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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Out of the Blue - Into the Green.

GUEST POST BY PERMISSION OF THE WRITER.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO POST A STORY, CONTACT ME AT SHAREYOURSTORY@BIPOLARBEAR.US


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
community.

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.



RESOURCES:

Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Wearing Red & Green, Statistics on HIV/AIDS and Mental Illness

Working While Disabled, How Can We Help

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

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..

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mending Relationships



REPRINTED with Permission:


Mending relationships.

Relationships strained to the breaking point are the trailing ghosts of bp. But that doesn’t mean repair is out of reach.


By Elizabeth Forbes



mend-relationships If only life came with a reset button. One push and voilĂ : Relationships unraveled by the behaviors of bipolar disorder would knit themselves back together.

Of course, it’s not that easy to mend what’s broken—but it’s not impossible, either. What bipolar symptoms put asunder, effort and understanding may repair.

Not all rifts can be mended, and sometimes letting go of the relationship is the best way to move forward. Yet healing can happen through a commitment to self-care on one side, education and acceptance on the other, and lots of communication to work through hurt, anger and fear.

When Barbara B., 53, and her husband, Gary, 57, separated after nearly 15 years of marriage, she was pretty sure the split would be permanent. Gary’s escalating bursts of rage, coupled with a growing emotional distance felt by both partners, had eroded the El Cerrito, California couple’s bond to a thread.

Both mania and depression often leave those with bipolar “unable to interact with the people around them,” explains Mamdouh El-Adl, MD, MRCPsych, an assistant professor in the Psychiatry Department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and a clinician and researcher at the Providence Care Mood Disorder Research and Treatment Service.

“They don’t seem interested in maintaining the relationship, and this can be misperceived by other people,” he says.

Before Gary got his diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar I, Barbara interpreted his out-of-touch reactions to her problems as impatience and lack of sympathy, especially after her father died in 2003. When Barbara had to store boxes of her father’s belongings in the garage, for example, Gary complained there was no room for his car.

Bipolar-Depression-2That sense of disconnection deepened in the months that followed, just as the angry tirades Gary directed at Barbara were getting more frequent and more extreme. Looking back, Gary sees a combination of causes: extreme stress at work; disturbed rest from untreated sleep apnea; and antidepressants he was taking for unipolar depression, diagnosed a few years earlier. Getting an accurate diagnosis, which happened shortly after they separated in 2004, opened the door for real improvement—and for the couple’s reconciliation two years later.

As someone with a mood disorder herself—she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in her 20s—and with a background in psychology through her work as a medical writer, Barbara didn’t see the bipolar diagnosis itself as a deal-breaker. The key for her was whether Gary was getting treated for the illness.

“I was really impressed with how Gary made a lot of effort to get better,” she recalls. “He was really good about medication. If any symptoms cropped up, like depression, he would talk to his psychiatrist about it. He became much more emotionally engaged once he was treated.”



Committed to Care
Experts agree that a relationship frayed or fractured by the fallout of mood swings can’t really be repaired until the ill person commits to recovery.

“In order to have a healthy relationship, you have to take care of yourself,” says clinical psychologist Cynthia G. Last, PhD, author of When Someone You Love is Bipolar: Help and Support for You and Your Partner (Guilford Press, 2009). “It’s not your fault that you’ve got the illness, but it is your responsibility to take care of it.”

Mamdouh El-Adl lays out three steps to mending relationships. First is getting treatment, with medication as the cornerstone upholding therapy and lifestyle changes. Second, those involved with the ill person should also learn about bipolar. Third, once a stable mood state is achieved, issues in the relationship must be resolved, perhaps in counseling.

“It is a long-standing process,” he says, “and requires a lot of work.”

During their separation, Barbara and Gary began seeing a couples counselor weekly. In the year before they reunited, they tested the waters by going on dates—“gradually learning to trust that things had gotten better,” as Gary puts it. Still, it was hard when both of them were depressed.

“At times we felt almost hostile toward each other,” he says.

“The only thing that could keep us going was knowing from experience that we would feel different later,” he adds.

Barbara says there are still times when it feels as if Gary’s not fully present in conversation, or seems depressed and unresponsive, but now they’re careful not to let such situations fester.

“We are very honest with each other,” she says. “That’s one thing we fall back on. We’re open about talking about our issues, whether in therapy or other ways.”



