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Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Reflection

 
 
As 2012 comes to a close, there's so much good I've done as I do so much as structure keeps it together for me, but one thing I have trouble with is finding a man willing to work with me when it comes to dating. First off is finding someone who you are attracted to. So many guys meet me, but when it comes to the Bipolar, most don't try, they share that they have before and don't want to again, valid and honest, so I wish them well wishes and hope I touched them somehow, in that maybe when dating again and meet another man dually diagnosed they will say okay I'll try again. Rejection is hard at any age, but you need to get up and live another day, don't isolate, I know it is hard, I live it!!! So for those who have met me and tried-thank you, let us both keep trying.  
 
If you know someone living with HIV or both HIV and Bipolar and single--REACH OUT TO THEM, a phone call, HUGS ARE GOOD.

Consumer Advocate for HIV
and Mental Health since 2004
2012 Voice Award Fellow.
 
 
Helpful Links:
 
"Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder is the first of its kind: written to the partner of a bipolar individual and designed to mend strained relationships. If your partner suffers from bipolar disorder, use this book to learn how to negotiate his or her episodic crises. Find out how to recognize a bipolar conversation."
 
"Now, new literature is indication the LGBT community is at an increased risk of chronic depression and anxiety due to their constant harassment and unjust treatment by not the government, religious officials, and their own friends and loved ones."
 
"research shows that LGBT elders face higher disability rates, struggle with economic insecurity and higher poverty rates, and many deal with mental health concerns that come from having survived a lifetime of discrimination."
 
 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Feeling Out of Joint, ways to cope, ways to recover




Fellow Mental Health Consumers, when I first started my website www.bipolarbear.us I was reading and continue to read on the subject.  One published article publish my Garth House talks about the "many things mental illness steal from us."  Please read it in its entirety.

Author: Garth House

There are so many things that mental illness steal from us: our friends, families, and lovers; our skills, talents, and interests; the simple passion for living; and sometimes the spirit of life and beauty itself. Then we are left an empty shell, spiritually, and emotionally dead yet caught in the devastating irony of still being among the living, with time truly "out of joint."

Many, many of us have known this terrible reality: how it "creeps in this petty pace from day to day until the syllable of recorded time." (Shakespeare, Macbeth).  In such a world, there is no weather. Nothing ever changes, nor is there any hope of anything ever changing. At times this is how it seems when we are caught in it. It is a world of gray, bleak twilight, and the ones who love us, no matter how compassionate they are and how much they care, simply cannot grasp or begin to taste the depth of our despair. 

When I read the above I accepted this, shared it with so many friend and family and now you all, almost like a disclosure as when I'm out and about, I'm often asked if I'm okay.

Am I okay, are we okay, for me I'm classic bipolar and for me I'd have to say no major complaints physically but mentally I do my best, seek therapy, adhere to my medication, read self help, and push myself almost daily to spiritually and emotionally stay alive, try to not be out of joint but to fit in.

Can any of my readers relate to what Garth House wrote, what's your take and what do you do to get through each day, to fit in?

Here are some helpful links that may help you get through each day, stay fit and do you best to fit in.

"How to cope day-to-day, Accept your feelings."

" Staying mentally fit requires the same approach you would take to keep any muscle fit: exercise! You can exercise your brain in a multitude of ways, including reading, doing crossword puzzles or logic puzzles and studying a new language.

"Do something to brighten the day of someone who’s mentally ill."






Sunday, August 5, 2012

What's what in your medicine cabinet?







Have you ever gotten stuck or found yourself staring into you medicine cabinet when it's time to take your prescription medications? I have and one day  came up with separating my medications using black tape and also colored dots.
On the left are the culprits as to why I need this system, they are psychotropic medicines for the brain, they make you happy when sad, sleep when wide awake, cope with anxiety when everything you are trying so hard to hold together needs help, okay so these are the good guys if you are living with mental illness.

The dots, well count them all nine and those are just the medicines for each illness, I left out the medicines that are for the side effects of some of those medicines and also the OTC vitamins, heart regiment aspirin etc. those are on another shelf and bottles are all not white.

All not white, that's the other reason for the colored dots, between the OTC and the prescribed pills four are all white, so in addition to the black tape and the colored dots I use a pill box to help me better adhere to my daily cocktails.

Lastly in the morning when I wake up I leave the kitchen counter light on to remind myself to take my morning medications and look at the time as I need to take some again every twelve hours.

I hope my system helps you when you get to that day when you start to stare at them. Those days when you walk into the pantry and stare at those shelves and say what did I come in here for.

What are you tricks, what you do so you don't forget to take your medications or worse take them twice because you forgot if you took them in the first place.

