Charlie Sheen on HIV diagnosis: Shame led me into suicide run

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 18, 2015 15:15 IST
Actor Charlie Sheen during NBC's Today in New York where he announced he tested positive four years ago for the virus that causes AIDS. (AP)

Calling the HIV diagnosis as “mule kick to my soul”, Hollywood star Charlie Sheen posted an open letter about his life since the event. The actor revealed he tested positive for HIV almost four years ago and has paid millions of dollars to keep people quiet about his condition.

In his letter, the actor reiterated several points, such as the cluster headaches that hospitalized him in the first place and rigid treatment regimen he began after discovering he was HIV-positive.

The shock of the diagnosis sent Sheen into a downward spiral, a “suicide run,” as he called it, marked by extensive drinking, drug use and dalliances with sex workers who then used their knowledge of his medical condition to extort money from him.

Read: Charlie Sheen and the dark spiral of drugs, rehab and sex

“Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skulduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my ‘secret’ sat entombed in their hives of folly (or so I thought).”

But Sheen was adamant, and relieved, that the extortion would end with his public revelation. “I’m claiming back my freedom,” he wrote. “The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously re-balance themselves.”

Charlie Sheen’s open letter…

Roughly four years ago, I suddenly found myself in the throws of a seismic and debilitating three-day cluster-migraine-like headache. I was emergently hospitalised with what I believed to be a brain tumour or perhaps some unknown pathology. I was partially correct. Following a battery of endless tests, that included a hideous spinal tap, it was sadly and shockingly revealed to me that I was, in fact, positive for HIV.

The news was a “mule kick” to my soul. Those impossible words I absorbed and then tried to convince myself, that I was stuck, suspended, or even stranded inside some kind of alternate reality or nightmare, were to the absolute contrary. I was awake. It was true... reality.

Under the brilliant and perfect care of Dr. Robert Huizenga as well as “the” leading infectious disease expert in the known universe, I began a rigorous and intensive treatment programme. Not missing a beat, a med dose, or one shred of guidance, quickly my viral loads became undetectable. Like every other challenge in my life, again, I was victorious and kicking this disease’s ass. I wish my story had ended there. Unfortunately, for my family and myself, it had only just begun.

The personal disbelief, karmic confusion, shame and anger lead to a temporary yet abysmal descent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking. It was a suicide run. Problem was, I’d forgotten that I’m too tough for such a cowardly departure. Yet, despite this loathsome and horrific odyssey, I was vigilant with my anti-viral program.

My medical team could only shake their heads as each and every blood test returned levels revealing a state of remission. Even though I might have been trying to kill myself, one thing was radically evident; the disease was not.

In and around this perplexing and difficult time, I dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavoury and insipid types. Regardless of their salt-less reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took centre stage in this circus of deceit.

To date, I have paid out countless millions to these desperate charlatans.

Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skulduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my “secret” sat entombed in their hives of folly (or so I thought).

News Flash: This ends today. I’m claiming back my freedom. The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously re-balance themselves.

In conclusion, I accept this condition not as a curse or scourge, but rather as an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to help others. A challenge to better myself.

Every day, of every month, of every year, countless individuals go to work, man their stations, fulfill their professional obligations with a host of disabilities. Diseases, imperfections, hurdles, detours. These maladies range from lupus to cancer, from paralysis to blindness, from diabetes to obesity. “Treated,” HIV is no different.

My partying days are behind me. My philanthropic days are ahead of me.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “Courage is grace under pressure.”

I’ve served my time under pressure; I now embrace the courage, and the grace.

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