Reaching out
Time and talking is what brought Sheryl, 37, and her best friend back together. The two women have lived across the street from each other in rural Minnesota for more than a decade, but between 2004 and 2007 they didn’t speak.

Sheryl was diagnosed with bipolar II in 2001, but it took six years before she got serious about managing the illness. Meanwhile, as Sheryl found out later, her friend had also been diagnosed with bipolar and pulled back from Sheryl’s manic whirl for her own health.

“She never came out and said, ‘I have to cut it off,’” Davidson says about her friend. “She just stopped [being around]. And mania is such an egotistical thing, I never noticed.”

Bipolar-Marriage Sheryl managed to carry on her nursing career despite rapid-cycling mood swings, but by 2006 she faced losing her home to foreclosure and her kids to conservatorship. (She has a son, now 17, and a daughter, 10). That’s when she finally embraced her medication regimen, began weekly visits to her counselor, and learned all she could about her illness and coping strategies. At that point, she was ready to reach out to her neighbor. It took months, she says, to re-establish their friendship.

“It was baby steps,” Sheryl explains. “A five-minute phone call here, touching base, ‘How was your day?’ … building up a rapport again, and finally sitting down and asking, ‘What happened?’”

Now the pair have become a support group of two, running depression interventions if the mail piles up or watching each other’s daughters if one of them needs some quiet time to head off hypomania.

“To think I almost lost the one person I can sit and talk to for an hour,” Sheryl muses. “I almost lost that good friendship because of not taking care of myself.”



Hope for the best
There is another relationship Sheryl hasn’t been able to repair. At 13, her son moved to Nevada to live with his father, far from the drama and unpredictability of Sheryl’s unmanaged bipolar. Trying to work things out with him has been difficult because of the distance, she says, but he’s also made it clear that he’s not interested in bridging the gap.

Totting up the relationships lost to bipolar can unleash withering emotions like grief, regret, guilt, even self-hatred. Sheryl says that for her own mental health, she’s learned not to think about what her illness has cost her.

“I can’t dwell,” she says. “It was a good few years of torturing myself over it until I said, ‘I can’t.’”

Instead, she works to forgive herself for the hurt she’s caused, acknowledge that damage was done, and accept that some breaks can’t be healed no matter how sorry she is about what happened.

“I do believe in a sincere apology, and in some relationships it will go a long way to repairing things,” she says. “In others, maybe not so much.… But if an apology is not accepted you need to be able to walk away for the moment and not let it hinder your progress.”

What bipolar symptoms put asunder, effort, and understanding may repair.
The sad truth is, people with bipolar can extend an olive branch to those who’ve turned away, “but they’re not really the one that does the mending,” says Cynthia.

It’s up to the other party to decide whether or not to trust and try again—and the outcome often depends on how open friends and family members are to learning about and understanding the illness.

Kansas-resident, Charlie, need only compare the mothers of his two children. The women’s different attitudes toward his bipolar disorder have shaped his relationships with their children, leading to an ongoing estrangement from his daughter and a continuing connection with his son.

The 61-year-old was incorrectly diagnosed with depression in 1983, shortly after his daughter was born. By then, however, his marriage to her mother was deeply troubled. It didn’t help that he had walked out a few weeks before the birth, a move triggered in part by the stress of impending fatherhood. Although he moved back in briefly, the couple was divorced within months.

He had married again by the time his diagnosis was changed to bipolar II, in 1984. Learning about the illness and how to manage it was a joint project—until he ended that relationship six years later, when his son was two, due to the misguided promptings of manic euphoria.

Although Charlie had visitation rights with his daughter, he says her mother shut down any communication about his bipolar and how it affected his behavior. He sees the same unyielding mindset carried down to his daughter, now 28, who rarely communicates with him.

By contrast, his son’s mother managed to get past her bitterness after their divorce —though it took two years and her remarriage to a mutual friend—and proved a supportive partner during their shared custody.

Bipolar-Forgiveness“It’s not so much that I did great things,” reflects Charlie. “I apologized, but it really happened because of who she was and what she wanted as much as me trying to make things better. You can’t repair a relationship if the other side doesn’t want to.

“The fact that she lived with me and had gone through all that stuff … she understood once she got through the anger,” Charlie adds. “Whereas with my daughter’s mother, she never, never did.”

