That Social Anxiety

That feeling when you enter a bar full of people, cigarette smoke sinking in after opening the main door and everyone is like looking at you? A spark of knowledge comes that these are bar regulars. Staring at you from head to toe thinking what’s in their mind? Paranoid being they are judging you in a way. That’s what social anxiety is. Well, it’s not really encapsulated in bars or what not, it can be in your workplace, school or generally in public. The fear of seeing others judging you and it creates your own ghost of negative thoughts slowly eating your mind and heart until you give up and scraming like a meerkat.

I have to admit, I am a socially anxious person. Add to that being an extreme introvert. Looking how it started, am not really sure where, when or why. Perhaps the inferiority complex surfaces multiplied by insecurities and expounded by being HIV positive makes it all up. And it’s all shit and I’m getting fucked up.

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I remember this instance were some of my friends invited me to a sports fest. Knowing there will be new faces, I got anxious how they will see me as I am. The anxiety stemmed, as much as I’d want to join, I didn’t show up.

And if ever I do come, it’s a nerve wracking experience. Entering O bar and seeing those regulars look at you upon checking the door. I’ve been there for sometime and still I cannot hold the anxiety. I wanted to expose myself but of course being apprehensive of over doing it. I don’t wanna be tagged as a regular. Being labelled.

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I keep my friends at a minimum. Placing shit loads at bay. I only have a handful of peers. Most of them have their own lives to take leaving me independent. I’m kinda used to solitary weekends. Not really a big deal. But of course I wish there’s these guys who then just show up in my porch and have a night out.

For introverts, socializing is a process. A tedious one. It’s not an overnight thing.

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Anniversary Feels

There are 3 instances where you’re being reminded of your HIV status.

1. When you take your scheduled medicines and ARVs
2. When you are to date someone
3. When you take your scheduled tests, CD4/VL etc

My anniversary test is every July. Going to my treatment hub is somewhat an anxious experience knowing how gruesome the day will be. The previous years, one must allot the whole day for this activity. From going there, blood extraction, medicine refill, consultation and waiting game, it usually takes 8-9 hours. Now, RITM-ARG has somewhat streamlined some of their processes and shorten it by 5-6 hours.

This cat kept me entertained

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Upon arrival, it was 6am. I’m already the 20th queue. It will be then filtered and sorted to who will be doing their anniv tests, consultation or what not. I got narrowed down to 9th queue. Had my blood extracted, took early lunch and did the waiting game. The new process has improved a lot but there are still loopholes to address to such as turn around time and organizing points of movement. E.g: all activities should be done in one point, blood extraction/ppd/Philhealth verification/booklet. If not in one place, it should be close on proximity. You can’t really go from one place to the other end of the hospital complex. You’re already in the blood extraction room, then why go to the pharmacy just to get a syringe and return back to fall in line again. PPD syringes or any other needed equipment should be in one place. But overall, still they improved.

The day started at

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And ended at, that’s 8 hours. 😴😪

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This year’s experience was ok. Waiting for too long isn’t really my cup of tea. It makesme irritated and agitated. Viral load results are now sent via email, so I can’t wait to receive mine. It’s my 2nd viral load test of my 6th year stint. Not really expecting good results but rather wishing some favorable numbers.

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Writer’s Block

So many things happened, yet so less to write about. It has been awhile since my last legit post. I’m now sitting in a cafe, trying to think what to write. I’m stagnated, I can start a few lines but ending up not finishing even a quarter of it. I’m getting some writer’s block.

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If you have suggestions on what to post. That’d be appreciated.

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Love in the Time of Diarrhea

Not unknown to RITM-ARG patients about the empowerment training they conduct to recently diagnosed patients. It gives you some psychological activities to help you with your diagnosis. Similar to a counselling activity but on a much conducive way. You are pooled to join a single weekend-long activity, thus the probability of meeting new friends is very likely.

I once dated a guy from the only empowerment activity I attended to. It wasn’t really a planned dating scheme, we were both vulnerable that time.

His CD4 count was way low, a single digit count. Can be considered an AIDS case. He was on Azithromycin and Co-Trimaxazole prophylaxis, got rashes all over, pretty much an overly obvious HIV patient. He, that time, has an ongoing opportunistic infection that causes diarrhea. Long term diarrhea. He mentioned he has it for like 6 months, and coz of that, he was very thin, sick looking guy. His case didn’t really bother me in dating him.

He showed me a some of his photos. A big difference of what he was before and the time he’s suffering from that diarrhea.

Just like any other dates, it was a normal one. There’s no wall between us that I’m a healthy HIV patient and he’s not. We go out mostly on weekends, went to some gay parties, met some of his friends, he met some of mine. I even brought him home to sleep over – which I rarely do to a guy.

