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Tag: communication

12
Aug

In Depression Talking Helps

Depression is more common than you might think. It affects many people in a variety of ways and is a serious, recognized condition. Gay/bisexual men are at greater risk for mental health problems. When depression happens, it quickly takes hold in the form of a series of mutually reinforcing habits. Depressed behavior in the form of avoidance and social withdrawal reinforces depressed feelings and the lethargy that often accompanies depression.

It can be hard to open up and be honest about how you are really feeling. You may be used to putting on a ‘front’ with others and pretending you are fine. However, this leaves you feeling isolated and alone, which makes things worse. These are some of the ways that talking to someone can make a difference:

 

  • Unburdening yourself – It can be a great relief to get things off your chest. For some people it helps a lot if they know things will be kept confidential (eg. talking to a professional).
  • Getting perspective – Voicing thoughts or fears is very useful in making sense of them and putting them into perspective.
  • Easing isolation – Dropping the mask, being honest and connecting with someone else on a real level helps to counter the isolating effect of depression.
  • Care and compassion – If you choose well who to talk to, you are much more likely to be offered care and compassion than the rejection or ridicule you may fear.
  • Useful advice – Depending on who you talk to, you may get some useful help or advice in return – and even if some of it isn’t useful, remember you don’t have to take it!
  • Strategies and ways forward –Talking and openness shines a bright light onto depression’s distortions and lies. As you talk, you start to develop understanding and strategies for tackling depression.
  • Support network – Different people offer different kinds of support, so talking to different people can help build up a useful support network.

 

Having a supportive group of friends and family members is often key to successfully dealing with the stressors of day-to-day life and maintaining good mental health. People who are unable to get social support from their friends and families can find it by becoming involved in community, social, athletic, religious, and other groups. Mental health counseling and support groups that are sensitive to the needs of gay/bi men can be especially useful to those who are coming to terms with their sexual orientation or experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems.

 

The stigma of depression can keep people from reaching out to a professional. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness or failure. Many gay and bisexual men also may not seek care from a mental health provider because of a fear from discrimination or homophobia. There are many mental health professionals who specialize in issues affecting LGBTQ individuals. It is important to seek help and try to find a provider that you can trust.

 

Project HIM offers CLEAR. A free counseling workshop for gay/bisexual men living with HIV. In CLEAR, you’ll work one-on-one with a counselor to practice skills and set goals that empower you to live the life you choose.

 

For additional help and information, please visit Project HIM’s Resources page.

 

Sources: Students Against Depression, CDC: Gay & Bisexual Men’s Health
Related Posts: Communication – Overcoming Dating Barriers,
26
Jul

Communication – Overcoming Dating Barriers

iStock_000001341102Small“I just know that if it comes out positive I’m going to be alone and lonely for the rest of my life.”

 

As I looked at the young man across from me who spoke those words as he waited for the results of his HIV test, I realized how many times I’d heard that same sentiment – both from persons waiting for their results and from clients that found out their HIV+ status some time ago.  The fear of being lonely and alone is one that most individuals can relate to.  In the search for a relationship and working on improving a relationship, there are always barriers and issues to work on and through.  HIV is just one of those barriers.  But, you know what the most important thing about barriers is?  They can be overcome.

 

In all relationships, communication and knowing your partner are the key factors in overcoming barriers.  Talking about finances, decisions with children, education choices, health choices and all sorts of other life events and factors is immensely important and should be a part of all healthy relationships.

 

As antiretroviral medicines have increased in effectiveness over the years, HIV+ individuals are living long and healthy lives.  As health increases, so does the number of healthy serodiscordant relationships.  Serodiscordant relationships are those where one partner is HIV+ and the other is HIV-.  The term serodiscordant originates from the word “seroconversion”, which is the medical term for becoming HIV positive, and the word “discordant”, which means “at odds”.  These relationships have been able to survive for years with the HIV- person maintaining that status.  Individuals remaining adherent to medication and maintaining undetectable viral loads have a much, much lower chance of transmitting the virus to a partner.  So, when you’re getting involved with a partner who has disclosed their HIV+ status, ask them about their viral load.  Ask them about their medication adherence.  Those are the keys.  Ask.  Communicate.

 

In any relationship, there are many, many things to discuss.  Specifics to discuss in a relationship are as unique as each relationship itself; however, there are some commonalities in all relationships.  We all need to discuss our emotional health in a relationship – talk about our fears of loss and grief if something happens to one of the partners.  We all need to discuss sex – what are both partners comfortable with?  How do we keep safe?  Ask. Communicate.

 

Fears of being lonely and alone are natural and experienced my most individuals; fear of being lonely and alone solely because of your HIV status?  That’s the one that shouldn’t need to exist.  All individuals deserve respect and love and to find that person that makes them happy.  People fall in love with an individual, not a health status.  HIV is just that, a health status, a barrier that can be overcome.  Know your partner, communicate with your partner; those are the keys to any relationship.

 

Related post: Sero-discordant coupling: Looking after each other in a Pos-Neg relationships.