An HIV positive diagnosis may give you an opportunity to evaluate your priorities and think about the ways you may want your life to change for the better.
One of the truths of testing positive for HIV is that once you know, you can never not know again. For better or worse, your life will always be different now. You may be experiencing great feelings of loss about this. You may feel that certain areas of your life are now in the hands of doctors, insurance companies, or symptoms. This can make you feel as though you have less control over your own life and may cause you incredible anxiety.
Know this -- you do not have to give up control of your life. By arming yourself with information and deciding what is right for you, you will soon realize that you are still the same person you were. It is your life, your body, your health, and no matter how well-meaning your family, your friends, or your doctor may be, they have no right to take control of your life. Allow yourself to take time to decide what you want to do. Then go do it.
You may find that many of the priorities in your life change rapidly. If you are considering making major changes in your life, just make sure that you think them through carefully. Many HIV positive people have made huge changes in the way they live. Many have broken bad habits, such as drinking too much or smoking. Some have gotten out of bad relationships or quit jobs they really hated. Facing the possibility of getting sick or dying has made many of our lives much better because it has made us take action in areas we had previously ignored or repeatedly put off.
Some people blame themselves for being HIV positive. This kind of guilt and self-hatred is very destructive. You are facing enough right now; you don't need to punish yourself for being HIV positive also.
Grief is one of the emotions that most HIV positive people face at some point. You may be grieving for yourself, facing the possibility of your own death. For many of us, the virus is not only affecting our lives, but the lives of those we love. Many have lost friends and loved ones to HIV, or have many people in their lives who are also HIV positive. Allow yourself to express grief and fear in some way. Permit yourself to cry. These feelings are valuable and normal; ignoring them will not make them go away.
You may also feel that you are now damaged in some way -- that no one will want to touch you or love you or that you are less desirable because you are HIV-positive. You may feel that you will never be able to love again, that no one would want to be with you if they knew that you were HIV-positive. These feelings will pass. You are not "damaged goods." You are still a valuable person, as capable of giving and receiving love as ever. You can make your own decisions, relax, and enjoy each day. This may be a struggle and you may have to find new ways of coping with daily life, but it's worth it.
Many people have been through what you are going through and many look back at this time as a new awakening of sorts. The important thing to remember is that this too shall pass and that joy and happiness still exist in you.