Category Archives: health

AIDS IS HELL

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This is the last week of school before Christmas break. And for Tuesday’s class, we’ve been tasked with reading Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir. And this is the strangest feeling ever.

Im so excited for Christmas break. No school. No homework. Just relaxation and the joys of Christmas – The lights, the music, the snow, the food. the presents!  And yet, that joy is mixed with a feeling of nausea. Reading this book is probably one of the hardest I’ve had to read, along with our books on the Holocaust last month. Ever page weighs on my chest.

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AIDS crept into the gay community like a stalker in the night. The virus itself is actually brilliant. It’s smart. It knows how to survive. It can sit dormant for long periods of time, infecting more and more of your body before any dire symptoms arise. By the time the worlds realized that there was a “Gay disease” it was too late. Enough men were infected with the virus (and were also asymptomatic) that it was hopeless. Men were having sex because they felt fine, unknowingly spreading the virus that caused what was then called “gay-related immune deficiency” or GRID.

There were tons of misinformation in the beginning. The disease was prevalent among Haitians, leading researchers to believe that was the origin of the disease. Also, since it was mainly gay men having with the disease, it was assumed it was a gay problem. And with America being both racist and homophobic, GRID wasn’t seen as a problem, because really, who cared about faggots and poor foreigners anyways? was the common thought.

The disease spread, originally being seen as something that only big-city slutty gays would get. It was believed that exposure took time, and related sexual intercouse. New York and San Fransisco were the hotbeds of the disease for America, with LA leading on their tail.

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The Reagan administration was completely homophobic, passing no LGBT legislation, and Reagan was openly against homosexuality. Along with that, many religions refused to to take part in what was now known as HIV (Human immunodieffeinrcy virus) education. The church refused to take a stance, saying only condoms were against God and that refraining from sex was the only answer for gays.

Gay men were dropping like flies. The death-toll rose daily. HIV cases began sprouting up around the world in countries like Australia, Canada, Brazil, and had been in Africa for quite some time (It is now believed that HIV originated in Kinshasa, DRC, and was transferred to humans from the primate disease SIV).

The gay community sat and wondered wonder if they would survive, or if they were simply waiting for their turn to die.

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A slew of early-stage HIV medication was used, like AZT, with little success. And protests began, begging the world to take the disease seriously and stop the genocide of the gay community.

 

Finally, in the late-90’s and into the 2000’s, after the gay community suffered in fear and mourning for almost 20 years, AIDS research took a turn for the better with more funding and more dedicated research being given to the disease. And all of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the grassroots non-profits and the protests from groups like ACT UP.

Now, in 2018, we have Prep, which is a daily pill that can help reduce your chances of HIV infection with an almost 100% success rate. And we have PEP which is a series of pills that can be taken within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, and can prevent it from infecting you.

We also have our strongest set of weapons:  Knowledge. 

We know that condoms can save lives. We know that HIV is everywhere, not just the gay community. We know that being smart about sex, and being smart about who you have sex with, can also save lives.

 

Being a gay guy in 2018, I have to say that I am so fortunate and so privileged to benefit from the actions of the gay community of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. I’m so relieved that I never had to go through the crisis period, where they spent everyday finding out another friend was infected or had died, or worse still, finding out that they themselves had the disease.

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I remember the famous Newsweek cover about Saving Private Ryan that said “War Is Hell”

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Well, after reading this book I’ve also learned that HIV/AIDS is also hell. And the gay community were the grunts on the frontlines. The ones who died so that the world could come away with knowledge of the disease, and medication, and a future of potential hope.

 

And to all my fellow gays, here in 2018, I ask that we be smart. Viruses are much better at their jobs than we are. They evolve and adapt so much faster than human medication. And I know a lot of younger gays see Prep and PEP and the savior we’ve been waiting for. The “end of AIDS”, but viruses don’t work that way. If not used properly, the virus can form a resistance to the drug, thus creating a second epidemic that will take countless lives. And also, I know a lot of gays these days see Prep as such an all-all-encompassing cure, that they feel there is no longer a need for condoms.

