Sunday, November 22, 2015
This time of year, I often feel particularly introspective. 2015 is coming to a close, and I can’t help but look back on the past 10 months. When October hits, I see myself becoming more somber, knowing what the holidays have historically had in store for me. This year, I’m finding myself in a different place.
I’ve really been thinking about how I’ve grown as a person. I know in the past, I’ve changed in ways I wasn’t particularly proud of. For a very long time, it seemed like as each year passed, I became more and more bitter. I hated that about myself, but I didn’t think I could do much to change it. I was stumbling through life, pretending I didn’t care that I was a miserable person.
I cannot tell a lie. Previously, if I found something particularly offensive, I wasn’t afraid to tell anyone and everyone just how pissed off I was. I believe that I’ve blindsided people who were just going about their life, not ever knowing I was coming to unleash my misguided fury. I am grateful to be able to say that today, that is not who I am. I saw this meme online the other day, and I loved it.
I completely connected with it. Sure, there are some reprehensible things on the internet. I understand that. If it’s a fight for a good cause, I’ll be the first one to throw my hat in the ring. If it’s some stranger that I couldn’t care less about or even someone that I do know, talking about politics or giving an opinion on a movie that I don’t agree with, I move on. I keep Bill tucked away in my brain.
Don’t we all have enough on our plates? Do we really have the energy to devote to all of this nonsense? I know I don’t. Why have I always gotten so riled up about people that say stupid, insensitive things? If it’s directly about me or said to my face, well…it’s entirely possible that they’ll have a fight on their hands. But if I can avoid the conflict, I think it’s essential to walk away...and quickly before I change my mind.
It’s like most things, really. It’s all about balance. I don’t mean to say that I’ll just sit here quietly and let people walk all over me or anyone that I love for that matter. Quite the contrary. I do think that I’ve had to learn a difficult lesson about picking my battles. I’ll be the first to admit that I have flown off the handle at people, too quickly and for absurd reasons. I hate the fact that there are people that are no longer in my life because of that. Yet, at the same time I know that perhaps my slightly hysterical nature helped me to thin out the herd, in a sense.
I know I’ll never have all of the answers. I understand that I’ll make mistakes along the way. I’ve most assuredly put myself out in the public eye where I will often be judged or criticized. I will want to fight back and sometimes I will fight back. I just know that at my age, I don’t have time to sit around getting in ridiculous confrontations with even more ridiculous people.
It’s a relief, really. It’s been a long time coming. I deserve to find peace and happiness. We all do. So, on this Thanksgiving, while I will still miss my loved ones dearly, I will feel grateful. For the insight, for the love I do have in my life, and for how I hard I worked to just be me.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
I've decided to start taking questions from my readers. I will do my best to answer any questions you may have about bipolar, writing, marriage, etc. Just always keep in mind that I am not a licensed professional. Any answers I give are based on my own personal experiences. What worked for me, may not work for you.
Here are a few questions I was asked recently:
1. What helped you find the impetus to start your blog?
I started writing my blog to help me relieve some of the pain, stress, and guilt from everything I have been through in my life up until now. I didn't even originally plan on publicizing it. I had always wanted to be a writer, but I gave up on that dream a long time ago. When I started to let people read it, I gained confidence from all of the positive feedback. Once I made it public, the response was overwhelming. I started writing for me...I kept writing for everyone that was learning from it.
2. Over the last two years, what's kept you motivated to continue writing and posting to your blog?
Bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, suicide--all of these issues are widely misunderstood. Once I realized I was reaching people, I knew that I needed to keep going. It was scary because a lot of people didn't know that I had this disorder, and I didn't know what they would say or do. However, the outpouring of support was amazing. It feels incredible to know that you’ve helped someone.
3. What was the process like of shifting from writing a blog to writing a book?
It was difficult staying true to the premise of the book. I wanted it to read like a journal, which is why all of the chapters are dated. It was important to me that everyone understood that it was real and unfiltered. I will admit, I wasn't entirely convinced that I wanted all of these stories out there for the world to see. I can't even count the number of times I had to edit, rewrite, or eliminate chapters. Sometimes it was too overwhelming to be reliving all of these painful experiences over and over. I'm just glad I made it through.
