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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year's Wish

A New Year's Wish
Author Unknown

At the sound of the tolling midnight bell
a brand new year will begin.
Let's raise our hopes in a confident toast,
to the promise it ushers in.

May your battles be few, your pleasures many,
your wishes and dreams fulfilled.
May your confidence stand in the face of loss
and give you the strength to rebuild.

May peace of heart fill all your days
may serenity grace your soul.
May tranquil moments bless your life
and keep your spirit whole.


Wishing you peace, love and hope—
now and throughout the New Year.  

Bi Polar Bear
Stephen Puibello

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Compassion this Holiday Season and as Many Days as you Can

Happy Holidays

We all read about and many of us know the harmful effects of stigma.  If you know me you know I'm HIV+, if you know me, you know that I'm also disabled with bipolar disorder.  What you may not know is that, "18 million people have a serious mental illness.  A reasonable estimate suggests that about that about 720,000 are LGBT (Reducing Stigma and Discrimination among People who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, March 12, 2008 SAMHSA)," from my website.

Yes I know that I don't have to disclose my mental illness as many of my friends have suggested, they mean well, truly but imagine being HIV+ and being told not to tell anyone, or deciding to come out and being told not to, how would that make you feel.

If you know anyone in our community or not in the LGBT community living with mental illness who are alone show them compassion this holiday season and as often as you can.  Invite them along to see a movie, invite them for lunch, for a hike, a walk or to join you and your partner when you are going out to a party or holding one yourselves.

I thank God every day for keeping me healthy, I thank those of you who call, text, message me on Face book or by email, our conversations keep me from going over the edge, as if I were in silence everyday from lack of social inclusion I would go mad for sure.

I will be with family tomorrow and this holiday a very special gift came from my brother, forgiveness and that he's proud of me and the work I do as a consumer advocate, peer specialist for both HIV+ and Mental Illness.  Thank you brother

But those not with family tomorrow, those who you may know of who are alone reach out to them this holiday season and as many days as you can.  Happy holidays.

"Double Stigma: GLBT People Living With Mental Illness

"Experiences of LGBT People Living with Serious Mental Illnesses: Raising Issues" by Alicia Lucksted PhD

"CDC Gay and Bi-Sexual Mental Health"

"Rainbow Heights Club"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Resistance Training for Mental Health

Some wait until after both big family and food holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Well after after the turkey course with all the trimmings out came the ham and candied yams and all the trimmings, just when I opened the button on my jeans out came the lasagna and I was like man I used to be able to woof all these dishes down with out blinking an eye.

After surviving that wonderful meal, thanks Cos you continue to host a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, one that I look forward to every year.

Well I didn't wait until New Years to start my new years resolution, I took my bike, went to the gym and started two days after.  How many of us have joined a gym as part of their new years resolution.

Joining a gym has so many benefits, lose weight, tone muscle, reduce the risk of a heart attack, but did you know that working with weights, resistance training has benefits for your mental health.

Mental Health benefits from resistance training are improved memory, may lesson depression, less chronic fatigue, improve the quality of your sleep, improve cognition, less anxiety and improved self-esteem.  If you are a mental health consumer going to the gym resistance training benefits many of the symptoms of  bipolar disorder.

"Bipolar disorder can look very different in different people. The symptoms vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency. Some people are more prone to either mania or depression, while others alternate equally between the two types of episodes. Some have frequent mood disruptions, while others experience only a few over a lifetime."

There are four types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression and mixed episodes.  Each type of bipolar disorder mood episode has a unique set of symptoms."(source: Help Guide)

Resistance Training Improves Mental Health

Strong Brain

CDC; Why Strength Training

The Psychological Aspects of Resistance Training

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Be thankful that you don't already have

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

A Thanksgiving Poem:
Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don't already have
everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
—Author Unknown

For complete list of LGBT Affirmative Center visit my website;
Many offer Thanksgiving meals, call ahead.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

One of the POZ 100, 2013 Unsung Heroes

I'm extremely thankful and proud to have been selected 
as 1 of the POZ 100 2013 Unsung Heroes. 

2004 - present:

I'm a steady reader of POZ magazine and in the beginning I used to look at all the photo's of for the most part see happy people and wonder why I was so unhappy.  I wondered why  there wasn't  anything at the time about people who live with chronic mental illness as well as HIV/AIDS mentioned.  This led me to believe I was alone and in 2004 my second AIDS ride in New York City, rode wearing my own cycling jersey, the logo found on my website with my mission to raise both awareness for others like myself who confront compound stigma and money  for both bi polar disorder and HIV/AIDS.