Eventually everything starts to slow down. He was a bum that time, got no work. He’s unable to get a job due to his ongoing sickness and he only depends on how much his family can give him. So meeting up with him on a weekly basis starts to decline. If we ever do meet, the price for me is really expensive since I have to shoulder him.

I encourage and put my efforts on helping him land a job. I even tried referring him to my company that time. But his persistency is not as high as I want him to have a job. It wasn’t for us, but it was for him.

His attitude slowly came up as being immature and we always had fights and weird arguements. We manage to survive a couple more months but it became unhealthy.

I then decided to call it quits. I need to let go of the struggle and loosen the bottleneck. I know it will be healthier for us and maybe he can concentrate further on improving his health. We ended up quarreling before ending it up.

Years after, he added me up on Facebook trying to stay in touch. His health has improved a lot and cured from his OI. We lost contact after.

Now, I tried looking for profile and saw he’s gone out working in a different country. He’s happy with his boyfriend, got a new car, looks healthy andof course no more diarrhea.

I know I made the right choice calling our so called “dating” quits. He stood back up on his feet, rebuilt his health and now successful and happy. Definitely no regrets, I’m actually happy for him. I remember those days where he rushes to the toilet.

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#Grindr Problems

Every gay person on this planet prolly has Grindr. If not all, maybe 90%. From cruising singles to kinky dissatisfied couples, it’s an avenue to meet others in a least conventional way.

Seeing in different perspectives, from normal gay guys to PLHIV’s. I don’t really equate PLHIV as “not normal” beings but rather I want to imply that there are instances specific to us that may or may not be experienced the by lesser evils.

Yes, we are on using Grindr. But for what? Hookups, meetups, just to kill time while chatting and if it comes to that — relationships. Ok, given these reasons, what’s next? That’s the story here.

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First
Human Instinct

need for human instinct

Us PLHIV’s also have the need for human instinct. Sex.

Disclaimer
As long as you are responsible enough, doing it safe and knows how to do it in accordance to the unwritten rules, then I think it’s fine.

You met this guy online. The perfect time and place. You’re both into each other and decided to get into action. Everything went fine and you expect another session of this sooner or later and you eventually found out, you’re both PLHIV’s? Surprise, you have something in common! What happens next? I don’t know, it’s up to you. You can be BFFs (best fucking friends) or go up a notch.

The question is, how in the world you know that he’s also one and he know that you are also one. There are many ways but perhaps there are 2 ways. You saw his medication on the table (just shows how lousy your sex partner is) or at the end of your steaming action, there were this hunch and sense. Pretty awkward.

Second
Lost opportunity

A lost opportunity

There are times when you’re desperate, lonely and empty.
And for us PLHIV’s, it’s quite hard to look for a date. Not all are willing to date someone who has HIV (but thank you Analise #HTGAWM for showing the world it’s possible)
Suddenly opened your Grindr, met this cute hot nice guy. Emphasis on “cute hot and nice”. Had sex and you think you are very compatible. Your mind overcome this notion that this is not just good sex, a cute hot guy is so nice like a prince charming, like a one in a million catch in the Pacific ocean?

Now you start to get anxious of how well this will go. You know that this is something and finally he asked you for a movie date? Sounds cliche but it happens. The bad part is, you initially had sex. You plan to disclose your status in the long run but since you are anxious enough if what will happen, it branches out of whether he might get mad for you not telling him right away, trust issue, rejection, yada yada.. and you decided to just disappear. Out of the blue. Like a meteorite entering in to Earth’s atmosphere, slowly burning and disappearing to a meteor. Waiting for another hundred years for another asteroid. Now this experience added to your existing emotional burden. A lost opportunity.

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Third
Condemned AF

it would have gone out far

I know this somehow applies to all of us.

There’s this cute guy in Grindr you’ve been lurking for days. Finally sends you a message, asking you to meet and have coffee or something. He’s cute, he acts nice. The first date was great and you decided to do it again. he got your trust and eventually you spill the beans. The beautiful world of unicorns and pancakes tumbled down. He’s grossed out, he thinks you’re a filthy animal because you have HIV, he dislikes you, looked at you from head to toe. Then there goes your heart ache. Not because you expected something, but the shame you got. The regret of getting this lifetime gift re-surged. Thinking if only I don’t have this, it would have gone out far.

What does these mean? If it ain’t easy for you, what more for us? Always keep it safe.

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Post Travel Depression

Post Travel Depression is an occurrence where an individual may experience a downside mood such as stress, depression or anxiety after returning home from a long and gratifying travel.

The better your experience, the worse you get. The harder to move on.

I’m on my 3rd week of post travel depression. The realization of how dull, tame and deficient my everyday life is in my home country. One way to alleviate the depression is to share your experience, so here goes.

