Ssssetting My Sssights Lower for Ssssanity’s Sssake

I re-read this blog post today because I’m preparing for my next Toastmasters speech: ” The Relationship Between Postpartum Bipolar Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis.” Some parts of it made me laugh & that felt good. It’s rare for me to read an older post and not want to change much, but I stand by this one.

Things have changed so much since I wrote it — the book is done, I’ve received over 20 freaking amazing endorsements – every single one is from someone I think is brilliant — and with high octane brains backing up my writing including Dr. Verinder Sharma, Dr. Carol Henshaw, and Kay Redfield Jamison, I’m far more confident in my message and the veracity of my diagnosis.

I haven’t contacted Dr. Disappointment since this post was published, but I’ll be sending her my press kit very soon. I’m going to contact her bipolar organization one more time & encourage them to let their many followers know about my book – and the diagnosis itself, since they specialize in freakin’ bipolar!! 😉

Hope you like this one,

Dyane

Birth of a New Brain

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This post will sound like I’m getting worked up over something minor, but it’s not minor to me. While it’s another diatribe about an attitude I’ve been faced with by the bipolar & postpartum advocacy groups, there are a few new, juicy tidbits to explore. (I’ve written about this before here.)

This blog was created first and foremost to write about postpartum bipolar disorder (bipolar, peripartum onset) and it’s where I feel supported and understood by so many of you! Hence, this post.

I’ve been repeatedly burning myself out after contacting various bipolar & postpartum nonprofits to ask them to include PPBD on their websites, etc. They’ve made it clear they don’t give a damn about my form of bipolar/perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.

Sadly, if a celebrity comes out with PPBD or if PPBD appears in a soap opera storyline, I’ll get my queries returned…

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“Yes, I’ve been offered two roles in…

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The Magic of “I’m Disappointed” Part Deux

 

 You must listen to this entire song. I bet you’ll be very disappointed with me afterwards! 😉 I might wear a version of the lead singer’s outfit for my 1st book talk – what do you think? 

First, here’s some essential 1970s rock education since most of you are way younger than I am. The song “Magic” is by PILOT – isn’t that a groovy name? Pilot was a rock group formed during 1973 in Edinburgh, Scotland by former Bay City Rollers members, David Paton and Billy Lyall. “Magic” was their first hit single and it reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 in the US when yours truly was 5, and guess what? ECT didn’t erase any of it in my brain!!! Take that, anti-psychiatry folk!

Speaking of MAGIC…

Last week the magic of “I’m Disappointed” happened again! Here’s the latest disappointment drama!

It was a mellow afternoon in beautiful Lake Tahoe.  I allowed myself a little Twitter time (okay, I allowed myself too much Twitter time!) and I decided to search for any recent postpartum bipolar-related tweets. Occasionally I’ll discover a valuable contact or resource.

I spotted a tweet from a man I’ll call “Mike.” Mike had read one of my postpartum bipolar tweets and he responded by tweeting something slanderous about me. Mike had no idea that his tweet was about to get me Very Disappointed, but oh, was he to learn he shouldn’t mess with the one & only “Dyane Disappointment!”

I reported Mike’s tweet to Twitter.

Alas! Twitter disappointed me too!  They found nothing wrong with Mike’s tweet, so I sent Twitter this email:

Subject: DISAPPOINTED: Re: Case# 62591680: Report about @”Mike” 

From: Dyane Harwood
To: support@twitter.com
Dear Twitter Staff,
I was very disappointed with your lack of action regarding my complaint.
Please allow me to explain:
I have a significant problem with Mike’s tweet.
Anyone can view it if they do a topic search for “postpartum bipolar” which is my field of expertise. His tweet is rude and slanderous – it implies I have been unfaithful to my
husband because of my mental illness. That is a total lie, but others reading it
might think otherwise and it could affect my professional reputation.
I have bipolar disorder and I’m an author and a perinatal mental health
advocate. This person’s slanderous tweet has triggered alarming symptoms of my
bipolar disorder, causing me to lose sleep, which can potentially send me
to the hospital. His tweet upset my family members which also triggered my insomnia.
I demand that you take IMMEDIATE action against this individual and remove his tweet
and his account or I will be forced to consult with my attorney. *
Thank you,
Dyane Harwood, B.A., C.P.T. @DyaneHarwood
Santa Cruz, California

*This is my attorney, but Twitter didn’t need to know that!

