a guest post
by Rebecca Lombardo
I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. From that point forward, life was a struggle. My moods were up, down, and back up again. I never knew what to expect. In my late 20’s, I decided that I wanted to take my life. In the end, I just couldn’t do it. However, I did succeed in teaching myself how to use self-injury as a coping mechanism.
After being committed on two separate occasions and losing every job I ever had, I had no clue where my life was headed. I would date here and there, and inevitably I was dumped due to my illness. Relationships with horrible people that abused me soon followed. By the grace of God, I met the man who would eventually be my husband, and we were married in August of 2001. He was there for me when nobody else would take the risk. In 2006, we moved into our first home and things seemed to be looking up.
Life changed drastically when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in September of 2007. I promised her I would be at her side for everything, and I was. She passed away in January of 2008, and my life fell to pieces. I was filled with grief that I was unable to overcome. March 23, 2011, was my birthday. It seemed like any other day until I got a phone call from my dad. I thought it was a “happy birthday” call, but what he said made my legs buckle. One of my brothers had died and I never got to say goodbye.
In 2013, my husband and I were very happy. Until that summer when the depression hit me like a brick. Overwhelmed by sadness and grief, I decided it was time to go. I missed my mom and my brother immensely. I couldn’t cope with my life any longer. I cut myself repeatedly and took a full bottle of one of my medications. I sat on the floor and sobbed. My husband was at work, but via text message he sensed something was very wrong. When he got home, he took me to the emergency room. Despite the fact that I begged him not to. I stayed in the hospital on suicide watch for five days. I was then told that the state was having me committed.
They strapped me to a gurney and hauled off by ambulance to the most God forsaken place I have ever seen. I spent the next four horrible days locked away in that place with violence, threats, and no medical treatment whatsoever. There were people screaming in the hallway, and even people that smeared feces on door handles. The closest we got to therapy was watching movies that were turned up way too loud or coloring. I spent most of my time doing word searches with a blue crayon. I played the game.
Walking out of that hellhole, I knew my life had to change. I swore never to take another razor blade to my skin. I promised myself that I would never put my husband or my family through any of that again. I would do the work. I would take my medication and do whatever I needed to do to fight this battle. I decided that if I told my story, it might help people. By helping others, I knew I would be helping myself. So, I started writing again. It had been a passion of mine since I was a child, and I was grateful to finally find my voice again.
I began writing a blog detailing all of my struggles with bipolar disorder and how I survived a suicide attempt. Before long, it started to catch on, and a lot of people were reading it. Eventually, I would receive messages from people all over the world thanking me for coming forward. It was an incredibly rewarding process, even if it was quite painful having to relive it all.
It seems as if every day someone is coming to me for advice. I am glad to reach out to every I am now a month shy of three years clean from self-injury. Despite the physical pain I’ve been in, I started an exercise program, and I finally started eating right. My writing has been the best therapy I have ever known. I continue to write my blog and I’m extremely proud to be able to say that I’m now a published author. I hope to reach more people than ever before that are in need of help. I’ve established positive relationships with many mental health advocates, and social media has become an important platform. I now consider myself an advocate for mental health.
Even though my life is going much better, I need to be realistic. I will never be cured, and medication will forever be a part of my life. I am OK with that. If anyone I know isn’t, I don’t need them in my life. I’m taking care of myself for the first time. I’ve lost a lot of friends and even family members because of my suicide attempt. There are people that consider me selfish.
I’m here to tell you that suicide has nothing to do with being selfish. Having bipolar disorder doesn’t make you selfish. Allowing yourself to find happiness doesn’t make you selfish. I’m 43 years old, and I’m living proof that you can succeed despite your disability. It will take a lot of work, and you will stumble more often than you sprint. It can be done. Just take the first step.
About the author: Rebecca is 43 years old and has been happily married for nearly 15 years. She enjoys reading, writing, music, watching movies and sports. She lives in Michigan with her husband and their cats. At age 19, Rebecca was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She's struggled with mental illness in many forms for more than 20 years. She's a published author, bipolar blogger, and a mental health advocate. In addition, Rebecca is soon to be a contributor for The Huffington Post.