It’s Not Your Journey – a review

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.

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The Ugly ‘Before’ Picture

“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.

Change of pace

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.

Chapter 28

As I get ready to move, I’m finding a lot of things that I forgot I kept (and getting rid of most of it). This evening, I found a card from my last birthday and it said “27 is going to be a great year for you.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

When I look back, I feel like I’ve taken a bit of a beating. I stopped making my health and well-being a priority and let myself fall into a hole. I let external influences keep me down in that hole. When I reached my breaking point, I turned a corner and began to learn and grow. Growth and change are painful, but it has certainly been worth it. 27 has had some pretty awful moments, but this was the year I learned how to care about myself. I spent so much of the past few months just learning about myself and realizing that I spent such a long time not honoring that. I have just under 3 weeks of 27 left and I want to make the most of it. If you catch me wasting precious moments or being unkind to myself, call me out. Here’s hoping that 28 starts off on the right foot.

change

Still here, still me

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I last wrote. I’m still here and still fighting. In about 2 1/2 weeks, I’ll be moving and I hope to leave some bad memories behind. What has changed?

I’m still benzodiazepine-free (2 months!) and I have been discharged from therapy. Sometimes I still slip and forget to do things for myself because I’m otherwise occupied with working or cleaning/packing/etc. I forgot how much work went into moving, but it is exhausting. I need to add meditation to my daily to-do list so I remember to sneak it in. Aside from the stress of moving, I have been able to manage my anxiety really well and I’m really grateful to have those skills.

Once things get settled, I hope to get back into more of a writing groove. Until then, I’m trying to figure out how to make 28 my best year yet.

With that, I’ll leave you with Rachel Platten…

Declutter your life–Week 2

I hope everyone who has been following along has had a productive first week of the Declutter Your Life challenge! In addition to getting rid of things you no longer need, maybe you learned a few things about yourself. I learned that if I don’t make the effort to sort through things, I will literally hang on to anything and everything. Some items are particularly therapeutic to get rid of–anything that has a negative memory attached to it. Every unnecessary thing that gets tossed makes me feel a little more tranquil.

So, what are we doing for week 2? We will continue to declutter physical space for ~10 minutes each day to keep reinforcing the habit. In addition, find another area of your life to declutter. I’m planning to keep better track of how I spend my time each day so I can cut out the time-sucks and be more efficient. Note to self: you don’t need to check your phone every 5 minutes. You just get distracted and lose focus on the task at hand.

Good luck and see you next week!

Cleaning up your life

Does clutter make you anxious? It makes me feel constantly unsettled while piles of junk sit around and stare at me, daring me to get rid of them. Also, I am getting ready to move next month and I dread the thought of packing all the stuff I’ve accumulated while I’ve lived here.

Enter SeaChange’s Declutter Your Life challenge

I love SeaChange and the wonderful monthly modules for creating better habits and improving your life. I decided to look back to the module from July 2014 and challenge myself to spend a month getting rid of the crap in my life. I’m picturing the end result being very therapeutic.

What does this mean? I will periodically document the process of clearing out different aspects of my life (physical space, digital space, schedule) and observe any differences I notice in how I feel. First step: spend 15 minutes cleaning out a small space of my home each day for a week.

Anyone else in?