Category Archives: Personal thoughts
Things from my brain.
I’ve made no secret of the fact I suffer from depression. In fact I’ve been diagnosed with ‘Severe Clinical Depression’ on 3 separate occasions now, for which I was medicated. This tends to happen sporadically, in between I’m mostly sound as a pound – but now and then I get little dips.
The last week or so has been one of these dips. To start with I tried to chalk it up as January Blues but after a few days I realised it was more than that.
I can identify the signs right from the beginning:
- Lack of energy
- Inability to get out of bed in the morning
- No desire to go and do things
- Becoming withdrawn and quiet
- Feeling lonely
A few years ago I’d knuckle down, get stuck into some big project at work and then come home and cuddle up with the husband to worm my way out of the depression. I don’t really have that option any more. My job is neither interesting nor involved enough to bury myself in, and my luck in love has been beyond awful for the last few years.
I actually started writing this article 30 minutes ago, with the idea of writing how I’ve been working hard not to show my depression to the guy I’ve been dating, as he’s been so sweet and understanding with regards to the whole HIV issue. But only 10 minutes ago I got a text message saying he was breaking up with me because he couldn’t handle the strain on him of dating someone who was HIV+. So I’m kind of lost now.
I just want someone to cuddle up with on the cold nights, chat to about my worries and how I’m feeling. It’s not easy being HIV+, it’s doubly not easy being HIV+ and suffering from depression. I can’t see this cloud clearing in the next week now. Sigh.
Sorry for the miserable blog but sometimes I just need to vent, and seeing as it’s just me here you lot get the raw end of the deal.
An appropriate clip from Sex & The City…
Hello, come on in – take a seat,
So that’s 2012 done with is it? The year of the Olympics (well watching Tom Daley in speedos), the Queen’s Jubilee, crazy weather and the start of my writing (in any meaningful sense). Now we’re carefully stepping into 2013, like walking in fresh snow when you’re not sure how deep it is. *crunch*.
It’s traditional in January for one to come up with a list of resolutions, things we want to change about ourselves or achieve in the coming year. I could write a list as long as my arm quite frankly, but then I’d lose focus, so I’ve decided to concentrate on five resolutions for 2013.
- Get a better job
In these tough economic times I should consider myself lucky to be employed, and I honestly do. That’s not to say that I enjoy it terribly much however. 2013 is the year I drop the mediocre admin job and start doing something fulfilling and worthwhile.
- Find myself a nice guy
I’ve been single for pretty much two years now, ignoring one short lived relationship with an emotionally stunted queen and a couple of mini-flings. I’m officially in my late-twenties now (or mature-twink as I like to call it), and I’d quite like to find someone to join me on this crazy journey. Dating when you’re HIV+ is at best a chore, and down right depressing at it’s worst, so I’d like to get it out the way and find myself someone a bit geeky, who likes walking, travelling and wine. Failing that Greg Rutherford or Jonnie Peacock would do.
- Eat less take-away food
A quick browse of my hungryhouse order history makes for depressing reading. I can’t believe how many pizzas, chinese and indian takeaways I ate in the second half of last year. That’s the trouble when you only have to tap on the phone app and can pay by card, it’s all too easy. The trouble is its also very expensive and not very good for me, my HIV consultant is always telling me to eat more fruit and veg, and less fatty foods. This year – more home cooking!
- Drink less wine
Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Why? I’m drinking a glass right now. Want some? Well you can’t have any – it’s mine.
- No more Mr Undercover
This is going to be the year that I finally show you all who Sam really is. I can’t tell you when it’ll be, and it’s not going to be for a while, but it will happen. There are a lot of people in my life that I still want to tell in person, rather than them seeing a blog post, or a tweet about it. But once that’s out of the way there’ll be no stopping me.
What’re your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you stuck to them, or have you already caved in and gone back to your old ways? Share them below in the comments box and forever immortalise your pledge…
All the best,
It’s 12:59 and I’m sat in the waiting room at the GUM (Sexual Health) clinic for my six-monthly check up. Thing is this isn’t just any GUM clinic however, this is the clinic that I was given my HIV diagnosis at nearly a year and a half ago. I haven’t been back since, until today.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been getting checked out every six months (not that I’ve had any sex worth a damn to really warrant it), but I’ve made a point of going to other clinics to avoid having to come back here. But today, the day I’d set aside to do some Christmas shopping and get my end of year STI tests done, this was the only clinic that had free slots.
The waiting room is the same as it ever was, grey and clean, clinically clean – the same bleach smell is stinging my nose, just as it did at 9:00am on the 4th August 2011. Repeats of Top Gear are playing on the TV. The memories of being sat out here nervously awaiting to be called into that small room are coming flooding back. The same feeling of anxiety is sweeping over me – but this time for no real reason, I’m only here for a general check-up.
Calm down Sam. Calm down.
