Peter the Sensitive Therapist: Do you think your reluctance to ask for a promotion is informed by your diagnosis?
Client: Oh, that's interesting. Hmmm... Yeah, I do. On some level, yes, I think that's absolutely the case.
PTST: It's actually quite common for people who've been diagnosed with serious illnesses to experience an acute loss of self-worth.
Client: No, I totally can see that in my own life. I guess I just feel so much fucking shame. Here I am, well-educated, above average social and cultural capital, I should be thinking about settling down, maybe getting a dog as a trial run for A CHILD, and instead I find myself reentering the dating market at 30 having to inform prospective partners that I am fucking HIV Positive!!! I could fucking die of AIDS! Why does this have to be real?! One normal drunken night and I'm stricken with the worst disease imaginable.
PTST: Well I don't think you need to say "worst."
Client: I guess it feels like the worst to--
PTST: I think if you asked people who've had loved ones die from something like cancer or certain other illnesses, they'd say that was pretty horrendous to deal with...
Client: Yeah, I guess this just feels like such a death sentence.
PTST: Pancreatic, especially. I've had clients with parents and significant others who've wasted away before their eyes due to pancreatic cancer, and they tell me it's incredibly painful.
Client: I'm sure. Yeah, I mean grave illnesses in general I guess are just so--
PTST: Cancer's horrific.