With four rides completed and close to $15,000 raised I decided to participate in the largest AIDS ride held in California, AIDS Life Cycle with over three thousands cyclist each year.  Please find below my photo of me found on my blog titled P2P (Peer to Peer) You are not alone, and from that day forward so many people have stepped forward that they two live with Bi polar, anxiety, depression, substance abuse.

It wasn't until 2009 that I read this, "John Anderson, Senior Director of the Office on AIDS at the APA, and another partner in the study, says he is excited by the collaboration between the groups and sees the survey as an important first step in improving mental health and substance use services for people with HIV. - Source: POZ &, April 28, 2009.    Since then five other facts  have been found, the most recent a statement,   "It means less support for mental health and substance abuse to deal with the very issues that were part of that reason that they are living with HIV and AIDS. - Source: Where Has All the HIV Funding Gone?, then Janet Weinberg Chief Operating Officer, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, August 9, 2013

Today I continue to on my journey towards full recovery, share my writings, and share my story both in print and in person to organizations and individuals.  I encourage all of you to share yours, and invite you to at

Please read the entire article titled: "The POZ 100 Celebrating Unsung Heroes , read about all of us, our stories and how each of us both inspire and show so many that they aren't alone.

Thank you again for this recognition and certificate.

Stephen Puibello
Consumer Advocate
Peer Specialist for both
HIV+ and Mental Illness
since 2004

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Help raise $10,000 by December 31st 2013 and we will Get $20,000

Rainbow Heights Club Member

Stephen Puibello a.k.a the Bipolar Bear is asking all his HIV/AIDS Fundraising friends old and new, and also my friends and family who support me year to year when I raise money for HIV/AIDS  to help Rainbow Heights Club of which I'm a member raise $10,000 in 45 days, by 12/31/13.

If we are successful Rainbow Heights Club will receive 
another $10,000
for a Total 
thank you.

Celebrating 10 Years of Support and Advocacy Services for 
LGBTQ New Yorkers Living With Serious Mental Illness 
Dear Rainbow Heights Club Member, 
Once again, you have the opportunity to help us raise up to $20,000 to support your club! Our challenge from our benefactors is to raise $10,000 by the end of 2013.  That means that each $10 donation will bring us a total of $20 once we meet our challenge.

As a Rainbow Heights Club member, you know that the past several years have brought some big cuts to our government funding.  We've all had to learn to do more with less, while we continued to reach out to private foundations for increased support.  So we ask you now to help us to support the program throughout 2014.  Even a small donation will help a lot.

If you (or your friends or family) can afford to help, and would like to use a credit/debit card to make a donation through our secure server, please click on the link below.  If you don't have a credit/debit card but would like to help, you can make cash or check donations at the club the next time you're here.   

Thanks in advance for helping to support YOUR club.  When foundations and major donors see that our own members care enough to make donations to the club, it makes a big difference.  Your donation helps us in so many ways.

If you think that you know someone that could help us by making a donation too, please feel free to forward this email.  If you have any questions, please just let me know.

Best wishes to you all.  Take care.


Dr. Christian Huygen, Ph.D.
Executive Director

In accordance with NY State law, we inform you that you may request a free copy of Heights Hill Mental Health Service, SBPC Community Advisory Board's last annual report from; The State of New York, Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.  ID # 21-22-42

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression and Sunshine

"What does this have to do with psychiatry? Glad you asked. Recent studies by Springer, and research results reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and by the Vitamin D Council, are indicating a link to depression. Of note: Canadian researchers reviewed 14 studies, consisting of 31,424 participants and found a strong correlation between depression and a lack of Vitamin D. The lower the Vitamin D level, the greater the chance of depression. But, the big question is still causality. Does one get depressed because of a deficiency of Vitamin D, or does depression lower the vitamin level"  (for the entire article read here.) Source: Psychology Today

Are you HIV+, next time you go in for your quarterly labs, blood work, ask your provider to add that they check your vitamin D levels, this is a start, then talk to both your provider and Psychotherapist.

Other helpful resources:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tips to Help You Manage Anxiety and Depression

Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress

When you're feeling anxious or stressed, these strategies will help you cope:
  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Give Yourself Credit. .You, I Deserve to Be Happy

 HIV+, living with bipolar disorder, struggling with addiction and alive! 
Give yourself credit.
 You and I deserve to be happy.

If you haven't read my September 15th  blog post you may want to, it's one of my most private posts, this one my second is also about survival, wanting to live, wanting to live with fewer and fewer thoughts of suicide. If you go there from time to time like I do, just keep telling yourself that you deserve to be happy.

