Dear Me, It’s You

A letter from mental health advocate and sufferer, Rebecca Lombardo, to herself.

Key Takeaways:
  • Rebecca Lombardo is an author and well-known mental health advocate. She sufferers with PTSD, anxiety and depression.
  • In this letter, she writes to her younger self about the struggles to come, while always remembering that no matter how hard things get, the good still outweighs the bad.

Dear Me,

I know that you’ve been through a lot in the short amount of time you’ve been on this Earth. You’ve endured more than many adults experience in a lifetime. I know you’re keeping secrets and I know that you’re scared and confused. It’s OK for you to feel that way. It’s OK to have a bad day or have many bad days. You’re allowed.

Please know that I am not trying to scare you when I say that you’re going to have a lot of bad days.

Unfortunately, what they’ve just diagnosed you with, isn’t going to go away and it’s not just some phase you’re going through. You have a disease, kind of like the way diabetes is a disease. It’s just that yours is a disease on the mind, and is often highly unpredictable. So, you have Bipolar Disorder. I guess that explains a lot.

You will be forced to deal with this for the rest of your life, and I need you to be prepared for that and try not to panic. You just have a lot of work to do. The first thing I’m going to tell you is to stop locking yourself in your room and hiding from the world. It’s not going to get you anywhere with treatment, or with other people.

Don’t isolate yourself so much that when you finally venture out, you’ll date any guy that looks at you twice. Try to stay away from dating until your disease is more under control. Remember that when a man does break your heart, it’s going to feel like your whole life has collapsed. We feel things deeper; it comes with the territory.

Sometimes, all you can do is sleep and sometimes you won’t sleep for days. Give yourself some time to adjust to your diagnosis. We all handle it differently. Don’t ever criticize yourself for taking care of the most important person here – YOU.

You may see doctor after doctor and try what will seem like 1,000 medications, but in between all of that, there will be good times.  Your life is not over; it’s just beginning.

I just need you to be ready for what you’re about to do. You’re going to attempt to win the battle inside your brain every single day. Watch your step. There are pitfalls all along the path for people like us. Just be honest with people. Tell them the truth from the start, that way you won’t have grown close to them when the exit stage left.

The worst part about being diagnosed with a mental illness is the ignorance you’ll face daily. There will be people that walk out of your lie or treat you like trash because you have a disease of the mind. A disease you didn’t ask for or contract during unsafe sense. It’s just how you’re wired. Some people may never understand or even believe, no matter how hard you try to explain it to them

Don’t let their ignorance tear you down and don’t let them get to you.  You have enough work to do just fighting the negative voices in your head. You will struggle, there is no question about that! Sometimes it will feel like all you ever do is get hurt. That is when it is the easiest to give up, but you can’t do that. Not now. Not ever.

Please, whatever you do, don’t try to hurt yourself in any way. You may feel alone at times, but you are never truly alone in this fight. Purposely being alone just to sit there and cry about how lonely you are is counterproductive. When you feel up to it, make a list of things that you enjoy doing so that when you stumble into that abyss, you’ve left yourself a breadcrumb path to find your way back out.

Despite your struggles, there will be moments where you shine!  And you’ll learn to appreciate those moments even more because you have fought hard to get there.

There will be times when you want to give up. Unfortunately, at times the pain will seem unbearable, and it will get to you no matter how steady you think you are. There will be a light around the corner; you just have to follow along the path to get to it.

You’ve got quite an uphill battle in front of you. You won’t have all the answers, but in time you will learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t compare your illness to someone else. In time, when you’re more self-aware, your bad days will only amplify the good. You can do this, It will be a struggle, but if you weren’t a fighter, you wouldn’t be here now. I’ll be here waiting.