Miss Lucy Harwood, JD (“Just Dog”)

Here’s Twitter’s reply:

"From:    "support@twitter.com" <support@twitter.com>
Date:    Sat, 15 July, 2017 1:21 am

Hello,

Thank you for contacting us about this issue.
We have reviewed the account you reported and have locked it 
because we found it to be in violation of the Twitter Rules:
https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311
<https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311>. If the account owner
complies with our requested actions and stated policies, the 
account will be unlocked.

If you would like more information on how to control your Twitter
experience, see this help article:
https://support.twitter.com/articles/20170134
<https://support.twitter.com/articles/20170134>

Please continue to report any future violations of the Twitter 
Rules to us. We appreciate your help making Twitter better for 
everyone.

Thank you,
Twitter"

Perhaps it wasn’t just the magic of “I’m very disappointed” but also the magic of “I’ll consult my attorney” that got Twitter to take a second look at my complaint and not brush me off like a flea. I was so happy they did the right thing in the end!

I haven’t looked to see if “Mike” is active on Twitter again and up to his old tricks, or if he has opened a new Twitter account. Who knows? But if he pulls the same thing with me, you can bet I’ll get disappointed. And if Mama is disappointed, everyone’s gonna get disappointed! (Groan, I know!) 

On a much happier note….

My friend Mel referred me to a very cool new site called BFFPetnet – a unique pet community. If you’re a pet lover like I am, check it out. I’m there under “Dyane” — if you could please tell your pet loving friends about it, I’d be grateful to you! (They’re on Facebook & Instagram too!)

Another happy note:

You can read the 1st Official Birth of a New Brain article here in Mental Health Treatment by journalist David Heitz!

Finally……….

For those of you who like to look at brief videos of my attorney dog, this twenty seconds of Lucy swimming in Lake Tahoe for the first time is too cute:

 

See you next Friday – I have some cool book-related updates as well as a section called “Dog Poop & Rich People” I want to share with you!

Have a great weekend, my friends!

XO,

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in August.

Tahoe Bliss

 

Twilight beauty in Alpine Meadows

Tahoe Bliss is the name of my all-time favorite lip balm that’s made right here in Lake Tahoe, but it’s also a mellow state of mind. I haven’t had any grand adventures take place since I last posted – only small ones that occurred primarily on my walks and hikes, but small is good enough for me. 

During one of my daily walks, I noticed this roof was alive…
And on another stroll, I discovered this beautiful split tree trunk bridge 

Lucy chillin’ & experiencing Tahoe Bliss after her pond swim!

 

The girls playing large-scale chess at The Village at Squaw Valley. I couldn’t believe it when a crowd formed to watch their intense game! I took this shot when they were just getting started.

(Little sis won!)

I’ve been lazy during most of this trip, but I’ve made some progress with my book.

With the help of my former coworker at the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, the date for my first book event is set! It’ll be at one of the library branches on Thursday, October 19th at 7:00 p.m. – further details will be firmed up in early August.

The heat is now officially on – I have three months to get my presentation together, and you can bet my new Toastmaster friends are going to help me with it.

On the promotions front, Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers, inspired me to create a “press kit.” My publisher has a 1-page standard press release, but I wanted a more extensive, professional-looking press kit I could share with certain individuals and organizations.

 

I started reading Linda’s new memoir Song of the Plains last week. It’s  beautifully written, and I love the cover!

 

I felt a little audacious asking Linda if she would let me see her press kit, but I pushed through my fear because I knew it would be excellent. After all, she’s a memoir and publishing expert. Linda graciously said yes, and her awesome layout has been a tremendous help!

Lastly, I’ve had a culinary grand adventure, come to think of it. I’ve found one of the best brownie mixes ever: Sutter Buttes Natural and Artisan Foods’ Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownies Baking Kit. I’ve tried many brownie mixes, and this mix blew me away.

If you’re a brownie lover and a blood orange lover, order this dream-come-true – you will thank me. (They have double chocolate flavor too.)

Isn’t the little bottle of extra virgin blood orange olive oil cute?

And on that sweet note, I bid you a wonderful weekend!

See you next week!

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder,  foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available later this summer.

The Magic of “I’m Disappointed”

 My Dad, the Original “I’m Disappointed” Magician

 

I remember how much my father enjoyed going to various high-end West Los Angeles restaurants in the 1970s and 1980s. As a gourmand, he had high standards.

