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.