To that I say, READ THIS BOOK. Read about how slow and agonizing a death from AIDS is. Read about wasting. Read about the constant weakness, the constant pain, and the knowledge that there is no cure. You want to see hell? I would imagine that dying slowly, knowing there is no way out of it, knowing that if you would have just used a condom all of this could have been prevented…. That’s hell. I can’t imagine a worse hell.

Because at the end of the day, HIV isn’t a disease for sluts or whores. It takes 1 time.

1 time.

 

1 single encounter.

 

That’s all. So always use a condom. 

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This Christmas, remember we are so fortunate to live in the time we live in. And because of that, we need to respect our past and those who died for us. And we also need to respect future generations. Do we want to pass HIV on to the next generation? FUCK NO.

So, this holiday season:

Get to know your sexual partner first,

Wear a motherfucking condom,

Volunteer at an HIV nonprofit, take part in and AIDS walk, or donate to a charity, like this one here: AIDS UNITED

Or, go to the next step, and help out at your local LGBTQ youth center. Help educate the new generation. Help inspire young runaways. Help in any way you can, because it’s our fucking duty as gays. Our community has been to hell and back, and let’s not go there again.

Can I get an Oorah!, please?

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~ The Dark Horse

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We Need To Relax, Right Now.

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Ok everyone let’s all take breath and be real here:  For those of us who are already prone to depression and/or anxiety, the current world is too much.  From Donald Trump, to North Korea, to Russia.  Even things that are supposed to be helpful like #MeToo is incredibly stressful and exhausting.

 

 The world right now kind of feels like Singapore in the Independence Day sequel.

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And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m totally torn, and it’s killing my energy.  Part of me says, “I need to know this shit!  This is important.  This is the work we live in.  I can’t bury my head in the sand”

But then the other part of me is like, “You’re one person and you’re prone to depression and panic attacks.. TAKE A NIGHT OFF FROM THE WORLD AND DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU SMILE YOU DUMBASS! 

 

And you know, that second part of me is right.  Yes, this is the world we live in.  And yes, a lot of people are saying a whole lot of mean and stupid shit right now.  But stressing myself out by thinking about it every night and asking how can I fix this isn’t going to fix the it.  In fact, all it will do is make my life worse.  So, what to do?

 

I think a balance is good.  Balance is always good right? So say most religions and philosophies least.

So, I’m working on a few articles that I want to try and pitch to HuffPost or something, or at least put on Medium (I’m like 99% sure they’ll all be rejected).  But that way I can at least try to have my voice out there.  But I also need time where I simply turn off.

This week I’ve been taking time before bed.  For 30 minutes I read Eat, Pray, Love (don’t judge, it’s actually a great book), and then the other 30 minutes I watch an old show called Strangers With Candy.  It’s insanely hilarious and offensive, but in this way where you always know it’s a joke. It’s one of those beautiful examples of something that can shock you but also make you feel really good inside.  I find myself laughing out loud when I watch it, and damn that’s life saving.  

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If any of you are interested, it’s about a 46 yr old high school drop out, ex-hooker user, boozer, and loser – who goes back to high school to pick up right where she left…

good times!

 

So yeah, I guess that’s it for now.  I’m learning to not stress myself out.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it built by one person.  We can all only do so much, and allowing the current global crisis kill us with stress won’t help anything.

 

So let’s do what we can.  Write to your congressman, write editorials about your views, volunteer to help the needy, and for god sakes get and out vote in November and again in 2020!!!!   In the meantime, do what you can, and remember to relax.  Life is hard, so let’s not make it any harder on ourselves.  We’re a lot more useful to the world if we’re not paralyzed and exhausted from depression and anxiety.

 

~ The Dark Horse

Depression and Weather

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So has anyone else out there noticed that your depression and weather seem to go hand-in-hand?     So right now in Ohio we’ve had like a 5-day cloudy streak.   Not a partly cloudy streak, or a rainy streak…. just thick thick grey clouds that don’t produce rain…..

The kind where the sun doesn’t ever break though.   And the entire world seems to be dimmed by the lack of sunlight.   I don’t even mind rain.  At least with rain you have the beauty of water falling everywhere.   The noise of life outside your window.    And if we’re really lucky we can get some thunder and lighting!  I feel oddly alive when there is a storm.   Also during a storm I feel like I actually have an excuse to just brew some tea and snuggle up and watch the rain if I so choose.

