With the Help of Others


When he was just 25 years old, Coleman Goode had reached a low point in his life. He was suicidal, addicted to crystal meth, and newly diagnosed as being HIV+. His life thrown into a tailspin, he had no idea what the future held. Fortunately, with the support of others, he was able to confront his mental health and addiction issues and live a healthy and fulfilling life.

00:04
So my name is Coleman Goode.
00:05
I’m from Hallettsville, Texas.
00:07
When I was 25 years old, I checked myself into a mental hospital because I tried to
00:14
commit suicide.
00:15
I, also, at that time had left my boyfriend who was living with HIV.
00:20
I was on meth – crystal meth.
00:23
I’ve been doing that for, on and off for a couple – 2 years.
00:26
So my life was on not at its highest point.
00:31
And I found myself one day in this lime green two-toned room with a nurse coming into the
00:42
room and sitting down in front of me.
00:43
It was March 21, 2005 – 2006 and she told me that I was HIV positive.
00:49
I remember staring at her and she – so I think she was waiting for me to have a reaction
00:55
but I didn’t.
00:57
So she responded, “Well, you don’t seem to be too surprised.”
01:01
And I’ll never forget this – I said, “Well if you’ve been doing things I’ve been doing,
01:06
you wouldn’t be surprised.”
01:07
I remember leaving the room and I remember just feeling like the entire world is fell
01:12
down on me, like what am I gonna do?
01:15
I’m 25.
01:16
I’m now HIV+, I’m probably going to die.
01:19
You know, these are the thoughts that went through my mind because I didn’t know anyone
01:21
with HIV, I didn’t know what that looked like.
01:25
I just didn’t know what my life looked like after that.
01:28
So I broke down.
01:29
I’m in this mental hospital with people I don’t even know, but they came up to me, they’re
01:33
hugging me, and they were being supportive and they didn’t even – like, they didn’t
01:37
know me.
01:38
Like, they were some people I just met maybe the day before, but it was such support that
01:45
I didn’t understand it or didn’t really expect it.
01:50
I felt like the nurses have to be supportive but these were, like, people – like actual
01:55
patients.
01:56
And I jokingly said my time in the hospital was like “Girl, Interrrupted.”
02:00
I was like Winona Ryder and we were just these cast of characters of like, you know, the
02:08
Island of Misfit Toys.
02:09
You know, and we were cast away and yet there was this moment of real connection and it
02:16
felt very genuine.
02:17
I mean actually, I decided to call my mom.
02:19
And so I remember picking up the phone and calling her and just letting her know where
02:26
I was, because at that point, my mom and I weren’t really that close.
02:28
So I don’t think I had spoken to her in – probably in months.
02:32
And so I called her and got her on the phone and told her that I was HIV+ and that I was,
02:39
you know, suffering from depression and I was in a mental hospital because I tried to
02:42
kill myself.
02:44
And she was like, “Okay…”
02:48
She later told me that when she hung up the phone, she, like, broke down sort of crying.
02:52
And I knew that was going to hurt her but it was the first time I was ever actually
02:56
able to be really honest with her in a very long time and I think that later played very
03:01
greatly into our relationship getting a lot better.
03:03
You know, later when I was released from the hospital after being there for three months,
03:09
getting myself care, you know, finding out that I was suffering from depression, I had
03:14
a great therapist that was like this lesbian and she was telling me about all these great
03:18
things to do in the community and just kind of helping me, I guess, feel good about myself,
03:25
and telling me that there is support for me.
03:26
The whole experience in the hospital and I – it sounds really crazy, was so beautiful
03:31
because I just felt very supported for the first time and very, very supported by people
03:36
that didn’t know me and didn’t have – I feel like they didn’t have – there was nothing
03:40
they could get out of supporting me and loving me, but it was very beautiful for me.
03:44
The hospital set up so I can go to another – an HIV+ sober house facility.
03:56
So I got moved there and from there I decided to go to treatment.
04:02
I decided that maybe treatment with a better option for me.
04:07
And so I got to be in this 90-day program with people living with HIV, and I got to
04:15
be newly diagnosed and work through what that meant and work through what it was – what
04:21
my life is gonna be like.
04:22
Through this same program, through this same agency, I was able to move into another halfway
04:27
house which is for people living with HIV, all the way up through a three-quarter home
04:31
and stayed two years.
04:34
And another HIV service – agency helped me get a job.
04:39
I did job training.
04:40
And they found me an apartment.
04:42
You know, I was getting my life together.
04:44
I was making friends and developing relationships and finding my first community.
04:49
I would love to say that I stayed sober for all the time since then and that things were
04:54
magically better but it wasn’t, I haven’t – I’ve struggled with my sobriety.
04:59
I’ve struggled with my mental illness.
05:00
Luckily because of the support I have, it never got to the point where it was in 2005
05:04
where I was alone and felt desperate enough to take my own life.
05:09
If you had told me in 2005 when I was – I had been diagnosed at 25 as being HIV+ March
05:15
21st, that I would be where I am today… that I would be an advocate, that I get to
05:20
go into the community and teach and teach about advocacy and go to Washington DC and
05:25
go on the Hill and fight against the Trump administration, it’s – I would have laughed.
05:32
I just would have laughed because that’s not what I thought my life would be.
05:35
Slowly and surely it’s gotten better.
05:39
And I’ve developed this really good core of people around me and I found my place in the
05:45
gay community.
05:46
The value of surrounding myself with good people, positive people is just – I can’t
05:52
really put a price on it.
05:53
It’s just really important thing for people to understand that there is a place for them.
05:58
They might just have to look for it or make their own place, but there is a place for
06:03
people and I think there’s – you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be.

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