I totally understand, I'm a fellow consumer, I started advocacy work as a way of self-help and it has paid off big time for me, as well as others. My journey as the Bipolar Bear has introduced me to so many fellow consumers, one I had the pleasure of running into years later, we met through a forum and then at a function that we both are passionate about. I'm out about my trio, not everyone is and this person was not but we found one another, and when we did I knew I was making personal gains for myself, that my self help was going to pan out for me as it did for this person who went on to get married, is working and having a child, it doesn't get any better then that.

Recovery works, there's so many models.  I use crystal meth less and less, I practice harm reduction, I will write more about this in another post, but I mention it because it has kept me going, through both the stormy and the calm periods in my life, and I still do this without a traditional twelve step setting, but I have my therapist and my P-doc, slang for psychiatrist, I'm on medications and I have a support network, tools necessary for both traditional and non-traditional approaches towards recovery.

Give your self credit, You and I deserve to be happy:

HIV+, bipolar disorder, the fifty percent risk of substance abuse, each of these on its own is very hard to recover from, I'm so close to a full recovering from all three. My journey just shy of eighteen years, I still get teary eyed when I think of it, these aren't all bad memories, there's a lot of good in those same years and this is what you have to stay focused on, all the good.  The bad, talk that through with your family, your minister, your closets friends. There are recovery groups for addiction and addiction and mental health, there are support groups for HIV+ and bipolar disorder and with social media there are virtual support groups, today help is literally at your finger tips. (please visit the helpful links at the bottom of this page).

So again I say if your thoughts go south, if you are thinking about suicide seek help, it's better to get it out, let it out and when you are feeling better and you will, keep adding to your tool box those things in your journey that you gain strength from, add to it this mantra, I'm a good person, I deserve to be happy.


Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance Support Group Locator

AIDS.GOV National Locator, enter your Zip Code
Offers Comprehensive Resources:
HIV Testing, Housing Assistance, Health Centers, Ryan White Care, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Family Planning

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, September 18, 2013

6th Annual HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day
September 18th, 2013

I want to start with a blog within a blog, as only yesterday at age 54, 55 in February dually diagnosed both HIV+ and with bipolar disorder, for me over all wellness is crucial.  But depression is only one of the many health concerns, others are dementia, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and triglycerides, infections,, medication interactions to name a few. 

There's so much that can be said, I was reading all afternoon and I ended up on  (Services & Advocacy For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders) Founded in New York City in 1978, please visit the SAGE website and make a donation.  SAGE serves the entire aging population, HIV/AIDS is just one of the many services provided.  To me, SAGE is about socialization.  One friend R... invited me to see Broadway shows as SAGE provided two tickets everyday.  Being HIV+ and living with Bipolar Disorder I'm in what I call a, "different awellness bility," and with that my income is fair, so I was one of several friends he's calls.

Socialization is part of over all wellness.  Social is developing healthy relationships with those around you. It is contributing to your community.  

Why I went to the SAGE website, who knows more about HIV /AIDS and aging then an advocacy group that services elders, from their category on HIV/AIDS I found this, just one of the facts listed:

"The demographic face of HIV/AIDS is a graying one. Research shows that by 2015, one in two people with HIV/AIDS will be age 50 and older. Overall, the rates of HIV/AIDS among older adults 50+ have increased more than 61 percent from 2001 to 2007. This population of older adults with HIV/AIDS includes long-time survivors, newly diagnosed people (often late) and newly infected people. The advent of HIV medications in the 1990s has allowed many people to survive and age with HIV—a first for this generation." 

I have another aging buddy, he's 67 and is living with a gay couple, they are friends and together they own a home as my aging buddy doesn't want to live alone, so this works well.  I suggest this to others as there aren't that many 55+ GLBT communities, they exist, but not enough for everyone, plus not everyone can afford them, so sharing ownership works very well.

Pick up the phone, call your friends who are diagnosed  with HIV/AIDS. and aging. Don't text, don't email, catch up, mention why you are calling, if you haven't seen them in awhile make plans, don't assume all is well even though they may say so.

Happy HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.

For additional resources please view these:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Back to Basics, One Step at a Time

Too few calories, depression a symptom of bipolar disorder, HIV+ sixteen years, age 54  I sometimes just don't know what's causing the drain.  Add to that insomnia, low testosterone, fatigue, anxiety, panic attacks, body fat redistribution, mania, mood swings, I can't remember the others, ah! memory loss, ha!, seriously I call it dead zones borrowed from when your cell phone loses it's signal. Is it that or is it HIV related dementia?

Cycling and not the kind you do on a bike, the kind that's in your head., neuropathy,  sciatica, am I seeing things, migraines, Are you dizzy yet?  

