Archive for the ‘HIV’ Category

HIV: ON LIVING-SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

We accept as a standard truth that we are separate from all other people: we are alone, we are individuals, we are each one of a kind. We never truly understand what other people feel, nor do they truly understand our feelings. We are on our own, responsible for our own decisions and for solutions to our own problems. We protect ourselves first, and at almost any cost.
We accept as just as much a standard truth the opposite: that we are also interconnected. What happens to a friend seems to some extent also to happen to us. When a friend is lonely or worried or in pain, we cannot simply ignore him or her; we even feel some of her or his misery.
Conversely, when we are unhappy ourselves, the presence of a friend is a comfort and relief. “For grief concealed strangles the soul,” wrote Robert Burton, a seventeenth-century minister and scholar, “but when as we shall but impart it to some discreet, trusty, loving friend, it is
instantly removed.” Friends help us feel that someone else is interested, that we need not be alone. “Friends’ confabulations are comfortable at all times,” Burton wrote, “as fire in Winter, shade in Summer, as sleep on the grass to them that are weary, meal and drink to him that is hungry or athirst.” Friends give us the warmth of their concern, a rest from our troubles, and a feeling that we are somehow nourished.
The point is that, for people affected by HIV infection, the support of other people is as important to their minds as medication is to their bodies. When people are sick and hurting and alienated and guilty and feeling unjustly struck, they have a greater need for other people. Even when they are alone and feeling isolated, they are comforted by the knowledge that other people care about them. Alan says, “I can fight this because I’m not fighting by myself.” Over and over, people affected by HIV infection say they could not manage to preserve their emotional health without a sister or a certain friend or a support group or an aunt or a counselor. In fact, they go further and say that without these people, they would no longer know how to live.
This is not an absolute. Some people are more private than others, or would rather rely on their own resources. All people have times when they would rather be alone. Nor are other people always a treat; they can be boring or irritating or cause outright pain. Even the best of friends can get tiring. But in general, the people who do best with this or any other disease are those who have the support of their family and friends.
The principal sources of support for people with HIV infection are their caregivers: partners, parents, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, neighbors. Other sources of support are other relatives, volunteer buddies from advocacy agencies, co-workers, church members, and members of any other groups to which they belong. Still other sources are the professionals who tend the mental health of those affected by HIV infection: psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, religious leaders—therapists of all kinds. Some caregivers give full-time care, some part-time care, and some check in occasionally. Anyone supporting a person with HIV infection or a caregiver is also a caregiver.
People affected by HIV infection must negotiate the territory between what one person needs and the other can supply. They must understand and tolerate each other’s anger, depression, guilt, fears, and desires to talk or not to talk. “All the time, I put myself in my husband’s position,” said Lisa. “I thought, how would I like to be treated? How would I feel? I would have been afraid of being left alone, afraid of losing control over my life. I had to remember all that.”
But in spite of the difficulty of maintaining all these balances and negotiations, people affected by HIV infection say that their supporters are invaluable, indispensable, fundamental to their lives. As June’s son said, “My mother keeps me alive.”
In general, supporters find ways to get people out of themselves, help them stay interested in life, and make them remain a part of the world. Supporters touch them, bring them things they like, and let them know they’re valued. Supporters talk about themselves and by doing that, give tacit permission to the person affected by HIV infection to talk as well. Supporters
listen—without criticism, without advice, without too many suggestions for improvement, and with kindness.
What follows are examples of the ways family, friends, religious leaders, AIDS-advocacy organizations, and mental health professionals have provided support. The examples can give caregivers some ideas of what support to offer and how vital that support is. The examples can also give people with the virus some notions of what support might be possible and where to get it, and perhaps a recognition of the support they already have. This is not a representative sample of all the kinds of support. People are endlessly inventive, and the ways to provide support must be nearly infinite.
*229\191\2*

HIV: ON LIVING-SOURCES OF SUPPORT:We accept as a standard truth that we are separate from all other people: we are alone, we are individuals, we are each one of a kind. We never truly understand what other people feel, nor do they truly understand our feelings. We are on our own, responsible for our own decisions and for solutions to our own problems. We protect ourselves first, and at almost any cost.     We accept as just as much a standard truth the opposite: that we are also interconnected. What happens to a friend seems to some extent also to happen to us. When a friend is lonely or worried or in pain, we cannot simply ignore him or her; we even feel some of her or his misery. Conversely, when we are unhappy ourselves, the presence of a friend is a comfort and relief. “For grief concealed strangles the soul,” wrote Robert Burton, a seventeenth-century minister and scholar, “but when as we shall but impart it to some discreet, trusty, loving friend, it is instantly removed.” Friends help us feel that someone else is interested, that we need not be alone. “Friends’ confabulations are comfortable at all times,” Burton wrote, “as fire in Winter, shade in Summer, as sleep on the grass to them that are weary, meal and drink to him that is hungry or athirst.” Friends give us the warmth of their concern, a rest from our troubles, and a feeling that we are somehow nourished.     The point is that, for people affected by HIV infection, the support of other people is as important to their minds as medication is to their bodies. When people are sick and hurting and alienated and guilty and feeling unjustly struck, they have a greater need for other people. Even when they are alone and feeling isolated, they are comforted by the knowledge that other people care about them. Alan says, “I can fight this because I’m not fighting by myself.” Over and over, people affected by HIV infection say they could not manage to preserve their emotional health without a sister or a certain friend or a support group or an aunt or a counselor. In fact, they go further and say that without these people, they would no longer know how to live.     This is not an absolute. Some people are more private than others, or would rather rely on their own resources. All people have times when they would rather be alone. Nor are other people always a treat; they can be boring or irritating or cause outright pain. Even the best of friends can get tiring. But in general, the people who do best with this or any other disease are those who have the support of their family and friends.     The principal sources of support for people with HIV infection are their caregivers: partners, parents, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, neighbors. Other sources of support are other relatives, volunteer buddies from advocacy agencies, co-workers, church members, and members of any other groups to which they belong. Still other sources are the professionals who tend the mental health of those affected by HIV infection: psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, religious leaders—therapists of all kinds. Some caregivers give full-time care, some part-time care, and some check in occasionally. Anyone supporting a person with HIV infection or a caregiver is also a caregiver.     People affected by HIV infection must negotiate the territory between what one person needs and the other can supply. They must understand and tolerate each other’s anger, depression, guilt, fears, and desires to talk or not to talk. “All the time, I put myself in my husband’s position,” said Lisa. “I thought, how would I like to be treated? How would I feel? I would have been afraid of being left alone, afraid of losing control over my life. I had to remember all that.”But in spite of the difficulty of maintaining all these balances and negotiations, people affected by HIV infection say that their supporters are invaluable, indispensable, fundamental to their lives. As June’s son said, “My mother keeps me alive.”     In general, supporters find ways to get people out of themselves, help them stay interested in life, and make them remain a part of the world. Supporters touch them, bring them things they like, and let them know they’re valued. Supporters talk about themselves and by doing that, give tacit permission to the person affected by HIV infection to talk as well. Supporters listen—without criticism, without advice, without too many suggestions for improvement, and with kindness.     What follows are examples of the ways family, friends, religious leaders, AIDS-advocacy organizations, and mental health professionals have provided support. The examples can give caregivers some ideas of what support to offer and how vital that support is. The examples can also give people with the virus some notions of what support might be possible and where to get it, and perhaps a recognition of the support they already have. This is not a representative sample of all the kinds of support. People are endlessly inventive, and the ways to provide support must be nearly infinite.*229\191\2*

Posted on February 8th, 2011 by admin  |  No Comments »