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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy Gay Pride 2014.....The Even Harder Coming Out

Happy Gay Pride 2014 

Reprint from 2012 gay pride post.

Thanks to a dear friend I've been sitting here in one of the first three cities to hold the first gay pride parade, in this city San Francisco it was a referred to a the gay sit in. So thanks Virgil for this trip which inspired this article about Coming out, not once, not twice, but for a third time.

Coming out or coming out of the closet is a gay persons right of passage, their journey, their choice to no longer feel the need to keep their sexuality private.  For me it was on Mt. Katahdin, located in Maine. I was a freshman at Unity College and my lesbian cousin drove up to visit me and she popped the question, she was the first person I told, the year was 1978.

My next coming outs plural was in 1996 when I diagnosed HIV positive and also Bipolar, the first one that hit me the hardest was human immunodeficiency virus infection , HIV.  I felt stained, I myself was unable to reach out for help at first as I was crippled, I stayed indoors for close to two months, minus the treatments I would go for, labs (blood work) to see how weak or how healthy my immune system was. I'm happy to say that thanks to new class of medications I've been healthy, good numbers, but the trauma of all this and the stigma of it all set me back.

You see I was a volunteer in the gay community around AIDS, HIV as a negative gay man.   So I've asked it, and I'm sure others ask it, if I/he volunteered in his community on prevention, on a help line, fundraising for AIDS walks and later AIDS rides, then how did I/he contract the HIV virus, the answer was the other diagnoses of Bipolar-manic depression

All my life I felt different, I felt charged, lots of energy, required little sleep, able to do so many things at once, and then I would crash into a wall and into a deep depression and not knowing why, and not on the medications I'm on today, I was self-medicating  due to psychological trauma that I got addicted to drugs and in that time period I contracted the HIV virus.

This isn't the same journey for everyone but for myself it was mine and I went back to connect all the pieces which brought me to my third and even harder coming out, that being an out spoken Consumer Advocate for both HIV and Mental Illness.  It's my choice, it's easy when writing, when speaking out, but it is very hard do to the double stigma from the very community I've embraced and continue to embrace, my community, the Gay Community.

So yes coming out a third time is the even harder coming out for me and I'm certain for many others living with HIV as today one in five HIV+ person is dealing with depression or like me a mental illness.  I'm the lowest in the hierarchy of the GLBT community, but it's progressing like everything else in the gay community, gay liberation, AIDS/HIV and the very much needed activism that opened the doors for generations down the road like me who are living with HIV/AIDS and today as I write this, 49 GLBT Community Centers offer Mental Health short-term care, support groups, and it's getting better as very soon in Manhattan long term mental health care will be offered, a trend I predict will continue as there is a need.

P2P, you are not alone, me the Bi Polar Bear wishes every one a very Happy Gay Pride.  I can be found wearing my Bi Polar Bear T-shirt (seen on my homepage) tomorrow at the San Francisco Pride Parade/March. 

Additional Resources:


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

CDC on Mental Health and MSM

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Common Red Flags for Bipolar Disorder Relapse

Thanks to the many of you who know me and have been checking in, prior to my trip and after my trip a period of almost seven weeks I've been in and out of severe depression.  Signs of this are:

       1.  I stop cooking meals.
       2.  I shun, stay away from people.
       3.  I caving sweets.
       4.  I don't care about anybody else.
       5.  Short tempered, people bother me.
       6.  Biggest for me, requiring more sleep, especially naps. I see blue skies but have
            no interest.
       7.  I stay at home long periods, phone off as many as six days

If you are diagnosed Bipolar and are experience some of these, notify your therapist, seek help, also alert your friends and family, support network.   I'm on my own, as a gay man with no children, soon to be 56 years old, living with HIV, it's very hard, don't kid yourself.  Add to this regular health concerns, lack of 100% health insurance, trust me it is very hard.

I want to share my biggest aide, that being the ability to call a friend, letting him know I don't feel safe and asking if you can spend the night, I try very hard not to call 911, but if you don't have a friend or family member, call 911 or have a plan.  My plan taxi service, having credit card and also have cash to cover a cab ride.

Don't ever feel ashamed to call a friend, share with them that you are bipolar, it's important that your family or closest friends know, therapist aren't available around the clock.  

Other resource is a suicide prevention hotline:

Related Resources and Articles:

There may never be a last relapse

Early warning signs of Bipolar relaspe

Bipolar disorder: How to avoid a relapse