Welcome to my World
As a gay man living with HIV and in recovery from mental illness and addiction, my mission is to help others who struggle with these issues know that they are not alone and encourage them to speak out. If I can talk about it, so can you!
My story began in 1996 when I lost my 66-year-old mother to breast cancer. Two months later I was diagnosed HIV positive and my life went gray. I was extremely depressed. What’s more, soon after that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder—formerly known as manic depression—which is a form of mental illness. I went for a walk on the Charles River in Boston, then went home and for close to two months didn't leave. I can remember early on needing someone to accompany me to my doctors’ appointments as I wasn't hearing what was being explained to me. I became detached from my community, stopped working, and really just wanted to let go, but I didn't and went on to create this Web site in 2004. It is a work in progress, and is the core of my recovery from both substance addiction and mental illness.
On this site I feature a blog with my thoughts on these issues as well as research on HIV, mental illness, and addiction – all for the benefit of my peers. After I was diagnosed, I was searching for answers. The more I read the more I realized I was not alone. I learned about the stigma associated with HIV and the compound stigma associated with HIV and mental illness. I hope this site helps you do the same. Please look around, read and comment on my blog, or send me an email to connect. I welcome your feedback.
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. - Source: Where Has All the HIV Funding Gone?, Janet Weinberg Chief Operating Officer, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, August 9, 2013
The studies suggest that the single most common reason people seek mental health treatment is depression. And the rates of depression in HIV populations vary from very low to very high. But probably, if you look at samples of people in treatment, they hover around 30%. (So that's a lot.) - Source: Francine Cournos, M.D. March 14, 2013
Substance use disorders and mental illnesses travel together. If you have one, you have a 50% chance of having the other. So someone with a substance use disorder has a 50% lifetime risk of another mental illness. - Source: Francine Cournos, M.D. March 14, 2013
In a study of 200 HIV-infected patients aged between 18 and 65 years, the team found that 15% tested positive for bipolar disorder on the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. - Source: Bipolar disorder common in HIV patients By Mark Cowen, Senior MedwireNews Reporter, September 27, 2012
Some researchers state that as much as 40% to 60% of the HIV-positive population will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Using a more rigid set of criteria the most, Glenn J. Treisman, M.D., Ph.D., who is the director of AIDS Psychiatry Service at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, estimates that at any given time about 1 in 5 HIVers is suffering from major depression and requires psychiatric treatment. - Source: More Than Just Blue, BY Benjamin Ryan September 22, 2010
John Anderson, Senior Director of the Office on AIDS at the APA, and another partner in the study, says he is excited by the collaboration between the groups and sees the survey as an important first step in improving mental health and substance use services for people with HIV. - Source: POZ & AIDSmeds.com, April 28, 2009
LGBT people must confront stigma and prejudice based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while also dealing with the societal bias against mental illness. The effects of this because homosexuality has historically been equated with mental illness, and LGBT individuals have experienced the issues of compounded stigma, double or dual stigma can be particularly harmful." - Source: Reducing Stigma and Discrimination among People who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, March 12, 2008 SAMSHA
One population identified as under-served relative to its need is the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Nearly 1 in 4 LGBT New Yorkers—report having any kind of mental health disorder, this trend is consistent with the national research. The research also suggests that people who are LGBT, particularly youth, are more likely to attempt suicide, and more likely to suffer from co-occurring disorders, particularly substance abuse. - Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2008
18 million people have a serious mental illness. A reasonable estimate suggests that about 720,000 are LGBT. - Source: Reducing Stigma and Discrimination among People who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, March 12, 2008 SAMSHA
The GLBT community has often been reluctant to embrace members who are dealing with mental illness, as well as the issues they bring to the community agenda. - Source: NAMI, 2007 GLBT Listening Session