Friday, August 28, 2015

There's Nothing Funny About Bipolar


When I have to look at a person and say, “I’m bipolar”,  they get a bemused expression on their face as if they’re waiting for the punchline.  That’s all there is to it, and believe me, this is not a joke my friend.  I can’t think of many more things as infuriating as someone using a mental illness as an insult.  You’re going to hear, “Oh my God! Don’t be so bipolar!” much more than you’re going to get, “Wow, do you have to be so diabetic all the time?” 


The truth is that there are many people that are bipolar and have done horrible things.  Things like theft, murder, even rape.  That does not mean that all of us are capable of such unspeakable acts.  Hollywood doesn’t help matters at all.  Have you ever been using one of the movie streaming services and caught a glimpse of a film that might me interesting?  Sure, many people have.  How many times have you clicked on the description of that film and discovered that the lead in the story is a horribly insane person, and you guessed it…bipolar. 


What is the real difference here?  Bipolar disorder is a disease of the mind;  it manifests itself in physical ways all the time.  Just ask anyone who deals with it. Conditions like Fibromyalgia, Cancer and AIDS begin as physical conditions and can eventually have a negative impact on your mind.  I know I’m walking a fine line here.  I would never tell a Cancer patient that their disease isn’t as serious as mine.  I’m just trying to say that it deserves the same amount of patience, acceptance, and respect. 


We hear a lot about stigma these days.  If you try hard enough, you can stigmatize any disease or disorder.  Is social media helping us or hurting us?  I honestly can’t decide.  For example, many, many people commented on the death of Robin Williams.  A lot of the comments were centered around how badly people felt that he was in that kind of pain, and their hearts went out to his family.  Conversely,  the number of comments that described him as a psychotic freak that only cared about himself was staggering.  Some people even went so far to go after his daughter in probably the most painful time of her entire life. 


There are positives to using social media.  I’ve experienced that myself.  I’ve had people from all over the world approach me to talk about my story, or to ask my opinion of their situation.  I’ve yet to come across someone that downright insults me, and I hope that I never do.  I’m not one to hold my tongue on something like that.  I do know that people have quietly unfollowed or unfriended me since I told my story.  Whether they did it because of my disease, I may never know.  The fact of the matter is if they want to walk away from me because I’ve said something that offended them, I completely understand that.  To take a hike because I have a disease that I cannot control is ridiculous. 


I get it.  There are people out there that use mental illness as a way to garner attention or special treatment.  To those people, I say shame on you.  Unfortunately, that kind of behavior has been around forever.  I watched a documentary on a woman who fooled an entire community into believing she was a survivor of the towers falling on 9/11.  People like that are sick, but not in the way they want you to believe.


I know the facts are hard to comprehend.  Especially for those people that have never dealt with mental illness on any level.  All I’m asking is that you think about it.  We didn’t choose this.  If we could “get over it” we would.  Think about the last time you were really sad.  Maybe when a loved one passed away.  Now, imagine feeling like that every single day for months, with no end in sight.  Consider that you could possibly be in that much pain for no discernible reason.  Nobody has passed away; no catastrophe has taken place. 


Envision yourself terrified to leave your house, scared of what people will say about you. Think about losing your job because you were diagnosed with something like diabetes and you had to miss several days because you couldn’t control your blood sugar.  Lastly, pretend for a minute that friends and family members no longer wanted to have anything to do with you because of that illness.


This is just a snapshot of the life of someone with bipolar disorder.  People like me are not coming forward just to get attention.  Believe me, most of the attention we get from the general public, we don’t really want.  The reason we’re coming forward and enduring all of this scrutiny is because we need acceptance.  We need to be able to talk about this.  We deserve to have the right to not feel like a freak or psycho.  I’ve often said, you don’t have to fix it.  You don’t even have to help.  Just don’t make us feel even worse.  Don’t mock us and please don’t call us selfish. 


You have no idea what your future holds.  A day may come where someone very close to you is diagnosed with some form of depression, and now you’re the one looking for help or acceptance.


People don’t have to give us special treatment or attention.  All we’re asking is to be treated like a human being.  A little respect would go a long way.  We aren’t any less worthy of a fulfilling, happy life than the next person. 




You can pick up my book on Amazon or by visiting my website: www.rebeccalombardo.com

Follow me on Twitter @BekaLombardo

And please like my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/notyourjourney

Thank you!







Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Racing Thoughts



For well over 20 years, I have been battling this thing called bipolar disorder.  A big part of my struggle centers around racing thoughts and the anxiety that they create.  After having dealt with this issue for so long, I was beginning to think I had a handle on the situation.  I worked very hard to develop my own coping skills, using a great deal of self-talk.  If you’re unfamiliar with this term, I’ll break it down for you.  It is essentially what one would think.  Talking to yourself using encouragement and common sense.  At least, that’s my definition. 

I have been able to talk myself down on a pretty consistent basis by realizing that all of the obsessing over anything and everything wasn’t going to change the outcome.  If that didn’t help, I would write down whatever I was thinking.  This helped me achieve some peace.  If none of that was helpful, then I tried to picture one thing in my mind and focus on just that.  I put all of my efforts into noticing the colors and the landscape of whatever I chose to focus on. 

I was pretty successful in these endeavors for quite some time.  However, in the last 3-4 months, nothing seems to help.  The hardest time is at night when I am trying to sleep.  I could be tired around 10:00 or 11:00 pm, but the battle to actually fall asleep can last until 4:00 or 5:00 am.  It’s an exhausting and frustrating way to live.  Once I do fall asleep, I can’t wake up until far too late in the day because I am so tired, I feel as if I’ve been drugged.  One can imagine that I’m not getting a lot done under these circumstances. 

I don’t know about you, but I am flat-out a basket case if I don’t get enough sleep at night.  I get the shakes, my vision is blurry, I have headaches, and I’m often nauseated.  So, these last few months have been a struggle for me.  I’m trying so hard to keep a positive outlook on everything, but this lack of sleep is causing an extremely negative frame of mind.  I’ve spoken to my doctor, and he has increased one of my medications, but frankly it’s not helping.  Not even a little bit.  I’ve tried everything at this point. Turning off the TV, using thunderstorm sound effects, even combining my medication with Benadryl.  I’m extremely aggravated, and I just want to know when it’s going to come to an end. 

I’m at a point in my life where I should be feeling extremely optimistic about what lies ahead.  My first and possibly only book is set to release this week.  I am truly grateful to be able to say that I have made it this far.  However, it is difficult to jump for joy when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.  Next week, I have to see the specialist about my back.  We’ve had to reschedule a couple of times. This last time because our cat, Hayley was very sick.  Which, of course, added to my inability to sleep.  I’m sure that if I wasn’t in this much pain, and I could be more active during the day, I could probably sleep better at night.  I’m willing to test that theory if I can ever get some relief for my Sciatica. 

Depression, anxiety, fear, grief, nightmares, PTSD…all of these things can lead to racing thoughts.  It’s like a row of dominos.  Just tap on one, and the rest will fall.  I just wish a resolution could be achieved a bit quicker.  I know what happens to me emotionally when the lack of sleep finally gets to me.  It’s not pretty, and I really don’t want to revisit it.   I’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep fighting because that’s what I do.  Will I be successful? 

Not 100% of the time, but for every time I’ve stumbled I’ve gotten back up stronger and wiser. 

Here goes nothing. 


You can pick up my book on Amazon or by visiting my website: www.rebeccalombardo.com

Follow me on Twitter @BekaLombardo

And please like my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/notyourjourney

Thank you!



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Exciting News!

It looks like my book will be released between August 18 and 21, 2015! 
I couldn't be more excited, and I hope you'll consider checking it out. It will be available on Amazon.com and my new website www.rebeccalombardo.com

Thank you for reading!


Insomnia



It’s been so long since I had a good night's sleep, I can hardly recall what it feels like. I do remember that after I had surgery in 1999, it took me a long time to recuperate. Around October of that year, I started staying up all night watching crime shows.  It didn’t bother me much back then that I was up all night and slept all day.  It drove my parents nuts, but I wasn’t able to work at the time, so I didn’t see it as any big deal.  I do know there was a time when the medications I usually take at bedtime would knock me out.  Not so much anymore. 

Watching the clock turn into 5:33 am, I am left to wonder what the hell is going on.  I’m going on three months of not being able to fall asleep or wake up at a decent hour.  It’s incredibly frustrating on many levels.  The middle of the night is scary.  That’s when all of the doubts and fears creep into my head.  I’ve tried everything that all of the websites suggest, and it’s just not working.  I hate myself knowing that my husband has been asleep all of this time, and when (if) I finally fall asleep, I won’t be able to wake up for several hours.  The whole day that I could have spent with him is wasted. 

