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Bi Bi Baby

I Need Help

July/August 2007

Jim Pickett
Shocking as this will sound, I am mentally ill. Please act surprised.

I'll get to the gories in a second, but long story short, in early March I was diagnosed with depression, which involved a stint in a gay nut house. The Dx got a bit more interesting a few months later when my mental health team -- a shrink named Venus and a therapist named David (both of whom I adore) -- decided, with me of course, that I was Bipolar 2. Meaning I regularly cycle through periods of manic to depressive behavior, none of which get too bad and don't include major grandiosity or psychoses during the mania or the inability to leave my bed or crawl out of my cave for days at a time during the depression. So it's Bipolar Lite, mm, mmmm, less calories but still crazy fun that may wind ya up in the loony bin, fruit loop-flavor.

For a little official context, it's true that gay people have higher rates of depression and other mental illnesses than the rest of the population, and people with HIV are also blessed with more of the above. So, nope, I'm not alone, and yep, I'm not all that special.

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While I believe I have always been empathetic and compassionate regarding issues of mental health and am caring and supportive of friends who are dealing with one thing or another, at some level the whole mental illness thing used to slightly freak me out, make me a bit uncomfortable. Like I had to have my guard up around "them" because, well, ya just never know when the cuckoo bananas bird is gonna yodel. Should one have the white van on speed dial? Tweet, tweet, hey, beep beep!

Now of course I am officially diagnosed as one of "them" and damn if it doesn't feel like an enormous relief. "So that's why I have felt this way for the better part of my life!"

"I'm not crazy!"

Hold up, I sort of am crazy, but at least there's a reason, an answer, and help.

Getting to that point of sweet relief, however, was absolute torture. Someone you love, desperately so, looking into your eyes and telling you those three little words -- "You need help" -- is not exactly an airbrushed feelings moment, though it lasts. The recognition that I needed some "help" via the man who was in the weeks-long process of breaking my heart felt shameful, embarrassing, and made me really, really pissed off. Because it was all his fault, dammit. I knew I was unraveling, but I would have stayed nicely raveled, thanks, if he hadn't pulled one of the many loose threads that kept me together. Men, ugh. But I nodded and muttered, "Yes, I do," and we made a plan. The plan was that he would be back to pick me up in the morning to take me somewhere for said "help."

Where-EVER. I wasn't exactly on board, and pretty much knew I would blow him off in the morning. Help my ass. Help this, mo fo!

Not more than 10 minutes after he left my house, the police arrived. He had called them because he had (good) reason to believe that I was in a bad state and considering doing bad things, or at least one bad thing, to myself. As they were coming down the hall I rang him on his cell and whispered, "Why?" Moments later, the policemen at my door, both super nice and super cute (still noticeable through the haze of suicidal ideation) made it super clear that they had no intention of leaving me alone. Like a sucker I had divulged to them, so nice and cute, that earlier that day, I had indeed been thinking about. ... Okay, "we're just doing our job." Now I either had to call someone who would agree to come over and stay with me -- they would wait for this to transpire, drat -- or they were going to take me "somewhere to talk to someone."

Naively I got in the back seat of the squad thinking I would go some-where and talk to some-one and be home some-time later that evening. It was now 9 p.m. or so, and well, I'd be back in my bed by 11, yeah.

Woe is the naive, for he shall remain some-where for some-time to equal three days and three nights, tossing and turning on a plastic bed decidedly less comfy than the one at home. And those days would be filled with group sessions after group sessions, including, yes, art therapy (I have the madness paintings to prove it), punctuated by med times and meal times and a few games of Uno and some decaffeinated coffee, which was one of the greatest horrors of all. Topped at least once by the Evil Counselor Queen (ECQ) who told me privately, after learning I had tried to sign myself out the first morning of my psychiatric getaway spa, all stern with a "don't mess with Mama" 'tude, "How dare you! You are meeeeyentalleeee eeeyelll. I don't want you representin' me in D.C. with an untreated meeeeyental eeeyelllnyess."

Yeah, I thought, if we rid D.C. of everyone with untreated psychological disorders there'd be a whole lotta nada in that town. I didn't say that though, I agreed with him. "Yes, I am mentally ill." Didn't want to rustle the feathers of ECQ or anyone else for that matter who could thwart my quest for sweet freedom with an unfortunate notation or 20 in my chart.

I need help.

Editor's Note: Reported in May -- "One in five HIV-positive individuals thought of suicide in past week, finds U.S. study." Visit www.LifeLube.org and click on the blog, or www.aidsmap.org.


Got a comment on this article? Write to us at publications@tpan.com.


  
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This article was provided by Positively Aware. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. Visit Positively Aware's website to find out more about the publication.
 
See Also
Ten Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV
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