I make a lot of jokes, a lot of excuses, I'm relying on my doctors to much, I'm popping pills more and more, I joke about it, often saying, "I have a pill for that." and I do.  I have pills to fall asleep, pills to bind me, pills to help me manage my mood swings, pills for depression, and then the mother of all pills, those for anxiety and the panic attacks, I've had six, since being diagnosed in 1996.

The first one was after I came out of almost two months in my house, I had just diagnosed and when I finally ventured out, it hit me, I was in a park not far from my house and I swear I was having a heart attack.

"Experiencing a panic attack has been said to be one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting, and uncomfortable experiences of a person's life and may take days to initially recover from.," 1. 

The next one was in 2007, then 2010, then 2011, the last two within three weeks of one another--end of August and this past Wednesday.  I have to thank an angle in my life, M, when you read this and I know you do, please know it's why I'm writing today's post on back to basics, one step at a time.

Clearly I'm a survivor, to get this far and achieve so much I'm determined M to stop making jokes, stop making excuses and take care of myself.

First on my list, up and out.  No emails for breakfast, have you juice, your oatmeal, out on your sneakers and go for a walk and that I did today.  I took the bus to main street, Fort Lee, walked 1/2 a mile to the cemetery to visit my folks, fill them in and then I walked 3.6 miles home, for a total of just over 4 miles.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate, folks when walking take a water bottle, I did and want to make sure you do as well, for more information on walking click --> Here.

1. Panic Attack

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September is National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month. This year's theme is "join the voices for recovery together on pathways to wellness.

Recovery month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover

Recovery has been viewed a process of (re)gaining physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional balance when one encounters illness, crisis, or trauma. As a process, the person living with a mental illness learns to accept the illness and its associated challenges while adjusting attitudes, beliefs, and sometimes both life roles and goals. For some people recovery is the ability to work, to live in housing of one’s own choice, to have friends and intimate relationships, and to become a contributing member of one’s community. Recovery is a process of healing and restoring health and wellness during episodes of illness and life stressor's. Recovery is not equated with cure but rather viewed as an on-going process in which a person may be vulnerable to relapse and exacerbation's of symptoms

A good path to recovery are the eight steps found below on the wellness wheel.  Look at all of them, see where you are on each and work on bringing each of these into your life on your road to recovery.

Additional Resources:

W.R.A.P.  Wellness Recovery Action Plan

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance

Mood Disorder Support Group

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The pluses of Story telling. Education diminishes fear and Inspiring others

2012-2013 Voice Award Fellows

"SAMHSA’s Voice Awards Fellowship Program is a pilot project designed to give consumer/peer leaders in the behavioral health community the skills they need to amplify their voices to promote important behavioral health messages through story telling. By sharing stories about resilience and recovery from a unique personal perspective, together, the Voice Awards Fellows will shape public perceptions of behavioral health and promote social inclusion in the workplace, in schools, and in communities nationwide."

I tell my story one to one more then I do when speaking to an audience of people. I love both, they both take practice and knowledge of who, when and how to shape your story, but the message is the same, that of a dual diagnosed HIV+ and bipolar man in recovery from substance abuse.

Last evening I noticed a test book behind the counter of one of the shops I frequent, I asked the clerk what are you studying and she replied that I had just graduated Rutgers with a BA in Social Services and started her masters as you need a masters in this field to land a job.  She went on about how expensive it is, what jobs she's had to date, interning, etc.  In this case, she started the conversation and I jumped in and shared my story and the journey it has taken me on, the latest lay over, DBSA.  She asked where's that.

I said not where but what, and it was a certification training to become a Peer to Peer Specialist.  I recently received letter that I had passed and my certificate will be arriving soon.   I then spoke about the Fellowship above and how I was selected for sharing my story about my dual diagnoses HIV and Bipolar and my troubles with addiction to crystal meth.

We spoke for a good twenty minutes and she shared that it was a pleasure to meet me, she jotted down my web page and said she would check out the site.  In this case my story was well received and my goal of educating to diminish the compound stigma was accomplished.

I've told this story many times, one was years ago, it was to my Pastor.  I was wearing my I'm Positive T-Shirt and he asked me what I was positive about, I said life Father.  He said life is good, I said yes.

I later that day went back and explained I was HIV positive and he said is there anything I can do, I replied prayer, he said prayer you got. In that sharing of that story I educated my Pastor about HIV and later that year about my being bipolar.

Story telling to large groups is an awesome experience, one place this year was at the The Rainbow Heights Club.  "Rainbow Heights Club, located in Brooklyn, New York, is an advocacy program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers requiring mental health services. We provide socialization, support, peer advocacy, and a safe place to take the next step on your road to emotional recovery and wellness."

