Archive for the ‘mental illness’ Tag

Interview with Rebecca Lombardo   3 comments

Today’s interview is with author Rebecca Lombardo. Welcome to the blog, Bekka. Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what do you do to pay the bills, significant relationships, as little or as much as you want).

Lombardo Author PicI am from Michigan, I’ve lived here my whole life.  I’m very happily married to an amazing man.  This August it will be 15 years.  I come from a large family.  We don’t have kids, but we do have 5 cats that we rescued. We adore them.


At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve had an idea that I wanted to be a writer since third grade.  I can recall writing a story, with my own illustrations, all in crayon.  It was about a little American Indian girl named White Cloud that lost her feather.  It just felt right to me, so that was my ultimate goal for most of my life.


Tell us about your writing process.

I don’t actually have a set writing process that I utilize every time I write.  It tends to vary.  Being bipolar, I have to take what I can get.  There are times when I experience months of writer’s block and occasionally months of wanting to write every day. The wheels are constantly turning inside my head.  If I get an idea, and I can come up with at least 2 sentences to back up the concept, I will try to develop it.  However, it doesn’t always work.


Lombardo Author Event.jpgWhat is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favorite genre to write is obviously memoir.  I like being able to write from personal experience.  I also enjoy reading memoirs and biographies.  I enjoy true crime, some historical books, and I have a few select chick-lit authors that I enjoy reading.


What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about mental health and the stigma that surrounds mental illness.  I’m passionate about animal cruelty, and photography.  I’m also extremely focused on raising awareness on the benefits of non GMO food.


What is something you cannot live without?

I couldn’t live without my husband and my cats for sure, but I love movies and TV so much, I don’t know what I would do without the ability to escape for a little while.


When you are not writing, what do you do?

When I’m not writing, I am usually most often promoting my book. As I stated, I do love photography and recently got a new camera as a gift, so I will get out and do that whenever I can. I spend a lot of time with my husband, we’re joined at the hip.  Frankly, I spend quite a bit of time managing my mental illness symptoms and trying to raise awareness.


Lombardo Not Your JourneyHave you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

I’ve only written the one book so far, and if anyone were to ask me about it, I would tell them this: it’s a real, raw, and heartbreaking account of a very dark time in my life, and I how I made it back. I don’t hold anything back about what I’ve been through.  It’s important that people understand what mental illness is truly like.


If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Life filled with love, despite their condition.


Do you have a special place where you write?

When I’m writing, it’s almost 100% of the time on my laptop at my desk in our bedroom. Red is my favorite color, and our bedroom is red, my laptop is red…it all gives me a somewhat comforting feeling.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I prefer to write from my own point of view at this point.  I don’t know if that will change in the future.  I don’t do a lot of research or focus a lot on creating specific storylines, because I find that just allowing it to flow organically gives it a realistic quality that people enjoy.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

If I’m stuck in a remote cabin in Alaska for a month, I think I would spend a lot of time just trying to be in the present, and not dwelling on the issues from the past. I would definitely try to center myself and stop worrying all the time.  I would for sure want my camera, I think that would be amazing. As far as books, I would probably take Memoirs of a Geisha and/or The Joy Luck Club. Leah Remini’s memoir, Troublemaker is fascinating, and I could read that a million times. I would probably also take some books by Jane Green and Jennifer Weiner, they’re two of my favorites. Most of all, I would relax and enjoy some stress-free time away from social media and the world.


Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

It was my intention that my memoir deliver a message. I just wanted people that are dealing with the same type of issues that I am to know that they are not alone.  My book is a cautionary tale of what didn’t work in my life with mental illness.  I also wanted to make sure that the loved ones of the people dealing with these issues could get a grasp on just what their family member is going through.


What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I would want someone that read my book to know that they’re not alone … that things can get better if they put some work into the process. I want them to learn from my story what NOT to do, and most importantly I would like them to learn that it is possible to lead a happy and productive.


How do readers find you?

Simplistic Thinking about Mass Shootings   4 comments

Perhaps it is human nature to blame something other than ourselves for the events we see in the world. The South Carolina church shooting shows that tendency in full view.

  • Guns caused the shooting. Their very existence demands that they be used for the mass killing of folks.

Do we really believe that? Certainly our president and some pundits say they believe that, but isn’t that the equivalent of saying “the devil made me do it?” I’ve been around guns my whole life. It’s stupid to go into the woods where there are bears, wolves and moose without a firearm. I shot a 22 when I was 7. I first handled my mom’s 357 when I was in junior high right after three soon-to-be rapists tried to break into our house and Mom (all 95 pounds of her) scared them away.

My guns have never whispered to me that I should go out and shoot up a church, a movie theater, a shopping center. Guns are inanimate objects. If there’s any whispering going on, it’s coming from the mind of the shooter, not the guns. Guns are simply a tool for keeping users safe. Make them illegal and it leaves law-abiding citizens at the mercy of law-breakers, because law-breakers won’t be obeying the gun laws.

