Review: It’s Not Your Journey by Rebecca Lombardo
In her first published work, Rebecca Lombardo collects her internationally followed blog into the pages of “It’s Not Your Journey”. The memoir candidly details Rebecca’s two year long chronicle of her struggles with Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Self-Injury, and recovery from a Suicide attempt.
Rebecca shares her very real, raw feelings on these subjects, as well as addressing other issues that have contributed to her downward spiral and eventual climb out of her own pit of despair. Issues such as the loss of her mother to lung cancer, the death of her brother, abandonment from friends and family members due to her hospitalization, and more.
Every now and then a book comes along which tears you in two. It frustrates parts of you that like books to be a certain way, to hit that “book” standard! At the same time it tugs at your heart strings and you know “if only…” It would have hit the ball out of the park. It’s Not Your Journey is one of those books.
I think the point of this book was to show via blog posts turned diary entries how the mood of someone with bipolar can fluctuate over time, starting with a very traumatic event which does, absolutely touch your heart.
However I don’t feel this translated well into the book format from the original blog posts. As someone with bipolar disorder myself I didn’t recognise much beyond depression and anxiety within this book. At times the book felt muddled and confused, while the author was distraught with rage, sadness, or disillusionment.
Hypo-mania and/or mania is the essential “ingredient” to bipolar aside from depression. However only one short chapter was dedicated to this debilitating part of the illness and the chapter felt like a passing thought rather than something useful and educational.
The format as a whole felt disjointed. There was no flow or consistency between chapters. I’ve read books which have taken this ‘diary’ or even a letter format before but the entries still connect together like the dots in a dot-to-dot picture enabling you as a reader to create a clear flow of imagery from one chapter to the next.
Another issue with this disjointed format is that there is copious amounts of repetition, there were entire chapters which could have been lifted out and it would have made no difference. There were points towards the end of the book where I felt as though I was reading the same sentence for the fourth, fifth, even sixth time!
I felt very uncomfortable with some of the authors references not only to herself but also the way she refers to other people who were in the same hospital as her when she was committed. Throughout the book words are used such as “maniacs”, “freaks”, and “psycho”.
As someone who works towards eliminating mental health stigma it makes me sad that another person today living under the shadow of that stigma thinks these words are OK. If this was a work of fiction and it was relevant to the story context I may feel more comfortable, but even at my worst, the multiple times I’ve been in hospital on suicide watch, I couldn’t bring myself to refer to myself or others in these ways, it is so derogatory.
One of the chapters discussed some of the issues finding a publisher and how that felt. The reason I bring that up is twofold, one I spent half of it wondering the relevance of this to the book, every author I know has battled this issue and felt this way, mental illness or no. But the main issue is that the thing I felt this book needed more than anything was a really good copy editor and a good publisher would have leapt on that and it’s a real shame that one didn’t come along to do that.
The kind of issues I’ve spotted would have been highlighted at copy editing and written out during re-writing.
This is a book with so much potential but I felt like I was reading a first draft not a finished version and that for me is a real shame because we have a wonderful writer with a lot of passion, a story to tell, and a desire to help people.
The thing is this book has so much heart, and is compelling and deeply moving on so many levels.
I found once I started taking a breath between chapters, stopping instead of reading continuously I found it easier to read the next chapter.
Rebecca’s writing is solid, moving, and emotional. In fact it’s raw emotion, she lets the words tumble out and they fall where they may.
Rebecca has imparted her experience throughout the book. She has taken the time to say, if you feel like this try that. Thinking of her readers in a nice, friendly touch.
She is very candid in her discussion about self harm, her suicide attempt, and family death. So candid at times in fact I feel the book should come with a trigger warning for those needing one.
It is evident from the get go how frustrated, worn down, and tired she is with her illness. She tries to give a bit of positivity with each chapter but it isn’t convincing much of the time, under the weight of her despair and anguish at life with her crushing depression.
Overall, Rebecca Lombardo has taken a few of the worst years of her life and shared them in the hope of helping someone else and she did help at least one person…me! I discovered there is someone else out there I have an awful lot in common with, the days of feeling hopeless, the anger, years of crippling migraines, and much more.
Unfortunately, despite giving this her everything, this book is lost. It lacks structure; it’s not sure what it wants to be…is it a memoir, a diary, a self-help tool? It’s confused and this is confusing to us as readers.
This book should be read, especially if you live with mental illness, it is a true piece of the author’s heart, and you can’t say that about many books!
I’d like to thank Rebecca Lombardo very much for the ARC to review this book.
Title: It’s Not Your Journey
Author: Rebecca Lombardo
Genre: Non-Fiction, Mental Health, Memoirs
Publication Date: 21 August 2015
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Buy: Amazon Nook iBooks