Mirvan’s story: The Uninvited Guest
New writer Mirvan Ereon lives in the Phillipines. He is 21. He was diganozed in February 2012 with a CD4 count of just 2. Here is his story.
I was a freshman in college when I started sleeping around. I was reckless and unsafe and did not make an effort to take care of myself. All I ever cared about was to be a hedonist. I slept around, indulged in debauchery and celebrated in my decadence. I was young, wild and free. I thought I was liberating myself, unshackled by the norms of society. I am the captain of my own ship. I thought my personal freedom would make me stronger. I thought it would make me more desirable.
I met a lot of men online. I joined several gay dating sites where there are plenty of hot and handsome men who are as addicted to sex as me. I would exchange numbers with them and plan our conquest. I would go to their place, undress, and just let them do whatever they wanted with me. I was a bottom. I enjoyed being penetrated a lot. Some of my partners would use a condom but then, some of them preferred to do it bareback and I would allow them. I see myself as a perfect sex slave, a whore whose only purpose is to serve my masters.
Since I was sixteen, I must have slept with at least a hundred men, 95% of them were random strangers and casual encounters. I only had three serious boyfriends. I indulged in all kinds of sexual encounters. I would go to threesomes. I experienced an orgy and a gang bang where all the guys came inside me. I usually just had sex once with a man except for rare times where I would sleep with someone twice or thrice. Sleeping with as many men as I could was feeding my ego. It made me feel I was beautiful. It made me feel desirable and worthy of love.
I might have had HIV for years. But since this illness is asymptomatic for a long time, and that its signs and symptoms are so similar to most common diseases, I just ignored what I felt even though I started finding strange disturbances all over my body. I was constantly troubled by colds and coughs. I would have fungal infections, especially on my groin area which would come and go. I would have constant diarrhea which I ignored because I thought it was just the result of my constant consumption of street foods. I also had a disturbing case of gingivitis where my gums would literally bleed torrents of blood while I was in class or inside a vehicle. I endured all of those with a firm conviction that there was nothing wrong with me.
For a long time, I led this kind of life until I met my third boyfriend. We lasted for two years. I gave up my promiscuity in favor of monogamy. All our sexual sessions were without a condom and all the time, I would allow him to come inside me. I also learned how to be a top with him so that sometimes, I would be the one who would ejaculate in him. It was a relationship filled with love, hate and passion.
During our second year as lovers, having graduated from college , I started working in a call center, on a night shift from 12am to 10am. I balanced my work, personal life, love life and family but it proved to be difficult. I started getting sick from all the stress. I began coughing a lot and having terrible colds. Then I would have fevers and my throat was sore occasionally. Like before, I ignored these symptoms because I just thought they were a result of my work since I was on the phone all the time and the load could be really tiring.
For months I just got sicker and sicker until I was forced to resign. I was reluctant because I had a good job and a great set of workmates. But I needed to because I had been absent a lot of times because of my poor health. I and my boyfriend broke up too. I was really stressed and ill.
I took a one week rest then I started looking for a new job. I found one immediately. I enjoyed it. One of the requirements was to pass a medical. I had myself X-rayed and that is when I discovered I had pulmonary tuberculosis. In fact, my case was a little advanced. The doctor assured me that I could still be cured so I had to start treatment immediately. He told me to rest for a while, so I took a leave from my new job, even though I was only employed for a month. I was just at home doing whatever I wanted. I had all the time in the world. However, I went back to my habit of sleeping around because I was bored and I missed sex.
After two months, I felt that I was ready again to work. During that time, I and my boyfriend got back together and I started working again in my last job. However, I started noticing that I was getting ugly. My hair would fall out with no reason. I owed it to my TB medication but it was just a way to explain it to myself. I also had a terrible case of dandruff. My face started losing its shape and it became sunken. My weight was dropping. Even my boyfriend noticed that I was getting ugly. He was worried. I became worried too. I could not sleep well because I was constantly thinking about what was happening to me.
Deep inside, I knew I was sick. I was scared that there was something terribly wrong with me.