After my one hour talk, this is what some in the audience wrote me on my feedback forms, how do you improve your story telling, ask for feed back:

"Beautiful wonderful strong man, he covered all pertinent information our membership needs to know."

"I leaned so much and thanks," "everything was great, more on safe sex," "thank you for coming today and teaching us how to live with both HIV and mental health."

"Steve has the personal touch."

Rainbow Heights has a special place in my heart, I'm a member.  In addition several years back I helped raise $1500 which was matched by a board member.  Please if you can make a donation this year as the club took a hit from the sequester.   Thank You.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's In Your Medicine Cabinet

Have you ever gotten stuck or found yourself staring into you medicine cabinet when it's time to take your prescription medications? I have and one day  came up with separating my medications using black tape and also colored dots.
On the left are the culprits as to why I need this system, they are psychotropic medicines for the brain, they make you happy when sad, sleep when wide awake, cope with anxiety when everything you are trying so hard to hold together needs help, okay so these are the good guys if you are living with mental illness.

The dots, well count them all nine and those are just the medicines for each illness, I left out the medicines that are for the side effects of some of those medicines and also the OTC vitamins, heart regiment aspirin etc. those are on another shelf and bottles are all not white.

All not white, that's the other reason for the colored dots, between the OTC and the prescribed pills four are all white, so in addition to the black tape and the colored dots I use a pill box to help me better adhere to my daily cocktails.

Lastly in the morning when I wake up I leave the kitchen counter light on to remind myself to take my morning medications and look at the time as I need to take some again every twelve hours.

I hope my system helps you when you get to that day when you start to stare at them. Those days when you walk into the pantry and stare at those shelves and say what did I come in here for.

What are you tricks, what you do so you don't forget to take your medications or worse take them twice because you forgot if you took them in the first place.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Do I see a first GMHC AIDS and Mental Health Walk Being Planned

Janet Weinberg, Chief Operating Officer 
Gay Men's Health Crisis, (GMHC)

In a recent article  I read in Gay Voices Huffington Post, August 9, 2013 the following supports what I've been saying all along.  It's not in a statistic, it's said just as it was meant, "It means less support for mental health and substance abuse to deal with the very issues that were part of that reason that they are living with HIV and AIDS." 

"Where has all the HIV Funding Gone, Janet Weinberg, GMHC"

I'd like to share the most recent statistics from a recent Op-Ed I wrote titled Wearing Red and Green, that was on Poz.Com website this past May.
These statistics supports from the sentence above "that they are living with HIV/AIDS."

Janet Weinberg is referring to those of us, me one of them who are dual diagnosed, those of us struggling with mental health and substance abuse, and those living with all three HIV, mental health and substance abuse.

From Wearing Red and Green, "In the process, I realized that I am not alone. Researchers estimate that as many as 40 to 60 percent of the HIV-positive population will experience depression at some point. That's right—half. Another study looked at 200 adults living with HIV and found that 15 percent had bipolar disorder. And whether you are HIV positive, have a mental illness or both, it's quite likely you have a substance use problem as well; data shows that if you have a mental illness, your chance of having a substance use disorder also is as high as 50 percent"

I don't want to go to far from what's the heart of both HIV/AIDS and mental health and other programs affected by the sequester, that being funding.  I do see hope on the horizon  as just before their August recess a bill was introduced into the Senate, "Senate HUD Funding Bill Reverses Harmful Sequestration Cuts in Housing Assistance ", lets hope HIV/AIDS and Food Stamps aren't to far behind.

Lastly, from my own Op-Ed above, "But when have you seen an AIDS and mental health ride, or an AIDS and mental health walk?   Maybe when this is over GMHC will host the first ever AIDS WALK  in the Nation, called  GMHC AIDS and Mental Health Walk.  Now that would be a major break through that we/they go from a statistic to actual inclusion, social inclusion towards helping raise money and by eliminating compound stigmas that they/me live with day to day.

Social Inclusion defined as, "A socially inclusive society is defined as one where all people feel valued, their differences are respected, and their basic needs are met so they can live in dignity. Social exclusion is the process of being shut out from the social, economic, political and cultural systems which contribute to the integration of a person into the community.(Department of Health, State Government Victoria Australia)  

National Alliance on Mental Illness - GLBT resources

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Peer to Peer Recovery, Sharing Your Story Works

"Peer to Peer is when one individual shares their stories about their recovery, drawing on their experiences to offer support through setting goals to wellness".  Stephen Puibello.

I recently participated in a Peer to Peer specialist training,  my website, and blog are about my road to recovery as a dual-diagnosed individual with bipolar disorder. In addition I'm HIV+ and in recovery from crystal meth.  Heed my advice and don't use crystal meth, you will thank me.

