One benefit of being open on social media and sharing my story is that it has helped me to connect with people who are dealing with health problems other than HIV. In the end we are all going through the same pain. Some suffer from depression, some from cancer or heart problems, and we all take medication everyday. Being @hivstigmafighter on Twitter has helped me to connect with many other people who have health problems. I am about to share the story of one person who lives in the Netherlands.
It’s amazing when people from different backgrounds connect and share their pain, their joy and inspire each other in different ways. Sevim suffered from depression for many years, and no one was able to understand her problem, apart from her family doctor (GP). She went through a lot alone. While on Twitter she came across my name @hivstigmafighter. She read my post and realised that there were other people who have gone through a lot too, and in a way she could never have imagined. And she realised that those people could understand her pain too. She connected with me, and then started tweeting and retweeting my posts. I was doing the same and we followed each other. We realised that we lived in same country and so wanted to meet up. Last Saturday it finally happened. She came with her youngest son to visit me in Amersfoort. It was so great to finally meet Sevim in person. A very lovely lady and very chic and stylish!
We spent a long time telling each other our personal stories. She told me how she had been in a very abusive relationship. When she became depressed, neither her family or her ex-husband understood her pain. They thought she was going crazy. But she fought her depression for a very long time until she won the fight. She still uses medication, but now feels good. Then it was my turn to tell her about myself, my life with diabetes, with HIV, my accident, heart attack and a little of my youth – the life I led during the war before HIV came into it. She took the opportunity to ask more questions about HIV and AIDS. I love it when people want to know more, so I helped to educate her with pleasure. We had dinner and drank our wine while our children were playing happily together. Isn’t it amazing?
To me and Sevim it does not matter what kind of illness we have, the pain is the same. People are always judging her, just as they did me because of my HIV. Depression is a serious disease and there is a lot of stigma around it, just like there is around HIV.
But I am so happy to find a new sister in this world!