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Cloudy days however don’t give me that great feeling.    Cloudy days make me feel FUCKING HORRIBLE.  

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Like have any of you ever seen Melancholia?   Where Kirstin Dunst is so depressed she literally can’t even get out of the bathtub sometimes?   Yeah its like that…. (well ok not really that bad)  But still I feel horrible.  I can feel myself falling asleep at the gym.   I can feel myself being drowsy when I drive somewhere.  I can feel myself feeling lethargic from just standing up and doing anything.  So fuck you clouds, you dirty bastards.  Go away and stay away.

 

But to do when its cloudy outside?   Well going online, the advice seems shitty as fuck.  Apparently its a good idea to move to a warm sunny climate….. So thats right all you middle class people out there!    All you have to do is quit your job, leave your family, sell your house, somehow obtain a visa for Belize, and you’re good to go!   DUH ITS THAT SIMPLE PEOPLE! 

…..Yeah I know, crappy advice.

Another real gem is to buy one of those artificial sunlight lamps and to lay under it like you’re tanning…. apparently it tricks your mind into thinking its sunny or something?   But personally, I can’t see how sitting inside a room of your house during the day, under a lamp, would make me feel like anything besides a patient at the dentist.

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Although then again….the beach sounds like a better idea now doesn’t it?

For real though, when it comes to the weather I honestly have no idea how to feel better besides to just wait it out.    Does anyone out there have any good ideas?  Or tricks of your own?  If so, leave it in the comments section, id love to hear it!

~ The Dark Horse

Depression, The Hidden Killer

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So I’m back in hometown for a few months…. ugh the raging shithole only gets worse I tell ya.

 

Right now my hometown is going through a really fun heroin epidemic that is caused from people becoming addicted to opiates and then needing a stronger and stronger high.  What is happening is that they’re turning to heroin in desperation for bigger highs and then theyre have overdoses and dying.

good times.

 

So now myBut  hometown is having this massive campaign of like, “end the stigma of heroin recovery”.   “Go find help, people are there for you”.     “Here are heroin recovery stories” and all this stuff…. which look, is great.  I mean if you’re on heroin please get help.  Like seriously, you’re destroying yourself and most likely everyone around you.

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But at the same time I also can’t help but kind of be massively annoyed.    My hometown is very conservative.   Its a shithole in Ohio.  Most people are republican and the ones who are democrats aren’t actually that liberal.  They’re Ohio-level liberal which is still pathetically moderate.

So where am I going with all this?  Why am i rambling?

 

Well it just boggles my mind how growing up here I was always like, Hey I’m gay and getting beat up all the time for it.  My teachers watch and do nothing.  I really want to make movies and go write books to inspire people to be better.  To help people who are in a situation like mine.  I just really need someone to be there for me. I just need a friend.  A mentor.   Anyone who can see how much pain Im in all the time.   Anyone to make the constant harassment and loneliness end.

And I was just met with,  “Well its your own fault”.  “Stop drawing attention to yourself”.  “You chose to be gay, stop lying, God hates you”.  “You have no talent”.   “Nobody Likes you”.   “you’re not worth it”.

 

But apparently if you’re a heroin addict then my hometown will be there for you.   Stories in the paper about hope.  About not being ashamed to ask for help.   Free helplines to get immediate help.   Stories about asking your family for forgiveness and help.

How is heroin addiction this puffy inspirational story that seems like it was written by the Susan G. Koman foundation?   And yet if you’re actually struggling and begging for help you don’t get it?

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This is why depression becomes a cycle.   A vicious horrible cycle.   And I have a feeling you all know this cycle as well.   We know what its like for people to not care about us.  We know the story.  You ask for help and you’re told things like, “Oh its just a bad day, grow up”.  Or, “You’re a drama queen”, or whatever excuse the normal human uses to dismiss your problems.   So we adapt.  We stop telling people how horrible we feel.  We stop sharing our feelings.

WE STOP TRUSTING OTHERS

 

Then we go internal.   We are the sole responsibility of our misery and pain because everyone else has made in painfully clear that they don’t want to deal with it.

