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Beginning of Chapter 5 “Turmoil”

My experience in Fairfield Hospital was undoubtedly the most traumatic of my life. The only trauma that compared was probably a three-day trip on LSD in my University days when some of my hallucinations threatened my sanity.
As I went through the process of recovery I was desperate to explain why this experience had been so intense and frightening. Many of my friends had developed AIDS without this terrible confusion and I wanted know what it was about my make-up that had contributed to it.
I had been seeing a counsellor, Eric Timewell, at Fairfield Hospital for several years before my AIDS diagnosis. He had unfortunately been on holidays during my stay at the hospital. Later, he listened with fascination when I described the psychotic episodes. He was not all that surprised that my mind reacted this way under a situation of extreme stress. In his years of counselling me, he had found my mind to be remarkably protective of my weak spots, with a powerful urge to control emotions. I did not want to show too much anger, jealousy or hate; I wanted to always appear as a stable individual to the outside world. My life as a gay man had contributed to my desire to be master of my own environment, and my experience with HIV had undoubtedly added to this. This desire for control had been challenged in hospital by the fact that I could not stop what was happening to my body as the pneumonia started to weaken me. Worse still, I could not control the reality that I now had AIDS. I had deluded myself that it was not going to happen.
After I left hospital a meeting was arranged with my mother and my two sisters at my home. The sight of me as I greeted them at the door must have scared the life out of them. While I had been losing weight gradually for the past year, possibly because of the toxicity of AZT, nothing could have prepared them for the scarecrow figure that I now was, having lost ten kilograms during my stay in hospital. I was now 58 kilos, and on a 180 centimetre frame, that looks scary.


Extracts from 'Positive' copyright David Menadue 2003, Australia.

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