I realize that everyone feels like crap the next day if they don’t get any sleep.  However, I start to have some crazy physical reactions.  Not getting any sleep quite literally makes me sick. Of course, I have a lot on my mind.  So much is swimming around in my head; I can’t get control over any of it.  The last few weeks have been an absolute roller coaster. 

The release of my book is just around the corner.  I know that some of the sleep disturbance can be attributed to excitement and fear due to the book.  I am excited, but I am also guarded.  Every time I get my hopes up, everything turns to crap.  So, I am cautiously optimistic.  At this point, I’m so exhausted that the anticipation is beginning to turn into panic.  I’m struggling through this whole post, barely able to settle my brain down to complete a thought. 

I consistently lack confidence in all situations.  Especially when I’m all alone in the dark.  I start to remember things that I pushed to the back of my mind. I know that I have to find a solution to this now that my hands have started to shake.  That’s one of the first physical signs of no sleep.  I get the shakes.  I have no control over my thoughts.  My brain starts blowing the tiniest of details out of proportion.  Eventually, I will feel like I’m going cross-eyed.  What is wrong with me?

I need to find a solution to this problem.  I talked to my doctor a couple of weeks ago, and he suggested a higher dosage of medication.  Our insurance won’t let us fill the new prescription yet.  So, I get to sit up all night and stare at the walls, feeling delusional.  I’ve hit a dead end.  It would usually be at this point in my post that I have an epiphany and understand without a shadow of a doubt what I must do, and how I will do it.  I’m afraid this time around, I just don’t have any answers.  I’m terrified of what will happen if I don’t get some real sleep soon.  I have no idea how to fix this situation.  All I can do is hope that sooner rather than later, an answer will present itself.  I am struggling.  What I can do is tell you that if you’re going through this as well, you aren’t alone.  Maybe together we can figure this out.  I’m here, and I’m wide awake. 

It’s 6:05

You can pick up my book on Amazon or by visiting my website: www.rebeccalombardo.com

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Thank you!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Reality

As much as I’ve tried to remain positive and focus on the good, I’ve reached a point where I just have to try to be realistic.  I am experiencing a myriad of emotions every day.  There are times when I can put two and two together and know for certain that this or that is the trigger.  We're all living in a world where nobody is quite what they seem, and things never go the way they were planned.  However, I think it’s more than just the average highs and lows of an otherwise normal life. 

It’s time to get to the doctor and have a talk about medication.  I’ve been on the same medications for several years now, and I am noticing that I’m not getting the same benefits that I was at the beginning.  I’m not sleeping at night.  I mean, at all.  Even though I’ve always been a night person, the sadness and the loneliness is kicking my ass right now.  I know my husband loves me unconditionally, but having to sit up all night alone, feeling sad is very painful.  Having to spend the following day and into the evening alone is even worse. 

While it is true, there are many people that can say that they are away from their spouse more than they would like, I take it especially hard.  I know that I have friends, and I love them all.  However, I don’t have that one special person that I can call or text every day that knows me inside and out.  A close friend that can just come on over and give me a kick in the ass and get me laughing again.  Which I guess explains why at times I am irrationally attached to my cats.  At any given time, I can look around, and at least one of them is there for me. They are a constant source of joy and amusement. 

My anxiety has reached an all-time high, the racing thoughts are consistent, and I’m beginning to feel an overwhelming amount of sadness.  It wouldn’t be entirely far-fetched for someone to be literally standing here waving a red flag in my face.  I’m not stupid, I know where I’m headed.  The downward spiral is just around the corner, and now that I have finally begun to recognize the warning signs, I am determined to do whatever I can to keep it from happening.

So, tomorrow we’ll call the doctor and see about getting an appointment.  As much as I hate trips to the doctor, it’s a necessary evil.  It’s time for me to start practicing what I preach.  I was on Twitter last night helping this girl deal with some issues she was facing.  Each time I hit send, the thought crossed my mind, this all sounds vaguely familiar.  Maybe you should take your own advice, moron.  It’s always easier to offer advice than it is to follow it. 

For now, I’ll hope for the best but expect the worst.  I think I owe it to myself to have a few “me” days where I just worry about putting the pieces back together.  Disappointment is lurking around every turn, and you can’t always rely on or even trust what you feel may be a sure thing.  So, first and foremost make sure you’re OK.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the other people in your life.  It just means that you’re smart enough to know that now and then, it’s OK to be just a little selfish. 


You can pick up my book on Amazon or by visiting my website: www.rebeccalombardo.com

Follow me on Twitter @BekaLombardo

And please like my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/notyourjourney

Thank you!