When Parents & Executive Directors Suck: A Mama Bear Speaks Out!

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I promised to write about what triggered me last week, and here it is.

I apologize if you find this post boring, especially since I quote email exchanges to explain what happened. But I wanted to keep my promise! 

Most importantly, I wanted to read your comments to see if you have any insights you wish to share. (Be gentle, dear readers – I’m still a bit sensitive from this bullmerde!) 

I know this is a minor problem compared to what many of us with bipolar suffer with, but even ridiculous, stupid crap has the power to cause a setback in my mental health.

Blogging about these kinds of things helps me.

However, please believe me – I never forget how lucky I am to be living in a different reality, warts and all.

Finally, I’m sorry this post is too long (although if you’re a regular reader you’re probably not that surprised!) My in-house editor Lucy went to the beach today.

Lucy Soul

In any case, you have my blessing to skim it and/or skip this post! ;) 

The people involved:

My daughter

Yours truly

My daughter’s former friend

Former Friend’s Mom 

Former Friend’s Mom’s Buddy: The Theater Employee 

The Theatre’s Executive Director

Last week I emailed a message to the Executive Director at my daughter’s summer theater program.

My email was clearly marked “CONFIDENTIAL” and (this is also important to note) contained no specific names.

Dear Executive Director,

Unfortunately I have disappointing news.  My daughter will no longer be continuing with the play. We’ve given a tremendous amount of thought to this decision, and we’re sorry to let you down; my daughter most of all.

Her experience hasn’t been the one I hoped she’d have; this is
absolutely not your organization’s fault.  She hasn’t taken to singing and dancing the way we hoped she would. She isn’t enjoying the experience, which would be reason enough for her to discontinue.

However, she signed up for your program after being strongly encouraged by a (now former) school friend. This child was also her best friend who “dumped” my daughter from their friendship literally just before this production began. 

Over the past two years my husband and I found our daughter’s former friend to not only be verbally abusive to our child, but alarmingly destructive to our property whenever she visited our home.

DYANE’S NOTE: I want to give you just a little idea about my child’s former friend’s behvaior. I was home when the following things happened, but at first I wasn’t watching every moment of their playdates. In a flash this kid ripped off all the heads off my daughter’s dolls and she threw them over our deck into the forest. WEIRD! She used a white-out pen to mark up my husband’s work computer monitor and desk. (If she did that to my laptop, I  would have had her wealthy parents buy me a new computer.) She also damaged my daughter’s Santa Barbara Mission model that my child worked on for hours with her Dad – she did it when my daughter was briefly out of the room.

Of course we alerted this child’s parents about her behavior. My husband spoke directly with the child and asked her to please stop the behavior, etc. Her parents gave us empty promises and put far more energy into attending Bay Area 60’s revival rock concerts than helping their kid get the psychological support she desperately needed. I’m leaving out MANY other details about this child’s behavior, but you get the gist of it….so, back to my email to the Executive Director:

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As you can imagine, it has become increasingly difficult for my daughter to be around this child at rehearsals, and between this situation and her
primary reason for leaving, I absolutely cannot in good conscience have her continue with the program.

Thank you,

Dyane Harwood

——–

Now, here’s what happened after I sent my confidential email to the Executive Director. I know this might be confusing, but please stay with me – it’ll make sense! 

Dear Executive Director,

I am so upset while writing this to you that I’m shaking.

Today after I emailed you, someone from your staff had the audacity to read my CONFIDENTIAL EMAIL and contact my daughter’s former friend’s mother – my email DID NOT EVEN NAME ANYONE. Your staffer communicated erroneous information to this woman as well.

After that breach took place, my husband and I received numerous texts
from the former friend’s distraught mother. As a result, my daughter and I have been extremely upset.

The person at your organization behaved unethically, to say the very least; for him to interfere in such a way and not pay me the courtesy of a simple phone call FIRST is beyond me.

I can’t wrap my head around this gross breach of confidentiality,
disrespect….and frankly disturbing, meddling behavior.