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Then people with depression have high rates of abuse of drugs and alcohol, self harm, sex and gambling addiction, and even worse, suicide.

 

So dear world:

DO YOU THINK THAT MAYBE IF YOU ACTUALLY LISTENED TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE IN NEED OF HELP THAT PERHAPS WE WOULDN’T HAVE THESE PROBLEMS OF PEOPLE DYING OF HEROIN?

 

MAYBE PEOPLE WOULDN’T TURN TO ALCOHOL TO NUMB THE PAIN AND THEN RAM INTO ANOTHER CAR WHILE SPEEDING HOME?

 

MAYBE PEOPLE WOULDN’T WAKE UP ONE MORNING AND TELL THEMSELVES THAT THIS IS THE DAY THEY CHOOSE TO DIE?

 

Hey, here is a side note to the common human, HAVE YOU EVER EVEN IMAGINED WHAT IT MAY BE LIKE TO ACTUALLY WANT TO DIE BECAUSE YOURE SO MISERABLE? 

 

So look people there is hope.  All major countries have lifeline and depression hotlines.

Here is a list of lifelines throughout the world  USE THEM!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

 

Don’t let yourself go.  Self harm of any kind isn’t worth it.  I know you’re feeling like people don’t care.  But allowing yourself to die because the commoner doesn’t care about you is terrible…. I mean come on… normal people suck.  They are so Plain Jane.   Don’t let their words effect you.  YOU ARE STRONGER THAN THEM, I KNOW YOU ARE

The Daily Grind Really Is Killing Us

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So the other week I made a post about how the daily grind is killing us and I feel like it came off as really crazy.  Like in an “I was an old man yelling at kids for being in his lawn” type of way.   And then wouldn’t you know it…. a few days ago I open the paper and what article do I see?  THE DAILY GRIND IS KILLING YOU was the title, and it was staring me right in the face.   And to make things even better, the study was conducted in my home state.   (Great job Ohio….you bunch of fuckers).

 

Anyways the study says that hating your job during your 20’s and 30’s leads to increased health issues in your 40’s and beyond.    Stress and misery it seems, is literally going to kill us.

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So what does this mean for us?  Well for me, it means I need to live my life.  I need to not settle for things I don’t want.    Bad jobs that bore me to death and that are beneath me need to stop.  I can’t keep picking the lowest hanging fruit simply because I fear failing.

And furthermore, look:  If being stressed and miserable at work kills us, I’m sure that being stressed and miserable in all other aspects of our life is also killing us.    Those of us who are struggling in life:  The depressed, the anxious, the scared, the abused, the all-around miserable.   We need to fight so hard so we don’t end up as just another statistic in this study.

 

Im not ready to give up and dammit neither should you guys!

 

Fight on my friends!

~The Dark Horse

 

I Had A Panic Attack At The Gym Today (Or, Never Back Down!)

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So whats the picture you’re looking at?  Well thats my hand.  And whats all those red marks?  Well thats blood.

You see , whenever I have a panic attack at the gym and I feel like I’m losing my mind, getting dizzy, tired, and am going to pass out, I go to the locker room because I keep a blood sugar monitor in my gym bag.

So I test my blood sugar, and if my sugars aren’t low, I force myself to walk back out onto the gym floor and continue with my workout.

Thats right.

I go back out on the floor with a bloody finger and champ on like nothing is wrong.

And obviously, when you have an open wound and you start lifting heavy things it encourages blood flow and so your hand gets a little….um….. red.

 

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So why am I bringing this all up?  Well because dealing with depression, anxiety, and panic is all about never giving up.  Its about not letting your brain win.  You my sweet little luvmuffins must rise above and kick ass.

 

I will admit, this is a much heated debate between me and my therapist:

She says she worries its a coping method.  Like a drug.   You get anxious, you then test, you then feel better from the reassurance.  Much like, a smoker craves the cigarette, lights one up and feels the burn, then feels better.

I see it as, I have 2 options: Have a panic attack and embarrass myself so badly at the gym that I never return, or I challenge my belief that I’m feeling weak, see its in my head, and then I force myself to continue on.

