From the Ocean to the Island “A comforting wreckage”

ocean to island

From the Ocean to the Island
“A comforting wreckage”

“My name is John (name has been changed for privacy) and I have been diagnosed with HIV since 1986”. This was the bulk of my introductory email sent to Michael Yoder, liaison at the Pozitively Connected support group in Victoria. Little that I knew what I would get in return for being forthcoming about my status and blindly reaching out for support.

Yes, I have survived the 80’s and the 90’s, but not without developing serious mental challenges that drove me to drug abuse, a wild life one might call it, and eventually serious suicide attempts. Many factors contributed to my mental health but I am convinced that my HIV status was one of the main reasons of isolation and the many difficulties I have experienced in the last 15 years.

It is through Michael’s gentleness and welcoming response to my email that helped me make the first step and joined the support group, first attending a dinner, then participating in Tuesday afternoons’ coffee.

Simply, I found peers, survivors like me, sharing the same challenges that I face but each individual dealing with his own personality, his own outlook on life. Suddenly I was one of us, a simple smile was telling me that I was “OK”. Men my own age, older and younger, who lived with HIV for many years and relating the same sadness and joy that such a life might bring to a gay man. One is politically engaged, another is a fervent of holistic health, another is simply just a nice guy. There I found mirrors of my own issues, helping me reflect on my own responsibility to take charge of my own well-being, and honestly, stopping feeling sorry for myself.

Like the random waves in the ocean, AIDS has brought men to an island like a wreckage: some died ashore, others survived, and some of those reached out to one another to build a foundation of friendship, an exchange and source of knowledge that health professionals might not always convey, all of this in order to conquer the HIV stigma. That island, for me, I found in the Pozitively Connected support group.

POZitively Connected is a social support and networking group for HIV+ gay/bi men living in Victoria, BC.

for more information call 250.382.7927
or check us out on facebook:

Vancouver Island Persons Living With HIV/AIDS Society (VPWAS) 205 - 1120 Yates Street, Coast Salish Territories, Victoria, BC. V8V 3M9
Phone: 250.382.7927 | Fax: 250.382.3232 | Toll Free: 1.877.382.7927 | | | Login