14:54 nearly two hours later and I’m done. 75% of that was sat around in the waiting room, apparently they were working very unstaffed today. That couldn’t be helped.
I’ve been prodded, up top, down below and round the back. I’ve had blood and urine taken, such fun. Almost knee’d the poor nurse in the face as she did the penile swab – NOT FUN.
I’ll get results via text message in a week, not expecting anything out of the ordinary, I mean I’ve barely had any sex at all for months now. MONTHS. But better to be safe than sorry as they say. I was so glad to get out of there though, I just don’t like what time period of my life that clinic waiting room represents. No comment on the staff at all though, lovely people.
When were you last tested? Was it too long ago? Maybe you should make it a new year’s resolution? After all – what’s a little time out of your day for peace of mind?
Here’s to peace of mind, or what little mind I’ve got left!
Welcome to Friday, it’s VERY nearly the weekend. I thought I’d pop a blog post up whilst I’ve some time to kill at work – counting down the minutes until home-time. Today’s post isn’t really HIV related per se, it’s just about people and attitudes.
Last night I had a date, well I thought I had a date anyway. I wasn’t entirely in the mood for it if I’m honest, I’d spent a long day chaperoning at the local GUM/HIV clinic – which is incredibly draining both physically and emotionally, but hey I’m not one to turn down a date. We were to meet at 8:30pm at my local train station and head into the city for some dinner and drinks, so I spent an age picking what to wear and doing my hair (that rhymes, wasn’t meant to), then headed to the station. I got there a bit early as I’d rather be early than late and make a bad impression.
8:30pm – no sign, not everyone is as conscientious about timing as I am.
8:40pm – he must be running late
8:45pm – I send him a text, which is delivered (according to iMessage)
8:50pm – I call him (he doesn’t answer)
9:00pm – I realise I’ve been stood up and mope my way home to eat an entire packet of hobnobs.
I felt like a complete moron. I wasn’t in the mood, got myself all excited about it, made myself up and made the effort to go meet him, waited around in the cold for 30 minutes and he couldn’t even be bothered to send a text message to tell me he wasn’t coming. It might be funny if this wasn’t the first time in recent history that this has happened, not with the same guy I hasten to add. It’s hard enough to find guys interested in you when you’re HIV+, it’s even harder when they don’t turn up!
I’m growing weary of being overlooked, taken for granted or generally pissed upon. It’s not even just people I know, it’s the general public too – I’ve got so fed up of holding doors open for people never to be thanked that I’ve started shouting “YOU’RE WELCOME!” at the top of my lungs as they walk away, the other day I helped a woman carry her child-in-pushchair up a flight of stairs – I didn’t get so much as a “ta” or a nod of the head. Why do I bother?
I need a serious injection of positivity and reassurance, before I turn into Agnetha from ABBA and move to my own remote island and block out the word. Less sequined clothing though, might be a bit much for just me and my inevitable 94 cats.
I know i’ve not posted in a while, sorry about that. Things have been a bit topsy turvy this end.
Firstly I got ill, ended up with a severe bout of the flu which resulted in me collapsing and hospitalisation – it took me a while to recover from that one. Then I was busy preparing for an interview for a “dream job” which I subsequently didn’t get. After that I fell into a bit of a depressive pit, and just as I was starting to come back out of it I found out that a friend from London had died which threw me right back into my hole of despair.
Nearly two weeks later now things are starting to look up again, I’m going to take a week to go visit some friends on the continent and I’ve started the job hunt again. I can’t help but think that all of this would have been so much easier if I’d had someone at my side, to hold my hand and give me cuddles – being single sucks, but hey that’s where I’m at right now.
In the next week or two the latest edition of Attitude Magazine will be out, with my interview of Edo Zollo – an amazing photographer who’s built a project around HIV across the UK, so watch out for that. I’ve also got some interesting collaborations with Gaydar coming up – but I can’t say any more than that.
Sorry it’s a bit of a depressing post, but I always said this blog would show the ups and the downs. Hopefully next time you hear from me it’ll be about something more positive (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Look after yourselves,
Today, September 10th 2012, is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide is not something people find easy to discuss, this isn’t helped that by the fact that it is still considered a criminal act in many countries (but not the UK since 1961), or that many religions consider it a “sin” – all of this keeps suicide a taboo subject, one that people tend to shy away from given the chance.
But talking is what we need to do. In 2010 in the UK 5,608 people committed suicide (4,321 men & 1,377 women). A recent study by the University of Manchester showed that only 27% of people who committed suicide in the UK between 2000 and 2010 had spoken to a mental health professional. That means 73% (4093 people) didn’t feel they could seek professional assistance with how they were feeling.
There’s a tendency these days to shrug off suicide, and even term it a selfish act, and on the face of things I can see how people reach that conclusion, but you need to step into the shoes of the person in question. How bad had things got in their life that they felt that their only remaining course of action was to take their own lives? That they had no-one to talk to? No other form of resolution?
