We can all suffer from low self-esteem or experience self-confidence problems at times in our lives, but if you’re living with HIV you're more likely to struggle with these.
If you've experienced low self-esteem, anxiety or depression before your HIV diagnosis - whether this was due to childhood experiences or other problems in your life - receiving your diagnosis may have made your symptoms worse.
Even if you've enjoyed good mental health, an HIV diagnosis can still cause shock and trauma and requires some adjustment.
Worries about your future, health, body image and telling people that you're HIV positive are all common. Feeling ashamed or guilty about your HIV status can stop you from taking an active role, isolating you and preventing you from living a full and enjoyable life.
Stigma and lack of understanding around HIV can be demoralising, and media stories can be both positive and negative. This can lead to a constant reminder that you're now ‘different’ in some way.
When you’re low on self-confidence you can feel trapped and unable to progress with your life. Your energy decreases and your mood is affected.
Perhaps you feel that your life isn’t worth investing in or that you simply don’t have the ability, money or looks to achieve what you think others have managed to do.
Social media can add enormous pressures, especially for younger people, who may also be experiencing cyber bullying.
Self-confidence can also impact upon your relationships with others - you may not feel confident enough to discuss your HIV status with anyone. It's really useful to think carefully about disclosure and decide who will be most supportive and at what time.
Difficult feelings are perfectly normal, but if you can find a way to overcome them and improve your self-esteem, you’ll be happier.
You’re also likely to be healthier as you take control of your life and what you want out of it.
Our counsellors have compiled a list of tips for how to boost your confidence and self esteem ››
If your lack of self-confidence is preventing you from talking about your HIV status with your loved ones, it could be useful to explore ways to better adapt to your situation.
Talking and socialising with your friends and family can be a good way to boost your confidence.
If you're on your own or don’t have close family or friends, seeing a registered counsellor or psychotherapist can really help to make sense of what has happened in your past and to make some decisions about the present.
Taking some time to look at all of the things you’ve achieved and the problems you have overcome is a good starting point to give yourself a lift.
You could also try making contact with support groups for HIV positive people. These can be a good place to talk in safe surroundings with like-minded people. Workshops that aim to give you skills to boost your confidence and self-esteem could also be useful.
How to deal with low self-esteem ››
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 2/12/2018
Content Author: Anthony Clarke
Current Owner: Counselling
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CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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