This is my 3rd year attempt to do this Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge and see it all the way through the month of November. Third time is a charm, right? I have a lists of prompts, I can do this. I will do this.
Each day, WEGO Health, an awesome empowerment network of over 100,000 health activists, posts a prompt and health activists around the world reflect, write and post their experiences with their health in response to these posts. If you've read this far, I thank you. You'll be reading a lot about HIV for the next 30 days. Let's start, shall we?
I don't write as often as I'd like...I put a lot of pressure on myself to do so and then end up doing nothing. I make up for that in HIV advocacy and being present at events, doing the work. Always in the back of my mind thinking of other amazing bloggers like award winning blogger and social media guru, Mark S. King of "My Fabulous Disease, Joshua Middleton of "Pozitive Hope", or my sisters at Positive Women's Network and I wonder how they do it all. But then, I realize when I do take the time to write, to sit still and put my spider web of thoughts to print...I have a lot to say. I am driven to write when I see an injustice and want to make a call to action, i.e. my most recent blog post on HIV Is Not A Crime. Since then, I've been chosen by The Sero Project to take the lead on Florida efforts to reform our laws! So, time for writing comes scarcely but I am going to try! I am also driven to write (but not always publish) when I have a moment of catharsis. I will hopefully get to speak on the beauty of those moments later when I had to remember to breathe in the midst of chaos!
I'd like other Health Activists to know and be encouraged by their own efforts of being a voice - whether they are the only voice in their field of health expertise or if they are in a large sea of powerful voices...YOU ARE ENOUGH. I want other Health Activists to know that it's ok to not be ok. I want other Health Activists to know that it is also ok to build your network of support outside of your field of expertise. I have learned a lot about health advocacy and grace from my friends living with psoriasis, cancer (of various kinds), IBD, Crohn's, and Scleroderma to name a few. Powerful, selfless, fierce individuals that have helped me recognize the beauty in knowing I am doing all I can to be healthy, I am the expert because I live HIV daily and...I AM ENOUGH.
Specifically about my condition as with many I have mentioned...there is a silent suffering that happens. Especially if you are in the public eye. I don't "look" sick. I'm overweight and people don't typically associate HIV/AIDS with curves. It's ridiculous because it ties into the self-stigma that eats away at us mentally. A small part of me (it gets smaller everyday unlike my waistline) is terrified to lose weight because I don't want to fit a stereotype of being ill. I'm literally shaking my head at myself for even typing that. But that is my reality. I'm working on it. There are days in the midst of this that I feel like utter crap. I have learned to not even say when I'm not feeling well because I either get a "You look fine", a "Me Too" story that is no where near connected to what I'm feeling, or I get grilled about my CD4 count, why my feet are swollen or "You're just stressed". Not complaining, because I'm used to it now. I have just learned who I can and cannot talk to openly about my wellness.
So, there you have it. A very jagged first entry into this writing challenge, but I'm learning to stop being so polished all the time. I'm learning to be more authentic with myself and it will help my intentions become more authentic and effective.
Remembering I AM ENOUGH, I thank you for reading this and hope if you related to any part of it, you know you're not alone but it does get better. Feel free to comment, email me, share, find me on Facebook or write your own post! Thanks again - have a powerful and productively blessed day!