this position if I was never diagnosed with HIV? Is it even fair to ask myself that question at all? What's the line between not letting HIV control my life, and recognizing the reality of the challenges it brings?

After A LOT of thought, I started to realize that even though I don't spend a lot of time discussing it, my status is a big part of my life now, and I can't ever really know what I would or would not do if I was never diagnosed. The truth is, I'm HIV positive now, and my health needs to be a bigger priority than it was before my diagnosis.

I realize also that I'm not the same person I was a year ago. I'm stronger. I have a deeper appreciation for self-care, self-worth and self-protection.  So, why do I keep trying to mentally return to the 'self' I was before my diagnosis? The 'self' I am now is doing pretty great, HIV and all. But when it comes to big decisions that will effect my stress level, my time, and my future, my mind wanders back to unanswerable questions of "should I" because I have HIV, and "would I" if I didn't have HIV.

I guess, as most things in life, the answer lies in the abstract. There is no clear line to be drawn. There is no right answer. There must be a happy medium somewhere between "healthy denial" and declining prestigious positions just because I'm HIV positive.  The hard part is finding it...

So, in my attempt to find my own happy medium, I accepted the position, but on a condition. I promised myself that I would quit if it proves to be unmanageable and if my mental or physical health is suffering. A good friend reminded me that after getting through all the challenges of this last year, making a decision to leave a position for the benefit of my mental or physical health probably won't seem like such a big deal. I can and will face the challenge of a demanding schedule, and if I have to back out because I need to prioritize my health, then I will face that challenge as well.   


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Comments on Anonymous's blog entry "Where is the Line?"

I know what your going through, because I'm in a similar position. I totally agree on being in the middle of the road of taking care of one self and having that "healthy denial" part. However, I don't have enough experience yet, but as a long term survivor has told me he has lived a fast paced life of being positive, but because he loved. My assumption is that he was really good at handling his stress better than most people. I try to do the same by living more in the present rather than obsessing about the past, and the future because I don't know what will happen. However, that doesn't mean we can't have goals or hopes for the future. It just means we just can't over analyze the future, because we just don't know what the future holds for us so I just don't worry too much. Good luck on your job, and do whatever you think is right for you.

Accepting the prestigious position while making your health the highest priority is one good thing you ve done . I love reading your blog because of the way you articulate your reasoning so it is no surprise you got an offer like that. Again, apart from career perspective, it is good for humanity cause there is nothing like writing to educate others and to let others educate you.

As for all the anxiety, the defence mechanisms like isolation and your happy medium which you found to protect your mind/soul/self-image are great. But sometimes I wonder how come you are so anxious. Imagine rephrasing this line from your blog "What's the line between not letting HIV control my life, and recognizing the reality of the challenges it brings?" to What's the line between not letting death or thought of death control my life and recognizing the reality of the challenges it brings? Ok you must be thinking that HIV is not death and still that HIV is not the problem but the stigma. Yeah yeah but death is still the highest pain and can happen to you or anybody at any second. If you do not get bothered by it then why troubling yourself with HIV, stigma and the rest of the worries on this earth. This thought alone has helped me to maximize pleasure and minimize anxiety all the time no matter the unwanted reality. Death is the worst thing that can happen to you. Lady go and enjoy whatever you desired. You do not know how lucky you are to be alive regardless of the unwanted realities.

Am glad u accepted that job,As for the line u determine where it is. This year March made it one uear since I was diagnosed. At first, I cried, screamed,and hated everthg around me. Why? Why me? With no answer,i realised I had me, and I had to live.i am my own shoulder and my own parents around,no siblings, cousins or husband.This is my fight, and this is your fight. We hve one choice and that choice is to live. I do not look for acceptance,lve already accepted me and this is who r am. i work as a nurse , I see patients come in wth HiV and I hear the response from my coworkers,not nice at all ,and I say to myself wow, this is me friends,i also have HiV.This is our journey ,fight til theres no more left in you.HiV donot define who we are, it jus challenges us to work harder.

I was diagnosed with HIV at the end of March 2010. I could not agree more with "Body". This we call "Life" could end due to an accident, earthquake, so many ways to die! Live now, today, that's how I see it. We are alive, just like everyone around us that doesn't have HIV. Your going to accomplish your goals! Congrats you got the prestigious, highly sought-after writing position! That's awesome.

I was diagnosed in 1988, due to a fluke, or just plain luck. It rocked my world and still does when i give it too much space in my head.
This was back in the days of AZT being the only drug out that was killing more people than the virus.
It cost me alot,friends, children, relationships, career choices, education and a many many years spent waiting around to die.
After 3 bouts of Pneumonia, Pherphrial Neuropathy from the waist down' life in a wheel chair and diapers and Burkitts Lymphoma, i finally decided that it is my choice to survive or die. Find good friends, good support and work on strengthening your spiritual side, and things will be ok? Today i walk without a cane, do not wear diapers anymore and am Cancer free.
A wise man told me that it was harder work to die than it is to live...

Best wishes

Billy dawg

I find the empowerment to disclose rewarding and riveting, to say the least. However, I also find this disclosure submission contradictory, because the blogger disclosed as an anonymous person, which sends out a twisted message. Ideally, when you take the initiative to disclose, you become the voice for countless others around the globe who fear doing so. After all, it takes a great deal of effort and emotion to share something so intimate and personal with someone you're considering being sexually involved with.

Yet for those who disclose, in hopes of encouraging others living with HIV or AIDS to do the same, I think this particular effort of disclosure roots some level of confusion. After all, disclosure is revealing who you truly are!

In the meantime, to learn another approach about HIV disclosure, please review my blog:

Yes I feel it makes for a better realtionship. And most of my pervious realtionships ended not because of my HIV but because of the other persons issues. But I did fall in love with someone after dealing with a bad break up meet some one feel madly in love , but did not share this information he was hurt but all I wanted was to be loved for me and feel pure. He broke things off with me but we remain friends, but things are very differnt when we talk always short and sweet. Long story tell the person we never know how they will respond love may be in the making.

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This page contains a single entry by Anonymous published on June 26, 2011 7:21 PM.

My First Disclosure was the previous entry in this blog.

My Reality Check: Dating with HIV is the next entry in this blog.

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