02 Feb 2011 06:34
Jon Henley wrote a remarkably generous article on my work and the experience behind it in the Guardian newspaper yesterday, accompanied by photos from Martin Godwin. It was a real pleasure to chat with both of them and I had a great laugh with Martin as he helped me relax in front of the camera. Certain anecdotes about a Hollywood actress and the advice she gave to help you look fresh and engaged in the photos proved invaluable.
It was a little bit of a shock to see the facts as someone else might see them. It reminded me of a time when a patient of mine, in the middle of a successful treatment for suicidal depression, said how glad he was that I was still here to help. When he said that, I felt raw and uncovered as I realised that he had googled me and knew not only I was gay but that I have HIV. I hadn’t even thought that someone might do that. Naive of me, I know. But both then and now, it was disconcerting to see myself and my work from the outside in, not just the ever-present inside looking out. What might look rather good on the outside is just so hard on the inside.
I have had some marvellous emails in support—and only one that said I had wasted my life because I don’t believe in his tradition of medicine (which, ironically, I do). These emails of support are always invaluable to me as it is rather a struggle to feel that I’m getting things to move forward. A recent update to the Advisors to the Tuke Institute reassured me that, despite my misgivings, a lot has actually been achieved. But creating change still lies ahead. That is where the rubber meets the road, as the saying goes.
How many of us have been put to the side of the road when we have not been able to keep up, through illness? Some such people have contacted me, offering their help, and I hope very much that this will be possible; the more people who can help build this Institute, then the better for all of us. Through the article in the Guardian, it has been great to know that this work means so much to people from all over the country. And the people who have been ill themselves really ‘get it’. That’s great. Let’s make this a success.