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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Season's Greetings and Happy New Years



Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas
and Happy New Years 2015
from the 
Bi Polar Bear

Saturday, December 6, 2014

If You Have a Substance Abuse Problem, Going for a Mental Health Screening


This blogger consumer activist for mental health and HIV since 2004 could not agree more with "Mental Health Patients Tested More For HIV As Providers Recognize Increased Risk"  I read this two days ago and it's been picked up in several publications including here, but more needs to be done on  substance abuse, as if you have a serious substance abuse problem a mental health screening may prevent you from contracting HIV.

In my blog post dated, March 6, 2014 "It used to be that no individual whispered the Words HIV and Mental Health" at the end I give my opinion as someone dual diagnosed with both HIV and a chronic mental illness, bipolar disorder, where I say:

I can't say this happened to you, this is my journey, my story
Mental health screenings and condoms are what's needed in my opinion when we talk about HIV prevention today.  Had I read my blog post between 1978 - 1996 and had a mental health screening, I may have been diagnosed Bipolar and or Bipolar and substance problem, which are treatable and may have not contracted the human immunodeficiency virus.
I became a consumer advocate for both mental health and HIV since 2004, would I have preferred not to be doing this yes, but life goes on and I enjoy the work I do today, I went on to grow as a person as have others and will you.
You can transmit HIV, you can't transmit mental illness.  HIV you need to disclose if you are having unsafe sex, mental illness no one needs to know.  If you decide to talk openly about both thank you as you are helping combat compound stigma and are now deputized a mental health and HIV+ consumer activist.
Be safe, have fun and stay active.
RESOURCES:


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Your Donation Helps to Feed Low Income LGBTQ New Yorkers Living With Serious Mental Illness. Become a Magician For a Day




Become A Magician for a Day



Your Donation Helps to Feed Low Income LGBTQ New Yorkers Living With Serious Mental Illness. 
thank you 



November  25, 2014
 
Dear Friends,

Two years ago I came on board helping Rainbow Heights raise money for their Meals Program using my platform as the Bi Polar Bear by raising $1500.00, which became $3,000 by becoming a magician for a day as this is a $1 for $ 1 matching gift campaign.   What a joy it was for me to be able to perform such a trick.

I'm inviting you to also become a magician for the day knowing that your contribution doubles the minute you say these three magic words, "I can help." when you hit the make a contribution button found on the Rainbow Heights Club Indiegogo.com page  

I invite you to watch the short clip put together by Christian Huygen Ph.D Executive Director of Rainbow Heights Club and by the members who are asking you and also thanking you.

To do this simple click on the link below:


Deadline December 20, 2014


We need to raise $15,000 so we can continue to provide a free meal for our members each afternoon for the next 6 months.

Because of the generosity of one of our major donors, if we meet our goal of raising $15,000 through this campaign, that amount will be matched dollar for dollar, resulting in a total of $30,000 which will fund the program for a full year!

 Your Donation Helps to Feed Low Income LGBTQ New Yorkers Living With Serious Mental Illness.




We need your help so that we can continue to provide a free hot meal to our consumers at the end of the program day.  100% of your donation will go directly to feed hungry New Yorkers by purchasing groceries and other consumables.
Meals are planned and prepared by members and volunteers.  Members suggest menus, create recipes and help to prepare and serve them. Each meal includes a vegetarian option, a healthy salad, a sugar-free drink, and a snack.
  • We provide over 200 free meals per week, over 8,000 free meals a year!
  • 94% of our members eat dinner at the club.
  • 87% of our members report this is usually their main meal of the day.


If you prefer to mail in a donation, please do this ASAP as the deadline is December 20, 2014

Send Checks: Make checks payable to
Rainbow Heights Club
Heights Hill Mental Health Service CAB
25 Flatbush Avenue, Third Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217
ATTN:  C.Huygen



Your Donation Helps to Feed Low Income LGBTQ New Yorkers Living With Serious Mental Illness. 


Thank you all,

Stephen A. Puibello
Consumer Advocate, Educator
CPS, Philanthropist for both
Mental Health and HIV since 2004
www.bipolarbear.us
Member of Rainbow Heights Club since 2008
SAMHSA Voice Award Fellow 2013
POZ Magazine Unsung Hero 2013




Monday, November 10, 2014

In the News from the Bi Polar Bear

Amid Funding Cuts, NY Organization Sees HIV Suppression Rates 250% the National Average:http://www.thebody.com/content/75153/amid-funding-cuts-ny-organizationsees-hiv-suppres.html 

"Iris House opened its doors in 1993, primarily serving women who were living with HIV at a time when they had relatively few options for support services. It now offers comprehensive support services to women, men and families, whether they are infected with HIV or affected by HIV. These services include food and nutrition education, housing, case management, harm reduction, mental health, support groups and life skills training"

 Personal experiences continue to shape Cliffside Park man's life  October 31, 2014 By Jaime Walters http://www.northjersey.com/community-news/personal-experiences-continue-to-shape-his-life-1.1123405

"CLIFFSIDE PARK - The Cliffside Park Council recently recognized longtime borough resident Stephen A. Pubiello with a proclamation for his activism and community service relating to the challenges of substance abuse, mental illness and HIV."