One evening Dad had a bummer of a meal at The Velvet Turtle. (By the way, turtle soup and anything else turtle-related or velvet-related was not served there!)

Dad didn’t go home to face indigestion of body and spirit. He wrote The Velvet Turtle’s manager a letter expressing his profound disappointment with his dining experience. This incident occurred long before the advent of email, so my father handwrote a double-sided letter explaining exactly what fell short at the establishment.

 

Lo and behold, Dad promptly received a profuse apology and a gift certificate for a full-course dinner for four. (I stole took his certificate and brought my then-boyfriend and grandmother out for dinner – the food and service were very good!)

I never forgot my father’s satisfaction with his informing the manager he had a less-than-magical experience, nor did I forget the end result.

 

Whenever I’ve been deeply perturbed by the actions of an individual or group, I get in front of my laptop to write my “I’m Disappointed” email.

My fond wish is that the“I’m Disappointed”email “technique” will work as well for you as it has worked for me. 

Here are two easy steps to take for your happy dance touchdown time.

  • The phrase “I’m disappointed with…blankety blank” always goes in the subject header and also the body of the email.
  • I never use foul language, despite having been very tempted to do so sometimes. I keep it short ‘n sweet and chock full of disappointment.

For you writers out there, here’s an example of an email I sent to BringChange2Mind. I asked for author/mental health advocate Jessie Close’s consideration to endorse my book. 

It’s followed by “I’m Disappointed” missive, & then the prompt, courteous reply I received from BringChange2Mind. 

 

--------------------------- Original Message ----------------------
Subject: Attn: Jessie Close/Book Endorsement Opportunity
From:    "Dyane Leshin-Harwood"
Date:    Tue, 7 March, 2017 2:23 pm
To:      information@bringchange2mind.org
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Jessie,

I hope you're doing well!

Like so many other readers, I bought "Resilience" and was deeply moved by your journey. I especially related to your love for dogs. I enjoyed seeing the photo of you with Redstone Rocket - I have a 
Sheltie/collie mix named Lucy, and her face looks a lot like Redstone Rocket's. I also loved the photos of your adorable Wowie and  
Snitz.

I'm a writer and mental health advocate.My memoir "Birth of a New Brain - Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder" will be publishedthis fall by Post Hill Press.

I'd be honored if you'd consider endorsing it.

You'd join other inspiring movers and shakers including:

--Dr. Verinder Sharma, Perinatal Psychiatrist
--Dr. Nancy Byatt, Psychiatrist/Professor, University of 
Massachusetts Medical School
--Mark Lukach ("My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward")
--Jay Mohr ("Gasping for Airtime," "No Wonder My Parents Drank," Podcast One's MohrStories, "Keep Oregon Well" Spokesman/Mental Health Advocate)

I've attached the front & back cover for your review. The book on Amazon for pre-sales and you can read its brief description here:

https://www.amazon.com/Birth-New-Brain-Postpartum-Disorder/dp/1618688014/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488918029&sr=1-1&keywords=Birth+of+a+New+Brain

I look forward to hearing from you very much!

Warm regards,

Dyane Harwood

 After two weeks with no reply, I sent the “I’m Disappointed” email:

Subject Header: Very Disappointed

“Dear Bring Change 2 Mind Staff,

On March 7th, I left a voicemail message at the website’s contact number
(for Annie) and I emailed that same day, but I never heard back from
anyone.

I realize that working at a nonprofit is demanding (I’ve worked at three
of them here in Santa Cruz!), but I’d really appreciate a confirmation
that you received my email and that my request is being considered.

Thanks so much,

Dyane Harwood”


The next day I received this response from BringChange2Mind’s Staff

Hi Dyane, thank you for your email, and please accept my sincerest apology for not responding sooner. It sounds as though you understand how time manages to slip by too quickly in the non-profit world! And, as a small staff of three, I am afraid that it’s always moving faster in the BC2M office than I would prefer!

Congratulations on your book! If you could send us a copy here at the office, I could put it in the mail to Jessie with the hope that she would be able to read it. She has been extremely busy lately so I can’t make any promises, but it’s always worth a try!

Thank you again for reaching out to us!

 ———–

I’m astounded at how quickly I usually receive a courteous response after I fire off the I’m Disappointed email. Oftentimes I’ve heard back from someone within 24 hours of sending it. Of course, I don’t always receive a reply or get what I want – although once in a while I do – but it feels good to get such a quick turnaround.