During my five_day training we learned about goals, hope and the five stages of recovery. We learned to listen, we learned problem solving and facing ones fears. Think about your recovery and how you can aide someone else and then look up one of the many organizations that offer Peer to Peer training.  Others call it mentoring, but bottom line it's about helping others through your own experiences and letting another individual know they are not alone and you are there to help them.

During the week we paired up to engage in role playing. I chose a real life experience, a traumatic experience that sent me running out of a Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) 12-step meeting.  I had been new to the group, shared several times, listened, shared some more and finally got the courage to ask for a sponsor and was told, "Go deal with your bi polar and then come back." I never did.

During the role playing exercise I was talking to a Peer Specialist, and after telling my story, I was told that it was, "possible you were told this because the meeting was for people in recovery from meth, that the focus wasn't on being bipolar."  It hit me that is what I was doing, I was talking about my being bipolar each time I shared and although it was viable, the (CMA) meeting wasn't the place for me, I was in the wrong 12-step program and I didn't understand that.

Well as a group we reviewed each exercise and most of the people in the room said  that the person who sent me running, should have explained why they said go deal with your bipolar disorder and should have also referred me to what's known as double trouble.  Double trouble or  dual recovery , just as it sounds, is for someone who has a "chemical dependency as well as emotional or psychiatric illness." Dual Diagnoses (dot) org.  

I was so happy that I decided to go with a real life experience in the role playing session that day and I thanked everyone for helping me connect the dots. How did the Peer Specialist know to tell me this? He/she also dealt with being bipolar and having a chemical dependency.  He/she shared insights from their own experience to help me and educate everyone in the room about double trouble and dual recovery. I'm hoping my sharing this with you continues to educate you about double trouble as well. 

For More information about becoming a Peer to Peer Specialist:

Stories about Peer to Peer in Recovery:

Four friends, four stories....   You Rock !!!!, You Rock !!!

Information about Double Trouble or Dual Diagnoses 12 Step Meetings:

Sciacca Search Directory

Dual Recovery Anonymous, Find a Meeting

Dual Diagnoses Program

Information about Crystal Meth Anonymous:

Crystal Meth dot org. Directory

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gay Marriage, Gay Community, Gay Inc, HIV/AIDS, Let us not forget Mental Health Serices

I was attending the annual NAMI  Conference July 27 - July 1st, 2013 to present my poster session titled, "Dual Diagnosed, Bipolar and HIV+ My Road to Recovery, when I first read the June 28th Op-Ed, "Gay Marriage is Great, But How About Some Love for the AIDS fight?", written by long time AIDS and gay rights Activist Peter Staley.  Thank you Peter for a well written article. It was just the month before when I ever heard of Gay Inc.  I was in the audience attending, Is This My Beautiful Life,  Perspectives from Survivors of the AIDS Generation held May 9th, 2013.

                                           June 29, 2013  National Alliance on Mental Illness
                                       Board meeting advocating for the 1 in 5 HIV+ people
                                       struggling with major depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

For me it was a momentous night as the presentation addressed something so close to home for me, HIV, mental illness and substance abuse., the three pillars of  the website founded  2004 as consumer advocate for HIV and Mental Health.   The event was sponsored by the Medius Working Group formed  in memory of Spencer Cox (1968-2012). Mr Cox founded the Medius Institute for Gay Men's Health (2006-2007).  "It was founded to advocate for research into emotional, mental and physical issues facing gay men in midlife.  I never met Spencer Cox, but I like to think he would have appreciated my own Op-Ed Wearing Red and Green just a week before the event.

The article resurfaced twice since Mr. Staley's Op-Ed, one titled "Gay Community Won Battles on Marriage, But May Be Losing the War on HIV/AIDS " July 3rd and the other "Gay Inc. Winning on Marriage, Losing on HIV/AIDS", , July 9th.

After reading all three, I didn't see mention of what drew me to the, "Its My Beautiful Life" event I attended, that being mental illness.   I read "Living On the Edge Gay Men, Depression And Risk-Taking Behaviors", written by Spencer Cox. In it Mr. Cox wrote, page 10, paragraph two:

"In this sense, mental health care, should be a topic of concern as much as gay marriage or anti-trust laws. We need to demand that depression in gay men be studied and treated not just as an adjunct to other public health problems, but as an important health risk in it's own right.  We need to demand public health programs and insurance coverage to meet our mental health needs.  And we need to confront the institutions, both outside and within the gay community that fail to support gay men in building happy, healthy lives."

So let use honor Spencer Cox by making sure mental health stays in the equation as we move beyond marriage equality and monies are targeted back to AIDS funding.

