Dear Aunty Lisa,
I am feeling extremely worried and anxious. Though I recently tested negative for HIV, I continue to have symptoms that make me think I must have the virus.
Since my risky encounter a few weeks ago, I have had no appetite, lost weight, had swollen lymph nodes and feel tired all the time. Even though the doctor assured me the test was accurate, I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong with me.
The anxiety of possibly having HIV is taking a huge toll on me. I keep imagining my health deteriorating and my life falling apart. I struggle to focus at work and have pulled away from friends and family.
Please tell me how I can overcome these worries and false symptoms. I know logically that a negative test means I’m HIV negative, yet my mind and body keep telling me otherwise. How can I convince myself to trust the test result and move past this anxiety?
Any words of wisdom would be hugely appreciated. I just want to get my life back to normal but seem unable to let go of these worries.
Thank you in advance,
Desperately Seeking Peace of Mind
Aunty Lisa responds:
I understand how worrying those false symptoms can feel, even with a negative test result. But you must trust that the test was accurate and focus on moving past this anxiety.
First, see a doctor again to confirm the test result. Then seek counselling to process this scary experience and learn coping skills for your anxiety.
In the meantime, avoid researching symptoms online and focus on living in the present. You are HIV negative – remind yourself of that fact often.
Spend time with l0ved ones for distraction and support. Pick up some hobbies or exercises that help relax your mind. If symptoms persist, see your doctor about short-term anxiety medication to stabilize your mood while making lifestyle changes.
Most importantly, have compassion for yourself. You went through a frightening ordeal but came out of it HIV negative. Give yourself time to heal from the anxiety that experience triggered.
With support, an “out of sight, out of mind” approach, and healthy lifestyle habits, those false symptoms will fade. Your mind and body just need to catch up with the good news of your negative test result!
Stay strong, my friend. You’ve got this. Reach out any time if you need someone to listen without judgment.
Wishing you peace of mind soon,