Help! I’m old, poz, in recovery and depressed

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Q:

Throughout my 20s and much of my 30s, I deluded myself that Mr. Right was just around the corner. Nearly 40 now,I’m lonely and haven’t dated in a while. Every day is just another party for one.

Our community is so age obsessed, I just feel too old to attract the right guy. I am also HIV-positive, and even after a decade, I still don’t know how to brooch the subject and and face the inevitable rejection.On top of all that, I’m in recovery from self-medicating my depression.

Since I work out and have a great job, some might think I have it together based on the outside, but the inside is a wreck. I’m in therapy, and it’s helping, but I can’t help but think this confluence of problems just makes me damaged goods.

I know that I’m not the only HIV-positive, 40-year-old gay man out there that’s lonely, carrying baggage and tired of the scene and online bullshit. Is it too late for love?

Dear Pity Party for One:

You have more issues than Time magazine, and you literally have more issues than time. There’s no use wasting another second worrying about things you can’t change — your age, your serostatus, your challenges. Spend it instead working with what you do have.

Hint: A lot of good stuff lies just beneath the surface of your stated problems.

The world is filled with good-looking, successful people who haven’t had a significant other in years. Loneliness, depression and internalized shame can be immobilizing, and they feed on themselves. There are some things to think about that might help set you on the right track.

As cliché as it might sound, gratitude is a great place to start. It’s proven to help if you start each day mentally listing what you have to be thankful for: the love of a pet, a roof over your head, a job you love, your sobriety, a therapist who helps sort it all out.

Wallowing, including reviewing your laundry list of problems, perpetuates loneliness and makes you unbearable to boot. At some point, we all have to decide if we’re going to get into our fears or get out of them.

As for aging, think of it as a privilege.A slew of our queer brethren died before finding that out, and they’d trade places with you for surviving into an age when HIV is more manageable.

Acknowledge ageism, but don’t internalize it. Reject groupthink and re-evaluate. How much better off are you than when you were 25? How much are your knowledge and life skills worth? Would you really take your youth back in exchange for all you’ve gained?

Experiences define you, and your life is rich with them.

The Q is intended for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected].

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue online here:

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