  • Racism caused the shooting.

There may be some validity to this argument in the case of this particular church. It was a historically black church and the shooter seems to have had some racist beliefs. He was also high on drugs and may have been mentally ill. So is that racism or mental illness or some other problem not yet identified. The shooter spent an hour in that church during Bible study before he opened fire. If it were my church, I’d be asking “What happened during that hour that escalated rather than de-escalated his violence?” Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just bent on killing people and it took him an hour to get the courage, but … as I said, if it were MY church …. Is it possible they weren’t very welcoming to the weird white guy in their haven for the dark-skinned? If you think that’s a racist question, note the number of fingers pointing back at yourself before you pop off.

  • Mental illness caused the shooting. Lock up all mentally ill or make it illegal for them to have guns and all will be better.

I worked in the mental health field for 15 years. I’ve met some mentally ill people who would mow down a church group because the voices in their heads told them to do it. Not the gun, not racism — mental illness. But I’ve also met mentally ill folks who would never hurt anyone (except maybe themselves) and others who stay on their meds because they don’t want to ever hurt anyone else. Delusional disorders are not all the same and it’s wrong to treat some folks like criminals because they are ill.

  • Churches are at fault.

I actually heard this from an atheist neighbor this weekend. If churches weren’t these monolithic structures that judge people, he said, they wouldn’t become targets for crazy people. Do away with all churches and people would be free to love one another and violence would be reduced immeasurably. Wow, you just can’t make that up.

All of those simple causes are probably partially at fault. Churches ought to be more welcoming to those who are odd. Yes, that puts them more at risk. Jesus never said being His followers would be safe. There is a lovely man who occasionally comes through our church. We call him John the Baptist and I can’t say his real name because I signed agreements years ago. He is a Christian who is also bat-crazy with schizophrenia. Often when you talk to him, it’s like reading Alice in Wonderland on acid, but he also cuts right to the truth of the gospel in a way that sane people rarely do. He knows his Bible and his application is spot on. And (some people find this creepy), he seems to know things about you that he shouldn’t know, but he uses that knowledge to help the Christians he meets. I wonder if he’s not talking to angels, who are the demons who chose to obey God. Yeah, I worked in the mental health field for 15 years and I believe in demons. That’s another topic. Churches should be more welcoming to people who are not stereotypically “church” people.

Mental illness is a tough nut to crack. Europe and other nations handle it by doing what we used to do — locking folks up and forcing them to take their meds. There is a growing movement in this country by mental health advocates to never force anyone to take medication against their will. Did you know that? Yeah! So maybe there’s more to these mass shootings than just undiagnosed mental illness. But maybe in a country that prides itself on individual liberty, we really don’t have a right to force others to be medicated against their will. There are some folks who think we should treat mental illness like a crime. I don’t, but I also acknowledge that some people won’t stay on their meds and they aren’t John the Baptist motivated by God’s spirit to share the gospel. Some of them are scary scary people and we need to have a discussion about what to do with that. Currently, if you call for help because you think someone might be developing schizophrenia and about to harm someone, you have to show that they really are an imminent risk to themselves or others. In essence, they have to mow down a church group before the police will act.

Notice that I’m sitting on the fence with this because I’m an individualist who has experience with both good people who are mentally ill and scary people who are mentally ill. I’m not sure what the answer is here and I suspect there is no “good” solution.

Racism is a swinging door. The first time I ever saw racism directed at me was not because I’m an American Indian and white folks don’t like Indians. It was a black man who had decided I was white and he didn’t want me in his shop. Racism doesn’t have a color. A traditionally ethnic church of any stripe might think its meeting separately because that’s how white folks want it, but in reality, in this day and age, they are meeting separately because they feel most comfortable with that. Guaranteed, if a group of any ethnicity showed up at 90% of traditionally white churches, nobody would turn them away and most might not even notice the color of your skin. Racism and reverse racism are not excuses for mowing down a church group, but it is certainly something churches need to consider. And, not just churches. Society as a whole exhibits this problem. When you’re pointing a finger at someone else as a racist, pay attention to how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Guns do not kill anyone by themselves. They are simply a tool. If we didn’t have guns, mentally ill people and racists would find other ways to kill people. Knives, gasoline bombs, cars, baseball bats, bow-and-arrow, hammers …. As a small woman, I’m not going to go mana a mana with a man swinging a baseball bat or wielding a knife. With a gun, I become his equal and therefore, equally able to protect myself and those around me. If you disarm me, you relegate me to the role of victim, leading to my death.

I know we don’t want to hear this. We want simple causes and simple solutions, but we don’t have those and until we accept that the issues are more complicated than we want to believe, we can’t hope to solve the problems.


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