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Monday, January 26, 2015

Full Disclosure HIV, Bipolar and Insomnia........Not Easy, But Necessary

Full disclosure; HIV, bipolar and insomnia, and why full disclosure is important, not just for the safety of transmission for the man you are with, but for your own anxieties around my being a dual diagnosed HIV and bipolar, mental health consumer, as insomnia for me is extremely problematic.  It has ruined two relationships as both partners didn't understand the severity, all they noticed was I wasn't in bed  when they woke up, I know not the right men for me.  Not easy, but necessary if you are to find Mr. right, he's out there.

I met someone last summer, of course when traveling who on the second night of day two asked me to spend the night, knowing about the past problems, my anxiety kicked in, not so much on my HIV disclosure,  although can be hard, it's no where as needing to disclose your suffer insomnia and bipolar, so I needed to make an excuse to leave when I wanted so much to stay.

The third night of ten wonderful days, he said out of the blue how's your sleeping habits, my reply was problematic but that I have medications that will knock me out.  Curious I asked why did you ask and he went on to share that he's in open relationship and was reading me, as his partner lives with bipolar.  Wow, talk about gaydar, he had bipolardar if there is such a word.

For the first time in a long time I was laying with a man, with no anxiety about my HIV, no anxiety about my bipolar, (which I do manage very well, with medication), and again no anxiety from the insomnia as we lied there talking, cuddling and him saying in a loving way, it's time for you to take your medication, period!  And in my double cocktail, both my HIV and psychotropic medications, I dosed off.

If any of you have shared this experience, after many attempts in finding the right medication I was prescribed Seroquel,  Seroquel which put me to sleep in his arms in a deep medicated sleep. The lowest dosage is 25 mg and me being a bear, that pill will put me out withing one minute, and sleep as much as 10 - 14 hours.  So with my psychiatrist on board I use a pill cutter and take half, 12.5 mg and sleep a good 7-9 hours and woke up everyday rolling over to find one another.

I was happy to meet him, as we had a good ten days, we are still friends and he showed me that there's hope out there for me and although it hasn't happened, I learned that full disclosure around not just my HIV for the safety of the other partner, but for my own anxieties, the very real insomnia that kept me away from dating is something that the partner needs to know if they are to wanting to get to know you on a deeper level.

I know, it's very hard to do that, but I'm hoping to meet someone again, with the same level of understanding, if this is you, if you've been here, know you are not alone and that as we age with our HIV the stigma of not just that, but that of bipolar is slowing taking hold.


Sleep Problems and HIV

Bipolar Insomnia

The Importance of Sleep

Monday, January 19, 2015

Gay Men With Mental Health Issues, I've been singing this tune since 2004

Since 2004

"Gay Men With Mental Health Issues Have Higher Risk Of HIV," 
source: (Randall Mayes, Design & Trend, Science, January 16, 2015)

"The study included 4,295 gay men who had sex with other men in the previous year. They participants took behavioral surveys and a HIV test every six months."

"In the 680 men who completed the study, the researchers found that those who had the most mental health issues were more likely to become HIV positive during the study."

As the Bi Polar bear whom for the last eleven years has been writing about HIV and mental illness not only do I agree, but support any moves to add both HIV+ testing and the reverse Mental Health screenings in the HIV+ community as a way to not just talk about stigma, and help 'New York State end the AIDS epidemic by 2020" , and cities like San Francisco, "getting to zero coalition" reach their challenges of zero transmission of the HIV virus, and finally for the Gay Community to speak the words Bi polar and SMI (serious mental illness) into the media, when they talk about depression, it seems like words like these  are kept in the closet.

I recently attended a Long Term Survivors Town Hall Meeting, at the end I took to the microphone as no where in the evening where they spoke about aging and co morbidities was serious mental illness, or bipolar mentioned.  Scott A. Krammer, LCSW, ACSW  offered this:

"The Bipolar Bear came out her tonight and talked about the mental health issues he's living with.  By doing that, talking about the issues, he lessens stigma by showing others they are not alone.  By using his voice, he gives others hope.  This is just one example of how healing happens in the Community."

Just as proud as I am to to be HIV+ wearing shirts and riding bikes to raise money and awareness, I'm one of 1 in 5 HIV+ men and women struggling with a serious mental illness and depression, wearing my own shirt as the Bi Polar Bear.    

Op-Ed Wearing Red & Green, in POZ Magazine 2013

I'm a Consumer Activist on these issues, I wrote last year that had safe sex kits handed out when exiting bars had cards that spoke about substance abuse and mental health screenings and  HIV prevention, well maybe I would be simple, a gay man living with bipolar disorder, and the rates of transmission would have been much lower or better zero rates of transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus in the year 2000 not twenty-years later.

So  a call to Action: to those who hold sponsor HIV rides and Walks, add mental health to your brochures and advertisements  as the funds your are raising, are in fact treating substance abuse, HIV and mental illness.

Huffingtonpost. article, Where Has All the Money Gone," , says, " 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. 


My website,  they most comprehensive list of resources and on HIV and mental Heath.

Visit my Testimonials page to see what people are saying about 2013 SAMHSA Voice Award Fellow

"Stephen has been an active and steadfast member of the NAMI GLBT Networking Group. He has been an invaluable supporter and advisor to the work of NAMI to meaningfully include and support GLBT individuals. He provides this group and communities beyond his NAMI family with resources through his voluntarily maintained website and blog with which he shares a unique perspective of personal recovery and experiences with bipolar disorder, HIV and substance abuse. He has built a strong awareness-building platform for these issues through cycling events, media outreach and many contacts he makes to advocate and raise funds for recovery efforts."