I am deeply sickened  over what happened today. I have a severe, chronic
medical condition for which I’ve been hospitalized seven times since my girl
was born. She has been through HELL because of this. She has been
through things that no child should endure. I’m so furious over this
bizarre incident that I can barely think straight.

I never in a million years would expect something so heinous and
slanderous from your organization.

Dyane

————————-

My Response from the Executive Director

Executive Director here,

I am so sorry for what has transpired and I would like the opportunity to discuss it with you either in person or by telephone. Unfortunately the staff member who noticed your email to me guessed which child you were referring to and overreacted with well meaning intentions, though apparently the request for confidentiality was missed. We sincerely apologize for what followed. Please know that the impulse was not malicious, just impulsive.
OF THAT, DYANE MUTTERS, “YEAH, AND SERIAL KILLERS ARE JUST IMPULSIVE TOO. WHAT THE HELL, LADY???! PLUS HE NEVER APOLOGIZED TO ME!” 
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I would like to discuss this further if possible. I take this very seriously and am so sorry that this situation has escalated to this degree. Please let me know a good time to contact you or when we can meet.
Sincerely,
 
Executive Director
 ——-
I replied (please excuse the messed-up font!):
Thank you for your email...
After working at three nonprofits (Friends of 
Santa Cruz Libraries, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, 
College ofBotanical Healing Arts) I learned how 501(c)3 staff, both paid and volunteer, are not exempt from ethical business practices.

I would've been fired for doing what the person who read my email 
did.

At this point, while I thank you for the invitation to speak via phone or in person, email is the best way for me to communicate.

I'd like for our family to receive a full refund.

Too much damage has been done to myself; I've suffered a health setback because of the person's well-meaning intentions, and damage 
has been done to my sensitive girl as well.

From the Executive Director:

Thanks for responding, of course we will give you a refund…Again, I am so sorry for the pain this has caused you and and your family. I do regret not being able to reprimand our staff member accordingly, but I too want your family to be able to move on. This staff member has a personal relationship to your daughter’s former friend, and I can not promise the issue would end if I discuss the repercussions that occurred as a result of his unprofessionalism.
 
As you can see, this is a dilemma  for me.
(DYANE THINKS, “CRY ME A F*CKING RIVER! IF THIS HAPPENED TO YOUR KID, YOU’D GO BATSHIT TOO!)
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I believe that learning from this act of poor judgment and irresponsibility would be such a useful lesson.
(FROM DY: WE NEEDED A LESSON LIKE THIS LIKE WE NEEDED A HOLE IN OUR HEADS!)
As much as I love our small and close community, sometimes the closeness leads to unsafe, unclear boundaries. Again, I welcome further discussion, but understand your wish to put this behind you.
 
Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely, Executive Director
——–

Okay, so that’s the exchange. 

 

Here’s What I Might Have Done If I Was Manic When This Happened:

  1. Tracked the “well-meaning” person down in public so I could yell at him and make a real scene worthy of his production. I inherited a bit of my mom’s acting talent; she won awards for her acting and worked as a television & stage actress in Los Angeles! I starred in my sixth grade play which was produced by a professional L.A. theater company. I won my audition by having to get angry – it was a modern-day “Taming of the Shrew” and I was Kate. I won’t lie to you – I was VERY good at doing that, long before I was diagnosed!😉

Suffice to say that I could put on a show and then some for our little, podunk town and our “well-intentioned” meddler!

2) Picketed the production performances and call the local papers and television stations!

3) Threaten legal action complete with a letter from my “mental health advocate”

4) Leave post-its with relevant sayings where he’ll find them, i.e. his car window:

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What I’d Still Like to Do

Unknown-1Write this person a letter and let him know the damage he caused, because I think he is clueless. I’d add that when I run into him at the market which we frequent, he best be ready to meet Dyane “Mama Bear” Harwood!

