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"