SP

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Even Harder Coming Out

Happy Pride 2012
Thanks to a dear friend I've been sitting here in one of the first three cities to hold the first gay pride parade, in this city San Francisco it was a referred to a the gay sit in. So thanks Virgil for this trip which inspired this article about Coming out, not once, not twice, but for a third time.

Coming out or coming out of the closet is a gay persons right of passage, their journey, their choice to no longer feel the need to keep their sexuality private.  For me it was on Mt. Katahdin, located in Maine. I was a freshman at Unity College and my lesbian cousin drove up to visit me and she popped the question, she was the first person I told, the year was 1978.

My next coming outs plural was in 1996 when I diagnosed HIV positive and also Bipolar, the first one that hit me the hardest was human immunodeficiency virus infection , HIV.  I felt stained, I myself was unable to reach out for help at first as I was crippled, I stayed indoors for close to two months, minus the treatments I would go for, labs (blood work) to see how weak or how healthy my immune system was. I'm happy to say that thanks to new class of medications I've been healthy, good numbers, but the trauma of all this and the stigma of it all set me back.

You see I was a volunteer in the gay community around AIDS, HIV as a negative gay man.   So I've asked it, and I'm sure others ask it, if I/he volunteered in his community on prevention, on a help line, fundraising for AIDS walks and later AIDS rides, then how did I/he contract the HIV virus, the answer was the other diagnoses of Bipolar-manic depression

All my life I felt different, I felt charged, lots of energy, required little sleep, able to do so many things at once, and then I would crash into a wall and into a deep depression and not knowing why, and not on the medications I'm on today, I was self-medicating  due to psychological trauma that I got addicted to drugs and in that time period I contracted the HIV virus.

This isn't the same journey for everyone but for myself it was mine and I went back to connect all the pieces which brought me to my third and even harder coming out, that being an out spoken Consumer Advocate for both HIV and Mental Illness.  It's my choice, it's easy when writing, when speaking out, but it is very hard do to the double stigma from the very community I've embraced and continue to embrace, my community, the Gay Community.

So yes coming out a third time is the even harder coming out for me and I'm certain for many others living with HIV as today one in five HIV+ person is dealing with depression or like me a mental illness.  I'm the lowest in the hierarchy of the GLBT community, but it's progressing like everything else in the gay community, gay liberation, AIDS/HIV and the very much needed activism that opened the doors for generations down the road like me who are living with HIV/AIDS and today as I write this, 49 GLBT Community Centers offer Mental Health short-term care, support groups, and it's getting better as very soon in Manhattan long term mental health care will be offered, a trend I predict will continue as there is a need.

P2P, you are not alone, me the Bi Polar Bear wishes every one a very Happy Gay Pride.  I can be found wearing my Bi Polar Bear T-shirt (seen on my homepage) tomorrow at the San Francisco Pride Parade/March. 

Additional Resources:

NAMI-GLBT

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

CDC on Mental Health and MSM


Monday, June 11, 2012

Returning to work part-time, Social Security Disability Insurance

Quick, without thinking too hard, answer this yes-or-no question: If you were faced with an unexpected $2,000 emergency expense in the next 30 days like a medical or dental bill -- could you come up with the money to cover it?
 Findings of a recent survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research, about half of you answered no.

Okay so what does this have to do with HIV or Depression / Mental Illness. this entry addresses those who are living on a fixed income, yes people with HIV are living longer, a good thing, but are you saving money? 

When I diagnosed I'm sorry but I wasn't thinking retirement, if you are HIV+, working, have good company insurance then I'm hoping that 50% of you, or greater who may not  have families have assets so you  could cover a $2,000 emergency expense. 

For those unable to work due to a disability like Bipolar or another mental illness classification, the message to you is possible and this is how:

Returning to work part-time, if you are living on Social Security Disability Insurance and are able to work part-time please know you can, just don't exceed a few hundred dollars per month, but please test the waters first by volunteering, see if you can handle, identify what works and what does not. Maybe you can only work 10 hours a week, well the extra money and the returning to work--a bigger plus as it will get you out of the doom and gloom feelings you may be experiencing.


Volunteering is a foot in the door, once you are in, able to show up 4 hours a week, let it be known that you would be interested in working part-time.  They would be inclined to hire you as you have on the job training.  Be careful who you disclose to, use your judgement, especially if you are volunteering with the hopes of picking up a part-time job.   Once hired you can let your hair down.

Work with your case worker where you receive your medical care, discuss it with your therapist, also read the latest on returning to work at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/eng/returning-to-work.htm.


More on personal finance, SSDI, savings and inheritance on my next post.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

HIV and Depression



So what's the importance of a brochure you may find in the waiting room while you wait to see your HIV specialist and if necessary while you are waiting to see Psychotherapist and Psychiatrist .

