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"The View From My Depression"

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

As a gay man with HIV/AIDS living with the virus, medications, doctors, hospitalizations for 20+ years, HIV is in and of itself a depression.

In 2005, my partner passed away and his father sued for possession of our house.  The court granted the father a lis pendens, which made the property unsellable.  I became ill again in 2006 and was placed on state disability.  Unable to work and unable to continue the court costs, the house was foreclosed upon.  My partner's name was not on the title of the house, but the courts allowed this to stand.  (Gay marriage was not an option.)

I moved to another state to help take care of my elder parents in 2007.  I applied for SSDI and SSI in 2007 and have had one denial, a hearing, a second denial and am awaiting an appeal.  Two doctors have signed paperwork stating that I am disabled according to their examinations in accordance with Social Security Disability criteria.  In three years, nothing has happened for certain. 

I travel 130 miles each way to the doctor.  The state I live in is very large, with a small population, and there are only two cities in the state that specialize in HIV treatment.  If I use the vehicle that I own, a van, it costs 90+ dollars to go round trip to the doctor.  I am not allowed to earn income as I am under consideration for SSDI.

I have been subsisting on funds provided by the Ryan White Act, which helps pay for my rent, subsidizes my medications and medical treatments.  With no income, I qualify for LIEAP Energy assistance program, which covers most of the utilities, IF I keep the house at 65 degrees or less in the winter time. I was just diagnosed with type II diabetes and possibly early stage HIV dementia.  Having been admitted to the hospital with a blood sugar level of 800+, I should have been in a coma.  Surprisingly, I'm still alert, sort of, and functioning, sort of.

I asked my parents for and received money for gas to drive to appointments.  My siblings have decided that using my parents money to go to doctor appointments in a form of elder abuse, so I'm not receiving assistance from them any further.  I'd like to move to the town where I see my doctor, but the Housing Assistance Fund (from Ryan White funding) allows $549 a month for a 1 bedroom rental that includes utilities.  Even in a smaller town in this state, one cannot find a rental for that amount that includes utilities.  Plus I have a dog, which makes it more difficult.

I really don't see how to ever get out of this depression, and suicide is a constant glance over my shoulder.  It's not totally hopeless, but the depression keeps getting deeper and deeper and I have neither the skill, the funds, nor the stamina to climb.