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A Girl Like Me is moving!

June 29, 2014

Dear friends,

new AGLM_blog_logo_small

It has always been a long-term goal of The Well Project to have all of our online resources in one place, so as to be able to combine information with real world experiences and connections. The technology of our new website has finally allowed us to reach that milestone. Therefore, we have recently migrated the entire A Girl Like Me blog onto The Well Project website and will soon be closing down this blog site and redirecting the www.girllikeme.org URL to the A Girl Like Me section on our website. We have already closed down comments on this blog, but comments can be made on the blogs posted to the website.

Q:        What does this mean for the A Girl Like Me blog?

A:        Ultimately, everything will remain intact. All of the blogs and comments have been transferred to The Well Project’s site, except for a few comments that were posted immediately after the transition. To ensure that we don’t lose any more of your valuable comments, we have closed down comments on this website and ask you to make any comments to blogs on the new website.

Q:        Will I continue to receive email notifications of new blogs?

A:        If you are currently subscribed to this blog and receiving email notifications, this will stop when we close down this blog. In order to receive notifications, please sign up to become a member of The Well Project website if you are not already (a simple process). Then, you can either “follow” individual bloggers (by going to their profile and clicking the “follow” button on their page) to receive email notifications when they have posted a new blog or “follow” the A Girl Like Me group, which will provide you with email notifications for all new blogs posted.

Q:        Why was it important to move the blog?

A:        Having all of our resources in one place will allow our users to have access to both information about HIV (including treatment, side effects, and related issues) and  a community of support through the blogs and other community features, such as groups and forums. For example, if you do a search on “stigma” on our new website, you will find both fact sheets and blogs that relate to HIV stigma. The website also reaches a larger audience (over one million visitors annually), so it will increase the reach of the blogs as well!

We hope that you will find this integration of The Well Project’s comprehensive information on women and HIV (over 120 up-to-date fact sheets!) and the online community support resources as exciting as we do! We believe it will not only strengthen and grow our community, but it will also further fulfill our mission of changing the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a unique and comprehensive focus on women and girls.

Together, we can change the course of the HIV epidemic…one woman at a time.  

—-

Please note, we are disabling comments at this time, as we are moving these blogs over to The Well Project website. You can leave comments for this blog at its new home here.

Disclosing to My Son

September 3, 2014

Kate image Hope Tatoo appI told my son that I am HIV positive. It didn’t go quite as I imagined. I had pictured him older and under different circumstances. But the opportunity presented itself and I followed through.

My son just turned 7 years old. He has been begging for a brother, nearly every day. He says it is boring being an only child and he wants someone to play with. I’ve tried different answers with him to no avail. I’ve even tried the route of explaining that he’d have to share his toys – still didn’t care – he wants a brother to play with.

I’ve explained many times that Dad and I cannot have any more children. In fact, my husband recently had a vasectomy – so there are definitely no more children in our future. I’ve tried to explain this under 7 year old terms, but he doesn’t fully understand.

After driving home from a friend’s house with my son, he again asked for a brother. I turned down the radio and once again explained that Mommy and Daddy couldn’t have any more children. I then explained that when I was pregnant with him, I learned that I was sick. During my pregnancy, I had to take medicine to make sure he didn’t get what I had. Then after he was born, I gave him medicine to ensure he didn’t get what I had. My son then asked the question…”What did you have?” I wasn’t sure how to respond…after all he’s 7. But I pulled myself together and said “I have HIV.”

During my pregnancy, they also discovered cervical cancer. I had several surgeries following my pregnancy to remove the cancerous cells, which left me with an incomplete cervix. The doctors advised that I would likely have difficulty carrying a child due to this. With our newly found health issues, my husband and I put off having another child for a while (plus no one tells you the cost of childcare could pay a second mortgage)!

By the time my husband and I came to terms with our health and we thought we could afford another child it was too late. We tried for a while to have another child, but were not successful. We considered it God’s plan and were thankful for having one beautiful, healthy child.

My heart hurts a little each time my son asks for a brother. But I also know that I am fortunate to have the one I have. While it may not have been my plan to have one child, it must have been God’s plan…and I am grateful.

Please note, we are disabling comments at this time, as we are moving these blogs over to The Well Project website. You can leave comments for this blog at its new home here.

It’s just that simple…

August 26, 2014

I have fought tooth and nail with God over what HE wants from me. I keep saying I’m not worthy or deserving of the positions I’m placed in but it is truly HIS purpose and not mine. The truth is I’m scared. I’m afraid of what’s to come. I’ve been lucky so far. No rejection, spiteful words from people who don’t know me, no backlash for being HIV positive. I know we would all love to think people will just accept you and get over it. So knowing that, I’m being prepared for much more. Not just for rights of women, Christians, blacks, or those infected with HIV. Our calling is so much more. We are called to deal with all forms of injustice. It’s just that simple. From #bringbackourgirls taken by terrorists to the death of unarmed teenager #MichaelBrownJr. From fighting against the criminalization of those infected with #HIV to the rights of families traditional and non-traditional. Really it’s just that simple.

