15 Years Old

I made this post on Facebook in a moment of amusement, but have not been able to stop thinking about it since. Today marks the day my whole world changed.

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I was diagnosed on August 6, 2003.

Realizing this has been fifteen years almost makes me feel like this is a new diagnosis. I have also just started my menstrual cycle, so it could just be hormones mixing with reality.

Part of me feels like I should be celebrating. Another part of me feels absolutely depressed because I have lost too many mentors and friends in just those fifteen years. Yet, another part of me reflects on all the amazing people I’ve gained in my life and how empty it would be if I had never met them. Then, in the next moment, I remember I have to take my treatment and this spiral pulls me to The Upside Down all over again. The stigma, the loss, the health challenges, the fights for justice, the energy exerted to be whole, the energy just to smile through another day.

 

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An HIV diagnosis robs so much from you - but dammit, it gives you so much more. Like, you can Google me (maiden name and married name) and I’m like doing stuff. I am building a legacy in spite of my diagnosis. I am living life out loud to show people how amazing HIV can look. I am embracing my healing so others can be whole, I am giving inspiration so others can see hope and I am living victoriously so others will know how they can still find themselves beyond their diagnosis.

I hold on to the beautiful things, but I have to be honest. In this moment that I hit send and go on with my day, the frayed edges of my red ribbon...make me sad. I just want to be the last one. No more diagnosis. No more stigma. No more.

 

 My 1st business card, made by my dad. #TheFaceToEraseStigma 2009

My 1st business card, made by my dad. #TheFaceToEraseStigma 2009