A few months ago I wrote a blog post, ‘The Night I Almost Died’, about how the selfish and callous actions of someone I had trusted left me feeling that there was no way out but to go out on a cold night and jump off a bridge. My reputation, my life, my self worth and confidence were all in tatters due to one vile and baseless rumour, something I thought I’d never live down. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my friend Ben, who spoke to me in the middle of the night, who calmed me down when I was shaking and in tears, or without the help of the counsellors at MyHIV.org.uk who helped me rebuild my confidence.
So today on Suicide Awareness Day take a moment to think of your friends, your colleagues, your family – is there anyone who’s feeling down? Someone who’s more anxious or withdrawn than normal? Why not give them a call, or arrange a coffee and ask how they’re doing. From personal experience I can tell you that there’s nothing more reassuring than hearing a friendly voice and seeing a familiar face when you’re at your lowest.
If you’re the one feeling low, why not take the initiative and call a friend up yourself, and if you really feel you can’t talk to your friends about what’s going on there are organisations out there that can help you. If it’s HIV related try the THT Direct helpline on 0808 802 1221, or if it’s more general the lovely people at Samaritans will always be there to listen on: 08457 90 90 90.
Make time for those around you this World Suicide Prevention Day.
Massive cuddles all round,
Afternoon boys and girls,
Just a quick blog about music, and one song in particular. Music is and always has been a big part of my life, since I got my first CD walkman as a kid I was hooked, and be it my iPhone on the go or GaydarRadio at work and home I’m rarely seen without a set of earphones in.
The things that happen in my life often get tied to music, songs remind me of ex boyfriends, of holidays with friends and places I’ve worked. Some songs get so closely linked to painful subjects that I can’t listen to them any more, and I’ll find myself skipping them or turning the radio down – other songs alternatively always put me in a good mood and cheer me up, no matter what’s going on.
One such song is Cher’s ‘A Song for the lonely’. Yes, yes I know it’s a cliché a gay man liking Cher – but who honestly can resist a decent beat and a few key changes? That said it’s not so much the tune the song carries as the lyrics and the meaning that have helped me. I hadn’t really paid that much attention to the song before, but I heard it fairly soon after I was diagnosed HIV positive, and the words just spoke to me.
This is a song – for the lonely
Can you hear me tonight?
For the broken hearted, battle scarred
I’ll be by your side
And this is a song – for the lonely
When your dreams won’t come true
Can you hear this prayer?
‘Cause someone’s there for you
I know they’re a bit cheesy, but they spoke to me at a time when I felt very much alone and confused and I was certain I’d never achieve any of my dreams. Every time it comes on the radio, or on my iTunes I still can’t resist turning it up loud and singing along, it still causes a smile to creep across my face and make me feel like everything is going to be ok.
So if you’re feeling a bit down, a tad glum, or just fancy a fun tune to bop to this Friday afternoon, why not hit play on the official music video below?
Happy Friday everyone – It’s gonna be alright.
Good Monday Ladies and Jellyspoons,
This Saturday was August 4th, which is happens to be exactly one year since I was diagnosed HIV positive. I hadn’t even noticed until fairly late in the day – and after several wines I was in no fit state to be writing a blog post…
I can’t believe how quickly one year has flow by. To say it’s been a whirlwind is to put it mildly. In the last twelve months I’ve been diagnosed HIV positive, had two relationships, moved house, started this website & blog, become a writer for Attitude Magazine, spoken on national BBC Radio, been invited to speak at conferences/events, moved house, marched in pride parades, fund-raised for the THT WalkForLife, and most recently become had my viral load become “undetectable”.
There are lots of people I’d really like to than. I don’t want to try and list everyone because I’d hate to leave someone out and offend them, but here are a few stars:
- Garry at THT, who helps run MyHIV.org.uk who’s been amazing to chat to, to walk with at WalkForLife and invited to lots of other events etc.
- Matthew Todd at Attitude Magazine, a great editor who has put so much trust and faith in me and enabled me to reach many more people than I ever thought possible.
- My doctors and nurses at the HIV clinic in the New Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, for always having a smile on their faces and knowing exactly how to help.
- My friends, they’ve consistently been there for me throughout. Both my existing friends and the new ones I’ve made up and down the country. There is no such thing as too many hugs.
- You. My readers. For following me on Twitter, for reading my ramblings on here and in Attitude Magazine, for commenting, emailing and letting me know I’m not alone, or that my words have helped. You make it all worthwhile. Thank you.
I know it’s an odd anniversary to celebrate, celebrate is the wrong word really – acknowledge is probably more appropriate, but I think it’s an important one. So that was year one, here’s to year two and many many more. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go google Tom Daley…
Lots of love,