Try it the next time someone lets you down, and let me know if the magic happens for you!

Love,

Dyane

 

p.s. I’m writing this post at the Cliff Cafe which is down the street from the Munchkin Cabin in beautiful Alpine Meadows. My view of the Truckee River:

 

We’ve been coming up here for almost a decade. The cabin owner has become a friend and she gives us the “friend’s rate” that makes this trip possible.

Next Friday I’ll let you know about my latest adventures in this magnificent wilderness – hopefully I won’t have a bear come inside the cabin while I’m there (been there, done that!) or get lost in the Sierras (ditto!), or have Craig break his foot while walking down the stairs again, or ride Squaw Valley gondola when the staff fires off an avalanche-prevention explosive almost directly beneath the tram (yep!) – and hopefully I won’t need to write an “I’m Disappointed” email while we’re up here!

 

In this short video, I’m watching Lucy swim for the first time. She’s braving a pond that’s fed by snowmelt from the top of Alpine Meadows. I was so verklempt over my furry girl’s swimming prowess & her concern for Rilla! (Apologies for the loud “Oh my Gods” in the background!)

If you want another brief dose of Lucy’s cuteness, check this out! 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in August.

A Mellow Walk With Lucy, My Furry Antidepressant

Dear Friends,

When I referred to the tennis court I called it “chalk,” but I meant clay, LOL! (Sorry about the shaky camerawork!) 

Have a great weekend & 4th of July.

See you next Friday!

Love,

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder,  foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available later this summer.

My Little Surprise & Humiliation at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!


Dear Friends,

Prepare yourself for a post filled with thrills

of the amusement park ride persuasion….

and chills I’m getting from the thought of proofing my book yet again!

Yesterday I received a PDF file from my managing editor at Post Hill Press. It was the paginated interior of my book!

It was a surreal experience scrolling through the file. Birth of a New Brain now looks like a bona fide book complete with photos and professional formatting, unlike the ARC (advanced review copy) which is a simple Word document devoid of photos or any stylistic touches. 

 

The ARC of Birth of a New Brain didn’t look like a “booky wook.” 

 

I didn’t know I’d have the opportunity to proof my book again, which was my little surprise. However, I knew the ARC had typos and other problems – errors that I wanted to fix, so now I can give it another shot.

While examining 250+ pages will be tedious, I’m thankful I get the chance to do it. I have eighteen days – gulp. Eighteen days sounds like a decent amount of time, but it’ll go by in a heartbeat.  I might need to eat a piece of humble pie and beg for a few more days.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Lost Boys was filmed at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk thirty years ago, the year before I moved here!

I took the girls to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Monday. Whenever I take them there, which is rare because it’s costly even with season passes, I consider the trip to be a profound event. (I wrote about why that’s the case in my post The Found Girl.)

I managed to have a panic attack on the Freefall ride in the children’s zone! I had never been on that ride before, but Avonlea had. She told me I’d be fine, and while I had an inkling I wasn’t going to like the ride, I was clueless I’d react the way I did.

The Boardwalk’s website blatantly lies – it describes Freefall as “Great training for bigger thrills! Freefall springs riders up and drops them down for a giggly good time.”

My Nemesis: Freefall

 When you watch this video, the ride doesn’t look scary, but the woman’s incessant laugh is frightening!!!

 

Our observant teen ride operator took pity on me when he heard my agonized screams and saw my terrified face. He stopped the ride and asked me if I wanted to exit.

Of course I did!

A little girl no older than four seated next to me laughed at my pain! My girls were fine. Avonlea is a daredevil and has been on Double Shot, the big, freaky-to-the-100,000,000th degree version of Freefall!

Marilla was a little scared at first, but her fear quickly went away. They didn’t mind getting off the ride so they could support their freaked-out, humiliated mom.

The Double Shot a.k.a. the 10th Circle of Dante’s Hell

 

Years ago I survived the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. The ride does the same type of up-down-up-down moves as Freefall, but it’s far scarier. My Tower of Terror ride took place years before I was diagnosed with the ultimate Terror: bipolar disorder.

On Freefall, I felt completely out of control since I wasn’t in charge of the stomach-twisting ups and downs. That helpless feeling triggered bad feelings. (You’ll never find me pretending to be an eloquent writer!)

Now I know I must stick to my favorite rides: the bumper cars, the flume log ride, and the wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster, which was built in 1924 and survived the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake!