Two white papers published by Spencer Cox
2006 and 2007

"Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act"

Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits and Federal Parity Protections for 62 Million Americans"
February 20, 2013

"Mental Health and HIV, the Uncharted Territory"
March 14, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Continue To Be Kind To Others

                               Fourth of July, memories of our Weber Grill
and random acts of kindness

Another holiday, this one the fourth of July.  This one brings back memories of my family, especially my dad who I miss dearly.  It was just him and I and Peppy our last dog and the Weber grill, it was 2009 and I'd do the grilling, we had a garage over hang so we grilled almost all seasons, but there's nothing like a 4th of July with your family and dad is and was my family, dad passed December 2010, he was 85, his last words to me were, "you I don't worry about you are the most resourceful person I know," and "continue to be kind to others," which I did and continue to do and is the topic of today's post, random acts of kindness.

I don't know about you, but being kind to others makes me feel good and living with Bipolar and HIV, I welcome as much feeling good as I can get, and it's free, not from a pill, but from your heart.

I never know what or how I'm going to write about, or how to approach it, so this time I asked our friend "Google," "random acts of kindness and depression," and with in .41 seconds, got  321,000 results.  Guess what, it's proven that random acts of kindness helps combat depression.  Thanks dad as even in your passing you continued to teach me something I was doing, but never understood why.

So I leave you all with a few of the 321,000 links and like my dad, ask each of you to continue to be kind to others, especially all of you who like me struggle with depression, Bipolar disorder and possible HIV/AIDS.

Kindness doesn't cost a thing, one I do often is offer to brew a cup of tea or bring up some filtered water for co-workers, others in the morning is holding those heavy glass doors exiting the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, 10 seconds is all it takes during rush hour.  Offering your seat on bus or subway.

So feeling blue consider being kind to others, now that I know why I do it so often it makes sense and works for me, give it a try.

Random Acts of Kindness and a Smile

Kind of Matter

Five easy fixes to improve your mood

Random Acts of Kindness when feeling suicidal

Inspirational Quotes on Random Acts of Kindness

"Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others."

William J.H. Boetcker (1873-1962)

"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace." 

The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)

"Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit." 

Robert J. Furey 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Social Inclusion at it's Best

Good morning riders!!! Good morning roadies!!!

I first got involved with AIDS Life Cycle in 2007, I had cycled similar events in that you register to participate as a cyclist or roadie or crew member to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, more importantly for the millions, this year alone ALC 12 raised an amazing 14.2 million dollars, thanks to all who supported me this year with a donation and thanks to everyone who supported your friends and loved ones.   

This year we collectively set new records, and one that I noticed in camp each night were the stories shared about the services provided by both the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center.  Both provide services for folks living with HIV/AIDS, one in particular is mental health services at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

This year I was I was one of the stories shared under the big tent. Lorri L. Jean spoke about a participant (me) who is back for his forth ride and that I am dual diagnosed HIV+ as well as Bipolar and that this year I was awarded the the SAMHSA 2012-13 Voice Award Fellowship , thank you Lorri L. Jean again.  I caught up with Lorri Jean at the end of the ride and asked if there's anything I could add to my message and her reply, "you are doing it, that HIV+ individuals talk to their providers,"  if they are feeling depressed as possible this depression could be that of a chronic condition.  For more on the latest statistics around HIV and mental health please read my recent Op-Ed that was in POZ magazine titled Wearing Red & Green.

The title of this post is Social Inclusion at it's Best , if there was an award for social inclusion, AIDS life Cycle, would deserve five stars.  What the organizers of this event do each year, is pure magic and all I can say is you need to participate in order to experience it and come home with the feeling that I'm part of something that touched my life, something that you will cherish your entire life.  Here's a sampling:

If you are diagnosed HIV+ and wish to get involved as a cyclist please visit Positive Pedalers, today with over 1000+ and growing Pos Ped's continues it's mission, "Eliminating stigma through our positive public example”

For more information about all the services provided at both , please visit there websites"

For a comprehensive list of GLBT Centers that provide HIV services as well as GLBT affirmative mental health services, visit my, then visit my resources page.

AIDS Life Cycle in the Media:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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  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 , reliable up to date treatment news    "The Trevor Project is the leading national
organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth."  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..

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Roadies Rock..

Dear Readers,

I'm heading out to participate in this my fourth AIDS Life Cycle event, ALC 12.  This year I'm working on gear and tent truck L loading and unloading twice a day 200 cyclist gear and tents, I can't wait.

For a glimpse of what roadies do on AIDS Life Cycle do, please click here, thank you. enjoy the show.

I will be back blogging the second week of June.   Anyone wishing to support me please visit my donor page Stephen's donor page.