 

Op-ed: Why The U.N. Must Consider The Cruelty Behind Ex-Gay Therapy Conversion therapy isn't just snake oil. It's poison.  BY Samantha Ames Esq source: The Advocate  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/11/10/op-ed-why-were-telling-un-conversion-therapy-torture

 "Under the Convention Against Torture, the United Nations has the power to address the practice of “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” including forcible or coercive treatment based on the false premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is a mental illness that can and should be cured. Shockingly, while two states have enacted laws that protect youth against this harmful practice, some unethical therapists continue to practice conversion therapy on children in 48 states. The result, especially for vulnerable youth, is lifelong damage that can include depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.


 

 Lastly, Blogger under the weather and taking the rest of November off.

 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bi Polar Bear Receives Proclamation from Cliffside Park Elected Officials

(L) City Councilwoman Donna Spoto and to my (R) Acting Mayor Thomas Calabrese

Awarded October 7, 2014

WHEREAS, a successful community is reliant upon the volunteerism of it's citizens; and

WHEREAS, charitable organizations are successfully due to the volunteers dedicated to it's cause; and

WHEREAS, there are many diseases that have negative stigmas associated with them; and

WHEREAS, in an effort to assist others it takes a great deal of courage to set up and speak out; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen A. Puibello," 550 Gorge Road, has dedicated his life to supporting numerous causes and community activism; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen A. Puibello" is an AIDS activist living with HIV and bipolar disorder who has committed himself to reaching out to others and letting them know they are not alone; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen" is founder of Bipolarbear.us, which has been operating for 10 years and which helped him share his experiences recovering from drug abuse and facing the challenges of living with HIV and bipolar disorder; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen" was awarded a Voice Award Fellowship by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the US Department of Health and Human Services; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen" was also recognized by POZ Magazine as one of 100 Unsung Heroes in America sharing their experiences and helping others in the HIV Community; and

NOW, THEREFORE, by the virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the Borough of Cliffside Park, I Gerald A. Calabrese, do hereby extend our sincere thanks to "Stephen A. Puibello" for his dedication and commitment to the Cliffside Park Community.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gay community faces mental health challenges


Gay community faces mental health challenges

Brian Hodder
 

Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness in our society around the impact of mental health on all sectors of our population.

With a number of recent high-profile cases, including the recent suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams, people are beginning to realize how serious this issue is and how powerful an impact mental health can have on an individual’s life.

This past week marked Mental Illness Awareness Week and Friday was also recognized worldwide as World Mental Health Day. This reflects this growing recognition of the impact of mental illness in our society.
As a group that has dealt with a history of discrimination, the gay community has been greatly affected by mental health issues and there remains much work to be done in this area.

A Canadian study released last month illustrates how seriously the gay community is impacted by mental health. In the study, which was published in the current issue of Critical Public Health, the authors examined suicide and HIV-related mortality information from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Community Health Survey and other sources from the years 2000 to 2011.

Among the primary findings was that more gay/bisexual men now die of suicide than from HIV-related illnesses; in 2011 — the latest year of data — 157 gay and bisexual men died from suicide compared to 97 who died as a result of HIV-related illnesses.

Overall, it was noted that while HIV-related deaths in Canada have declined steadily since 2000, suicide rates have remained relatively stable, surpassing HIV as a leading cause of death for gay/bisexual men in 2007.

The findings also revealed that gay/bisexual men are four times more likely to have attempted suicide than their straight counterparts.

These findings should raise the alarm to look at how health-related funding needs to be used when targeted at the gay male community. While traditionally HIV was seen as the greatest health threat facing our community — and it remains an important priority still — it is clear that there are other pressures impacting the health of our community which are not being addressed adequately. Most health-related services that are targeted towards the gay male community in our larger urban centres are based around our sexuality and sex with other men; however, it is clear from this study that the issues are much larger than that and that our approach to the health of our community needs to be broadened.

Another critical finding of this study relates to the age group in our community that is most affected by death through suicide. While the study found that suicide attempts are more common during adolescent years, the fatality rate increases with age. In fact, most of the gay men dying from suicide are over the age of 30.
While it is important to make sure that children have access to the services they need — and we are slowly doing a better job of this in Canada — it is clear that we also need to find a way to reach the men who do not come out until they are adults and are less likely to know where and how to access the help they may need. If we fail to acknowledge the mental health needs of our community, this trend of deaths through suicide is likely to continue.

