Dear Me, Itís You: I Hear Weíve Been Diagnosed with Bipolar
By Rebecca Lombardo, NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
May 17, 2017

Dear Me,

I know youíve been through a lot in the short amount of time youíve been on this earth. I know youíre keeping secrets and I know youíre scared and confused. Itís okay for you to feel that way. Itís okay to have a bad day or even many bad days. Youíre allowed. And please know that Iím not trying to scare you when I say that youíre going to have a lot of bad days.

Unfortunately, what theyíve just diagnosed you with isnít going to go away and itís not just some phase. You have a diseaseókind of like how diabetes is a disease. Itís just that yours is a disease of the mind, and itís often highly unpredictable.

You have bipolar disorder. I guess that explains a lot.

Youíll have to deal with this for the rest of your life, and I need you not to panic. You have a lot of work to do. Youíre about to attempt to win a battle inside your brain every single day for the rest of your life. Sometimes, all youíll be able to do is sleep and sometimes you wonít sleep for days. Youíll 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 overóitís just beginning.

There are millions of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It seems like nearly every day a celebrity comes forward to admit that they have struggled with it, just to let us know we can still achieve greatness. You can and will get through this with grace and dignity, even if you stumble a bit at first trying to find your path.

The worst part about being diagnosed with a mental health condition is the ignorance and stigma youíll face daily. There will be people who will walk out of your life or treat you like trash because you have a disease of the mind. A disease you didnít ask for or contract doing something unsafe or illegalóitís just how your brain is wired. But some people may never understand that or even believe it, no matter how hard you try to explain it.

Donít let their ignorance tear you down. You have enough work to do just fighting the negative voices in your head. You will struggle, there is no question about that. Unfortunately, at times the pain will seem unbearable, and it will get to you no matter how steady you think you are. That is when it is the easiest to give up, but you canít do that. Not now. Not ever.

Please, whatever you do, donít hurt yourself in any way. You may feel alone at times, but you are never truly alone in this fight. There is always a light around the corner. There is always tomorrow.

Despite your struggles, there will be moments where you shine. And in time, when youíre more self-aware, your bad days will only amplify the good. Youíll learn to appreciate those moments even more because you fought to get there. I promise you: You can do this.

You wonít have all the answers all the time, but in time, you will learn what works for you and what doesnít. It will be a struggle, but if you werenít a fighter, you wouldnít be here now. Iíll be here waiting.

Sincerely,

You

Rebecca Lombardo is 44 years old and has been happily married for 15 years. She lives in Michigan with her husband and cats. She is a published author, a Huffington Post blogger, contributor for The Mighty, and a podcast host. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 19. She has battled that as well as several other conditions for over 20 years. In 2013, she attempted suicide. Grateful that she survived, she decided to tell her story in the hopes that she could help others choose a different path.