He says that tolerance—shared by her new husband, who had also been through the diagnosis and early recovery process with Charlie—made it possible to reestablish a respectful relationship, speak openly about the persisting ups and downs of his illness, and nourish the connection with his son, now 22.

It’s up to the [injured] party to decide whether or not to trust and try again.
If Charlie was immobilized by depression, she was flexible about putting off custody visits. If Charlie disappeared on an impulsive jaunt, she would explain to their son that it was part of the illness.

Charlie stays in regular contact with his son, but he’s learned to shield their relationship from the depression and impulsively that still beset him despite the best efforts of medication and therapy. At those times, he says, “I tend to stay away. I’ll have just brief contacts, keep it simple and uninvolved.”



Prevention’s best
Learning how to safeguard a connection from the troughs and tempests of bipolar, as Charlie does with his son, may be the most important part of reweaving relationships. In some cases, an ounce of prevention can head off a break in the first place.

After all, it’s not always the other person who severs a bond: The person with bipolar may be the one who turns away from a relationship. In toxic or overly stressful situations, that’s a healthy move.

Sheryl, for example, ended one romantic relationship that she felt was an “energy suck,” with nothing left over for the other people in her life or for her own needs.
“It’s a matter of measuring how much stress you can take in a relationship,” she explains. “Every relationship has stress, whether it’s with a parent, a friend, a child, a lover. It’s how much stress versus the benefits.”

Then there are situations where misunderstood or unmastered emotions play a role. That’s what happened when Charlie left his son’s mother: He says he interpreted the self-absorbed rush of euphoria as lack of love for his wife. And that’s what happened when Annette of Nova Scotia, stopped speaking to the sister she’d felt closest to.

Annette, 41, says her volatility damaged a lot of relationships before she was diagnosed with bipolar II in 2005. Even at her job as an administrative assistant, she would lay into co-workers and superiors without thought of the repercussions.

What soured things with her sister, however, was Annette’s reputation for blowing things out of proportion rather than an actual blowup between them.

When a friend of the family began behaving nastily to Annette, she started telling others that the woman was not as nice as she seemed. Her sister assumed Annette was overreacting as she’d done so many times before, and Annette angrily broke off their connection.

In the three years they weren’t speaking, Annette got her diagnosis and started cognitive behavioral therapy. She learned a great deal about her emotions and reactions.

“Before, the only feelings I knew were mad, upset or OK,” she says. “I didn’t know all the levels of hurt and anger. If I was mad, I couldn’t realize it was really because I was hurt. I just let things build up until I was angry.”

Annette says that when she decided to reach out to her sister, they rebuilt their relationship even stronger than before through “communication, forgiveness and understanding.”

Treatment has also given Sullivan tools to resist her rages. Deep breathing often helps. So does getting away from the situation, perhaps by going for a brisk walk. “Then, when I’m alone, I type,” she says. “I type my little heart out until all the rage is out.”

None of that would be possible without her medication, though. Now, she says, “when I feel that rage burning, I can at least see through the haze a little bit and realize, ‘This is what’s going to happen if you do this.’ I’m more aware of the consequences of yelling at my boss.

“Prevention,” she adds, “is much easier than damage control.”



Picking Up The Pieces
Cynthia G. Last, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Boca Raton, Florida, has both personal and professional experience with the strains bipolar disorder can put on relationships.

Last has bipolar II. At 54, she’s been managing the illness successfully for two decades. In her mid-30s, though, before she was correctly diagnosed and fully engaged in treatment, she “made a bad judgment” and left her husband for a year.

When something of that magnitude occurs, she says, the person who’s been wronged has some work to do if the relationship is to survive. Last gives her husband’s understanding attitude and nurturing spirit a great deal of credit for their marriage’s longevity.

Bipolar-Relationships About serious transgressions, she notes, “[The injured party] is not going to forget it, but they need to get past it. And the only way to get past it is [to find] a solution so it doesn’t happen again.”

The person with bipolar must address the root cause of damaging behaviors by managing the illness, she says, while the other partner must put safety measures in place.

That might mean cutting off credit cards and PayPal accounts for someone who tends to run up debt during a manic episode, Last explains, or “maybe writing a contract that the [person with bipolar] will stick to this, this and this treatment.”