What seems clear to me is that there needs to be more emphasis on mental health all through the year and not just during one week in October. While there are many causes of mental illness, research has shown that minorities that experience discrimination and violence are much more prone to developing these problems, and homophobia is still a major factor in our society for many.

While most health services developed and targeted towards the gay community have related to our physical health, it is time that our mental health needs were also recognized and services developed to address them.
A healthy body and a healthy mind is just as important for gay men as it is for the rest of the members of Canadian society.

 Brian Hodder is a past-chairman of
Newfoundland Gays and Lesbians
for Equality.

Geographic location: Canada

Friday, October 3, 2014

I never thought I would see 71 years old... I have a new outlook on Life

 Happy Belated Birthday
Nello Carlini

When I was diagnosed HIV+ and bipolar in 1996 I never in my life thought I would live to see 71 years old.  I told myself years later when I turned fifty five that I'd  love to see sixty six, the age my mom passed due to breast cancer.  I live and volunteer around seniors, just walked home with my loving neighbor Kay who's 91 years old, I call here Nana. Tonight as we walked up the small hill together I said, wow how it would be nice to live as old as Kay, my Aunt Jo, my Aunt Felice all 91 years old, but then drifted back to sixty-six years old knowing I'm living with bipolar disorder and am HIV positive.

I received POZ magazine today in the mail.  I opened it before going to bed, took all my medications and feel asleep with visions of growing older, knowing others also diagnosed HIV positive are living older, case in point, page 48 POZ magazine October/November 2014.   Happy belated birthday to Nello Carlini who's living out and out about his being HIV positive since diagnosed at age 71 years old.

Possible you've read statistics on what happens in 2015 and 2020 for folks living with HIV.  In 2015 50 %, I've also read 46% of those will be over 50+ years old.  Then in 2020 that % jumps as high as 71%.

Starting October 23, 2014  I will be taking 24 hours of training on HIV, Aging and Health Issues offered by the Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC.   The following topics will be covered and I will write about each of these, sharing what I've learned, these are:

  • Intro to HIV and Aging
  • Aging, HIV and Co-Morbidities-- the presence of one or more additional disorders (or diseases)
  • Aging, HIV and Mental Health
  • Aging, HIV and Nutrition
  • Elder Abuse, Domestic Violence and HIV
I live in Public Housing, folks who live here are Veterans, Seniors and those with Disabilities, I'm out and open about being a gay man living with both HIV and bipolar disorder.  I'm well received by all, I volunteer here, chat with all neighbors who wish to chat, as socialization is pivotal to living a long healthy life.  I was in awe one day when one of my neighbors said when are we going to see you with a handsome fella, you have no idea how that made me feel, and at soon to be 56 and with folks like Nello Carlini who's 90 years old I may have a handsome fella within the next thirty four years or even older.  Love comes at any age.




RESOURCES:

HIV Among Older American

Aging with HIV
"If you are aging with HIV/AIDS, having a support system will help you stay physically and mentally healthier. You can find support systems through your healthcare provider, your local community center or AIDS service organization, or friends and family."


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September HIV and Mental Health NEWS


"Slowly but Surely, Gay Conversion Therapy Is Coming Out of Mental Health Practices"  source: Autostraddle.  "



  "Depression among HIV positive people worrying " source: NTV News Uganda 

 


"Should Gays and Lesbians Seek Different Therapists Than Straight Patients?"   source: takepart.com



Depression among people infected with HIV  is on the rise in the country.  As it rises, so do new infections as the depressed do not use condoms, neither do they take their drugs which in turn leads to a rise in drug resistance. To the team from an ongoing research project dubbed INDEPTH Uganda including the Ministry of Health, there's need to worry because almost half of the people in the country living with HIV are depressed with many needing treatment yet integration of mental health care with HIV is still very low in the country. - See more at: http://www.ntvuganda.co.ug/news/lifestyle/23/sep/2014/depression-among-hiv-positive-people-worrying#sthash.zoexwJlG.dpuf

 


Depression among people infected with HIV  is on the rise in the country.  As it rises, so do new infections as the depressed do not use condoms, neither do they take their drugs which in turn leads to a rise in drug resistance. To the team from an ongoing research project dubbed INDEPTH Uganda including the Ministry of Health, there's need to worry because almost half of the people in the country living with HIV are depressed with many needing treatment yet integration of mental health care with HIV is still very low in the country. - See more at: http://www.ntvuganda.co.ug/news/lifestyle/23/sep/2014/depression-among-hiv-positive-people-worrying#sthash.zoexwJlG.dpuf
Depression among people infected with HIV  is on the rise in the country.  As it rises, so do new infections as the depressed do not use condoms, neither do they take their drugs which in turn leads to a rise in drug resistance. To the team from an ongoing research project dubbed INDEPTH Uganda including the Ministry of Health, there's need to worry because almost half of the people in the country living with HIV are depressed with many needing treatment yet integration of mental health care with HIV is still very low in the country. - See more at: http://www.ntvuganda.co.ug/news/lifestyle/23/sep/2014/depression-among-hiv-positive-people-worrying#sthash.zoexwJlG.dpuf


 

  




Monday, September 22, 2014

Physician Assisted Suicide, Aging with HIV and Chronic Mental Illness, My Choice

My Choice



In 2015, 50 % of those living with HIV/AIDS will be 50 years and older, by 2020 that number will be 70%. For others, the one in five who live with a chronic mental illness and HIV, we may or may not live that long due to aging, other illnesses and social isolation so severe you often contemplate taking your own life., but rather then doing that, I feel strongly that Physician Assisted Suicide be made legal in the United States, it is, but not all states. 