From my home page www.bipolarbear.us  you will read that not so far back 2004, you couldn't find brochures discussing the two.  It wasn't until 2005 - 2011 that more and more scientific studies were being published. 


One quote also from my homepage, "Dr. Glenn J. Treisman, MD, Ph.D., who is Director of the AIDS Psychiatry services at John Hopkins Hospital estimates that at any given time 1 in 5 HIV'ers is suffering from a major depression and require psychiatric treatment." (HIV Plus Magazine March/April 2009).


So what does that mean for you?  Well possible you been diagnosed HIV, like any diagnoses like Cancer or some other illness where you became depressed.  Depression is a natural experience, but long periods of depression is not, possible you are like me, 1 out oft he 5 HIV'ers suffering from a major depression that requires psychiatric treatment, why to get better, to go on living a productive life, to be able to return to work, even if it's a part-time job as you may require going on Social Security Disability Insurance because you are overwhelmed, or experience side effects from your medications.  Some of these are sleepiness, unable to focus long periods, there are many others (please check the resources at the bottom of this blog entry) that make it hard for you to work a full time job, but you can work part-time, another topic down the road.


So if you are reading this, you are not alone, it's not just you and that means others are out there and in GLBT community, that there are resources that can help you both at a doctors office, and in the form of self-help, peer to peer support groups. 
Please visit my website which lists 49 centers through out  the United States where you can get assistance, also visit the the home page for some valuable links.

IF YOU FEELING SUICIDAL CALL 911, I did, there is no shame, I'm here to tell you this and to tell you that it does get better.

Get involved, one organization which I've been on the GLBT Leadership Group as a Consumer Advocate.  Consumer = Someone like yourself living with an illness in recovery.  Advocate = an activist, some one who is pro-active in helping others by blogging, sharing my experiences, so that again I can't say it enough you are not alone.



Other Resouces:

living well with HIV and Depression


AIDSinfonet.org , reliable up to date treatment news


http://www.thetrevorproject.org/    "The Trevor Project is the leading national
organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth."

www.NAMI.org/glbt  National Association on Mental Illness, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Mental Health Resources page.


Tip of the day


Now two hours of sunlight left, this blogger like to ride his bike, take a bottle of water and get some excerise.  Go for a walk--find that boring, help an elderly neighbor and offer to walk to the grocery store for her--turn it into both exercise and a good deed, from the heart that's X two feel good and good for you..


Namaste,


Steve










Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Journey.......2003 - 2012, I'm not alone.

                                                               
                                                               My Journey starts here


My first post as a GLBT mental health consumer to possible others who identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered, yes we do exist.  For some it stops there, for me my journey continues as I'm a gay man, who's HIV positive and Bipolar in recovery from substance abuse
.

Well last week I was in the waiting room and I noticed a new brochure, this one is titled HIV & Depression, wow. When I started this website in 2004 this brochure didn't exist, but I did and my journey started as I was in search of others like myself.

                                                    
How do you find others like yourself, well I took to my bike and signed up for an AIDS ride, my first in 2003 as a rider raising money for HIV/AIDS the ride now in it's 10th year Braking the Cycle.  I was on the very first ride, 42 of us, it was a small group and I didn't find any others living with HIV and Bipolar, one of many classifications of mental illnesses.


Well that year the website didn't exist and I was determined to find others like myself, I can't be the only gay man in NYC dually diagnosed, living with compound stigma, so I built the site with the help of other riders who I met, became friends with, and helped me with the graphic design and launched it in 2004.


2004 and 2005 annual rides came and gone, I raised close to $11,000 since 2003 and still no one else could be found who said I to am Bipolar as well as HIV.


So I packed up and moved to Beverly Hills, actually it was San Francisco 2006 for my very first AIDS Life Cycle a  7 day, 545 mile ride with some 3000 participants and guess what else a fraternity of Positive Pedalers who identify as HIV+ members both cyclist and crew.


Well you guessed it with that many people I was no longer alone, I met several others, along with supporters, family and friends who cheered riders along the route.  I also met other riders and crew on the ALC web forums.


I did three of these rides, continued to meet others, continued to raise $42,000 for HIV/AIDS as well as awareness for Bipolar and in 2008 joined the the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI's GLBT Leadership Group as a HIV and Mental Health Consumer Advocate.


Wow, April 18, 2012, eight years later we now have HIV & Depression brochures and better yet three organizations in NYC that service the HIV community, now offering long term mental health services.


This blogger predicts that many more  AIDS service organizations across the country will also start to offer long term mental health care, why well because 1 out of 5 people living with HIV suffer depression.
SP