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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Health, Home, Purpose and Community, So Why do I Still Feel Isolated from my Queer Commuity

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.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Champion, Climbing into another Fight

The Champion, Climbing into another fight
by Stephen Puibello

Wow my mind is throwing stones at me today, sitting in silence almost daily isn't living, it's living among the dead.  To not be held or hugged, I see pets that get more attention and affection.

I'm told I'm strong, but today I feel so weak, like throwing in the towel at the end of a round of a fight, my fight daily, the bell which ends each round isn't loud, it's silent.

To those who know Bipolar, please know I wish I could rip it from my mind, but I can't, all I can do is numb it daily. Another long weekend approaches, another long weekend alone with my illness and and the only recourse medication that numbs the pain, medication that affords me to sleep as I'm so tired, exhausted, the thought of climbing into another, another fight only to hear that closing that ends the round.  

The round is over, did you hear the bell.  

This is an expression of where I am, it's writing, it's sad, please know I am strong and I will be climbing into another ring today, that I will be fighting another day, that I'm not throwing in the towel.


Suicide Prevention Hotline

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Loneliness is Sometimes Even Harder to Deal with Than Their Psychiatric Symptoms

Today's post is an open letter asking for support for the Rainbow Heights Club Summer Fundraising Campaign

Dear friends and colleagues,

As we await what could be history making news from the US Supreme about marriage equality AND we celebrate LGBT Pride week, can you take a moment to consider a donation to help underwrite our support group program?

If you make a donation to our Summer Fundraising Campaign in support of our programs that serve low/no income LGBT New Yorkers who are living with serious mental illness, an anonymous donor WILL MATCH ALL DONATIONS DOLAR FOR DOLLAR up to $2,500.   This link will take you to our secure crowdfunding webpage, where you can learn more about our support group program and view a short video about Rainbow Heights Club.

For our clients, who are overwhelmingly poor and alone, the loneliness they face is sometimes even harder to deal with than their psychiatric symptoms.

That’s why at Rainbow Heights Club we provide over 25 support and activity groups per week, and our Peer Specialists conduct dozens of short 1-on-1 interventions with our clients every day. When you’re in recovery, you take things one day at a time, and for our clients, having a sympathetic ear to listen, or being able to talk about an experience that others in the group have shared, can make the day easier to get through.

Our clients report significant decreases in isolation and the depression that comes with it when they attend Rainbow Heights Club. This leads to over 90% of our clients remaining free of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization each year, as well as many other positive recovery outcomes – more hope, more social support, and more self esteem.

Can you please take a moment to go to our secure donation processing site and renew your donation to Rainbow Heights Club in any amount you can?  All funds raised through our Summer Campaign will be allocated to our support groups.  You will be helping us to ensure that we will be there for our clients when they need us most.

Click here to view a short video about Rainbow Heights Club Support Groups and make a donation today!

For more information on our programs, please visit our website     

Remember, all donations during this campaign will be matched dollar for dollar, thus doubling the value of your donation!

Thank you in advance for your support!


Christian Huygen, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Rainbow Heights Club and
Heights-Hill Mental Health Service South Beach
     Psychiatric Center Community Advisory Board, Inc.
25 Flatbush Avenue, Third Floor
Brooklyn, New York  11217
718-852-5214 (fax)

Friday, June 12, 2015


Happy Pride from Stephen Puibekllo, the Bipolar Bear.  I have been traveling, recently returned from the 
2015 AIDS Life Cycle event where we once again raised a record breaking $16.6 million dollars.   It was at AIDS Life Cycle I went to prove the statistic that 20% of HIV/AIDS patients live with Bipolar and a major mental illness.  I went there in 2006 as the shear number of attendee's 3615, 3000 cyclist and 615 roadies.  Each year I return more and more riders and roadies approach me and also disclose that they were dual diagnosed Bipolar and HIV.

I'm soon off for another event, as Summer is officially here, I will be posting one post per month, minimum.  For other source of queer mental health articles check out

Now for some recent items in the NEWS:

LGBT Recovery study aims to improve health care engagement among incarcerated

Clean Needles Article

Study to look at quality of life for older, rural HIV-positive adults

HIV rate among gay men rising

New Safer Sex Guide Provides Crucial Advice On Prevention, Treatment, Wellness

Long Beach LGBT activist Carolyn Weathers recognized as ‘unsung hero’ who keeps on fighting

Translate Select Language​▼ Text SizePrint E-mail Raise. Your. Voice. - See more at:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Don't Get me Wrong, the CDC does plenty, but when it comes to Prevention it comes up Short

Don't get me wrong, the CDC does plenty, but when it comes to Prevention within the mental health population of the gay community, it failed and the proof is the contraction of the HIV virus.

Not sure why mental health screenings are not part of the CDC message when it talks about HIV and substance abuse, no they would rather pump out statistics about HIV and substance abuse, then address them with a media campaign and posters similar to that of their new HIV Treatment Works.

I'm not saying HIV treatment doesn't work, but how many HIV+ people wouldn't have HIV to begin with had they gotten this message out in the 80's, 90's even today, that if you are using any substance to self medicate go for a mental health screening.  That if screening were done as many as one out of five or some twenty percent wouldn't need HIV treatment at all, just behavioral health treatments.

