Via Guy Anthony
Will you still love me even when you discover my truth?
As someone who has been living with HIV since 2007 and was recently diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder, I understand what it’s like to operate from an emotional deficit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem within their lifespan, and I happen to be one of them. There has been research that has demonstrated the heightened prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders among Black gay men. Imagine the added layers of stress one is subjected to after an HIV-positive diagnosis. As AIDS.gov’s HIV Basics page on HIV and mental health explains, mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Your mental health affects how you think, feel, and act, and it also helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
That’s important for all people, including people living with HIV. When you have positive mental health, you are often able to function better in life and especially in relationships. You’re also often better able to decipher what may be hindering you from experiencing the types of relationships you deserve. When I began to realize that the emotionally fulfilling relationships I desired were escaping me because I hadn’t unpacked my “stuff” yet, I subsequently reached out for help, which allowed me to make healthier choices for myself in regards to love and who I allowed in my life intimately.
It was especially important for me to acknowledge that I needed help and that it was OK to seek it. I understood that I wasn’t equipped with the necessary tools to discern between what was good for me and what was just good to me. That’s the problem with having an unhealthy perception of your reality; you make decisions that rival your best judgment. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been surprisingly empowering to realize that neither HIV nor mental illness defines me. I define them both by reclaiming my narrative and putting a face to the disease and illness that has plagued my community for decades.
Today, I want you to ask yourself the hard questions: Do I honestly feel good about myself and do I feel good about the decisions I’ve made? If you answer no to either of these, I challenge you to do something about it!
Visit the HIV/AIDS Basics page for more information on Mental Health and HIV.
ABOUT GUY ANTHONY
Guy Anthony is a respected HIV/AIDS activist, community leader and author. Diagnosed with HIV as a teen, Guy has dedicated his adult life to the pursuit of neutralizing global HIV/Aids related stigmas. He served as a member of Atlanta’s black gay Community Advisory Board (CAB) from 2010-2013 and in 2011 co-created the hit online web-series, “MR.” named in honor of black gay rights activist and filmmaker, Marlon Riggs.
Released in December 2012, his book ‘Pos(+)tively Beautiful: A Book of Affirmations, Advocacy & Advice’ is a collection of inspiring narratives, raw imagery, and affirming anecdotes. After releasing his book of affirmations for people living with HIV, Guy was selected as a National Spokesperson and Ambassador for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in 2013 and since then has spoken with various MPowerment Projects in Georgia, New York, Tennessee, DC and Texas. His book was named #10 on MUSED Magazine’s list of books every black gay man should read along with some of the most influential LGBT authors of the 21st century.
Currently, Guy works as a Program Coordinator for the Treatment Adherence program at Us Helping Us, Inc. He serves as a member of The Metropolitan Washington Regional Ryan White Planning Council in Washington, DC, resident blogger for AIDS.gov , and brand ambassador for ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. He strongly believes that his visibility will help other HIV-positive young men recognize their own beauty and self-worth.
He also raps and sings in his spare time!