Sunday, August 13, 2017

Story #4 - National Suicide Prevention Week - #StopSuicide - by Rebecca Lombardo

I once read somewhere that when you can tell your story without crying, you have healed. I’d like to think that’s true; I think I might be getting there. When I look back on the events that led up to my suicide attempt in 2013, my memory has started to get foggy. I often wonder if revisiting those days will only lead to more pain. Should I leave it where it stands now, a distant memory?

There are some events that I can recall quite clearly. I know I had been in a dark place for quite some time leading up to that day. I was faking it; I plastered that smile on my face and pretended to be excited at the appropriate times. Nobody else knew that there was darkness there.

When I got out of the hospital at the end of June, I knew things had to change for me. Never again did I want to see the look on my husband’s face while the doctors swarmed around me. I knew I was done with suicide. I just reached a point where it wasn’t even on the radar anymore. Many of us with mental illness will keep suicide in our pocket to fall back on, just in case life gets bad enough. I wasn’t keeping it inside of me anymore.  I can’t tell you exactly how I came to that place. I just had this overwhelming feeling of confidence that I didn’t need it anymore.

It wasn’t that long after that I began to write again. It had been years. Although I felt a little rusty, it was good to be able to purge some of the negativity swimming around in my brain.

I officially started a blog and actually kept up with it! I was writing more and more and I was thrilled. I was still shy about letting others read it, but the first few people gave me nothing but praise. My husband and I talked about putting my story out there for the world to read.

It was terrifying but at times so rewarding! When I would get comments about how my writing had helped someone, I was blown away. So, I kept going. Eventually, I started to share it with more people and even had some guest blogging opportunities on other sites.

It was an exciting time and it was just what I needed.

The whole process got me to thinking about whether I could accomplish a dream of mine and write a book. I did some research, and people did turn blogs into books.

I kept writing my blog, all the while submitting queries to publishers. It was at times, an incredibly frustrating experience. I ended up writing for 2 years before my book was finally published. It came out in August of 2015 and is on sale today! It was both scary and amazing. There were great reviews and there were a few mean, nasty, and ugly reviews. I wasn’t the least bit prepared for the horrible ones. You’ve got to develop a thick skin when you put your story out there for the world to see.

I took to social media more than I ever had before. I finally learned how to use Twitter. We’ve become a family, those of us with mental illness. Whether we’re authors, bloggers, speakers, or just your average person, you can garner support. That’s an amazing thing.

From there, I continued to blog for anyone and everyone. I eventually achieved two of my dreams; writing for the Huff Post and the Mighty. It wasn’t long after that my husband and I started a podcast. We’re now on an amazing network and we get many requests to appear on the show.

All that sounds wonderful, but I bet you’re wondering how I’m doing it. I’ll be honest with you, there’s nothing easy about it. I still get migraines that have me sick for days. I still go through all the highs and lows that come with bipolar disorder. I still become overwhelmed by sadness, especially when my father passed away in May.

The difference is, this time around there’s no pretending. If I feel like the darkness is creeping in, I immediately tell my husband and we talk about what needs to be done. He asks me how he can help, and we evaluate our lives and see if there are some tasks I can put off for a while, to focus on me and me alone.

Self-care doesn’t come easy for me, so sometimes, I struggle longer than most, because I feel myself being engulfed in this dark cloud of guilt. I beat myself up for not doing more or getting things done.

Even with all of that, I’m still doing pretty well. I know what my limits are, now. I know when to back away from a toxic person or environment. I can focus on truly feeling the emotions so that I can move on from them. I’m incredibly grateful for my husband and our lives despite the pitfalls.

I’ve met some great people via social media, which is wonderful for me, because I’m not what you would call a social butterfly. I don’t think I’ll ever change that. Even the bad patches that knock me on my butt don’t last as long. I’m more self-aware and realistic about my symptoms.

I found a new doctor that I love and have even recently started working with a therapist. Life is improving for me in many ways, but I know that I’ll never be cured of this disease. I am ok with that, my husband is ok with that, and that’s all that matters.

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