Friday September 19, 2014

It was lovely night this past Friday in Manhattan, rather then leaving the city for my bus ride home, I did what so many others did, I went out to enjoy the warm evening as soon fall/winter and cooler/colder evenings will be knocking at our doors.

I went to the Highline, sat there and couple after couple gay and straight walked by and I'm strong enough to get out alone, but for what ever reason that night I just started to cry, natural when something troubles you, causes pain.

I'm working hard on this, have been since I lost my dad, my closest friend Ed Holle last February. I meet people, amazing people in talking they share I have a partner who is Bipolar, or I have a partner who lives with HIV and the partner not living with either of these. I thank them as I know how hard it is and I have hope when I hear of these relationships knowing that someday I may have a companion.

I know that love comes at any age, I know that I'm not the only single only bipolar and HIV+ person on the planet, but these adversities make it very hard. I can't do anything but accept this, but now comes age, and sickness and fear of dying alone and it's that one thing that has me wanting to not do it in pain, in a hospital but rather peacefully with the knowledge of my doctor or Physician Assisted Suicide

Am I a weak person for wanting this, not at all. When it comes, it will be somewhere where I can watch sunsets and sit by a campfire at night,, it will involve hiking and friends who wish to join me and their pets, It will be both sad and joyful, what it won't be is alone and in pain.



Resources: 

" Interest in physician-assisted suicide among ambulatory HIV-infected patients"  source: American Journal of PsychiatryAm J Psychiatry 1996;153:238-242.

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=171545


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_suicide_in_the_United_States




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Older HIV Infected Adults, Are we as a Community Prepared?




National HIV/AIDS and AGING AWARENESS DAY * SEPTEMBER 18, 2014

Aging: The New Challenge 

Source AIDS.gov

At the start of the epidemic, people who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS could expect to live only 1-2 years after that diagnosis. This meant that the issues of aging were not a major focus for people with HIV disease.
But new medications and treatments have changed that. Life expectancy for people with HIV disease has increased dramatically—which means that they now have to face the challenges of aging with HIV/AIDS.
Normal aging is associated with risks for many different conditions, from osteoporosis to heart disease, but having HIV can increase those risks. Some illnesses or conditions which can be worsened by aging and HIV (or treatments for it) include:
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Infections
  • Medication interactions
**********************************************************
Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Older HIV Infected Adults, Are we as a Community Prepared?

What I'm not reading enough on or being talked about is mental health and substance abuse in older HIV infected adults.

 As a consumer on SSDI and living in a major metropolitan area my clinic Callen-Lorde has opened a new building to keep up with the demand for all with HIV/AIDS living with chronic mental health issues, I'm fortunate to have this, but as you get away from the bigger cities, these services are not readily available and if you find them many are not LGBT affirmative keeping many away from being properly diagnosed.  Thanks to local chapters of (NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness and (DBSA) Depression Bipolar Support Alliance the gap does have some resources.  In Brooklyn we are fortunate to have the only LGBT Outpatient facility in the nation called Rainbow Heights Club, we need a Rainbow Heights in each state, we need trained LGBT hospice care workers, our community at large to me has been dormant on the issue of mental illness in the gay community as a whole, so I'm hoping that the emphasis on HIV/AIDS and aging awareness now in it's 7th year, coupled by the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity Act we will see more long term mental health GLBT affirmative facilities in the existing AIDS service organizations pop up.



In the News today :


I did find one Op-Ed in the Advocate, a good read but with very little or should I say not once did I read the word mental illness, I did read, "Like other seniors, many older persons living with HIV also have other common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Living with multiple health conditions can be very challenging both physically and emotionally."  And another mention, "When you couple that with the stigma that some older LGBT people face when they move into senior living communities, it can be a difficult psychological burden," for the entire article read here.





