Don't feel bad about feeling bad. It's perfectly acceptable to have feelings that you find difficult. Acknowledging your feelings is an important first step to working them out.
Finding out that you have HIV can lead to a wide range of feelings – shock, fear, worry, guilt, shame, anger or sadness. Other people feel numb and overwhelmed, some feel a sense of relief to have found out, others just get on with their lives.
People's feelings about HIV often change over time, so your initial response to finding out is unlikely to last as you 'come to terms' with living with HIV. But starting treatment, fearing side-effects or fearing becoming ill, can cause anxiety and emotional distress. However, the fear is worse than the reality. Few people get side effects or become ill nowadays.
Events in your life such as the breakdown of a relationship, bereavement, work problems, immigration difficulties or financial worries can also have an impact on your emotional wellbeing.
It is important to recognise how your emotional and psychological wellbeing can affect your everyday life. Talking about your experiences and feelings can be a big help. Often it is helpful to talk to a loved one or friend about how you are feeling but sometimes people with HIV feel they can't tell anyone about their status. They may not want to talk about it because they fear a negative reaction or because it feels too personal or because they don't feel ready.
However, it's not a good idea to bottle up your feelings. Don't let your fears and anxieties ruin your life. Don't allow yourself to get depressed. Take control. If you don't feel you can talk to your friends or family, the Bloomsbury Clinic provides professional support from health advisers and the psychology department.
The Peer Support workers – as well as offering individual peer support – can also refer you to external organisations for non HIV related counselling and support.
Talk to us… we take your emotional and psychological wellbeing very seriously. Our aim is help you get on with your life and live it to the full.
Health Advisers 07702 339298
The Peer Support workers 020 3317 5177
Beyond Diagnosis Course 020 3317 5177
Psychology Department – referrals by a Bloomsbury doctor, nurse, health adviser or Peer Support workers
For more information:
Standards for Psychological Support for Adults Living with HIV
British HIV Association (BHIVA) Standards of Care