Please note, we are disabling comments at this time, as we are moving these blogs over to The Well Project website. You can leave comments for this blog at its new home here.

My 4-year Journey with Atripla/Mi camino con el medicamento Atripla

August 23, 2014

maria new 2013I want to start this blog by saying this: if you are taking Atripla, remember that everyone’s body is different…I am talking about my own experience and this is not meant to scare anyone, but to make them more aware of a medication that is in Atripla called “Efivarenz”.

I was very happy to get on Atripla. I was just coming off a 10-year regimen with Trizivir that I decided to change because it was enlarging my red blood cells and I loved that Atripla was a once a day pill! I was so excited, although I had been warned about the possible side effects like: vivid dreams, anxiety, depression and in some people, suicidal thoughts. I decided to get on it anyway against my ex-specialist’s warning that he didn’t think it was a good medicine for me. :( I wish I would have listened to him!

I started having the nightmares sometimes and I liked the drunk feeling when I took it at night…it made me sleep quicker, etc. I really felt that it was a good thing for me.

As the years passed I didn’t realize that my motivation was leaving! I felt useless and felt like a burden. I describe my experience as having a dark cloud on me. I was living in a blur. I am an expert in hiding my feelings from the people that I love and the world… unless you live with me like my wife Lisa does. Most likely you will never know my struggles and my moments of darkness. I feel a huge responsibility to always look my best and motivate others that have hope because they see me so well (without knowing what I go through inside).

I started going down as far as depression and suicidal thoughts. I have two uncles from my mother and father’s side that ended their lives…this is part of my family…maybe? I know we have a lot of mental illness in my family.

I got so so close to ending my life that not even my mother or Lisa knew how close I came to ending it all. I felt this was the only way out for me and that it would be a relief for the ones that love me and suffer with me to not have me around. These were some very hard times and the ones close to me were very worried.

I don’t know why…this is not my style, but I decided to confide in a person that I consider my friend and sister. Her name is Martha Lang. She is also a blogger here at The Well Project :) and an administrator in one of my support groups online. Martha SAVED MY LIFE! And I want her to know this and the whole world to know this! She sensed the dark path I was facing and she sensed that I was having suicidal thoughts. I opened up to her and this is something I do not do often.

She began to ask me about the medications that I take. I told her. As soon as I told her Efivarenz (Sustiva) was one of them, she started alerting me and told me to try to talk to my doctor about changing this very toxic medication for me! I did and now it has been 3 months that I am no longer on Atripla. :) I take Truvada and Tivicay!! I feel like a veil has been lifted! I have no depression or suicidal thoughts. Oh, I forgot…I even started grinding my teeth because of this medication I believe. I never did it before until recent years. This is caused by anxiety and stress. I have always had this, but with Atripla it multiplied! It is so bad that part of my left jaw is bone on bone from this. I am no longer grinding, my PMS is better…just so many things with this change. :)

I recently started seeing a new HIV specialist who gave me the good news that there is a new type of Truvada that will come out with less toxicity and side effects like kidney damage, and he told me if I were HIV positive I would be taking both Truvada and Tivicay.

So I am very excited about this! It doesn’t mean that I am 100 %…HIV/AIDS is a struggle…but I am a fighter and a warrior. <3 Next month I will see how this new medicine is working on me. I pray that I am doing well and with higher T cells and still an undetectable VL.

Until the next time…

Love and Light

Maria Mejia

Quiero empezar este blog diciendo esto: si estás tomando Atripla, recuerda que todos los organismos son diferentes…Estoy hablando de mi propia experiencia y esto no es para asustar a nadie, sino para que tengan más conocimiento de un medicamento que está en el Atripla llamado “Efivarenz”.

Yo estaba muy feliz de tener el Atripla. Estaba saliendo de un régimen de 10 años con Trizivir que decidí cambiar porque fue engrandeció mis células rojas de la sangre y me encantaba que Atripla se toma solo una vez al día y es solo una píldora! Estaba tan emocionada, aunque me habían advertido sobre los posibles efectos secundarios como: sueños demasiado intensos, la ansiedad, la depresión y en algunas personas pensamientos suicidas. Decidí empezar de todas formas en contra del consejos de mi ex especialista que me advirtió que esta medicina no era tan buena para mi. :( Ojala le hubiera escuchado!

Empecé a tener los sueños fuertes a veces y me gusta la sensación de borrachera que me daba cuando lo tomaba en la noche…me ayudaba a dormirme rápido…realmente sentía que era una buena cosa para mí.

Pasaban los años y me daba cuenta de que mi motivación se iba! Me sentía inútil y me sentía como una carga. Como describir mi experiencia?? Era como tener una nube oscura sobre mi.. Vivía en una neblina. Soy experta en ocultar mis sentimientos de las personas que amo y el mundo. A menos que vivan conmigo…como mi esposa Lisa que sabe las cosas que me pasan. Lo más probable es que nunca los de mas sabrán mis luchas y mis momentos de oscuridad. Siento una enorme responsabilidad de siempre lucir bien o lo mejor posible y motivar a otros que tienen esperanza porque me ven tan bien (sin saber lo que paso en el interior).

