mental well-being

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Depression & HIV

Postby micant1812 on Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:11 am

Depression & HIV


My name is Michael Anthony Snaith and I am fast approaching my 31st year living with HIV and fast approaching 57 years of age. I can only say what I feel and think and often this is ignored. I am either in one tick box and then another. I live with HIV and I am often depressed therefore I sit in a “mental health” tick box.

I am and have been a depressed individual for many years well before I became HIV-positive. But I am in the hope that the readers look at the content and not how it is written – I have no intentions of causing offence, but my life and others may be similar. Other people may take some of my thoughts and feelings away. Yes some may feel angry, some even more confused, but still these are my thoughts and I am now sharing them with others living with (and affected) by HIV and AIDS.

At seventeen I attempted to commit suicide, so HIV was not the cause of those thoughts and feelings. I was bullied at school and at home even when I was old enough to drink bullied on the scene (that is the “gay scene”).

Admittedly people wherever and whatever background they come from can be cruel. People see me as cruel too. But I am not often far too outspoken and often put my size eight’s into everything. However, the people that truly know me have started to listen to the contents of what I am saying not the way it is delivered.

Relationships have been hard for me, but my first ever love in my life died in a car accident – that’s when I came out to my parents as being gay. I was obviously under the age of 21 then and this was illegal, but again isolated and bullied at home and at school. Depression was a way of life for me then and depression is still how I live today and more so now because I live with HIV and in no relationship due to my own fears of the unknown and no support even from my peers.

No to the story

When I was diagnosed with HIV (in those early days it was known as HTLV-III). The consultant mentioned to me that I might have two years tops to live. Now this is how a depressed mind thinks – I was glad some disease would take me away from all of the animosity of society and I will be rid of all my pressures of trying to fit in where I’m not wanted.

I am not appealing to the readers of this article for sympathy, but I am appealing to the readership for more action, advocacy and involvement of people living with HIV in all areas of HIV work.

I have lost many friends and three partners to this and still nothing gets better. Many professionals have always told me from the statutory and voluntary sector that its getting better well 25 years – I DON’T THINK SO.

This article aims to increase the understanding of mental health problems and HIV and reduce their [stigma] and discrimination and the prejudice borne out of an illness that could have been prevented and the ignorance of others. People living with HIV often live in fear of the unknown and depression is an additional problem that affects many people worldwide.

Services (statutory, private and voluntary) must take a “whole person” approach to care and pathways of care. People living with HIV are no different than other people and as there is no known cure for HIV – lots of treatments and available therapies and this can create additional long-term needs and ongoing depression and anxiety.

Depression can often be – when bullied or intimidated due to gender, race and/or sexuality, even a combination of one or more. Males often show their depression differently than females, but this article aims to mention that depression is depression no matter what gender, age, sexuality, race only mentioning the few categories listed. I have no intentions to miss any group or individual out, but equality and diversity spans much wider than just a list.
Most of us have had times when we have been down. We have all been unhappy. Some of us will have had depression. Depression is an illness when the sadness has gone too far. Depression can look like ordinary unhappiness. The difference is the effect. If you’re unhappy you may look miserable and cry, but you can probably still go out. You might not feel like it, but with an effort you can do the things you usually do. You can even cheer up for a bit. Other people know that, and they try to take you out of yourself. With depression, this doesn’t always work:
S/he doesn’t laugh at your jokes anymore.
S/he doesn’t notice the flowers when you go for a walk. Or more likely h/she won’t even go for a walk. As h/she sits about doing nothing, you might get angry. It’s easy to think that h/she is not making an effort.
S/he may say you don’t know how h/she feels.
S/he feels terrible. Nothing has any point anymore. Everything that mattered is meaningless. Partners, work, children - everything h/she felt passionate about is like nothing.
S/he takes no pleasure.
S/he sees no joy. Nothing h/she does seems to change it.
S/he tries to do something but it doesn’t work out.
S/he forgets the cake and burns it.
S/he can’t think of anything to say to her friends.
S/he knows it’s not right but h/she doesn’t know what’s wrong except that it is his/her fault.
S/he isn’t being a good person.
S/he is letting everyone down.
S/he cannot imagine it ever changing.
S/he feels helpless and hopeless.
People who are depressed sometimes kill themselves. One thing they say is that they feel everyone would be better off without them.

That’s where they are wrong.

Caring for someone who is depressed can be very hard and caring for someone living with HIV and depression can be hard too. But it is not as bad as s/he imagines it is. A person who isn’t pulling his/her weight can feel like a burden. But that is not for him/her to decide. Those close to him/her are the ones to say when it is too much. When it gets too much for everyone there is always help. Other friends, other people and other professionals.

Depression affects people in different ways. Some people become self-destructive. They drink too much, drive too fast, some people often get into fights and dangerous relationships. And they harm themselves. Others say it’s just a cry for help. People who really kill themselves don’t tell anyone about it. Maybe they do, but no one is listening.

Depression can be treated. HIV can be prevented and the “Prevention, Treatment and Care” messages need to engage with people better that they do.

This article was inspired by a by a website page at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I’d like to acknowledge them for their hard work in putting this web page together, but personally this web page brought issues up for me and my observation of the HIV sector.

When I read about depression all I could think about was people I’ve lost to HIV-related illnesses how they were treated as people living with HIV and depression. How many people have committed suicide due to care pathways not been in place because they do not fit into the right category or tick the right boxes. Depression and Mental Health is one category, HIV and AIDS is another.

When can people living with HIV and AIDS become part of all – people living with and affected by HIV live with Mental Health problems.

What can society do?

Public Health education and awareness can help us to have a better understanding of the nature of depression including the needs of people living with HIV. With this understanding should come increased tolerance. We need to understand that depression and manic depression are more than ordinary feelings of unhappiness. They can have a major effect on someone’s ability to carry on with day to day living.

People living with HIV and additional health-related problems, their families, friends and loved-ones, need support and proper guidance in seeking help and getting treatment.

Educating employers about depression and HIV and the way it affects a person’s ability to work should improve opportunities for training and employment. Better social conditions and interactive models of good practice, such as improved housing and lower levels of unemployment, would help reduce some of the environmental stresses people experience today.

Educate and raise awareness to the wider population about HIV and depression as an overlapping issue, not tick one or more boxes.
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Body spa in Gurgaon

Postby surbhi112 on Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:27 am

Depression is a kind of disorder in which effects body and mind internally.To overcome such kind of problem there is no medicine.In my view there are only way that is natural therapy that is full body massage , which helps body cool and calm.
Last edited by Olivia Rendall on Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Depression & HIV

Postby ashleyjackson on Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:10 am

Hi surbhi112,
I totally agree with you.
To get relief from stress natural therapy is so effective. Medication and exercise are also helpful to get rid of it.
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