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Living in Denial

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Living in Denial

by Shahista Rohan-Toefy
23 Apr 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

DENIAL: a simple word with a deep meaning.

We live a time when everything has to be perfect, life has to be smooth, and where nothing can go wrong. But when things do go wrong, what is one of the first things we do? We go into a state of denial. Sometimes it's the easy way to deal with life.

In that state, more often than not, the things that go wrong stay wrong. The time they right themselves is when we deal head-on with reality. An important example: HIV/AIDS.

It's a term we'd rather whisper about (like a swear word) and it's often used in relation to someone we know or suspect has it. We generally talk about HIV/AIDS in an abstract way - it always seems to affect other people.

The true importance of the term usually doesn't hit home until someone close to you contracts the dread disease. I had no such person in my life: until I got the call telling me a close family member was afflicted. How could this be? It only affected others, not those close to me.

The event caused me to log onto the internet, to talk to organizations, to talk to experts - all so I could get a better understanding of what we were dealing with.

The afflicted relative and immediate family handled the matter differently. How could he have contracted the disease? That was the main concern.

Was he gay? Was he promiscuous? Was he? and so on. In those first moments, what people found important was the how. The sad part for me was that my cousin's only concern was not battling this life-threatening illness, but the stigma attached to living with HIV/AIDS.

That alone enraged me. Having to look for ways to save his life seemed like a big enough burden to carry.

To have to deal with other people's paranoia was outright unfair. Only after finding an experienced doctor (who provided excellent counselling, including advice on the right medication, diet and lifestyle), were we close to resolving what we all first denied.

How the person got the disease should not be the primary issue. The person has it, and being a support is all that matters.

Having HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence. My cousin is now living a normal life. We have to deal head-on with issues rather than deny them. They won't go away.

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