Allowing your feelings

It is normal to feel very strong emotions after getting a positive diagnosis, even if the diagnosis was delivered in a supportive way — and that is not always the case. It is also normal to grieve any major life change, even if nobody’s died, so all the usual emotions of anger, shock, denial, and bargaining come into play.

The more you fight those feelings, the worse you will feel, so the goal right now is to accept that this is how things feel — at the moment. It won’t feel like this forever.

Your doctor has hopefully made urgent appointments with relevant services. If not, call your local HIV organisation and tell them you’ve just been diagnosed, and they will ensure you get an urgent appointment to make those referrals.

You may not feel like talking to anybody about your diagnosis just now, but you will feel a lot better when you do.

Important—If you feel so distressed that you can’t sit still, and you can’t stop thoughts going around and around in your head, we want you to reach out to a service like Lifeline, or a counsellor, or an HIV peer navigator. You need to speak with someone who can help you contain those feelings and return to a calm(er) place emotionally.