An interview with Mental Health Advocate and Author Rebecca Lombardo

Rebecca Lombardo has been through self-harming and depression for more than two decades since her diagnosis with bi-polar disorder at 19. Her book, It’s Not Your Journey, discusses her struggles and how she has overcome them and might be of benefit for those with similar issues. However, as she readily stresses herself, she is a mental health advocate rather than a professional.

1. Your writing process: Do you write fiction? Poetry? Do you see yourself as a relatively “straight” memoirist and blogger, or is there more to it, artistically? Do you have a work-in-progress at the moment? Did you plot out the book before you wrote it? Do you plot out the blogposts and articles before you write them?
No, up until this point, I’ve only written non-fiction. My book is a memoir, but I don’t think I would call myself a memoirist. I’m definitely still a blogger. I don’t know if I will ever write a work of fiction, I’ll have to see what the future holds. Yes, I do write poetry. I just recently was able to start writing poems pretty consistently and have added a poetry blog to my other blog.
I rarely plot out anything before I write it. It’s just not the way my brain works. My book is based on my blog, and after writing it a year I started doing research on turning blogs into books, but that’s about all of the plotting and planning I put into it! Once I knew it was possible, I just kept writing while I searched for a publisher. It took another year. I never know when or how inspiration will strike for me. It could be at 1:00 in the morning, and a word or a sentence might pop into my head, and I will either write it in my journal, or head right over to my laptop and before I know it, I’ve written a post or an article. As someone that is generally a pretty organized person, my brain is very messy when it comes to my craft.
2. People are clearly inspired by your journey, and have thanked you for your web presence. You make it clear that it’s “your” journey, and not “ours”. Is this simply a disclaimer, to encourage people to find their own way? Or are you saying that everyone’s journey is unique?
First of all, yes it is both of those things.
It’s extremely important to me that people differentiate between my mental health journey and their own. While for the most part, I have heard positive feedback on my book, there are people that have said awful things about it because their journey through bipolar disorder or mental illness is different from mine. I’ve been accused of not even having bipolar disorder or being a narcissist. The book is called It’s Not Your Journey for a few reasons, and one is the obvious. It’s not anyone else’s story but mine. You may find similarities, but I’m sure there are many people that would not have handled certain situations the way that I did. I was doing what I thought was best for me at the time, and sometimes I was wrong. In no way do I want people to think I am advising them to take the same path that I took. I look at my book as both a cautionary tale and an inspiration. It shows people that you can be at your lowest point of your life, and mess up something awful, but still come out on the other side a stronger, more successful person.
3. By the way, I’ve actually heard that some doctors and psychiatrists will show people who cut themselves the way to do it without doing too much harm. Have you heard of this? Some people think it’s unethical.
I have not heard of this. The closest thing I’ve heard was keeping a rubber band around your wrist to snap it on your skin when you have urges. While I would never advocate telling people “the right way” to cut yourself, I can see where some people may actually need that to start getting better. It becomes an obsession. Self-injury is often categorized as a form of OCD and for me it was. I would think and think and think until I knew exactly where I was going to cut, what it was going to look like, everything. I suppose it could be similar to putting Meth addicts on Methadone until they feel stronger. Would I ever suggest it? No.
4. I’ve heard it said recently too that those who give the best advice are usually themselves the biggest messes. (Probably on one of these social media object images with pithy words of wisdom!) I’ve had some very good advice from people who might fall into this category. But is it true?
Yes, I think to a certain degree, that is true. Those of us that have been through the worst are often more mindful of the pitfalls of certain situations. We can guide people in a different direction, if they care to take the advice. I wouldn’t currently call myself one of the “biggest messes” but I have fallen into that category at different points in my life, so I think that I have a certain insight to offer people that may be struggling with some of the things I have struggled with in the past. That isn’t to say that I am all-knowing or that everything that has worked for me will work for someone else, but I can certainly offer some options that perhaps they hadn’t considered. 
You can check out Rebecca’s web presences below. Her book is available from Amazon here.


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