I went earlier this year during mid winter/spring. I got to experience a negative degree weather, it wasn’t snowing hard but there was something falling from the sky. This country is known for its efficient train system, raw fish consumption and pixelated porn. Prepared a year for this as it was presumed how expensive the city is, the moment I de-planed, excitement was as high as smelling the jet fuel. This made me realize to skip booking red eye flights, those flights arriving late at night – low cost carriers, duh.

The problem with solo travel, you tend to yourself in the event of a mishap. I’m still at the airport when I encountered one, getting lost at the train station. Several trains, of different kinds, on different tracks and to which platform. Of course, I don’t really know the language very well. No one speaks English. I tried asking locals if the train in front of me is the right one to the city center, they were very willing to help but still, I can’t absorb what wanna say. The train was set to leave at 8:14pm and it was 8:12pm. I was at the platform, looking like a stupid fuck. I have 2 minutes to confirm if this was the right train. I saw this train driver, operator, whatever you call him and hurriedly asked if this is the train leaving at 8:14pm. He spoke English! Yay. He’s cute too. Settled myself, sat and enjoyed the seat warmers. Train left on time. I was impressed. Really impressed. How punctual.

It was an hour train from airport to city center, making a few stops, picking amd dropping passengers. I can now feel the culture. Observing for an hour, listening to announcements for an hour – their language is so beautiful to the ears.

I immediately fell in love.

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The next challenge was up. Getting out from this mega train station to my apartment. Prior to the trip, I did my research and tried Googling directions from the station to the apartment. I have a clear set of mind of the landmarks and what not. Finding the exit took me 30 minutes, got out and finally saw what Google presented to me. Praise god for giving me some sense of direction.

The first thing I did was to look for the provisioned wifi egg. Logged in to Viber and called my mom. I arrived safely, how cold it was and how large the city is. Definitely hungry, went to the nearest Family Mart and bought food. Holy beejeezus, what they sell is totally way above what I’m having in a Family Mart here in the Philippines. Family Mart PH looks like shit. So why Family Mart? It was suggested from travel blogs to try the convenience store. It was pleasant.

Bought a bag of goods for dinner and breakfast. Munched on them for the rest of the night. Since I’m already online, I tried logging in to Grindr. Really curious how it looks like there. I wasn’t disappointed LOL. Perhaps I’ll do a separate post for this.

I stayed in a crowded yet organized city for a week. I got amazed how good the public transportation is. I never knew what I did but with how complex their system is, I got to familiarize myself on my second day. So it was pretty smooth from then on. They people are so nice. Food is really good. Commodities? Expensive but cheaper than Singapore and HK. I was lucky enough that there was a supermarket few blocks away, so buying stuff like food and what not, really saved a heap of money. I think that’s a tip I can share, instead of eating at a restaurant, try grocery shopping. It will save you money and at the same time experience the local culture. When you buy your groceries, you are the one to pack it. Sorry, no baggage boy like Alex from Target.

The experience wasn’t all positive.

The experience wasn’t all positive. One instance was I wanted to try a local restaurant. Hence, no English menu. But there are pictures so you can just point whatever you want. The thing is getting inside the restaurant — by yourself, as a foreigner. My shyness stood up and got a hard time. But eventually I made it.

Another was when visiting places. No one’s there to take a good photo of you. The only choice left is to ask a random stranger. The bad side is when they don’t speak English T_T – I learned a technique though, wait for someone to pass by, who has a DSLR camera, looks like a photographer or those taking photos in a serious manner. Chances are, they know how to compose a good photo of you.

There will be times that you will feel lonely. You can’t really escape that. Thanks to Grindr perhaps.

It came to my mind of relocating to this country. Maybe I have a great chance of landing a good job. The only thing that’s holding me back is my mom. You know, eastern culture have a high affinity to families. It was mentioned by the guy whom I have met that the people there do have like two personalities, one that is shown which is being nice, happy and approachable, the other, being depressed, lonely and empty inside. Probably that’s why they have a high suicide rate. Looks like I belong?

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As the day of my return flight comes close, the more I feel the separation anxiety. Definitely, I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to return. I don’t want to leave the best experiences I am getting and be back on the shit one.

On my last days, I have met these 2 nice and very good looking guys. Just a friendly meet up. They were also visiting from Europe. They asked me if I can join them and I happily did. We went to places I previously visited the past days. Ugh, I still remember how beautiful their eyes were – still checking and stalking their Facebook. It was one of the highlight of the vacation, meeting someone from who’s actually nice and warm.

Every vacation I do, I make sure I learn something from it. With this, it came into my senses that there not everything you see is what it seems. Despite the how cruel the place we live in, there are still good people around.

I think you all know I went to Japan right?

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Extroverted Introvert

We’re often quiet, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk.

I guess I’m not the overly intensive introvert. This perhaps best describes it.

Extroverted Introvert

But still, the most prevalent is being an introvert. See the link for yourselves and assess whether you are this kind. Definitely I am.

Despite needing our alone time, we do get lonely.

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