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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why is Positive Mental Health Important for People Living with HIV?

Many a day I put the kettle on to make tea and forget.  You see I'm using my Grandmothers old coffee pot as tea kettle and there's no whistle.   After yesterday's near melt that I started to smell metal ..two things happened.   One, this post and two, a tea kettle with a whistle.

Why is positive mental health important for consumers who are dual diagnosed HIV and with a mental illness, besides keeping your mind sharp, check out:

Source: AIDS.GOV Mental Health
"Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. When you have positive mental health, you generally are able to:
  • function better at work, at school, and in relationships.
  • cope more effectively with life’s difficulties, such as the death of a loved one, ending a relationship, job stress, health issues, and family or financial problems.
  • take better care of yourself physically.
  • provide better care for your children or other family members.
But mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel, and behave, and can change how well you function at work and at home. If you are living with HIV, mental health problems can affect your physical health by:
  • making it harder for you to take all your HIV medicines on time.
  • making it harder for you to keep your health appointments or take advantage of your support network.
  • interfering with your healthy behaviors, such as getting enough sleep and exercise and avoiding risk behaviors such as having unprotected sex.
  • impairing your ability to cope with the stresses of daily life.
Mental health problems are very common among all Americans, not just those living with HIV. In fact, in 2012, about:
  • One in five American adults experienced a diagnosable mental illness.
  • Nearly one in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression.
  • Four percent of American adults lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
As a person living with HIV, it is important for you to be aware that you have an increased risk for developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. These conditions are treatable. People who experience mental health problems can get better and many recover completely. You can better manage your overall health and well-being if you know how having HIV can affect your mental health and what resources are available to help you if you need it."

I've taken to brain games, it helps me.  Give it a try.


Free Brain Games on AARP

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I've Battled Depression all My Life

Katerina age 32, diagnosed HIV in 2010

I've battled depression all my life. I'm a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, survivor of abuse, I was a cutter, I'm a recovering addict, been on multiple psych med's, diagnosed with multiple problems over the years, and I made a decision in 2012 to overcome depression and not let my life be dictated in-by negativity.

It hasn't been easy, however today depression does not consume me. My life was saved when I checked myself into an outpatient program at Langley Porter. While I use to teach CBT and meditation I never lived it. DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) gave me the vehicle I needed to be living the life I needed, I wanted, and one I deserve. Through therapy, working on my issues, and with my determination, we incorporated these skills into my psychiatry and therapy; by working with my health and mental health teams, I've been able to get off psych med's including lithium. I have handlers, three sponsors, and my support systems that I check in with regularly. And DBT is just as important as working my recovery program, while being instrumental in reducing stress and living a wonderful quality of life I thought was unimaginable. I'm not saying I never feel depressed, I just have a better way of dealing and coping with things and I am stronger in all aspects of my life as a person because of it.

I love myself today, I know I am beautiful, I am worth it, and I deserve the quality of life I believe I deserve, and I and determined through hard work and perseverance to manifest these things. Today I'm happy to the point it's sickening lol and I wouldn't have it any other way. I am sober and I found redemption in a new life where I was once broken and shattered. For me I'm a mighty oak and will withstand all things. I've been through hell and back and there is nothing that is worth or is an excuse to relapse. Self sabotage no longer has a place, and I'm the first person to call myself out on my bullshit, thanks to the rooms of CMA, AA, NA, CODA, and Alanon.


DBT Self-Help

Wikipedia, DBT defined.

Wikipedia, CBT defined.







Monday, July 7, 2014

In the News July 2014

New HIV Cases Decline in DC

"At the end of 2012, 16,072 people were living with HIV in D.C. That represents 2.5 percent of D.C.'s population, a level still well above the World Health Organization's 1 percent definition of an epidemic. Of the over 16,000 people living with HIV, the majority are men (72.7 percent) and black (75 percent total, 68.5 percent men). The age groups most affected are people in their 40s (31.1 percent) and 50s (29.4 percent)"

"Interventions Crafted for Those Struggling With Mental Health and HIV Adherence Show Promise, Report States " 

"A clinical review published in the peer-reviewed journal LGBT Health in early June by Jaclyn M. White, M.P.H., Janna R. Gordon, and Matthew J. Mimiaga, Sc.D., M.P.H., from Harvard and the Fenway Institute in Massachusetts, indicates that there may be relief at hand for HIV-positive gay men struggling with added mental health and substance abuse issues that can add difficulty to sticking to an HIV medication regimen. White et al concluded that interventions that combine both adherence counseling with standard cognitive behavioral therapy have made some headway with participants in several recent intervention trials"

"Aging with HIV and AIDS: A growing social issue"

" the first people with HIV grow old, a new study from St. Michael's Hospital questions whether the health care system and other government policies are prepared to meet their complex medical and social needs.
In high-income countries such as Canada, 30 per cent of people living with HIV are 50 or older, and many are living into their 60s and 70s. In San Francisco, more than half the people with HIV are over 50."

"LGBT people living with mental illness face double stigma"

" uly is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and in Atlanta, the Health Initiative is teaming up with the DeKalb County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness to bring awareness to LGBT people about resources available.
LGBT people with bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or chronic depression not only face stigma not only because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, but also because of their mental illness.
“The double stigma of being GLBT and having a mental illness limits our access to resources and support. Not many can provide specialized care I think our community needs and this is a great disservice,” says Alisa Porter, marketing director of NAMI DeKalb.."

For a comprehensive listing of HIV and mental health resources visit:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mental Bottleneck and it's crippling of my ability to make friends

For me of late, like the last decade of my bipolar diagnoses, my different ability has me choked up to the point of being afraid.  Afraid of what, my ability to get back out into the World amongst my peers, people who minds are sharp, stimulated, creative and intelligent. Possible this is you also, stuck at the neck of a bottle.

Within my writings I refer to my bipolar disability not as a disability but a different ability managing my mania...putting it to good use on projects.  I used projects throughout my youth before I was diagnosed to establish friendships, I mentored others with their projects, watching them flourish, move on while I'm held back.

Fear is something many people have a hard time with.  For myself the fear is in front of me morning, noon and night, it often goes to sleep with me.  I can reach out and touch it, that's how crippling fear is to me, more then a word in a dictionary.  Fear leads to anxiety and panic attacks,  symptoms of my bipolar.

For this past decade it's my disability and the stigma of that has robbed me of new friendships and possible relationships as I shunned away from people, those knowing me, would never think this.

I haven't conquered this fear 100%, but I'm certainly making progress, with a part-time job, my own project on mental illness and HIV and my very bumpy road to recovery I'm now seeing a transformation of hope rather then hopelessness.  I owe this to many wonderful new people in my life, most of them halfway across the country, others in different parts of the World via social media and emails from readers who write me.

Others are my Therapist who I meet with weekly and my Psychiatrist as the medications prescribed for my mental well being, a second cocktail for my HIV  for my physical well being are what keep me going.

I can remember a neighbor from Boston Sharon who in those first few months after being inside my home  for over 54 days in shock from my dual diagnoses telling me, "baby steps."  

There's new fears now as I turn 55 1/2 years old, these are not of the mind, but of my physical well being, but unlike the mind, the physical aliments of aging with two chronic illnesses  bipolar and HIV are starting to send postcards. 

I love postcards, but these postcards I'm working at returning to sender.

Resources for Returning Postcards to Sender: