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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Coping Skills when Anxiety Presents Itself.

Ever since my bipolar diagnoses while I'm awake it with me all the time, even now as I just came in from the gym and sometimes worse as people who see me and then don't see me ask the question where have you been?  Maybe it's best to lie, but I don't and let them know that I've been depressed, that I have been staying to myself hoping that the next day would be better and it is as I'm here today a good thing.

I often wonder if my being a consumer advocate feeds this day to day weight I carry, I don't know and maybe someday I will stop, but for now telling my story helps others and I feel that at least something good is coming out of all this.

I'm traveling tomorrow, I made these plans months ago, I'm staying with friends, visiting my Aunt who's close to 90 who I haven't seen in five years and sure enough my anxiety has started to kick in, also called anticipatory anxiety, I sometimes wonder why even travel at at if so much worrying about what will my friends be feeling, going out to dinner, arriving and wanting to just do what I do at home, avoid the situation, just writing this I'm feeling I need to stop a moment to take half of a klonopin, 2:07 pm, time to tap into my coping skills.

2:34 pm, I took my pill, put away the laundry, put on some relaxing music, lit an incense stick and visualized a stop sign, all of the above help, tomorrow is day zero.  I'll be okay, use the coping skills I know and focus on everyone whom I'm visiting, they all know of my diagnoses, so that's half the pressure off myself, the rest is up to me.

I feel somewhat better, but would like to hear from you, what do you do when anxiety consumes you

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"So the question is not whether we know what to do, but whether we will do it." President Barack Obama, November 10, 2011

   "So the question is not whether we know what to do, but whether we will do it." 
President Barack Obama,
November 10, 2011, presented a video on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy at the 2011 United States Conference on AIDS in Chicago, IL.

  In reading about HIV, HIV and mental illness and HIV, and mental illness and substance abuse, I came across this article in,  "JAIDS: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
The Impact of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Factors on HIV Prevention and Treatment."   The opening sentence reads, "The convergence of HIV, substance abuse (SA), and mental illness (MI) represents a distinctive challenge to health care providers, policy makers, and researchers."

If this convergence is challenging to health care providers, policy makers and researchers, it's no wonder that as an  HIV positive and mental health consumer I'm struggling with compound stigma, dating and isolation due to discrimination within my own community.  I'm thankful for finding this article tonight, not because my issues will vanish for me, but because it helps make sense of why I've been in a fog that won't go away since being diagnosed in 1996. I have been hopping from one short-term treatment to the next, each tied to a new funding source. And each source is fragmented  its like 26 weeks on substance abuse,  26 weeks on newly diagnosed HIV, 26 weeks on bipolar disorder.
It's not that I'm not thankful for the series of short-term treatments; without them I might have actually played out the almost weekly suicidal fantasies  and thoughts I had. I'm one of the lucky ones.

Deep breath, as I'm still reading the article, which now says, "Efforts to provide services to people with HIV/SA/MI, or even to study them, must do so in an environment complicated by a legacy of service fragmentation resulting from institutions designed to treat psychiatric illness, SA, or HIV but not real-world combinations of all three."

Is there hope on the horizon?  I'm happy to say yes and I'm fortunate and blessed  because maybe this road I'm traveling as a consumer advocate for mental health and HIV and  with substance abuse means I have found myself in the right spot at the right time.

In its  2011 Annual Report,  the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center  mentions that "we have applied to NYS for a license to provide more intensive mental health services and have received initial approval for that application. We anticipate starting this program in the latter part of 2012."

I don't have concrete information as to why now, but 2011 was the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic, and in 2011 at the United States Conference on AIDS in Chicago, IL the National HIV/AIDS Strategy  was put into place by President Obama.
Also "In September 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced $42.6 million in new grants over a three-year period to provide behavioral health services in communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS. Funding for the “12 Cities” program will be used to develop and expand networks of primary care, HIV/AIDS and behavioral health service providers serving racial and ethnic minorities, including LGBT individuals, with or at high risk for HIV/AIDS."  

Of these 12 cities, New York City was one. Time will tell more and more, and when there is a vaccine to prevent HIV I predict we will see a  radical shift in all our AIDS service organizations as they begin  providing intensive mental health services.