One day, I decided to end it all. I just wanted to die, so that I could save everyone from being miserable. If I became sick, I thought of the medical bills that would result. I thought of my boyfriend. I thought of my family and friends. I did not want to become a burden to them so I longed for death when I was still strong enough to do it myself.
I swallowed a lot of pills from my medicine cabinet, not caring what they were. I wanted an overdose that could induce a coma I would never wake up from. I left the house as if I was going to work but in fact, I already decided that I would succumb to suicide. I bought rat poison from the grocery with the intention of eating the whole bag so I had an internal hemorrhage. For two days, I was out in the busy part of the city in a daze. I did not sleep at all. I never got to consume the rat poison. I went back home because I became really hungry and thirsty and I did not know where to go.
Everyone was extremely worried about me. I did not tell them what happened to me in the last two days I was gone. I totally shut them off by deciding not to speak at all.
I became really sick. I was so depressed that I would just lie in bed all day, waiting to die. My body was in constant pain. I could not breathe properly, it was as if a huge stone was crushing my lungs. I was bedridden most of the time and I actually lost the desire to continue living. I would sometimes pee on the bed because I was so tired. I would refuse to eat because I just felt so miserable.
My mother and my younger sister would make me eat by feeding me like a small child. I would not take a bath unless my mother forced me to the bathroom and wash me. I could not sleep properly and I would hallucinate. I heard voices saying that they wanted to kill me because I was the plague. I heard men telling me that I infected them with disease. It was scary because all of them felt so real.
I was like a schizophrenic patient on the edge of insanity. I could not move much without the help and support of my mother. I could not eat solid food most of the time because my throat hurt so bad whenever I trie to swallow. Most of my sustenance came in the form of milk and curdled soya called "taho," a common Philippine beverage mixed with caramelized sugar and gelatinous balls that is sold by peddlers on the streets.
For almost six months, I was in that state. My mom never gave up on me. She would make me drink alternative medicines and a variety of health supplements. My mother was my only doctor. I was confined once in the hospital for three days because I suddenly collapsed due to low potassium levels and hypothyroidism. I was always sick.
The HIV Test
A private doctor suggested that I take an HIV test because she noticed that I was not recovering. She recommended me to an infectious disease doctor who was her colleague.
When I heard about the possibility that I had HIV, I actually started feeling better. I meditated on my past. I thought I would get love from the men I meet. I was hungry for their desire and worship. Instead, what I received was this virus. But I cannot ever resent it. I was in the throes of ecstasy when I got this affliction. This was not forced into me. No one raped me. A tainted needle was never introduced to my bloodstream nor was I into drugs. Rather, I invited the virus to thrive and dwell inside of me through my hunger for flesh and thirst for pleasure.
I was twenty-one when the result of the test came. I was frail and very weak after months of being in continuous suffering. When I heard from the doctor that I was HIV positive, I actually felt alleviated of my burden. This was the answer to all the strange and inexplicable infections I had gotten. It actually made me feel better. I thought I was dying of cancer or a severe life-threatening organ malfunction. I told myself, "Oh, it's just HIV," and I breathed a sigh of relief.
The first thing that I did when I learned that I got HIV/AIDS was to forgive myself. I did not cry nor feel remorse. I did not ask why I have this because I know so well the answer to that. Rather, I just sat down in silence, pondering on my new existence as an HIV positive young man. Instead of being depressed about it, I told myself that I can survive this. No, I must survive this. There is no other choice. If I let this virus bring me down, I would just be another casualty. I refused to become a victim.
I forgave myself so that I could start to move on. I have no other choice but to stop breaking down and just welcome everything that life has given me so far. The comfort must start from within me. I need to heal myself. I started from inside of me. I forgave myself so that all the negativity that this virus may cause me will be overpowered by a dose of healthy and positive optimism. That is my greatest treatment, more than any antiretrovirals or drugs that will kill the countless replications of the virus inside my body.
Of course, being HIV positive is still a dangerous thing. This is such an unpredictable disease. Like the prosopons, the masks of ancient Greek theatre, HIV can wear a variety of masks. You are the main actor of the play and it is all up to you to get to choose whether you will act in a tragedy or a comedy.
