I must share events that happened last weekend…incidents of friends in crisis...or so it was thought, and so it may have been...
The first happened on Friday evening while I was in the middle of a GNP+NA full board meeting call. I received a text from a friend in New York asking if I had heard our friend Daniel B had died (she knows Daniel and I are very good friends). My heart dropped to my feet…tears began to flow…
THEN I immediately started what turned into 12 hours of diligent Facebook back and forth. First I went to Daniel's Facebook. I read the posts for the day, tracked back to one that said, "I am taking a break from social media." Then there were a couple of darker posts...which indeed concerned me.
I am a Registered Nurse by training, with highest scores on my Nursing Boards in Psychiatry...and I have personal family experience with mental illness. After doing my "research," I "tagged" the only people in New York that I thought might know how to get to Daniel in "real life." They answered that they had not been close for a while, but expressed concern...and would I please let them know when I heard anything.
This led to my texting Daniel's number, to calling his number... Finally several hours into our ordeal, a young lady who lives in New York, accompanied by NYPD, went to Daniel's apartment...and we were all blessedly reassured that he was OK. Daniel advised that his accounts had been compromised...and only he knows the whole truth of this evening.
BUT, this event got me thinking. And this thinking was put into concrete thought when on Sunday evening I was contacted by a friend in Arkansas asking, "Have you heard from Robert B?" (no relation to Daniel though we are all friends). So again I go into "has anyone heard, does anyone know his address, etc."
This was a much shorter night...only about 6 hours...when finally another of my close friends posted that she had spoken directly with Robert and he asked her to share that he is indeed OK, but that he needs some time for self-care.
As the waiting was going on into the wee hours of Monday morning, this phrase came to my head, "We are Not Alone," yet we all too often have no way of "checking in" on each other except for social media.
So as we are waiting to hear hopefully good news, I am Facebook chatting with my Arkansas friend and suggest to her that we need a means of REALLY checking in on each other, because as strong as we HIV/AIDS activists are, we still need to know that there are others who care about us, love us, would miss us if we were gone. She agreed, as has every other activist I have shared this thought with since.
I plan to lift up this very thought at the ADAP Advocacy Association Regional Conference in Atlanta, where the focus is on how the Affordable Care Act impacts our Ryan White funding, etc. I expressed my concerns to CEO Brandon Macsata, explaining the events I experienced on Friday and Sunday nights…that I felt we also need to assure that our mental wellbeing is being addressed...that now with new and improved coverage...we MUST, as activists, assure that this is addressed.
When I attend AIDS Watch 2015, I will also lift up my concerns there introducing what I hope others will see as a necessity. "You Are Not Alone"…that groups of activists who are very close to each other can commit to "checking in" on each other, that we will agree to provide our personal phone numbers, street address, etc., ONLY to be used if we do not respond to phone calls or texts.
So, on this Valentine's Day 2015, I leave you with two Michael Jackson songs, as he too went through trials and tribulations similar to ours as HIV/AIDS Activists...
You Are Not Alone
This one because I truly BELIEVE...
We Are The World
I hope this inspires you. It comes from the depths of my heart...as each and every person that I have met in person, who follows me via all the social media I am part of are important to me!