The darkness within me first visited me as a child. I was sexually assaulted and kept this shame to myself for seven years. This brought about a low self esteem, depression and isolation.
Today that darkness still exists within me. Sometimes it is just a small nuisance and other times it grows to an enormous size. This is complicated with the issue of disclosure of my HIV status at work and in personal relationships.
A former supervisor was working in human resources and somehow learned that I am HIV positive and decided to share this information with co-workers. Now while searching for work I can't help but wonder if this is a factor in getting no responses to my job searches. Additionally, when it comes to dating I never meet someone and get comfortable with them without the fear of disclosure.
I constantly struggle with loneliness and isolation. Picking up the phone to call someone is like picking up a heavy weight, but I have to force myself to do it. Going out to social events, especially alone, can feel like jumping off a ledge, but I must push through this anxiety. Once I get there I ususally enjoy myself. Finally, picking up a pen and writing when the darkness is strong is ever so difficult. Although writing breaks down the darkness so I must write anyways.
To fight this darkness I have learned that support groups and 12 step groups are very helpful. I have a long history of substance abuse in my family and former partners, so I attend National Alliance for Mental Illness group for individuals diagnosed with mental illness. I also meet with a therapist and psychiatrist regularly and take my medications as prescribed. Fighting the darkness within is a daily challenge, but to stop fighting is death.