For Micah Norgard, finding out that he was HIV+ was preluded by what many report experiencing: an ongoing, and particularly bad, flu.
“When I first was diagnosed I did what most individuals do and start to look back,” he says, “and it was about a month back I remember feeling like it was the worst flu that I ever had and it only lasted for one day maybe two and it was done and I was just tired, and I just brushed it off to being flu and nothing else.”
Though it did turn out to be more than the flu, Micah says that after the shock of learning that he was Poz subsided, he knew it was “going to be okay.”
That type of resilience isn’t particularly surprising, given that Micah has devoted his life to yoga practice and energy work. However, getting there wasn’t necessarily easy.
“It was a really big roller coaster,” he says, “being a person of the LGBTQ+ community and having an uncle pass away in the 80s AIDs crisis. I knew deep down inside that the medicines had changed and it was not that same sentence of death. But it stirred up so many memories of watching my beloved Uncle Danny who was a light in this world and corner in my life that is still missed today,” he says.
That experience isn’t particularly unique, and is an ongoing reminder of just how deeply the stereotypes about being HIV+ run.
Of course, Micah chose to reinterpret his experience of being Poz as a call to hone his mindfulness practice. “These things happen to us, whether its trauma or finding out you are HIV +, which can be also traumatizing,” he says. “The practice of yoga and mindfulness and self-love has to lead me to know that these things happen to challenge us and that we can use things to relate with others, and just like mental health, there are people that you can relate, elevate and support and find support with.”
“Yes, it is a part of me but does not define who I am. I hope to inspire people that are HIV + that it doesn’t have to be a thing that is shameful, that you can actually pull strength from it.”
Today, Micah hopes to dismantle the perception that being Poz is a death sentence. “The fact is that when I was diagnosed it was awakening to be more mindful and present in what I allow into my body, space, and mind. I am more healthy now and more aware of my overall holistic health than before,” he shares.
Beyond that, Micah feels that the virus needs to be seen for what it is — a virus — and he personally feels that others don’t necessarily need to “walk on eggshells” when discussing it. This, he feels, is all part of the normalization process.
Personally speaking, Micah looks forward to continuing to “unlearn[ing] past structures that no longer serve me on my path” and to “to help[ing] others accept, elevate, and grow as individuals while exploring the world through of lens of peace and truth.”
“I want to break stigmas and challenge those individuals stuck to think of alternative methods to regulate their mind, body, and spirit. These medicines we take to stay healthy can take a toll on us physically energetically,” he says. “Helping people move and breath to help regulate these things is a goal. Yoga, breath, and meditations can help everyone, including those with HIV+. The list of benefits could go on forever.”
Micah believes that yoga and other holistic practices are essential to increasing psychological wellbeing, which is important for managing something like an HIV+ diagnosis.
More than anything, Micah is living proof that being Poz is the beginning, not the end, of a well-lived life.