For more resources on  Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Older HIV Infected Adults:

HIV, Psychiatric Comorbidity, and Aging


Authors: 
Julia L. Skapik, BS, and Glenn J. Treisman, MD, PhD

Read complete article:
http://www.consultant360.com/articles/hiv-psychiatric-comorbidity-and-aging

Psychosocial, mental health, and behavioral issues of aging with HIV
http://www.natap.org/2014/HIVAGE/061614_02.htm


Psychosocial, mental health, and behavioral issues of aging with HIV  Rueda, Sergioa,b,c; Law, Stephanied; Rourke, Sean B.a,b,e

http://journals.lww.com/co-hivandaids/Abstract/2014/07000/Psychosocial,_mental_health,_and_behavioral_issues.7.aspx

 

Aging with HIV and AIDS: A growing social issue

Date:
June 25, 2014
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625132443.htm

ASA, American Society on Aging (source)
Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Older HIV Infected Adults, by Lisa Cox


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Health, Home, Purpose and Community. I have all of that yet still feel isolated from my Queer Community

Health, Home, Purpose and Community
So why do I still feel isolated from my Queer Community


From SAMHSA's: Leading Change A plan for SAMHSA's roles and Actions 2011 - 2014.

"Recovery is a unique journey for each individual, and each person in recovery must choose the range of services and supports ranging from clinical treatment to peer services.   To facilitate resilience, recovery, and social inclusion, persons with mental health and substance abuse use disorders will also need to receive treatment for their co-occurring health problems.  Access to services must be paired with shared decision-making process between people in recovery and providers to determine how best to select, structure, and delivers services.  Like other aspects of health care and unless adjudicated by courts of law, people have the right to choose and determine what services and treatments best meet their needs and preferences.  Self-determination is the foundation of person-centered and consumer-driven recovery supports and systems, including such approaches as person-centered planning, shared decision making , and peer-operated services.  People in recovery should be meaningfully involved in all aspects of behavioral health services, including planning, policy development, training, delivery, administration, and research."

A mouthful for sure, but me me as a person with mental health and substance abuse use disorders while receiving treatment for my being HIV+, while being disabled I often question is my recovery 100% or half way or held back do to being on social security disability insurance that keeps me feeling isolated from my own queer community after following the goal of recovery that is exemplified through a life that includes:
  • Health----Overcoming or managing one's disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way;
  • Home----A stable and safe place to live that that supports recovery;
  • Purpose----Meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family, care taking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society; and
  •  Community----Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love and hope. 
I've mastered all of these things, managing my health, through disability as both a bipolar and HIV+ aging gay man secured affordable housing.  Secured through volunteering a job in itself, to that of a part-time job thanks to social security who has a model that supports part-time employment  with hopes of full time employment, a joggling act in itself as you need the Medicare and Medicaid if you qualify to pay for health care expenses and medications that exceed some $56,000+ a year, most of that costly medications.  Then lastly as a gay man who's aging, soon to be 56 years old, shunned by my peers do to the combined multiple stigmas from within my own LGBT community who if I'm on disability, managing my health, have a home, then why is it so hard to find community, relationships, social networks, love and hope and friendship.

It's my GLBT community that causes me to struggle as I don't meet their expectations of someone who's not just housed and has purpose, but in their eyes living in poverty as the model keeps you in poverty to have all of these things and be fully recovered is where I'm at soon to be 56 years of age.

Much is written on disparities and poverty, low income and I will pick up on this topic  and look at what's being done for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community over all health and those of us living in the commmunity living with both substance abuse and behavioral health care and co-occurring  HIV+ diagnoses, all three each a hurdle in itself, combined I'm often told when out speaking, sharing my story what are you doing as a consumer of all of the above to survive.

If this is you, if you feel have followed an excellent model, one that I advocate for as well as advocate for treatment for both, and are aging and feeling isolated, I'd love to hear from you.

I also want to share with you a story that happened recently.  I ran into a friend, fellow HIV/AIDS cyclist from years ago, we exchanged our hello's and quick catching up when an articulate panhandler approached, this was on ninth avenue in Manhattan, 10:30 AM.  He showed us a $1 and said he was short $.50 cents of which both myself and my friend each had a quarter and gave to him.  He said thank you and then added, what' the best nation in the Country, I said not the United States, can it be France...his response was a donation.  That was both funny and for the short time this individual was talking to two others, he felt socially connected (social inclusion), not social exclusion.

Moral of this story, be safe, I know it's hard, but if you don't have change a simple hello, or acknowledgement that there is a person asking you will go a far way in his or her day.  And if you do, even a quarter or dime will help. Social inclusion, not social exclusion has to start somewhere.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 2014 HIV and Mental Healh in the News


With a Mandate for Change, a Longtime HIV/AIDS Leader Steps Up as Chief Officer for NYC's Massive Human Service Agency by (Julie "JD" Davids, theBody.com August 25, 2014)

Read More:

http://www.thebody.com/content/74898/with-a-mandate-for-change-a-longtime-hivaids-leade.html

"Tasked with managing all that HRA's 14,000 staff members do to provide direct services to New Yorkers, Tietz now oversees a broad range of programs, including Adult Protective Services; the HIV/AIDS Services Administration; Domestic Violence; Shelters and Services; Disaster Assistance and Crisis Management and Customized Assistance Services for public assistance recipients."

