Anything Is Possible
I was transitioning from 16 to 21. During that time my mom passed away and my partner was murdered around the same time. I started using crystal meth and that's how I got HIV, I was shooting up. At that time, I couldn't emotionally deal with what was going on. I had so much loss and I had nobody, no support system, nothing. My mother had been my main support. I went back into the closet about being transgender.
In 2007 I was tested and diagnosed with HIV. From there, it just led me down a bad path. I just didn't care about my life. I would take my antiretroviral meds, but I continued to use drugs. It was an interesting time in my life. During this time, I signed over my power of attorney to my then partner. I mean, I couldn't control what I was saying or doing. I was in a very bad psychosis. The fact that I signed everything over when I was using drugs, that scared me. I ended up in state custody and I had to fight to get out and have my independence. I’ve now been sober for a while and attend Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings. I found a local treatment center to support with case management and medical and I rely on my close friends for support.
I’ve learned to accept it, but it can still sometimes be a struggle to disclose my status. Everything can seem more intense when you're HIV positive. This can make dating very hard. I used to always look for someone who was also positive to date, and was scared of someone that was negative because I would have to have the conversation about my status. I wouldn't ever give myself a chance to get to know them.
Eventually I broke through this stigma. I got involved in an organization that fights against HIV, mental health and drug addiction stigmas. That was a huge struggle for many, many years. I’ve learned stigma is just a moment in time that will go by once you work through it. It's our job to educate others and our partners. One way to break stigma is to educate and to own who we are and not let it affect us. When we have support and we have each other's back, we can get through it.
It’s important to have very strong stable people who support you and have your back, no matter what. People who can pick you up and help you get out of a bad situation. Having people who you can trust and depend on, is a big thing. It’s important to reach out when you need to. As much as I didn't reach out for help, when I did reach out, it was a blessing. You are worth endless amounts of love and you are worth every dream you've ever had. And your dreams can all still come true.