Stephen A. Puibello
Consumer Advocate for both
HIV/AIDS and Mental Health
since 2004.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Extra, Extra read all about it Mental Health and HIV/AIDS. It Only gets Better

Have you ever been in a gathering where you could pretty much say what word was going to come out of the next persons mouth, I have and they happened May 8th and May 9th, this week.

I've attended two events this week, the first was on Wednesday May 8th, 2013 called Equality Care, presented by Rainbow Heights Club, their third conference.  "Over 300 mental health providers gather  for the free one-day conference to develop skills and discuss updated policy so that their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender mental health consumers could be better served."

One session I wanted to sit in on was: Providing effective and affirming services to LGBT clients with mental health diagnoses who also have substance abuse and/or alcoholism problems. Presented by Antonio Ruberto, Jr., LCSW, CASAC  and Daisy Boyd, LMSW. This workshop will offer care providers in mainstream settings an understanding of how to support all aspects of clients’ recovery.

At the beginning of the session the presenter asked for a show of hands of who's who and I paused and waited til they said anyone else at which I raised my hand and said a consumer, Antonio said nice to see you hear, I hadn't seen him in over six years.

I watched the slides, the studies, findings, they talked about substance abuse, mental health, on meth, housing, stigma, HIV, in short they were talking about me, I was one of the statistics and I at times got teary eyed.

Questions were being asked about Crystal Meth, and I raised my hand, stood up and said hello, my name is Stephen Puibello, I identify as a Gay man, living with HIV and Bipolar Disorder, in recovery 7 plus years minus two relapses, I mentioned I was working part-time, that I live in public housing, and then thanked the panel and the audience of mental health providers letting them know that all you are learning today, all that you do in the community works as I'm proof of that.  I also added that I was awarded a SAMHSA 2013 Voice Award Fellowship and wanted to share my story.   The applause from the crowd got me ready for the next day's event, that being Is This My Beautiful Life? Perspectives from Survivors of the AIDS Generation

This evenings event started with a clip of the movie How to Survive a Plague ,"HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making."

I watched this alone in my studio, you see I isolate as a way to stay sober but also because I feel okay when I'm by myself, when I'm outside as a dual diagnosed HIV+ and Bipolar man I feel out of joint, disconnected from my gay community, anyway I watched it alone and was in amazement.   I had know of ACT UP and TAG, what they did, but not the history, the people, the faces, live footage and tonight I well some of the very first activist were on hand to talk with the community, I read this in an article in POZ Magazine written my Carly Sommerstein  long time friend of Spencer Cox who died last December.  I went was because I read the "community discussion  was on improving the mental health of AIDS survivors.

Again I heard talk from the panel, and from the audience on Crystal Meth, Isolation, Mental Health, words like co-morbid, suicide, people spoke about this being an election year in NYC and good time ACT UP, everyone panelists and audience and those who wanted to be heard, it was moving, for me it was the first time I heard mental illness being spoken about from others.

I waited, I said I have no questions as I'm here as a Mental Health Consumer, dual diagnosed both HIV and Bipolar and that I have resources to offer.  I spoke about organizations like Depression Bipolar Support Alliance and NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, I said all any of us have to do is start an affiliate, submit the paperwork and you now are part of a program that is Peer 2 Peer based, offers monthly talks, fellowship.  I also pointed out what the community is missing are Double Trouble in Recovery 12 Step Programs.  I added my experience when I first went to a CMA meeting, after weeks of getting the nerve up to ask for a sponsor I was told, "go deal with your Bipolar first and then come back."

I went there like I did the day before to share my story and to be able to offer my self, my story and resources for the all HIV+ and AIDS long term survivors with mental health concerns.  I added that there are 11,000 GLBT mental health consumers in NYC alone.

I wanted to say it, but forgot.  Spencer your activism lives on, I felt you in Mason Hall tonight,  RIP.


Callen-Lorde Mental Health Services

For patients receiving medical care at Callen-Lorde, our Mental Health and Social Services Department offers individual and group counseling to support your emotional and physical well-being. Callen-Lorde is committed to providing services that are affirmative, sex-positive, culturally sensitive, consistent with risk reduction principles, and that promote patient self-determination.

Friends In Deed

Friends In Deed is a crisis center providing emotional and spiritual support for anyone with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, cancer or other life-threatening physical illnesses… any caregivers, family and friends of those who are ill… and anyone dealing with grief and bereavement. All of our services are free of charge.

GMHC - Team 119 Mental Health Services

Rainbow Heights Club
Rainbow Heights Club, located in Brooklyn, New York, is an advocacy program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers requiring mental health services. We provide socialization, support, peer advocacy, and a safe place to take the next step on your road to emotional recovery and wellness.