A woman curled up hugging her knees, sadness, depression, hopeless, mental health, dark

Living with HIV: Fatigue, Depression, and Insomnia

As the day drags on, I am cuddled up with my dogs, one of my favorite blankets, and my laptop. I really need to be productive today, but I am completely dragging my butt. I have felt this extreme fatigue since I opened my eyes this morning.

Depression and chronic fatigue are linked. Depression can cause fatigue and chronic fatigue can cause depression. It is an unpleasant cycle. I suffer from both of these issues. But I cannot say for sure that one issue has caused the other issue. For me, they seemed to start around the same time. I spend a lot of time searching for understanding from the people in my life.

Effects of chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue has many effects on our bodies and minds. It can cause other conditions such as depression and insomnia.


A big indicator of depression is a loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed. Additionally, persistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and/or anxiety. Depression can affect the quality of our diet, exercise, and sleep.

When we have depression, we are less likely to spend time and energy eating healthy meals or exercising. This can have other negative effects on our health. Foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help combat fatigue.

Insomnia is also one of the symptoms of depression.


One would think that if somebody is chronically fatigued, that sleep would come easily. This is not normally the case. One of the symptoms of chronic fatigue is insomnia.

There is nothing more infuriating than being so exhausted that my eyes hurt, yet I am unable to fall asleep. Unfortunately, I experience this situation often. Despite my chronic fatigue, I struggle with severe insomnia, which does not help with my fatigue symptoms.

Searching for understanding

It has been hard to find understanding from the people in my life while living with chronic fatigue. Sometimes it is hard for family, friends, or even medical personnel to understand and appreciate what I am facing.

Family and friends

One of the most frustrating parts of living with chronic fatigue for me is how much my symptoms are dismissed by my family and friends. They just cannot understand that what I feel goes beyond being a little tired. My fatigue cannot be solved by taking a little nap.

It can be frustrating to have chronic fatigue and another person say “I get tired too sometimes.”

Medical personnel

Another struggle I have faced living with chronic fatigue is seeking understanding from medical personnel. It took me years of suffering to receive a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Even with an official diagnosis, many doctors act like the condition is of no concern.

I am fighting with social security disability to take all of my health issues seriously. I have managed to find a doctor who takes my symptoms and conditions into consideration when treating me. It is rare enough that I drive for an hour to see her.

Do you have experience with chronic fatigue, depression, and insomnia? How do these issues affect your quality of life?

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