Everything really depends on you. This disease is just there inside of you, but its effect in your life is solely on the basis on how you see and take it. You can choose to see this virus as a demon eating you from within so that you are slowly dying young and miserable. But for me, I chose to see HIV as an angel who will carry and guide me on a road to redemption.
I believe in mind over matter. I believe that this disease can be made more tolerable as long as I am always happy. I made peace with myself and with the virus. I am embracing this sickness with open arms. I want to be friends with it because it will now be my companion all my life. It will never ever leave me so I might as well start learning how to cope with it.
I am now infected by this virus. But still, I have no regrets of what I have done in the past. There is no one else that I can blame but myself when I became positive. I told myself that I cannot ever complain and be dramatic about being sick because in the first place, I brought this to myself. I was the one who willingly opened the lock and bolt and let the mysterious stranger, the uninvited guest to take shelter in me. HIV is an uninvited guest who came knocking in the home of myself. How could I turn him away when it sought and wooed me through promises of joy and satisfaction?
Now, I am on my own crusade to recover back to full health. I was diagnosed HIV positive in Feb 2012. I am on the second month of my ARV treatment. My CD4 is a mere 2 but I am proud to say that I look so good and fine and I have no infections at all because I live each day positively and I do not let this disease bring me down. I want to influence others to have a positive outlook in life despite having this virus because it would really work and make them become better individuals too.
I am an advocate promoting safe sex, erasing the stigma and living a positive life with the proper attitude. I joined Twitter as @posithivecutie and started two blogs where I am sharing my life, loves and lusts as an HIV positive young man. I see my HIV status as a blessing because being HIV+ made me change myself a lot for my own good and I became a much better individual than I ever was.
Being HIV+ helped me achieve some of my dreams, such as becoming a writer. It also made me feel that people love me despite my status, It made me become a more mature and responsible person. It made me want to live a life worth living and to extend my hand to those who need help and attention.
I do not want any other person to be infected with HIV. I want them to learn from what I have experienced. I want them to realize the value of safe sex. There is nothing wrong with having sex. It is just that we must do it responsibly and with protection.
I want people to realize that learning to love yourself above anyone else is really the greatest love of all. If you love yourself no matter what, you can really see the beauty of everything this life will give you. I have HIV and yet I choose to love myself. And that is when my new life started. That is when I discovered that this virus is certainly not the end. This is just an exciting beginning of a life worth living, a life that will be filled with joy and learning.
I will never let HIV make me sick. I believe that it is only a disease of the body. I should never let this be the disease of my soul too. For me, God has given me a tap on the shoulder by granting me this virus. This is not His punishment. I see it as God’s way of telling me that he cares about me. I see it as a gift and a blessing. I like to think that God gave me HIV because he wants me to be better and to take care of ourselves more.
Being HIV positive should make you hungrier for life and be the best that you can be. We are always on the edge of death, even if we are healthy. The infections we are susceptible to are just around us. Since our existence is very fragile, be not afraid to finally start realizing your dreams before it is too late! There is a whole world that we have not yet seen. Rather than spend the time being depressed about your condition, pull yourself together and go out there and live the life that you want! Now is the time you all have been waiting for!
Every one of us should start empowering ourselves. We positives should never feel that we are less a person than what we used to be. HIV is just a virus. It is not something that must degrade us. Instead, we must use this virus to make our lives better. We should take care of ourselves better. We should start reaching our dreams. We should be thankful for each day that passes. We should live a happy life with no regrets.
A poet, artist, author, polyglot, madman, fetishist and self-confessed deviant, Mirvan Ereon started his prolific career after he discovered he was HIV- positive in February 2012. Since then, he has become a full-time indie writer, translator and professional book reviewer. He maintains several sites, mainly on literature, his art, his writings and HIV/AIDS in Wordpress, Blogspot and Tumblr. His Twitter is @posithivecutie and his blogs include The Sexy Squid and http://posithive-cutie.tumblr.com. He is twenty-one years old and lives in the Philippines.