 

Opinion: Shining a light on mental illness (Robert T. Foster, Edmonton Journal

Read More::

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/opinion/Opinion+Shining+light+mental+illness/10137796/story.html

 "Almost five per cent of admissions to hospitals are related to mental health issues, including anxiety, bipolar disorders, major depressive disorders, low-grade depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), impulse control, eating disorders, substance abuse and suicidal behaviour. Such disorders comprise the second highest cost of running a hospital in Canada."

"Suicide is responsible for about 25 per cent of all deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds and 16 per cent among 25- to 44-year-olds. It’s one of the leading causes of death from adolescence to middle age"


With advances in HIV care, survivors face other disease risks  Contact: Connie Hughes Connie.Hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348 Wolters Kluwer Health 

Read More:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/wkh-wai081314.php 

"Research and Planning to Meet Health Needs of People Living with HIV"

"Large-scale HIV treatment and prevention programs have substantially lowered the rates of HIV infection and deaths from HIV/AIDS. Dr Narayan and coauthors write, "Today, with over 35 million people living (and aging) with HIV and over two million becoming infected every year, we are faced with a new challenge: addressing morbidity and mortality from NCDs—heart disease, stroke, diabetes and metabolic complications, renal disease, cancers, liver disease, and mental illness—that increase with age and may be related to HIV and its treatment."

 

.

 

 
 

 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Writing Relaxes Me, Helps me focus when feeling Manic



You would think someone with one website up 2twenty years that focused on writing letters lobbying for city services in Boston and a short Freelance writing gig with AOL-Digital City Boston, and then finally my other website up ten years this year, with blog posts 66 in two years would mean I am a perfect speller. I'm not, editing is for editors ....I miss having one, but I learned more important is if your content is right on, then that's all that matter and lastly -- Just write.

 Writing relaxes me, helps me focus when I'm manic.

I first started writing when I was 34 years old, in twenty two years I never hit spell check and got this pop-up seen in photo I snapped above.

The little things that make your day, the photo, the ease of pulling a topic together, it truly made my day as I try to keep to a blog post schedule.  The above was from an email I wrote, how cool is it when something good comes from something you were doing anyway.

Share your little thing here either today or this week after reading mine and share via the comment button.




RESOURCES:

How to Calm a Manic Episode 




Monday, August 18, 2014

Project Hope Exchange All in 30 Seconds


I'm committee Chair for HIV/AIDS fellow consumer/peers/friend.  My goal is to ask 20 + HIV+ men or women to leave a 30 second message of hope.  It's by first name only. 
Please help me by participating and sharing this post.


Thank You

More about Project Hope Exchange

At the core of Project Hope Exchange are two key components: a PHE Hope Line
(855-975-4673), through which adversity survivors can leave 30-second messages of
hope; and a searchable online repository of recorded messages at
ProjectHopeExchange.com.  

“We believe something especially powerful happens
when a survivor of a particular adversity speaks directly to someone currently battling
that same adversity,” said A2A Alliance founder and PHE co-creator Jeff Bell, “and
we’ve attempted to build an interactive, multimedia platform that makes that process as
easy as possible.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Just Wish Everyone on SSDI Is Eligible for Both, Many Are Not!




Excellent  post Mathew, thank you.  "On being broke but- not poor" (source Huffington Post) August 4, 2014"   You are not alone on your dual diagnoses of HIV and mental health.   "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 HIVers is suffering from a major depression and require psychiatric treatment."

I applaud the promotion of "Medi/Medi,” I just wish everyone on SSDI is eligible for both, many are not, I'm not and the affordable care act doesn't apply to me either as I’m at 141% of the Federal Poverty Level.

“The CDC predicts that 50 percent of those living with HIV in the U.S. will be over 50 years of age by 2015.”  “And by 2020, more then 70 percent of Americans with HIV are expected to be age 50 and older, source: (the Diverse Elders Coalition).  In 2015 I will be 56 years old.

In the article being broke but not poor, Mr. Ebert says, "I believe in Medicare,"  I couldn't agree more. Without Medicare I wouldn't be able to cover the 80% of the estimated $56,000 a year being paid for my mental health treatment, HIV labs, HIV and psychotropic medications.   

I'm also thankful for receiving all my services at a clinic where services are on a sliding scale based on income.  What's starting to happen is I'm aging, and I'm needing care of specialist, many who don't bill based on a sliding scale, so I'm being hit with co-pays as with Medicare only I have to cover 20%.

 ACRIA, Center on HIV and Aging  in 2013 held a one day conference on HIV and Aging
From that conference came the following, “ since many of these older adults with HIV have the triple diagnoses of HIV, depression and substance abuse.  These health factors are exacerbated by the impact of HIV stigma, ageism, racism and poverty, which contribute to social isolation. Consequently many adults with HIV will lack informal supports as they age and will increasingly rely on costly health and social services.”


