Stigma Fighters: Beka L.

I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t experiencing some type of turmoil in my life, however small. I grew up with 4 older brothers and an older sister. They all took their fair share of recreational drugs or drank alcohol. They caused my parents many sleepless nights. Unfortunately, at an early age I began to experience the anxiety that would also cause me to lose sleep. I don’t think I had a fair shot at a healthy existence. Not for lack of trying.

As the years went on, I knew something was a little off with me too. Being overweight and made fun of a lot in middle school didn’t help. High school went a little better. I suppose I could have been considered popular. I certainly wasn’t an outcast. Yet, by the age of 19, my suspicion that I wasn’t wired quite right became a fact. I was depressed, and there wasn’t a thing I could do to fix it.

I started seeing my first psychiatrist then. I remember the first medication I was ever prescribed was Prozac. I honestly don’t recall if it helped or for how long. It was just the beginning of an arduous journey through the county health system. At the time, I didn’t have mental health coverage, so I had to take what I could get. It worked out alright for several years. They really didn’t give a damn about you, but you didn’t have to pay for your medications. I always lived by the motto, “Beggars can’t be choosers”.

With the depression came horrible anxiety. Borderline Personality Disorder would soon follow, along with PTSD. The older I got, the worse I got. There came a time when I was on 7 medications at once. I found myself drifting in a sea of worthless relationships with men that made me feel like a freak. In 1998, I was in a long distance relationship that began online. He asked me to marry him. Before that could happen, but after the deposits had been put down, he dumped me. Apparently a psychotic episode and a psychiatric hospitalization make you less appealing to the opposite sex.

With his hasty exit from my life weighing heavily on my shoulders, I taught myself self-injury. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I didn’t know anyone else knew what it was either. Ironically, I discovered it when I was rejected by another male acquaintance, and I had it in my head that life wasn’t worth living. It was an accident really. A failure of sorts that became a coping mechanism when things were too much for me to handle.

I realize as I look back on the past that it most certainly appears that I just didn’t experience a single happy moment in my entire life. That isn’t true. I found happiness quite frequently. I held some gratifying positions with successful companies. I was often promoted and thought of to be a problem solver. I partied on the weekends, I met famous people, I went to concerts and sporting events. I had a best friend that I met in 5th grade that was a constant in my life. We were never apart for long, no matter what path we chose for ourselves.

I made new friends and met a lot of people online. You know, in the 90’s when it wasn’t quite as terrifying as it is now. Back then, not once did I think I was talking to a pedophile or a stalker. I was lucky that everyone I met was who they said they were.
The problem with my life was that as happy as it could be, the misery was a thousand times worse. I didn’t ever put two and two together. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t just take a bunch of medication and go on about my business and I would be all better. I didn’t understand that I had to do the work too.

Once I made that realization, I started to make better choices. I stopped meeting multiple people online. I buckled down and worked really hard. I met someone that although at first we didn’t seem compatible, we eventually discovered that we missed each other once we were apart. In 2001, we were married. Thirteen years later, he still knows how to make me laugh. We are happy, even though I still have my highs and my lows. I would be lost without him. My calming force in a sea of chaos.

Although I have spent over 20 years dealing with bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, and self-injury; I am ALIVE. I consider myself a survivor. A warrior to say the least. Every day I wake up and hope that it will be a good day. Unfortunately, not every day can be. Thankfully, I am learning to process the guilt a bad day brings. I am learning that I didn’t ask for this, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But, I can do this. If only people could understand how much energy goes into fighting this fight.

In the last 20 years, I’ve experienced more pain than anyone should ever have to bear. The death of my mother brought me to my knees. The more recent death of my brother, on my birthday no less, sent me on a tailspin. Yet, despite the outside influences that could have and should have broken me, I still fight on. I see the doctor, I take my medication. I give my feelings a voice no matter how hard it is, and I keep waking up every day with just a tiny glimmer of hope.

There may be days when I look in the mirror and feel like a failure. Sometimes, I want to give up. Then, I remember the strength it took to get me to this point in my life.

I remember I AM ENOUGH.

image

Rebecca Lombardo began writing as a child. In third grade, she told everyone that her dream was to be a writer. At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but continued to write poetry into her 20’s, until her illness consumed so much of her time and energy, that she just lost the will to write.
She never gave up her dream to be a writer, but the despair she felt over not being able to find the words anymore was just too much for her to take, so she gave up writing for many, many years. Sporadically, she would begin a journal, blog, or even write a poem for her beloved husband, but it was never the same again.
In the summer of 2013, Rebecca faced one of the biggest struggles of her life. After losing both her mom to lung cancer in 2008, and her brother to an accident (on her birthday) in 2011, she felt as if she was drowning. Her physical health continued to deteriorate, and the migraines that were once just a nuisance became a constant, and would sometimes last 6-7 days at a time, and were cause for countless trips to the emergency room.
After trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her mother’s death, she moved forward with running her own pet sitting business, and attempting an online multi-level marketing business. Yet, she fell apart, and there was no way she was going to come back on her own this time. She attempted to take her own life, and was hospitalized against her will in a horrible, horrible place.
When she came out, in roughly July, her PTSD, anxiety, depression, and grief were overwhelming, and she decided to begin writing again. When the words began to flow easier and easier, she decided that she would be willing to turn it into a blog so that others could see her struggle and know that it’s a vicious cycle but it can be overcome. She hoped that in addition, it would help her get past all of these horrible experiences. As her writing went on, she would receive more and more feedback from total strangers, sometimes in other countries, that would thank her for telling her story. They were grateful that because of her, they were now able to get help.
At 41 years of age and happily married for 13 years, Rebecca can finally say that she is on her way to reaching her dream. Not only does she hope to help people that are struggling with depression, she hopes to help them realize that you are never too old to find your voice, and make your dream happen. Rebecca lives in a suburb in Michigan with her husband, Joseph and 5 cats. 4 of which were rescued. Her father lives a short distance away and is going to be turning 85 this year. She has 3 brothers and 1 sister as well as several nieces and nephews.
She continues to work on her pet sitting business and hopes to continue to find the words to keep writing her blog so that she can help as many people as possible.

  • Helen Christina

    Good work. Awesome post and such a personal account. You really are a survivor.

  • Cheantelle J

    You are amazing!! Your strength is an incredible inspiration, and I’m glad you are here to share with us.