I’ll Be Seeing You – In Memory of Kit –

At Harvey Milk Plaza

My best friend Kit was a bit of a twit before he got sick, but
he was brilliant and passionate about gay liberation.
Our friendship was based on mutual geekiness.

Kit tinkered with a Mac or a Tandy while I wrote poetry and
listened to Pattie Smith through my headphones.

It was the third year of the AIDS epidemic.

We sat over coffee at the Cafe Flore on a bright
Mediterranean day in San Francisco.

Kit opened his backpack and pulled out a small computer.

It looked like a large calculator.

Kit said that HIV had not infected all gay men.

He suspected that HIV was sexually transmitted, but at that
time no one was certain.

We both knew many men who had died and even more who were sick.

Kit wanted to know what they had in common.

He questioned a small sampling of men and now he questioned me.

I.V. Drugs?

I hate needles.

Acid?

I hate acid.

Poppers ?

They smell like dirty feet.

Alcohol?

I don’t drink.

Weed?

Yes, please.

Then Kit asked me about sex.

Most of it’s icky, I replied.

Kit turned the computer around and showed me a bell curve.

It peaked in the late 1980s and declined in the 1990’s.

Kit said that what looked like new infections were actually
old ones that had advanced to end stage AIDS.

He explained that the virus had already infected most of the men in our age group who were going to die and that as they died the cases in our age group would drop.

Kit said that I would live and he would die.

Two years later Kit was diagnosed with AIDS and two years after that he died.

Kit took his own life when AIDS took his eyesight.

He had survived three bouts of Pneumocystis.

His skin was covered with Kaposi’s lesions and the lesions invaded his internal organs.

The last time I saw Kit I took his hand and told him that I was
going to miss him.

He replied that he loved me so much he’d haunt me.

We laughed together one last time and said goodbye.

Kit had introduced me to Billie Holiday.

He said that she sang from her soul.

This song is for Kit:

Billie Holiday


https://robertmgoldstein.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/04-ill-be-seeing-you.mp3

Billie Holiday – I’ll Be Seeing You
Community Audio

 

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Strange Dream #09

I roam the slums of a jungle;

It is hot and I am always thirsty.

I drink from the

fountain marked

Colored;

It’s magic quenches

my thirst.

At 3 AM savage

sophisticates

jabber and howl.

“Who do you love most,” asks God.

“Jayne Mansfield,” says Max.

“And why is that?” God is so
cleverly all-knowing.

“She’s dead.” Max replies.


(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017 All Rights Reserved

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Virtual Reality and The Dissociative Spectrum

Studies of people who use Virtual Reality as their primary form of entertainment show a spectrum of dissociation.

This idea of a spectrum of dissociation emerges as virtual reality becomes increasingly immersive and the dissociative process becomes more complete and easier to see.

Clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle suggests that users of virtual reality are in a transition from “…a modernist culture of calculation toward a postmodernist culture of simulation.”

When Turkle made these observations in 1996 immersive virtual reality was not available to average users

Turkle wrote: “Windows have become a powerful metaphor for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system…The self is no longer simply playing different roles in different settings at different times. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time.” Now real life itself may be, as one of Turkle’s subjects says, “just one more window.”

A couple of studies suggest that virtual reality increases dissociative behavior and reduces one’s sense of presence in objective reality.

This is from the 2013 paper Sanity and Mental health in an Age of Augmented and Virtual Realities, by Gregory P. Garvey:

“In virtual worlds like Second Life, ‘residents’ may have multiple avatars having different genders through which they enact very different personalities. Such role-playing fits with the description of Dissociative Identity Disorder in the DSM-V. Users of Second Life have experiences akin to depersonalization, de-realization or even dissociative identity disorder.”

Garvey conducted a survey of 110 users of Second Life based on the Structured Clinical Interview for Depersonalization–De-realization Spectrum.

“Many users have multiple avatars, which enact distinct identities or personalities, and this fits the criteria for dissociative identity disorder. To experience any of these disorders in real life may be considered undesirable, even pathological. But for users of Second Life such dissociative experiences are considered normal, liberating, and even transcendent.” Gregory P. Garvey, Dissociation and Second Life: Pathology or Transcendence?

For healthy people the controlled use of the dissociative process is liberating; and virtual reality gives us new ways to express ourselves and learn.

But pathological dissociation compromises the brain’s ability to differentiate
the real from the imaginary.

To dissociate pathologically is to lose ones place in time.

Photo of a male avatar walking in the rain against the backdrop of a black and white snapshot of public housing
in the projects

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017
First posted 2/28/2015

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October’s Featured Blogger: Looking for the Light

Our featured blogger for October is blogger, artist and mental health advocate, Melinda Sandor of the Looking for the Light Blog.

Melinda is also the driving force behind SURVIVORS BLOG HERE, a collaborative of online mental health advocates who write and make art.

If you have questions about in joining the Survivors Blog, send a tweet to @SurvivorsBlog2.

Digital painting of a bridgr in muted tones by Melinda Sandor
Harbor Bridge by Melinda Sandor

When did you decide to start your blog?

I started my first blog, Defining Memories, in 2005 when my Granny had a stroke. Defining Memories was an outlet for the pain and frustration of caring for my grandmother.

Why did you name your blog the ‘Looking for the Light Blog’?

I wanted to find me. I have a psychiatric diagnosis, heart disease and for the last four years Chronic Lyme disease. To move beyond illness I decided to write about other topics. I am good at research and learning, so I started the ‘Looking for the Light’ blog.

Was the decision to be open about your history of abuse a difficult decision to make?

Writing about the trauma that caused my mental health problems is not painful. The response from other bloggers was amazing; I think sharing my worst moments might help someone else to hang on another day.

Do you see some of the stigma surrounding mental illness beginning to lift?

 In 1941, John F. Kennedy’s sister Rosemary suffered from an agitated depression. The procedure used to control her outburst was a Prefrontal Lobotomy. The surgery went wrong. At the age of 23, Rosemary was institutionalized. Her father never acknowledged her mental illness; she was called retarded. Today the stigma continues. Too many people see the fiction in movies as the truth. I want to scream when someone refers to ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. People believe what their fed. I was scared of my first ECT treatment but not because a movie but because it was the first time. I have since had 22 ECT Treatments and can say each one was essential to my health. Am I going to cry why me, or blame or question God? No. I have to use the treatments that work and do my best.

A digital painting of a purple blossom
Flowers by Melinda Sandor

Is there a political dimension to your blog?

The ‘Looking for the Light’ blog is about education and advocacy. I get angry when politicians make uninformed decision that hurt people.

What advice do you have for bloggers who write about mental illness and trauma?

Write about what you know and be comforting. Most of us are not professionals so don’t tell people what to do but guide them to good sources of information. The best way to help others is to work on yourself, and avoid platitudes. The Sun will come out but not every day.   

Tell us a little about The Survivor’s Here.

The ‘Survivors Blog Here’ was born of frustration.  I believe in consistent focus on ones mission. I decided to turn the Survivor’s Blog Here into a group effort and invited other mental health bloggers who seemed to share the sense of mission to the group.

Thank you Melinda!

A Photograph of a lounger in front of full bookshelves
Melinda’s Study by Melinda Sandor

Looking For The Light Blog

Survivors Blog Here

All images (c) Melinda Sandor All Rights Reserved

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