Could it be the $54,000 HIV medication costs and profit from pharmaceutical companies that has kept this none fact in a show box, in the back of a desk drawer.  I'm certain there's a reason.

I recently read a post on Face Book where he said, I can't wait for the end of AIDS so we don't have to do these fundraising events.  My reply, close an AIDS service organization, are you out of your mind, half the budgets of these organizations go to mental health services, who do you think the clients are some Congressmen who has top notch health care for life and six figure salaries who can afford the $54,000 medications.

No they are people in the gay community who are poor, yes poverty exists within the gay community at all ages.

I'm happy the CDC is coming around to some new programs, but you are to late.  Most states are looking to end AIDS ins 2020.  I hope they address the mental health consumers, the 20% who live or better yet might not live with HIV had they had these programs thirty years ago.

This was just published in 2014, travesty:

This one is my favorite, revised in 2012
"Drug abuse and addiction have been inextricably linked with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. The link has to do with heightened risk—both of contracting and transmitting HIV and of worsening its consequences."


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Suicide, In Memory of their son lost fifteen months ago.

I didn't get this couples name this past Friday evening, April 24, 2015.  I did give them mine and also my card as into the brief ten minutes we shared in laughter out came my sharing my story as a gay man who lives with HIV, bipolar and substance abuse, that I was a suicide attempt survivor and still have suicidal idealization from time to time, hence my card and how I feel I'm doing God's work, each time I share my story and listen to others.

I'm often asked, do you talk to everyone, my reply yes but more important I listen.

In memory of their son, lost fifteen months ago.

I don't know about most cities but when it comes to intersections and the traffic light both pedestrians and motorists respect one another, most of the time.  I will say it is at these intersections I do my talking and listening.

I was walking on Eight Avenue to catch my bus when I stopped abruptly causing the couple which I has just passed to stop as well.  The only thing I heard, was "are you going to talk this loud all night so that everyone could here what you say," followed by laughter.  The laughter peaked my curiosity so I turned and said what was so funny.  The wife said you heard me, I said no all I heard was your husband and asked her what did you say, her reply, there goes a man I would love to have sex with as they continued to laugh.

My reply, thank you as I was flattered, but replied back that I love people of color, but swing the other way and love the brother which the wife went from laughing to tears as it reminded her of their gay son they lost fifteen months ago.

The husband behind holding her arm, as I said, I'm sorry for your loss and went on to give them my card, and shared that I live with mental illness, bipolar and that I'm also HIV+, that I carry minority stress and that he also did as a gay, black man, that for him, he was a minority within a minority and for me, I'm a minority within a minority, within a minority, that at times I often want to let go, that it is very hard.

 As we hugged, I said let's not go to tears, that I didn't want to ruin their evening, she went on to say, I love this man,  I quickly shifted gears back to laughter saying, "we seem to be enjoying each other lets grab a room and have a three way which she let out with more laughter and said this, " that only in New York can something like this happen on the street."

She said I work in a hotel here in New York City, the husband shared he worked for the Post Office, I said I work at a non-profit and also educate, do awareness around bipolar and HIV and often share my story.  I left them saying email me and in the subject line write:  "I want to have sex with that man" that seeing that will bring me back to tonight's share.  I said if you wish we can meet up, that I don't drink and also feel free to reach out to me if you need assistance with coping with your loss, they replied thank you and we will.

I walked on, grabbed my bag in my arms and said a prayer for them, for their son and for me.


"Wikapedia Minority Stress."

"Increased Risk of Suicide in Blacks and Latino LGBT Men"

"LGBT-Inclusive National Suicide Prevention Strategy"

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Brush Fire

I've been in a place of late, stop. Know that I'm strong person, but know that I walk the planet at times not seeing people but pixels so many that my mind can't process it all and at these periods, like flood gates all four sides lifted and the onset of a major panic attack happened..that was this past August.

I had four back to back panic attacks the most severe I walked four blocks past my office stopped wasn't lost, but said to myself what am I doing here, and started to boil in side as I made my way back towards my office. As I got closer, block by block the boiling of emotion like a volcano started to erupt and it did. It was severe, so severe I couldn't see the medication I carry in my bag as my mind had left me, my mind had left me, rare.

Thanks to three co-workers who saw me, stopped me as I rushed to the stairs hoping not to be seen...hurrying upwards, I heard my someone asking if I was okay?

As soon as a heard a human voice and then felt theirs hands as they got me to step backwards, down three steps, did the melting speed up out came the tears, crying, I felt like I collapsed and I did into a chair I sat.
One got me water and said hydrate, the other raw almonds and said eat, the last handed me a photo of a kitten and said pet it and I said why and was told to just pet the photo and sure enough it fast like a brush fire it hit, the petting put out the flames, enough to where I could see my pills and take the one I needed for the anxiety. 

Anxiety is no joke when it goes full range panic attack, that was my second severe one, the first was when I diagnosed, but this one was severe and I'm thankful for the people in my life and for myself in that in a way I knew to go where I feel safe, it was my office and within less then an hour after taking the pill, I was bright, composed and working, advised to go home and relax, but I decided to stay and be around people.
Thanks to Andrea, Marion and Lisa