 

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So what have we debated it out to?  Well, we have come to an agreement:   Testing the blood sugar is ok for the time being since I only do it if Im having a panic attack.  If it was a habitual thing (Like, if I needed to test once a day to make sure I’m ok) then it would be a problem.   But we’ve both agreed that shedding a bit of blood is fine if it means I will 1.) Continue the workout and not freak out and leave, and 2.) Continue to regularly go to the gym.

 

Whats so important about working out and getting some exercising?  Well Im so glad you asked!  Theres tons of reasons!  obviously, keeping yourself healthy mentally and physically is very important for anyone, but especially for us with mental health issues.

“Well hey that sounds dandy!  What kind of benefits does it have for us folks?”

Well I’m so glad you asked!  Ill tell you now!

1.)  The one I’m sure you’ve all heard of.  exercise releases neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids.   These are basically the “happy drugs” your body creates.  These chemicals interact with your brain and basically tell it to cheer the fuck up.

2.) Secondly, while temporarily lowering the immune system while working out, it has long-term immune system defense powers!   Its the same with muscles.  Your body goes “Oh damn this muscle is torn! Lets patch it up with more muscle!   and thats how you go from this to this:

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Same deal applies with the immune system.  Your body recognizes your body is in turmoil during a workout and therefore ups its game in the immune system.  Hence, healthier humans.

3.) Better self-esteem.  We are humans (sadly).  And despite the fact that we all experience so much pain and misery we still have our basic animalistic side.  Being less sexually desirable effects us mentally….as it should.   Its part of sexual selection.  Its how the human race learned to outcompete through evolution.   Its why fit healthy people raise fit healthy children.  Their genes are stronger.  Ever hear people talk about how “family history” with illnesses gives you a higher chance of having it?  Thats evolution.

We are attracted to physically fit people because its in our genes to be.  Fucking a hot person will mean heather babies.   Therefore, making your physical health better, actually makes you in better mental shape as well because your self esteem goes up!

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Consciously we see this as a “hot guy”.  But the reason for that is because our bodies are saying, “FUCK THIS MAN! HE WILL PRODUCE STONG HEALTHY OFFSPRING!”  ….However, I have to admit for gay guys like me…. the purpose of our sex drive seems relatively meaningless i suppose considering that a man on man experience will never produce offspring…. anyways, thats for another post.

4.) Lets all be straight up and honest here…. if you’re miserable and depressed theres one sure fire way to make it even worse, and thats getting fat, and lazy.  Now weight gain has SO MANY MORE implications than just being less sexually desirable.  Your immune system gets weaker, the health of your skin gets worse (which is why fatter people always seem to have blemishes and why fit people seem to have the skin of Greek gods) cholesterol becomes an issues, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, muscle and bone loss.   Exercise will just save all of us a whole lot of hassles, especially when we get older.

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5.) Social interaction is another huge one!   Even if you don’t talk to anyone at the gym.   Just being there, being around people, having a common goal with them.  That helps!

For example, Im sure all of you are like me and have had days where you’re just so depressed that you haven’t done anything.  Perhaps you didn’t even leave the house?  Maybe you went on Netflix and binged 9 or 10 episodes of a show in a row?   (Oh you’ve never done this???…. hahaha……youre full of shit).   And remember how bad you feel that night before you go to bed?   You almost feel like you’ve lost track of reality?  Time meant nothing, you didn’t see another human for an entire day.  You feel sticky and puffy.  Being around other humans is good for us because were humans.

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Need more inspiration?  DUDE….HOT PEOPLE!

Now I hate being shallow and I’m not for it in any way….. however, I make the exception for the gym.  Exercise is sooooooo good for your body, and if your inspiration to stay at the gym is gawking at hot people and having fantasies of fucking them THEN DO IT!  ITS YOUR LIFE PEOPLE! …..Looking at all the hot guys at the gym is one of the reasons why I love the gym so much!  And I say that with no shame! ….well some shame…. ok….. thats pretty trashy.  BUT DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO PEOPLE!

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And remember…thees always the locker room 😉

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keep up the good work people!

~ The Dark Horse

(This post was proofread for the most part)