It’s my first day on the job! I’ve read through the briefs that were neatly stacked on my desk, acquainted myself with the barista downstairs and now I’m waiting on our computer guy to get me up and running. So what’s next?
After my diagnosis back in 2013, I was left like a lot of people living with HIV with a lot of questions and I set off on a quest to find the answers. When I say I ‘set off’, I mean I was forced due to circumstances beyond my control, for the moment. Because of my health, working full time wasn’t an option for me.
I was battling the black dog of depression and anxiety and trying to make sense of my diagnosis. This led me to an all too familiar situation of social isolation and withdrawal. After taking a few years off, I decided that putting my health first was a priority for me, and returning to work would be on my own terms.
I understand work isn’t for everyone but I know isolation serves no one either. I started off doing some voluntary work and I found that it was surprisingly rewarding. Not only did it allow me to break free from social isolation, I also began to form a sense of purpose. It all started off with a few short courses and weekend classes and I soon found my feet again. My confidence was returning and I was participating in life again.
Getting back into the workforce paid or un-paid can feel like an overwhelming tidal wave of change. This is especially true after an extended period out of the work force, or having spent a long time living in isolation.
Set-backs or speed humps along the way are common, and in my own journey I’ve had a few. It helps having someone in your corner to get you in touch with the right services for your needs. The challenge is how to continue to feel supported and maintain your resilience while not being afraid to take risks.
There are a ton of services and organisations out there looking for people with a lived experience of HIV who can offer a unique perspective. If you are interested or just curious to get an understanding of what is out there, check out the Positive Life HIV Work Ready Program, or give me a call on (02) 9206 2177.
Published for Talkabout Online #186 – August 2016