Give up Medicare, would mean losing my SSDI.  Losing that means losing my housing and being able to afford the high costs associated with HIV and bipolar disorder as mentioned above. Take away those and substance use may come back taking down all that I've struggled with in on my bumpy road to recovery

Resources: 

Mental Health Problems Effect many of Us

AIDS (Dot) Gov

Diverse Elders Coalition

Growing Older With HIV/AIDS

2014 Federal Poverty Guidlines

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why is Positive Mental Health Important for People Living with HIV?


Many a day I put the kettle on to make tea and forget.  You see I'm using my Grandmothers old coffee pot as tea kettle and there's no whistle.   After yesterday's near melt down...in that I started to smell metal ..two things happened.   One, this post and two, a tea kettle with a whistle.

Why is positive mental health important for consumers who are dual diagnosed HIV and with a mental illness, besides keeping your mind sharp, check out:


Source: AIDS.GOV Mental Health
"Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. When you have positive mental health, you generally are able to:
  • function better at work, at school, and in relationships.
  • cope more effectively with life’s difficulties, such as the death of a loved one, ending a relationship, job stress, health issues, and family or financial problems.
  • take better care of yourself physically.
  • provide better care for your children or other family members.
But mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel, and behave, and can change how well you function at work and at home. If you are living with HIV, mental health problems can affect your physical health by:
  • making it harder for you to take all your HIV medicines on time.
  • making it harder for you to keep your health appointments or take advantage of your support network.
  • interfering with your healthy behaviors, such as getting enough sleep and exercise and avoiding risk behaviors such as having unprotected sex.
  • impairing your ability to cope with the stresses of daily life.
Mental health problems are very common among all Americans, not just those living with HIV. In fact, in 2012, about:
  • One in five American adults experienced a diagnosable mental illness.
  • Nearly one in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression.
  • Four percent of American adults lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
As a person living with HIV, it is important for you to be aware that you have an increased risk for developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. These conditions are treatable. People who experience mental health problems can get better and many recover completely. You can better manage your overall health and well-being if you know how having HIV can affect your mental health and what resources are available to help you if you need it."


I've taken to brain games, it helps me.  Give it a try.


Resources:

Free Brain Games on AARP




Sunday, July 20, 2014

I've Battled Depression all My Life



Katerina age 32, diagnosed HIV in 2010


I've battled depression all my life. I'm a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, survivor of abuse, I was a cutter, I'm a recovering addict, been on multiple psych med's, diagnosed with multiple problems over the years, and I made a decision in 2012 to overcome depression and not let my life be dictated in-by negativity.

It hasn't been easy, however today depression does not consume me. My life was saved when I checked myself into an outpatient program at Langley Porter. While I use to teach CBT and meditation I never lived it. DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) gave me the vehicle I needed to be living the life I needed, I wanted, and one I deserve. Through therapy, working on my issues, and with my determination, we incorporated these skills into my psychiatry and therapy; by working with my health and mental health teams, I've been able to get off psych med's including lithium. I have handlers, three sponsors, and my support systems that I check in with regularly. And DBT is just as important as working my recovery program, while being instrumental in reducing stress and living a wonderful quality of life I thought was unimaginable. I'm not saying I never feel depressed, I just have a better way of dealing and coping with things and I am stronger in all aspects of my life as a person because of it.



I love myself today, I know I am beautiful, I am worth it, and I deserve the quality of life I believe I deserve, and I and determined through hard work and perseverance to manifest these things. Today I'm happy to the point it's sickening lol and I wouldn't have it any other way. I am sober and I found redemption in a new life where I was once broken and shattered. For me I'm a mighty oak and will withstand all things. I've been through hell and back and there is nothing that is worth or is an excuse to relapse. Self sabotage no longer has a place, and I'm the first person to call myself out on my bullshit, thanks to the rooms of CMA, AA, NA, CODA, and Alanon.


Resources:

DBT Self-Help

Wikipedia, DBT defined.

Wikipedia, CBT defined.

CMA

AA

NA

CA

CODA

ALANON

Monday, July 7, 2014

In the News July 2014


New HIV Cases Decline in DC

"At the end of 2012, 16,072 people were living with HIV in D.C. That represents 2.5 percent of D.C.'s population, a level still well above the World Health Organization's 1 percent definition of an epidemic. Of the over 16,000 people living with HIV, the majority are men (72.7 percent) and black (75 percent total, 68.5 percent men). The age groups most affected are people in their 40s (31.1 percent) and 50s (29.4 percent)"


"Interventions Crafted for Those Struggling With Mental Health and HIV Adherence Show Promise, Report States " 


