Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sprained Ankles, Adoption, HIV, and Disability

A few months ago I tripped on the stairs in my house and hurt my ankle really bad. I am very clumsy and fall a lot. It doesn't help that I have arthritis and falls hurt me more than other teenagers. But this one was worse than the other times. My parents had to take me to the emergency room because I was in so much pain. I was lucky it wasn't broken but I did have a bad sprain and had to use crutches for almost a month.

This was my first time using crutches before. I had to get used to it. First I really sucked at it and was very slow. It was annoying. Then I got more used to it and did better. I wasn't as fast as walking the regular way but I was able to move and get stuff on my own. I might have needed more time to get places but I could still get there.

A lot of people were very concerned that I was on crutches. Especially kids at school and grownups too like at the store and church. They kept trying to baby me and carry all my stuff and help me all the time. And people kept saying stuff like, "Poor you!" And "What happened?" They were trying to be nice but it was also like really embarrassing too having all that attention. I just like to melt into the crowd. I don't like standing out.

It reminded me of me having HIV and also having arthritis. And being adopted too. Sometimes when people find out I have HIV or juvenile arthritis they feel sorry for me just like people felt sorry for me because of my crutches. Or when they find out my parents died and I got adopted. They get sad and treat me different. They ask, "How did you get it (HIV)?" or "How did your parents die?" Or, "What's it like being adopted?" "Aren't you too young to have arthritis? My grandma has it."

I know they are just trying to help and be nice but it feels really weird. And makes me feel bad and uncomfortable. Like I'm not a regular person at all but I am just someone you feel sorry for. I don't want extra attention and I don't want pity. Help is okay if I need it or ask for it, but I may not need it. It's better to ask first because you trying to help by doing stuff I can do myself or telling me how sorry you are for me all the time just might make me feel worse, not better.

I like walking regular better than using crutches, but I would rather walk with crutches than not be able to get around. Just like life would probably be easier without HIV or without arthritis or if my parents didn't die. But I would rather have the life I have WITH HIV and with my disability and having my adoptive family than not having life. This is the life God gave me and I'm going to live it and not waste time crying every day about how it might be harder for me than somebody else. At least I have life, and a good life. It's not that bad.

Next time you see someone different and you want to feel sorry for them think about if you would want someone to feel sorry for you if it was you. Maybe you will change your mind and just treat them normal. Having HIV doesn't kill you. Having a disability doesn't kill you. Being adopted doesn't kill you. I am okay and you should be okay with it if I am okay with it.

(My post was originally published on the A Girl Like Me blog HERE.)

Friday, April 8, 2016

My Fear As a Teen Living With HIV (Dating)

It’s almost National Youth HIV Awareness Day. Last year I wrote something about it that was positive. This year I’m having a hard time being positive. Maybe it’s because I’m a teenage girl and because of puberty I’m really sensitive about everything. But I don’t think that’s all. I think as I get older certain things about me having HIV get harder.

I’m not ashamed of living with HIV. It’s not a bad thing – it’s part of me. But it complicates things sometimes. One thing that it is complicated right now is dating. It seems like almost everyone around me is dating. Everybody but me.

I have never had a real boyfriend. I’ve had a crush on a guy, and I’ve had guys have crushes on me. There’s a guy who I can tell likes me right now (but I don’t like him back because he really annoys me). But having a crush is not the same as having a boyfriend. A lot of my friends have had boyfriends, but it’s not as easy for me as it is for them. Because they don’t have HIV like I do.

When they meet a cute guy, all they have to worry about is whether he is nice, whether he’s a Christian, whether he likes them back, whether he’s smart, whether he’s a player, whether their mom or dad will let them go out with somebody or whether they’ll have to sneak to date him. I have to worry about that AND whether he or his parents are going to have a problem with me having HIV. I think about it a lot and it stresses me out.

When I was little, I was scared that nobody would want to be with me because I have HIV, so I decided I would just fall in love with one of the guys from camp. Because all of them either have HIV or somebody in their family has it, so they don’t care about it. But later I started thinking it wasn’t fair that I would be stuck having to choose only camp people when there’s billions of people all over the world. (And some of the guys from camp are really weird.)
But if you don’t date at camp, then you don’t always know what’s going to happen. Somebody at school or church or some other place might seem nice, but how do you know you can trust them? What if they only date me because they feel sorry for me? Or if they’re trying to use me because they think I’m desperate and I’ll do anything to keep them?
And if I don’t tell them then when they do find out they’ll be mad that I didn’t trust them enough to tell them. Trust is important in relationships. I know I would be mad if I found out my boyfriend didn’t trust me, so of course they would be mad at me if I didn’t say anything and later I told them about it.

I know lots of people living with HIV fall in love, get married and have a family. But a lot of people are alone too. I’m okay being alone now, but I don’t want to be single forever. I don’t want to hide or lie about who I am and I don’t want to just pick any random guy.

A lot of people don’t understand young people that have HIV have problems too. Everything isn’t easy for us just because we are young. It’s good that we have meds and that we can grow up to be old, but we still have things to worry about.

Today, I am worried about if I will ever find someone to love me for me.