If you know and love someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, or another form of mental illness, you may have struggled to truly understand their experience. If you are the one suffering, you would likely give anything to know that you’re not alone. Whatever your situation, It’s Not Your Journey by Rebecca Lombardo provides exactly what you’re looking for.
Brave does not even begin to describe the author as she dives right in with painful past experiences in diary-form. I tore through half the book before coming up for air, with flashes of recognition in my eyes. Someone else gets it. She has been where I have been.
Besides gaining an understanding and appreciation for Rebecca’s experiences and great strength, you will run the gamut in terms of your emotions. You will experience her life and her feelings right along with her. Compassion and empathy come about from her struggles. The recollection of treatment from friends, family, and hospital “caregivers” will draw out anger and a sense of injustice. Flickers of hope for the future will buoy your spirits.
Whichever side of the mental illness line you’re on, this book is a must-read. Let Rebecca’s powerful story be heard and help fight the stigma associated with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
“Isn’t endometriosis just bad cramps?”
Before I begin to look ahead to the future, I want to paint a picture of what things look like now. There are many misconceptions about endometriosis, and everyone has a different story.
2am: After tossing and turning for a few hours, I wake up to what feels like a fist clenched around my insides. I can feel the anxiety creeping in as I crawl out of bed to find the heating pad. My mind races with each wave of pain, and I try to ignore everything with Netflix. I fall back to sleep for ahwile.
5am: Stabbing pain in my bladder that will periodically reappear throughout the day. Try to sleep a little more.
6:30-mid morning: Get as much done as possible during the short-lived burst of energy after coffee but before a painful, sleepless night catches up with me. Is it too early for a nap? Why is my lower back so sore already and why do I have hip pain at 28? Deep infiltrating endometriosis is found in the cul-de-sac of the pelvis, causing issues with my hip flexors and sacroiliac and constantly making me feel far older than I am.
This is the point in the day during which the guilt creeps in. The feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. What kind of friend/family member/employee can I be if I’m falling to pieces? I try to soothe my mind with guided meditation, but then I feel guilty about not doing something “productive” with my time.
Over the course of the rest of the day, I’ll deal with small surges of energy mixed with more stabbing bladder pain, nausea, and a tension headache. By 7pm, I’m exhausted and ready to crawl into bed, but I keep going. I hope that if I truly wear myself out, tonight will be the night that I get some quality sleep.
This wasn’t meant to be a bitch-fest. By documenting the way things are now, I can accurately judge my progress as I make these important life changes. I look forward to being held accountable.
It looks as though I haven’t posted anything since the big move and things have changed quite a bit since then. While I am, overall, doing well with managing my anxiety, some circumstances have made this a little challenging.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with endometriosis, had surgery, and thought I was good as new. Periodically over the course of time, my symptoms began to re-emerge until earlier this year when I noticed that I felt like I had been hit by a truck pretty regularly. When pain interferes with your daily life, it’s hard not to be anxious. Since I had recently moved and was not in the mood to drive to Philadelphia, I had to find a new specialist. After testing and imaging, I’m on for another surgery next month. Additionally, my doctor challenged me to work harder on treating my body well to maintain wellness over time.
After my first surgery, I was a typical grad student and trashed my body with stress, little sleep, and a poor diet. This time, I’m in it for the long haul. How will I hold myself accountable while spreading awareness and encouraging conversations/support? I will use this as a platform to document highs and lows, what works and what doesn’t, and be a voice for young females everywhere who are called weak for struggling with pain and associated emotional challenges. Let’s do this.