"A clinical review published in the peer-reviewed journal LGBT Health in early June by Jaclyn M. White, M.P.H., Janna R. Gordon, and Matthew J. Mimiaga, Sc.D., M.P.H., from Harvard and the Fenway Institute in Massachusetts, indicates that there may be relief at hand for HIV-positive gay men struggling with added mental health and substance abuse issues that can add difficulty to sticking to an HIV medication regimen. White et al concluded that interventions that combine both adherence counseling with standard cognitive behavioral therapy have made some headway with participants in several recent intervention trials"


"Aging with HIV and AIDS: A growing social issue"

" the first people with HIV grow old, a new study from St. Michael's Hospital questions whether the health care system and other government policies are prepared to meet their complex medical and social needs.
In high-income countries such as Canada, 30 per cent of people living with HIV are 50 or older, and many are living into their 60s and 70s. In San Francisco, more than half the people with HIV are over 50."


"LGBT people living with mental illness face double stigma"

" uly is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and in Atlanta, the Health Initiative is teaming up with the DeKalb County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness to bring awareness to LGBT people about resources available.
LGBT people with bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or chronic depression not only face stigma not only because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, but also because of their mental illness.
“The double stigma of being GLBT and having a mental illness limits our access to resources and support. Not many can provide specialized care I think our community needs and this is a great disservice,” says Alisa Porter, marketing director of NAMI DeKalb.."

For a comprehensive listing of HIV and mental health resources visit:  www.bipolarbear.us

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mental Bottleneck and it's crippling of my ability to make friends


For me of late, like the last decade of my bipolar diagnoses, my different ability has me choked up to the point of being afraid.  Afraid of what, my ability to get back out into the World amongst my peers, people who minds are sharp, stimulated, creative and intelligent. Possible this is you also, stuck at the neck of a bottle.

Within my writings I refer to my bipolar disability not as a disability but a different ability managing my mania...putting it to good use on projects.  I used projects throughout my youth before I was diagnosed to establish friendships, I mentored others with their projects, watching them flourish, move on while I'm held back.

Fear is something many people have a hard time with.  For myself the fear is in front of me morning, noon and night, it often goes to sleep with me.  I can reach out and touch it, that's how crippling fear is to me, more then a word in a dictionary.  Fear leads to anxiety and panic attacks,  symptoms of my bipolar.

For this past decade it's my disability and the stigma of that has robbed me of new friendships and possible relationships as I shunned away from people, those knowing me, would never think this.

I haven't conquered this fear 100%, but I'm certainly making progress, with a part-time job, my own project on mental illness and HIV and my very bumpy road to recovery I'm now seeing a transformation of hope rather then hopelessness.  I owe this to many wonderful new people in my life, most of them halfway across the country, others in different parts of the World via social media and emails from readers who write me.

Others are my Therapist who I meet with weekly and my Psychiatrist as the medications prescribed for my mental well being, a second cocktail for my HIV  for my physical well being are what keep me going.

I can remember a neighbor from Boston Sharon who in those first few months after being inside my home  for over 54 days in shock from my dual diagnoses telling me, "baby steps."  

There's new fears now as I turn 55 1/2 years old, these are not of the mind, but of my physical well being, but unlike the mind, the physical aliments of aging with two chronic illnesses  bipolar and HIV are starting to send postcards. 

I love postcards, but these postcards I'm working at returning to sender.


Resources for Returning Postcards to Sender:







Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy Gay Pride 2014.....The Even Harder Coming Out

Happy Gay Pride 2014 

Reprint from 2012 gay pride post.


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



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Common Red Flags for Bipolar Disorder Relapse





Thanks to the many of you who know me and have been checking in, prior to my trip and after my trip a period of almost seven weeks I've been in and out of severe depression.  Signs of this are:

       1.  I stop cooking meals.
       2.  I shun, stay away from people.
       3.  I caving sweets.
       4.  I don't care about anybody else.
       5.  Short tempered, people bother me.
       6.  Biggest for me, requiring more sleep, especially naps. I see blue skies but have
            no interest.
       7.  I stay at home long periods, phone off as many as six days

If you are diagnosed Bipolar and are experience some of these, notify your therapist, seek help, also alert your friends and family, support network.   I'm on my own, as a gay man with no children, soon to be 56 years old, living with HIV, it's very hard, don't kid yourself.  Add to this regular health concerns, lack of 100% health insurance, trust me it is very hard.

I want to share my biggest aide, that being the ability to call a friend, letting him know I don't feel safe and asking if you can spend the night, I try very hard not to call 911, but if you don't have a friend or family member, call 911 or have a plan.  My plan taxi service, having credit card and also have cash to cover a cab ride.

Don't ever feel ashamed to call a friend, share with them that you are bipolar, it's important that your family or closest friends know, therapist aren't available around the clock.  

Other resource is a suicide prevention hotline:



Related Resources and Articles:

There may never be a last relapse

Early warning signs of Bipolar relaspe

Bipolar disorder: How to avoid a relapse