Empecé a ir hacia abajo con la depresión y los pensamientos suicidas. Tengo 2 tíos de parte de madre y padre que se suicidaron…esto es parte de mi familia? Tal vez? Sé que hay mucha enfermedad mental en mi familia.

Estuve tan cerca de terminar con mi vida que ni siquiera mi madre y Lisa sabían lo cerca que estuve de acabar conmigo. Sentía que esto era la única salida para mí y que sería un alivio para los que me aman y sufren conmigo. Estos fueron tiempos muy duros y los más cercanos a mí estaban muy preocupados.

No sé porque…este no es mi estilo, pero decidí confiar en una persona que considero mi amiga y una hermana. Su nombre es Martha Lang. Ella es también un blogger aquí en The Well Project :) y una administradora de uno de mis grupos de apoyo en línea. Martha me salvó la vida! Y yo quiero que ella sepa esto y todo el mundo también! Ella sintió que estaba en un lugar muy oscuro y que lo estaba enfrentando y ella sintió que yo estaba teniendo pensamientos suicidas. Me abrí con ella y esto es algo que no hago a menudo.

Ella comenzó a preguntarme sobre los medicamentos que tomo. Y le dije los que tomaba. Tan pronto que le dije a ella que Efivarenz (Sustiva) fue uno de los que tomo, ella empezó a alertarme y me dijo que tratara de hablar con mi médico acerca de cambiar este medicamento tóxico para mí! Lo hice y ahora han sido 3 meses que ya no estoy con Atripla. :) Tomo Truvada y Tivicay!! Me siento como si me levantaran un velo de mi cabeza! No tengo depresión o pensamientos suicidas, se me olvidaba…Incluso empecé a morder los dientes a causa de este medicamento…creo…Nunca lo hice antes hasta hace pocos años. Esto es causa de la ansiedad y el estrés. Siempre he tenido esto, pero con Atripla se multiplica! Es tan malo que parte de mi mandíbula izquierda es hueso sobre el hueso a causa de esto. Ya no estoy mordiendo, mis síndrome premenstrual esta mejor…tantas cosas buenas con este cambio. :)

Recientemente he comenzado a ver un nuevo especialista para el VIH que me dio la buena noticia de que esta a punto de salir un nuevo Truvada con menos toxicidad y efectos secundarios como daño en los riñones, y él me dijo que si el fuera VIH positivo estaría tomando Truvada y Tivicay.

Así que estoy muy entusiasmada con esto! No quiere decir que estoy 100%…el VIH/SIDA es una lucha diaria…pero soy un luchadora y una guerrera.<3 El mes que viene voy a ver cómo esta nueva medicina está trabajando en mí. Pido a Dios que este haciendo lo que tiene que hacer y que tenga los cd4 mas altos y que la carga viral siga indetectable.

Hasta la próxima vez…

Amor y Luz

Maria Mejia

Please note, we are disabling comments at this time, as we are moving these blogs over to The Well Project website. You can leave comments for this blog at its new home here.

Full Steam Ahead!

August 14, 2014

Sonya posted a new blog, Full Steam Ahead!, on A Girl Like Me’s Voices from our Allies:

It’s amazing how you can be going hard for your cause, and then all of a sudden you have to stop, regroup, and get refocused! That’s exactly what just recently happened to me. Standing tall, strong, and determined….against all Stigma and against all odds. It just didn’t matter to me if you wanted to talk about HIV/AIDS, hear about it, or be about it….you were going to hear something that hopefully you would share in your travels.

The reality is that people are not talking about it, nor are they wearing the “red ribbon”. I remember a young lady asked me why I was wearing a red ribbon, and wanted to know what type of cancer that color was for? To my amazement and shock, I captured an educational moment that I am sure she didn’t sign up for, but I was happy to oblige!

So many people are choosing to ignore the details and information about HIV; I am beginning to think that the world has lost their minds! Well, I took a deep breath, and planted my heels in the ground. I have to keep moving forward. I can’t stop, and won’t stop. we are too close to the CURE!

#fullsteamahead

Please note, we are disabling comments at this time, as we are moving these blogs over to The Well Project website. You can leave comments for this blog at its new home here.

A message from The Well Project Founder, Dawn Averitt – You can help!

August 13, 2014

Dawn AverittThis is the final week of the #OperationGirl Charity Challenge and we’re trying to raise as much money as possible for our organization to help us continue to provide access to life-saving and life-enhancing information and resources to millions of women and girls living with HIV around the globe.

Please see my message below on how you can help us win an extra $5000 by obtaining the greatest number of individual donations (not dollars) between now and August 18th!

To help us win this last Bonus Challenge, please Click Here and give what you can and consider sharing the link with your family and friends as well. Any amount will help.

Together we can change the course of the HIV epidemic…one woman at a time.

Please note, we are disabling comments at this time, as we are moving these blogs over to The Well Project website. You can leave comments for this blog at its new home here.