4. What would you say to other people who are dealing with bipolar illness, depression, or other illnesses that can make it hard for them to be able to write and create?
I would say take it slow. Don't be hard on yourself if you don't write a best seller the first time you sit down in front of the computer. There are days when I can't write either. I don't get down on myself because I know that there will be a day when I can. I try to avoid deadlines if I can, but I know that isn't always realistic.
I worry that I'm setting myself up to fail. With the feeling of failure comes tremendous feelings of depression, and that's what we’re all trying to avoid. You may find that you're second guessing yourself, predicting that you won't be able to do it. If you're feeling that way, sit down in front of the computer or with a pen and paper and just see what happens. You might surprise yourself!
You can submit the questions to me via email Paradoks1@aol.com
Or via Twitter @BekaLombardo
Or via Twitter @BekaLombardo
Don't forget to check out my author website - www.rebeccalombardo.com
Monday, October 12, 2015
Lately, as my mood has been the lowest it has been in months, I’ve had many things going on inside my mind. I keep going back to one thought that has been keeping me awake at night. We’ve all noticed that in the last few years, suicide is often at the forefront of our minds. Mainstream media, as well as social media, have been posting a lot more about it, and it seems as if we’re hearing about another suicide every other week.
I’ve been going back and forth in my mind on this topic since I saw a heartbreaking photo online of Jim Carrey, as he helped to carry the casket of his former girlfriend from the church. That could have been my husband. It wouldn’t have been publicized like that, but regardless the pain would have been the same.
Are we doing the right thing? Is talking about suicide online so frequently making it happen more often? Or, does it just seem like it happens more often because we’re talking about it?
I look at a situation like Robin Williams, and the hell his poor daughter went through after his death. She had to close down all of her social media accounts because she was so traumatized by the negative posts about her father’s suicide. That’s pathetic, and how I wish I could reach out to her and tell her how sorry I am. This is what makes me question whether we’re doing the right thing. Perhaps we aren’t doing it the right way?
I’m on social media every single day, and I am posting away about my life, my suicide attempt, my book, my bipolar. It leaves me open to a great deal of criticism. At this point, I’ve even been accused of not even really being bipolar because someone read my book, and their experiences weren’t the same as mine. So, automatically I wasn’t really sick. THAT is really sick.
I’ve been committed on three separate occasions, torn my life apart, lost every job I ever had, put so many scars on my body that I look like I walked through a plate-glass window, and I almost died. If you think I am pretending to go through these things just so now and then someone says, “Wow, I’m really sorry,” you’re the one that needs help. I’m not stupid, weak, a coward, attention seeking, or a failure at life. It’s like the line from Steel Magnolias. “I’m not crazy! I’ve just been in a really bad mood for 40 years!”
I sit here and contemplate whether or not being so open about suicide is the best way to go, on my blog dedicated to being open about suicide. I’ve always been told I’m a walking paradox. This is what I truly want to believe. Yes, this is the right thing. People need to know. They need to understand what this is like. Talking about it isn’t causing it to happen more often, we’re just more open to hearing about it. That has to be the case. Otherwise, everything I’ve done has been for nothing, and I cannot stand the thought of that.
Maybe this is just one of those situations where my mind is all over the place because I’m deep in a bout of depression that has me so completely knocked on my ass, that I’ve got no idea when I’m getting back up. Even at night when I do sleep, my mind creates these horrific scenarios in my head. I can’t help but think, I was lucky enough that didn’t happen, but you’re making me watch it as if it did? WHY?
Going back to why I started this post. Is social media the best thing for mental illness? I think perhaps it’s like anything else, there are pros and cons. I want to believe that the pros far outweigh the cons on this one. I know that personally, and I’m certain due to my experiences, that too much of it sends me into a tailspin. I simply can’t go to that place day after day. It’s far too painful for me. I’m sure there are others that feel the same way. I do feel that it’s up to each of us to be responsible with what we post and how. Posting a picture of your bleeding arm is not helping anyone, I can promise you that. If anything, you just triggered about a thousand people to do that to themselves.