- Marin Swesey, Program Manager, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Multicultural Action Center, 2008-2013

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rubbers, Writers Block, taking a Step Away From it all.

Not what you thinking?

I have dry cracked skin problem on my feet, hence the use of my dried cracked leather hammock, thought it appropriate.  Well my dermatologist prescribed two scripts both topical.  I tried just with  a pair of socks and the socks got treated nicely but not my feet.

So being myself, always thinking outside the box, usually when I'm in a mellow side of mania cycle, I found a pair of those rubbers you stretch over you shoes and proceeded to grease up my feet and wear them while at my desk.  I'm wearing them now.

To my amazement my cracked dry feet aren't as they used to be and my dermatologist was like wow, what an improvement, I shared my trick with her, and she was like you should patent that.  I kinda of just did that, taking this photo and writing this lite humorous...but brilliant post on rubbers and feet.

So if you have cracked feet, possible a foot fungus and need to apply cream to your feet, or any over the counter foot care product, buy yourselves some rubbers and treat your feet to a nice vacation

I've been having writers block, writing about HIV and bipolar post after post isn't easy.  So like my feet I'm giving myself a vacation and taking a step away from it all for a few weeks.


Rubbers. I got the standard shoe model
but they come in so many sizes and colors, have fun.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tap Into Your Creativity and have fun. Art Therapy A way to Reduce Stress

All Saints Day Collage by:  Stephen A. Puibello

 The photo above, this entire project from thought to finished product is one way I use art to help reduce stress in my life.   Writing here on my blog is another.  My process involves music while I write to help me focus and also I clear my desk of all piles, mail, anything that could distract me as I have a hard time staying focused.  Please enjoy my project; the All Saints Day collage above, and tap into your creativity and have fun.

My dad's (** August L. Puibello:  Died  December 10, 2010) home recently sold, in the garage I found within a shoe box a stack of "In Memory" cards with a rubber band on them.  I decided to make a collage of these many cards found above and list all the names so that we could remember them, many of which I didn't know personally but knew the names of the families.

In Memory of the many friends and family members of my Mom and Dad 
1947 - 2010

Right Reverend Monsignor, William A. Keyes: Born July 26, 1870  Died February 8, 1947
** Josephine Lopes:  Born October 19, 1869  Died September 30, 1954
** Felice Lopes:  Born 1874  Died November 3, 1954
** Caterina Puibello:  Born 1884  Died October 30, 1959
Fred Bonica:  Died May 5, 1963
Benvenuto Cardinali:  Born April 1893  Died  July 10, 1963
** Maria Lopes:  Died November 23, 1963
Gerard Graziano:  Died  April 10, 1964, age 48
 ** Vincent Leahy:  Died  October 28, 1967
** Alfonso Chiarelli:  Died November 8, 1968
Alphonso J. Ciampi:  Died  Janduary 20, 1969
Jerome Leahy:  Died May 3, 1971
Anthony J. Buonomo:  Died  July 20, 1972
** Mario Crimando:  Died  January 18, 1973
Mary Rinzuello:  Died  October 10, 1975
Thomas A. C. Vanaria:  Died March 14, 1977
  **Maria Terzita Crimando:  Died August 28, 1979
 ** Johanna A. Leahy:  November 2, 1982
Lazar Balac:  Died January 31, 1982
Stefano Pittorino:  Died  June 3, 1985
** Joseph Lopes:  Died  July 16, 1985
**  Maria Lopes: Died  October 19, 1986
Charlotte Hefferon:  Died  September 11, 1988
Maria Santa Maria:  Died  September 23, 1988
Rose Chicketano:  Died  May 27, 1988
Ralph J. DeBenedetto:  Died  June 1, 1990
Robert A. Delvescovo:  Died:  December 8, 1990
Felix Bonica:  Died  February 28, 1990
Mark P. Hansen:  Died  April 14, 1990
Angelina Santa Maria:  Died  January 5, 1990
Michael K. Pizek:  Died  February 2, 1991
Dorothy Nagurka:  Died  January 29, 1992
** Stefania Chiarelli:  Died  September 20, 1992
Mary Louise Pittorino:  Died February 8, 1992
Lloyd A. Strunk:  Died  November 4, 1995
Alyce Maganzine:  Died  May 14, 1995
Edward Rosatelli:  Died  May 20, 1995
Barbara D. Vanaria:  Born  December 1, 1928  Died  July 17, 1995
Fred Calabrese:  Died December 1, 1996
** Audrey M. Puibello:  Died September 11, 1996
Maria C. Palotta:  Died  September 25, 1997
Josephine "Jessie" Chessari:  Died  July 20, 1997
Francis L. Healy:  Born Tuesday, August 3, 1926  Died  Saturday December 20, 1997
** Joseph J. Leahy:  Died  November 22, 1998
Joseph A. Romano:  Died  July 18, 1998
Albert Joseph Rapella, Jr.:  Died May 27, 1998
Angelo J. Chessari:  Died  December 14, 1998
Barbara A. Ambrosio:  Died  May 5, 1999
**  Peter L. Cardinalli:  Died  October 21, 1999
Catherine Stocco:  Died August 18, 1999
Salvatore Fastuca:  Died  November 1, 1999 
Paul E. Baia:  Born  February 26, 1920  Died  January 25, 2000
Conchetta G. Bellino:  Died May 24, 2000
Emily M. Buonomo:  Died May 14, 2000
Jim Molinari:  Born June 9, 1925  Died:  February 28, 2001
** Arthur P. Puibello:  Born April 29, 1928  Died:  September 3, 2001
Catherine Santa Maria:  Born May 19, 1921  Died  January 19, 2002
Peter D. Fulco:  Born  March 3, 2002  Died  March 2002