 

1911 Looff Carousel with my girls

“The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s 1911 Looff Carousel is a National Historic Landmark and local treasure. The hand-carved merry-go-round has been turning children’s seaside dreams into golden memories since 1911.”

This ride is featured in the tense opening scene of The Lost Boys at the one-minute markI love this film! Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, the Two Coreys, Dianne Wiest, Edward Hermann (the gentleman who narrated all those History Channel shows), and 80’s music!!!

What’s not to love? If you haven’t seen it yet, promise me you’ll put it at the top of your bucket list. 

As you can tell, I get carried away when I reminisce about The Lost Boys. Please forgive me – I can’t help it. I’m such a sucker for it. Ha ha ha ha! If you’ve seen this movie, do you get it? 😉

Thanks for reading, and have a great Friday & weekend.

Sending you my love,

Dyane

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder,  foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available later this summer.

 

Looking for a Good Book?

The following authors graciously endorsed my memoir, and they have written fantastic books. I urge you to read their work!

  

 

“Birth of a New Brain is a gripping account of the awful juxtaposition of childbirth and the onset of bipolar illness. Dyane’s book is an informative and important contribution to our understanding of this triggering of mental illness that happens more often than is generally recognized.”

Kay Redfield Jamison

Author of An Unquiet Mind and Robert Lowell,
Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character

 

 

 

“This is a story of when love alone can and cannot heal in bipolar disorder. It is a story of mental illness seen through the eyes of a daughter, a wife, and a mother. Birth of a New Brain was a privilege to read.”

Dr. Greg de Moore

Author of Finding Sanity: John Cade, Lithium, and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, Australia

 

“With artful prose and brutal honesty, Dyane Harwood depicts her struggle to have a stable, peaceful life as a wife and mother amidst the turmoil brought on by postpartum bipolar disorder in Birth of a New Brain. Despite many false starts, missteps, and even cruel and indifferent treatment at the hands of certain medical professionals she encountered, Harwood soldiered on and finally arrived at her own truth. The answers, for the most part, were inside her all along and consisted of self-care habits, including healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and consistent exercise. Thoroughly researched with a wealth of resources for mothers and families, Birth of a New Brain is an invaluable resource and reference point for mothers grappling with shifts in mood after the birth of their children.”

Matt Samet

Author, Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness

Editor, Climbing Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

“Dyane Harwood’s writing eloquently brings to life the complex interaction between the person, her world and the changes in how she how she perceives it wrought by the onset of mania following childbirth. She unpicks the essential conflict faced by all of us who experience chronic mood problems—between the pressure to follow sometimes uncertain ‘medical advice’ uncritically and the need to retain some sense of self-agency because with that comes the hope of being able to lead the kind of lives we want to live. She rightly challenges the doctors who project their own failings onto the ‘problem patient. Indeed, she highlights the importance for all of us of finding a doc in whose expertise one can really invest some respect and trust. We are all so much more than our ‘illness’ but can find that goal hard to achieve. Dyane Harwood’s extraordinary book shows us how to do it.”

Dr. Linda Gask

Author, The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression, Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester

 

“Dyane’s journey through mental illness has taken an astonishing amount of twists and turns, and in Birth of a New Brain, she generously and courageously shares her experience so that others may learn from it. Birth of a New Brain is an invaluable and hopeful guide for anyone confronting mental illness so that they can get the help they need and deserve, from professionals and family, without shame.”

Mark Lukach

Author, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

 

 

 

 

“Dyane Harwood’s new book Birth of a New Brain is a phenomenal gift to the mental illness community, especially for postpartum sufferers. Dyane’s clever weave of gut-wrenching honesty entwined with intricate storytelling illuminates an under-profiled mental illness. Birth of a New Brain is an important addition to the world’s mood disorder literature, and it will help those with perinatal and bipolar disorders of all kinds. Delve into Dyane’s incredible story, one that untangles the baffling and under-reported illness of postpartum bipolar disorder. Prepare to be moved. You won’t regret it.”

-Wendy K. Williamson
Author, I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and co-author of Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder http://www.wendykwilliamson.com

 

Dr. Carol Henshaw, who wrote my book’s foreword, co-authored The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry. 

Dr. Henshaw writes the wonderful travel blog On the Road Again – Wanderlust and the Need to See More of the World

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder,  foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available later this summer.