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Out of the Blue - Into the Green
By: James Chapman, Arizona Certified Peer Specialist
In a recent article in POZ Magazine April 4, 2016 - Out of the Blue
authored by Mark Leydorf shares recent findings by Mary Ann Cohen, MD,
a clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York
who identifies that people living with Depression, Substance Use and
Violence can lead to higher possibilities of contracting HIV/AIDS.
First let us break a few things down to make it easier for us to
understand what is known.
Mental Health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of
April 2016 is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes
his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life,
can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her
Depression is the single leading cause of disability worldwide (WHO).
WHO has identified Depression as the single most Mental Illness
diagnosed. It costs the economy of the United States approximately
100 billion dollars a year.
For people aged 18-35 which includes high school students and college
students, during the course of 12 months 25% will have a diagnosable
mental health condition of depression or anxiety disorder. 10% will
be diagnosed with substance abuse. 75-80% of people that experience a
mental illness and substance abuse will never get any form of
treatment as stated by Michael Schafer of Arizona State University.
I have lived with HIV/AIDS since I was diagnosed in 1983. I have
lived with Depression for over 2 decades which later in my life
(August 2013) was re-diagnosed with Major Depression. It can be a
very disabling, difficult, chronic condition which limits our daily
life, work, and well-being. It is treatable and manageable with
medication and used in conjunction with therapy(s).
We have come very far in how we treat depression. The biggest
obstacle can be ourselves in not wanting change, not believing we are
depressed, feeling hopeless in knowing I have HIV and all of the
things I have to do to stay well is overwhelming to say the least. It
all can seem too much.
Living with HIV, Depression, and Substance Use leads to a revolving
door I have gone through. For me living with HIV/AIDS & Substance Use
was a way of coping through adversity and for many people in the LGBTI
community, a norm. Everyone does it, it must be okay. When I was
able to step out of the revolving door and decide to make change for
myself, by myself with the help of others, I learned to understand
depression by identifying my life stressors or feelings of
hopelessness, loneliness and began to put in place ways of changing to
overcoming my depressed state into one of empowering myself to do what
I need to do to stay well.
It was hard work and for me a new lease on life. A chance to live. A
chance to participate in life. To consider going back to work. To
have new friends in my life. To finding happiness in my daily life.
To love myself.
I have said over and over to myself and to others who would listen,
until I am able to understand mental illness myself it’s difficult to
address other physical/sexual/emotional problems that occur. If I am
mentally unwell it’s difficult to have the insight needed to deal with
other issues that affect my daily life. Exercise, diet, well-being,
employment, volunteerism, being part of family or community. Being
mentally unwell excludes those opportunities.
Eight Dimensions of Wellness
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