When people view your video diary or your microfilm, what specifically do you hope to EXPOSE them to about your life and HIV?

Mike's Answer

When anybody views my videos, reads a piece of writing and/or listens to me speak, I hope to Expose to them that HIV is nothing but a fragment of my whole existence. HIV does not define the whole me, it just so happens to be apart of me. HIV has helped me through life in so many different ways. It’s helped me grow as a person and a professional. It has helped me discover my self worth and my purpose. It has helped me discover the love I have for helping people. It has helped open my eyes to what I want to do and the powerful impact one person can make on thousands.

The only thing I can think of that HIV has held me back from is donating blood. Do not get me wrong, living with HIV has never been, nor will it ever be all fine and dandy. I have my moments where I wish I did not have it. I have times when I desperately wish I could turn back time and stop my younger self in my tracks to prevent this from happening. I have times I wish I was HIV negative so I could say I am on PrEP instead of saying I am positive and undetectable. Fortunately, the past cannot be changed. I have worked on myself enough to accept the problems I have no power to change.

I want to Expose to people that I have no problem with being HIV positive. I am extremely comfortable in my own skin and would not wish for anyone else’s life but the one I have. I used to find it necessary to apologize for the things I have done wrong. I have apologized to family, friends and even strangers over the years for having HIV, because I felt as if I constantly needed acceptance from everyone else so I could learn to accept it myself. I would apologize for trying to normalize the topic of HIV so it would not be uncomfortable for others. One day I realized, I will never be sorry. I will never be sorry for doing something that does not directly impact an individual other than myself.

What I want to Expose to everyone is I have never regretted a decision I have made so far, at all, even if it had a negative impact on my life. I do not regret going down the path I went down. I do not regret getting addicted to opiates. I do not regret my high-risk lifestyle. I do not regret the first time I shot up dope and loved it. I do not regret exchanging sex to get high.

What I want to Expose to everyone is every experience I uphold in my short 26 years of life, have done nothing more than prepare me for what is to come next. I have hit rock bottom more times than I can count.  In the end, Only I have the capability and determination to pick myself back up and continue to rise, until my next rock bottom. Life is tough. Tough is life. What we make of it is how we are going to choose to live it.

What I want to Expose to people is my life is no better nor worse than any other persons. My risings and falls are what make me Mike Deeb. They are helping me on this continuous journey so I do not repeat them. They are teaching me to continuously learn. I want to Expose to people there is nothing this universe can throw at me that I cannot handle. If I am not capable of handling it, what is the purpose of it? HIV was just a little bump in the road. Since I have come to terms with having HIV and passing the grieving stage, it is just one of those things I look back on and say “Well, at least I am alive”.

What I want to Expose to people about my life and living with HIV is my life is guaranteed to be just as boring, hectic, insane, stressful, random, and whatever else it can be, as yours. If anything, living with HIV helps me make better conscious decisions, for present and future outcomes. It reminds me to eat better, exercise and encourages me to have the best quality of life I can possibly have.

Me and my HIV recently moved to Denver, CO, to start a new chapter in life. We have moved in with roommates, bartend downtown, go on hikes with our puppy, Kid, in the Rockies, made some new friends, maintain 100% medication adherence, and continue to have an incredible experience every day as if it is our last. Yesterday is all but the past. Tomorrow is never promised or guaranteed. What I want to Expose to everyone about my life and living with HIV is, my life is awesome because I choose to let it be.

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