Saturday, July 3, 2010

HEP C ~ FINDING THE SILVER LINING

Recently, it occurred to me having Hep C is the best thing that ever happened to me. Odd as this sounds, this is why:

The majority of my life has been spent thinking about the sexual abuse which I was a victim of starting at age 11. Until I was in my early 30's I had never told anyone what had taken place. The abuse was not a single event and went on for most of my teenage years. During this time, I had been victimized by at least six different pedophiles, did not live at home choosing the streets in Vancouver instead. One of the evil things about sexual abuse is the victim, being me, tends to blame themselves for what took place. As a result, from the time the abuse took place until I was in my 50's, I did my best to bury myself in drug and alcohol abuse.

I never told anyone about the sexual abuse until I was in my mid 30's after attempting suicide. After the attempt and during my stay in the hospital I was lucky in speaking with a nurse who encouraged me to attend community counselling which I did. I would like to say counselling "fixed me" - this was not to be the case though. Yes, the counselling did help to an extent, but my abuse of various substances, soft and hard drugs, continued to the day I discovered I was Hep C positive in 2007. Having Hep C was a milestone in my life and I finally turned the corner and stopped drinking and doing drugs.

I had to face the fact I had been living two separate lives for many decades. One, was my working life - somehow even with the substance abuse I had managed to build a successful career. The second life I lived was spent thinking about and trying to forget what had happened to me. I had next to no friends over this time - I was married once and then divorced two years later. Socially, I was very inept. I simply felt like I did not fit in anywhere and avoided social interaction as much as possible. I realize now I had allowed myself to become a victim. Because of this, my inner voice was entirely focused on past events and I spent next to no time thinking about my future. I simply drifted along pretty much following the path of least resistance. When I had no alternative and had to attend a social event, I often got drunk or stoned enough to make a fool of myself. This of course amplified my self-isolation even more.

So why, at age 52, was discovering I was Hep C positive a good thing? First, it ended my cycle of substance abuse. Second, I learned for the first time in my life who I really was and that I did have value as a person. During my first, Interferon / Ribavirin treatment to try and kill the virus, I discovered a local Hep C support group. Sitting in a room with others dealing with Hep C was one of the most energizing experiences of my life. I found I wanted to help others and in turn wanted to help myself as well.

I volunteered with a non-profit Hep C society focused on the education, prevention and peer support. Since I was not working, I was able available as a volunteer much of the time. My inner voice changed, I began thinking about ways to help and further support others. My focus shifted to the future and how best to spend my time as a volunteer. I found this so energizing and really the final step in turning my life around. I've met some great people - who I want to spend time with. I no longer feel like I am being judged negatively by myself or others. In short, being positive for Hep C has helped me to want and develop a positive inner voice.

Brian

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