Trigger Warning: Suicide, mental health

“When the doctor told me I had HIV, I thought my life was over. This was after I left the monastery, and I didn’t know much about HIV then. After my diagnosis, I started drinking and taking substances for the first time, and my health got worse. As my body changed people realised I was sick. While I worked as a driver, an officer asked me to use gloves and a seat cover when I drove. If that’s how he reacted, what would other people think of me?

I added rat poison to my cigarettes because it felt like there was no point in living. I woke up in the hospital, and the doctors asked me why I tried to commit suicide. I told them that if someone is suffering enough, they will do whatever they think is right. I couldn’t deal with my overthinking. If people were so disgusted they could ask me to use gloves and a car seat, it felt like it would be better not to live. After people found out, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. For 7 or 8 months I would walk with my head down.

After meeting Lhak-Sam in 2010, I went on TV to make sure that what happened to me didn’t happen to anyone else. Others could have worsened their behaviour towards me, but I had suffered as much as one could. I talked about what life was like with HIV. I discussed the issues you could face, especially with social stigma in our communities. TV seemed like the best way to raise awareness on HIV. With Lhak-Sam, I’ve been to almost all of the 20 dzongkhags, focusing on raising awareness amongst the youth.

My mind and body are healthier now, and my face is even lightening a bit. I am not handsome, but I am proud of the progress I have made. I haven’t missed my medication once. I have even been cycling for 13 years now. There are around 700 of us in Bhutan, and it is important that we all understand the importance of keeping healthy. I went from someone who looked at the ground when he walked to someone who can look people in the eye. I may have HIV, but I no longer think of myself as someone who is sick.”

Humans of Thimphu with YPEER Asia Pacific Center -Ypeer AP brings stories of people vulnerable to or living with HIV, their struggles and journeys.

#SRHRforEveryone #HumansofThimphu #HumanStories

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