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The Emotional Pain of HIV

Dec 7, 2016 | Blog, Emotional

Thebemed Wellness Cafe’

Sad teenager girl depressed sitting in the floor of a bridge on the beach at sunset

The emotional pain carried by many who have HIV

This denial often leads to avoidance of self-care such as following the general healthy eating and exercising routines, as well as compliance with medication. Shame is a very depleting and deeply negative state. So it is good to understand what is creating it, and especially how to let go of it. An easy way of understanding emotions is to consider the four basic human emotional experience. There is the positive emotion: ‘Glad’, experienced as a sense of wellbeing, and then the three negative emotions; ‘Mad’, ‘Sad’ and ‘Scared’. 

In the positive emotion, ‘Glad’, you will feel happy and satisfied – everything’s cool.  But when in the negative emotion, ‘Mad’, you can feel trapped, frustrated – or even downright angry. Then you can also be ‘Scared’ – worried about what is going to happen. And finally you can be ‘Sad’ – you are feeling a sense of loss because something of special value is no longer there – or it has been taken away from you. Now shame is a lethal cocktail made up of all three negative emotions. It is important to realize that all three elements of shame can be resolved. People diagnosed as HIV+ have often reported a feeling of losing their self-assurance, self-respect and self-confidence. A kind of ‘loss of self’. This is the ‘Sad’ emotion. Remember, that recent research has shown that people who comply with their medication, live relatively healthy lifestyles, and adopt a positive attitude are finding that they can live a fulfilling life.

So with knowing that a good life is still possible, it is important to build further on your relationships in order to restore the initial loss of self-esteem and confidence. Of course some people might not relate to you in the way they did before. But with the right attitude you can either rebuild those relationships, or you can create new ones that are respectful and enjoyable. People’s attitudes are changing all the time. And the more you change your attitude, the more others will respond differently to you.

Fear, the ‘Scared’ emotion, comes right along with Sad.


This may relate to fear of your health declining, not been able to do your job, changes in your friendships and, of course, the effect on your self-confidence. When you realize that HIV is treatable, even though not (yet) curable, then you can get on with rebuilding your health. Remember you are protected by the law in your job – an employer cannot dismiss you just because you have HIV. And then, of course, there’s the matter of self-confidence. Try to take your condition and convert it into a challenge. We are aware of many people who took their HIV diagnosis as a wake-up call and decided to transform their lives. And in so doing they have rebuilt their self-confidence.

Listen to this inspiring YouTube clip entitled ‘Personal stories of people living with HIV’ people living with HIV click here.

Finally there may also be natural anger, the ‘Mad’ emotion. You might be questioning; ‘why should you be the one?’  You might be wondering who gave it to you – or wanting to vent your anger against someone specifically? Since anger is very destructive of human health it is best to deal with it as soon as possible. If you are frustrated at yourself – take steps to forgive yourself. If you are angry with someone else – forgive that person. This means you need to confront yourself, or someone else who might be involved, and clearly articulate your feelings. Do so meaningfully, and then express your forgiveness. In that expression of forgiveness something good happens – you are able to let go. And the emotional healing can begin.

For assistance on how to do this there is a great website filled with resources. CLICK HERE


Finally, in dealing with the shame that comes with HIV diagnosis remember these four qualities of being ‘Glad’ and practice them:

  • Express appreciation for the good that is still around you – and try to seek it out.
  • Make positive plans for the future – take control of your life – learn to live a positive life with your condition.
  • Identify and celebrate the things you are naturally good at – and do something creative with your talents.
  • Connect with people who appreciate you and who share your values – and make it a habit to serve them in positive ways. Service can be deeply healing.

For more great tips on being happy explore this web site: CLICK HERE

In this way you will heal your shame, you will heal your body to the extent that you will be well able to cope with your condition, and finally you will heal your soul. And that is the ultimate prize.

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