You don’t like to stand so close to me
You don’t want to see things the way I see
You’re afraid you’ll become just like what I’ll be
Ask yourself what it is you want to be
If you had a choice you would never be me
Your fear guides you too far away to see
You pretend you’ve got some other place to be
Do you know what hurts the most?
You don’t even know what I struggle with lately
You can’t be bothered with learning about how I feel
Are our lives so far apart?
Maybe you’ve got a broken heart
Perhaps you’ve watched it all fall apart
And when it does, where do you turn?
What if you had a friend like me?
Strong enough to conquer those fears daily
What if I could show you how to be strong
Or that surrounding me with stigma is wrong?
What if you felt it all for just one day?
Maybe you would have a lot more to say
If you could look through the eyes of mental illness
Would you really find so much of a difference?
I bet you’ve had good days and bad days
I bet you’ve felt lost and out of place
I think you’re scared of the way you feel
So you blame it on something that’s not even real
Stop for a second and take a look
Ask me a question, maybe share a look
Be nice to everyone you meet
You never know what pain they’ve beat
You don’t have to look sick to be sick
You don’t have to look ignorant to be ignorant
If you try it, you could gain something you’ve always longed for
If you carry your shield of stigma forever
What confusion you’ll endure
Maybe you don’t want to know me
What about him?
Standing there looking scared
Or her, with her nose in a book
So nobody truly sees her
There are many faces of pain and sorrow
And there are many faces of stigma
You don’t have to struggle with either
If you reach out and find the wrong person,
will you blame it on the disease? Probably.
But you’ll have learned
So that the next time you meet someone like me
Standing in a crowd, terrified of the judgement
and the stares, you’ll know to go slow.
Trust isn’t easy to give or receive
When you find an ally in a face in a crowd,
Couldn’t that be your proudest moment of all?
My name is Rebecca Lombardo and I’m 43 years old. I’ve been happily married for 15 years. I live in Michigan with my husband and cats. I am a published author, a Huffington Post blogger, a contributor for The Mighty, and a podcast host. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 19. I have battled that as well as several other conditions for over 20 years. In 2013, I attempted suicide. Grateful that I survived, I decided to tell my story in the hopes that I could help others choose a different path.