Finally, to get past lingering hurt, anger and mistrust, “the well partner may need some support from a pastor or a therapist or a support group,” Last says. “And it will take time to heal.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Love or Fear? Which is it?

REPRINT with permission from the Author James Chapman - Guest Blog Post

Love or Fear?  Which is it?  Originally published in Positive Life NSW - Talkabout Magazine by James Chapman

G'day. My name is James.  I'd like to share with each of you reading this now a bit about myself and the journey my life has taken living with HIV and now AIDS.  I have a few years behind my belt on this subject.  I turned 52 this April 2013.  Out of that number of 52, 30 or so years have been living, breathing, thinking, consuming, dealing with, and working my head around all of the things it means to be human living with HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is now a part of a generation of people who know of it, fear it, get stigmatised by it, and also those that share their compassion, love and empathy towards anyone living with this dis-ease.  I was a young man living in Los Angeles, California at the bright young age of 21, eyes wide open.  I had moved from Western Pennsylvania where life was very different.  Sexuality was not on offer or talked about.  LA was a whole new experience beyond my understanding.  I have memories of what it was like only to have to deal with issues like homophobia, hate and violence towards us because we were different sexually and able to express it openly.  That's the part all people have trouble with.  Public affection men to men, it's still a taboo and has stigma attached to it.  Fear.

Then along came HIV/AIDS to turn the disco party into funeral celebrations to replace the get together we all enjoyed.  I have buried so many men I can't remember them all.  I am the only person I know of from the first wave of people (early 80's) I knew who became infected with HIV.  I spent nearly all of my 20's being a carer for people living with HIV/AIDS.  It's just what I did.  So many people needed help, even fewer willing to help.  Fear, do you feel it?  It divided rooms on any given day.  I was the man in the middle.  I was the connecting link between family who never knew the partner or boyfriend or lover, or son.  Remember we were living in a time when everyday was a ? mark.  We knew nothing full stop, more fear.  During those years, waking up was just fraught with fear.  You didn't need to think about, it was 360 degrees, just pick from anywhere.  Within a few years after the first wave of men dying, I witnessed the 2nd wave of men dying.  We still had only a limited knowledge and education on what things were and how to treat.  Decisions one makes along the way makes all the difference.  Remember you are in the driving seat.  Are you in focus?

I have lived through the worst of times and the best of times.  In 2007 I was diagnosed with HIV Encephalopathy.  I was not expecting to live long enough to write a story like this, let alone get all the words out and make some sense.  I have learned how to re-do everything in life that most people take just part of living.  I had to work at learning how to do the simple things in life like walk, talk, speak and to think.  My cerebellum had been severely affected and was facing an uphill struggle to recover.  I live with other physical & mental disabilities and difficult for my treating physicians to work together on this; we got there in the end.  Living with HIV/AIDS means you learn or not, to develop one of the most important relationships you can have with, your doctors.  Do you live in fear of them?

Do you live in fear or love when you share with a potential sexual partner that you live with HIV?  This is not about rejection folks.  It's about how much self-love do you have for yourself.  By failing to address openly with potential partners that you live with HIV creates stigma-yours.  One aspect of self-love is what it brings us internally to us, the knowing that you are doing the right thing and not just for the other person but for you.  It's an act of loving yourself.  Imagine what it would be like if we all were to adopt.  Wearing a condom wouldn't carry the stigma it currently does.  We would just wear one automatically.  So, that leads to the age old question of why do we do things that sabotage ourselves?  We have everything going in life and when it comes to sex, we could do things differently with a different outcome for the betterment of all.  It's simple to say and harder to put into existence.

Change your perception and the world changes with you.  Courage to me means being alright to ask someone to wear a condom (love) not to worry what the other person will say or do (fear).  Love or Fear?  Does fear ever stop you from making what you know to be the best choice for you in any moment?

We have been conditioned as men to believe that we don't need to wear condoms.  Men don't wear condoms, remember?  We are strong and tall.  HIV is now the least of the worries among blood borne virus disease.  You can choose to not wear a condom out of the right to freedom of choice.  Is it your freedom of choice to give it to another?  We currently are seeing untreatable syphilis and gonorrhoea.  This was produced out of freedom not to wear a condom.  Smart of us, huh.  We did it to ourselves too.  People think we are bright.  I wonder on that one these days.  What do you believe?  That's what's important here.