As someone who has been there, I know first-hand.
Let’s just be careful with this. Let’s be kind, considerate, and respectful. That’s all I’m asking. If someone is in a bad spot, help them out if you can. If you can’t, that’s OK too. You can only do as much as you can do at any given moment. I’d love to help everyone that I scroll past, but there are sometimes when I just can’t. I have to help myself at that moment.
I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that my book is doing much more good than harm. That’s why I put myself out there. That’s why I’ve been subjected to all of this scrutiny. I’m a mere mortal, and I can only take so much. So, there will be days when I’m not doing well and maybe I can tell you why, and maybe I can’t. If putting it out into the universe helps someone, I’m extremely grateful for that. I just don’t ever want to be the source of someone else's pain.
It’s a lot to think about all at once. I hope I’ve made at least some amount of sense. Yes, I think we are doing the right thing. I just don’t think everyone is doing it the right way. I guess when all is said and done, that’s my conclusion.
Visit my website at: www.rebeccalombardo.com
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Thursday, September 17, 2015
On Wednesday the 16th of September, I was given the opportunity to make a brief speech at a local event. The event was for people that have experienced the pain and loss of suicide. We spoke to one of the coordinators a few days prior and asked if it would be alright if I presented a different angle. This was the speech I made. I was terrified and trembling on the inside, but I did it! Some of you have heard all of this before, so I will apologize ahead of time. I felt like this was something I absolutely had to do. It was well received, and many people approached me afterwards. It felt good.
Let me know what you think.
I’m here to provide a different perspective on suicide. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I just turned 42 this last year, so you can imagine it’s been quite the journey. In 2008, I lost my mom to lung cancer, even though she hadn’t had a cigarette in 21 years. We had a large family, six kids all together, and we were never the same again. I’ve never felt that kind of pain in my life, and I had no idea how to process it. In 2011, on March 23rd, my dad called. What he told me made my knees buckle underneath me. My brother, Dana was dead. It was my birthday, and I was just told my brother was dead.
He had been found brain dead in a hot tub with people none of the rest of us knew. The hospital called my dad to say he was gone. He was a lifelong alcoholic and had apparently started using cocaine as well. He was often depressed and miserable, so we have no idea if he did it on purpose. I was never able to say goodbye. We hadn’t spoken since the year before.
While my mom was on her death bed, I leaned over her, and I promised I would take care of the family. That everyone would be OK. It wasn’t a lie. I tried, but I was failing miserably. My husband and I have always had a happy marriage, but I haven’t always been a happy person. The bipolar disorder was wreaking havoc on my life again in 2013, and I decided to take my own life.
As someone that used self-injury as a coping mechanism, I always kept sharp instruments around as a security blanket. I cut myself several times and took an entire, 30 count bottle of one of my prescriptions. I didn’t even tell anyone I did that until we got to the ER. The state of Michigan had me committed to a horrible place, and I worked as hard as I could to get myself out of there. When I did, I vowed that this was NEVER going to happen to my family or me again.
Since I couldn’t find the kind of help I wanted or needed in the medical community, I decided to go back to something that had always given me comfort before. Writing.
I started a blog that got very popular on the Internet, all over the world. Eventually, I started to feel so good that I was helping other people while I helped myself, that my husband and I took to making it into a book. I am proud to say that the story of how I got my life back is on sale on Amazon right now. It’s Not Your Journey is just that. MY journey of how I had to damn near die to learn how to live again. I’m helping people, and it feels amazing.
This book is for anyone. If you’re depressed, if you are married to someone that is depressed, or if your child is depressed. It will give you insight that you could never have expected. I’m not here to sell books. I’m here to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves anymore. The ones who are called cowards for taking the easy way out of life. The people that were in so much pain that they simply saw no other way out. They deserve a voice.
We all do.
Friday, August 28, 2015
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