Fredricka, age 50 / California, USA


I sort of don’t have a person that I can say, “Just take care of me.” When I know I don’t feel well I stay home, I do more internal healing. Some days when I’m irritable and changes are going on with my body, I won’t get out in the public. I know to tell people, “It’s not my best day.”

Part of my illness is not only HIV, I have a mental health diagnosis, so I stay in therapy, I try to have my mood as balanced as possible. When I think back 19 years ago when I started with this, I never thought that I would be here now. When I looked in the mirror, I had some violence in me, because sometimes people who are positive, we tend to be a little more violent towards others, because you want to let people know “I’m sick.” I was in a state of mind where I didn’t want to live any more. That was the only time I felt suicidal. The psychiatrist threatened to put me in a room with a padded cell with my clothes off and the red light turned on.

When I got the tools, I’m able to understand me better, you have to learn to be able to roll with the punch, and then move on. And I’m learning that each day, better and better. I’m not perfect at it, nobody is, but I feel it’s best to tell you something, that if you stepped on my toe, “Ooooh, you really hurt me that day.” I learned that in therapy.

The therapy helped me there, and then I had to go to support groups, I still do that today, the transgender groups, and the last thing is I do my physical exercise, because I love that. I dance, I do ballet, and I find that it’s good because it keeps me with balance, it forces me to use my muscles, and keep me toned. And then I advocate.