Ending HIV is possible.  It starts first and foremost with you, not the idea that I can take a pill.  Be the change from the inside.  Make a difference to you and it will reverberate to others.  Be all that and more...I dare you.  Be different.  Speak Up & Out and live in Love and not Fear.  You CAN make a difference.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Healing As a Community, Imagine living with Multiple Stigma's




Happy New Year.

I'd like to start by thanking everyone who reads and writes in to shareyourstory@bipolarbear.us  Know the common thread each of you write, is it's nice to know you aren't alone, that many of us who are HIV+ are also diagnosed with major depression, others with bipolar like myself and many in recovery like myself.

Your stories, the latest one comes from a gay man living with HIV for 34 years now, his story on his own recovery of fifteen years is inspiring to me, so know as much as I'm told I inspire you, please know your stories inspire me, thank you.

I'm changing the format to a once a month post, and a what's in the news on mental health, HIV, aging with both.  I'm also welcoming others to submit posts, by hearing from as many of you, that many more will learn that they also are not alone.  I'm also hoping our LGBT community will come together and heal around mental illness in our community, it is very real.

Our AIDS service organizations have taken care of all whom are newly diagnosed with HIV. Services have always included mental health and addiction treatment, but since the Affordable Care Act, mental health treatment has quadrupled.  Funds raised from charities, grants, Federal and States budgets  make up over 50% of these services.


How often do we read and hear about stigma around HIV, but Stigma goes much deeper in the gay community, there's double stigma towards our LGBT mental health consumers,  And it gets worse, for those who are diagnosed with mental health and HIV. Add to that, those of us who are aging, those who live in poverty, those who struggle with addictions and with all of the above going on for that person, try and imagine how lonely they must be, and how all of the above has negative impacts on the individual, biggest keeping them away from treatments plural.

Medication are working keeping all alive, but you need to be diagnosed, get on the live sustaining medications and also on mental health medications.   Dual cocktails.

Speaking up on these issues at community town hall meetings is how we heal as a community, the more we talk about mental health and HIV and addiction, the better we are as people.




RESOURCES:


H.E.A.L.   Health, Education, Advocacy and Leadership


The Aging and Health Report;
Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender older adults


Psycho-social, Mental Health and Behavorial Issues with HIV


Discrimination 


No Golden Years at the End of the Rainbow


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy Worlds AIDS Day 2015. Know You Are Never Alone


Wow, long day full of both volunteering, working, just getting home reflecting on how all day I was raising awareness with everyone I talked with.

My day started at 10:00 am training to seniors computer skills, wearing my AIDS Life Cycle hoodie, with the large ORANGE AIDS CREST so all knew, this day is a special one.  The day continue as I switched hats volunteering as one of four servers at a Frank Sinatra Luncheon that started at 11:45 and ended at 2:00 PM.   All my neighbors, you see I live alone, but am am seldom alone, thanks to both my job and my volunteering.

Today we served 85 lunches to seniors, all knowing of my HIV and Bipolar diagnoses, as these are my neighbors. Several have lost Nephews to AIDS, other always thankful of what I do and in that process comes the education and awareness of World AIDS Day today, but year round on HIV and Bipolar, the reason we are neighbors as I live in HUD housing.  Awesome feeling to be welcomed, no stigma what so ever at 500-550 Gorge Road, nor all of Cliffside Park as they now me, and the work I do.

Wearing Red and Green in the image is special project 2015-2016, sequel to my POZ Op-Editorial on those of us, 20-25% of the 1.2 Million living with HIV-AIDS who are also diagnosed with a chronic mental illness, for me it's Bi Polar Bear Consumer Advocate Peer Specialist.

Through out my day all my POZ friends, all aging with HIV touched base by text, by calls, many sharing about new jobs, new partners, just sharing and reflecting, happy to be growing older together.

Before I end how I spent World AIDS Day 2015 I thought I'd share this song by Michael Jackson, "You are Not Alone"  for any of you living with HIV-AIDS and or Bipolar or depression who celebrated in their own way, but alone.   Know you are never alone.

For more information on my 1000+ wearing Red & Green Collage and how you can help, email at shareyourstory@bipolarbear.us thank you.




RESOURCES on Aging with HIV and AIDS and Mental Illness


Aging with HIV and AIDS


Aging with HIV and AIDS and Mental Illness