Waiting on results from an HIV or STI test doesn’t have to leave you feeling like you’re walking down a tunnel that may or may not have a light at the end. This article from Plus Magazine by Gary McClain, Ph.D. has some great tips to help you cope. Check out the highlights below, or read the full article here.
Don’t fight the worry. Human beings don’t do very well with uncertainty. It’s totally normal to feel anxious. Especially when the results, depending on how they go, may lead to big changes, or to more uncertainty.
But be careful about those stories. The stories your mind makes up for you just fuel more worry. Unfortunately, they pop up out of nowhere, and you can find yourself in the midst of a disaster movie with you as the star. Your mind may even tell you that if you imagine the worst possible result, you won’t be disappointed if it happens.
Be mindful. When a story sneaks up on you, call it out for what it is, and let it go. The worst thing you can do with those scary stories is to indulge them.
Use some self-talk. Or better yet, a lot of self-talk. Remind yourself that you don’t have any information. So the stories are just that. And a waste of time.
Review your foundation. Regardless of what your test results are, you are not out on a limb. Take stock of the resources you can call upon if needed. These might include a supportive family and friends and competent healthcare professionals. Along with your own ability to face difficult situations and make informed decisions. Been down this road before? What helped you cope the last time around?
Stay involved in your life. It may be tempting to isolate yourself, to shut down and let yourself ruminate about the future. But try to resist that temptation. Instead, use positive distractions, things you enjoy, responsibilities you have taken on, things you might do to promote your emotional and physical wellness. Embracing your daily life can be empowering!
Get support. From the beginning of your wait until the minute you walk in to your doctor’s office, stay connected to your support network. Talk it out. Vent. Expose your deepest and darkest fears to the light of day. You might want to let people know you aren’t looking for advice or for them to “fix” you. You just need a listening ear. You might even want to ask someone to accompany you to your appointment to support you. Don’t hesitate to be high maintenance!
Be with your Higher Power. If you are involved in religious or spiritual practices, this can be a good time to reach out – up – to your Higher Power. Focus on the larger meaning beyond what you’re currently experiencing in life.
As the day for your results gets closer, take extra good care of yourself. Even baby yourself a little. Do something that relaxes you. Have a laugh with a friend. Enjoy a fun evening with your family. Make your peace of mind a priority.
You and your test results. You won’t know until you know. Sure, waiting can be agonizing. And your anxious mind can be hard to tame. But you can get through this: Harness your inner resources. Get support. Stay connected with what’s important in your life.
Need more support? Here are some helpful links.