———————

The best news of all is that my daughter is doing well. She’s taking this in stride, and her father and I are supporting her 100%. She feels loved and reassured that we’ll be there for her when she returns to school and sees this former friend. We will be involved parents; we won’t care more about seeing freakin’ Bob Dylan than helping our kid navigate a bully – yes, a passive/aggressive bully!

My problem, which I’m discussing with my counselor today, is how I’ll feel when I run into the former friend’s parents and the kid.

I want nothing to do with them.

Yes, I realize that none of these people work for Satan (as far as I know – there ARE some weirdos up here!!!), but I consider them toxic to my mental health.

Lucky for them, I’m TERRIBLE with confrontation, unless I’m manic! They aren’t going to get a happy ending out of this from me – I don’t want to “hug it out” granola-style with them, or smoke a doobie together, or go to Dance Church ! (That’s how they allegedly roll….)

The mom (who texted me that she and I could discuss what happened while hiking together in my happy redwoods place – um, NO WAY!) is quite aware I need space from her.

I texted her I need space, and she wrote back she’d honor my request. So that’s good, yes? 

All I can say at the end of the day is this:

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Big, big thanks for reading if you made it this far…

See you next week!

love,

Dyane Mama Bear

 

 

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

 

The Heat Is On!

 

It has been a long time since I’ve skipped writing a weekly blog post, but I almost took a break from writing today. However, I couldn’t resist the blogosphere’s lure – it’s strong, and I always feel better after I write a post.

As you can guess, the reason I came close to skipping is that I’m struggling on several fronts – it’s nothing bipolar-relapse-related or tragic, thank God, but life has been extra-hard since I last wrote. That’s why you might’ve noticed I haven’t commented on your blogs yet, but I promise I’ll do my best to catch up.

Throughout the recent stress I’ve been able to remain binge-free, I’ve continued eating healthy food, and I’ve been taking my redwood walks with Lucy, and all of that is awesome. I know it sounds pompous, but that’s not just awesome – it’s truly miraculous. In the past, the ridiculous, unethical bullshit I’ve recently suffered would’ve led me right back to inhaling my Talenti double chocolate gelato. But dammit, I’m 130 pounds of strength, and I’m on a mission to keep those extra, unnecessary 40 pounds away for good!

Meanwhile, I’m almost to the finish line with my October 1st memoir deadline. I’m using every bit of my free time to work on the manuscript. To that end, I deactivated my Facebook account, I’m taking a “virtual leave of absence” with my email, and I’ve begun weaning myself off my beloved Twitter all so that I can focus my energy where it needs to go: my book.

It feels positive, healthy and empowering to do such things. (It makes it easier to take these breaks knowing that they’re temporary.) If you haven’t ever done so, I highly recommend it. Remember you don’t need any specific reason to do it! Or you can blame it on me!😉

So yes, this week has been a particularly strange, disturbing and draining one. I definitely plan to write about it when I’m not so charged; most likely next week because I’d greatly value your take on what happened. 

As I leave you with that ‘lil cliffhanger, I hope you’ll return to read Birth of a New Brain next Thursday or Friday!

In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

love,

Dyane

 

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

 

Returning to Redwood Therapy

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The magnificent redwoods, my therapists

When I started tapering off bipolar meds in 2012 (which I’ll never do again since I almost died) hypomania caused me to become an exercise fiend. I was experienced at working out because I worked as a certified personal trainer at a gym for a few years. But when given a choice, I definitely preferred exercising outdoors. Bypassing a gym was economical as well, so I felt good about my fitness plan.

The road in front of my home wasn’t pedestrian-friendly; it was “pedestrian-deadly”. Our steep, curvy mountain lane was devoid of sidewalks, and speeding cars barrelled down it every few minutes. I needed a safe walking option, so I headed for nearby Fall Creek State Park, home to a centuries-old redwood grove.

Fall Creek is a tree lover’s dream containing old-growth woods such as Douglas fir, madrone, oak and ponderosa pines. I know it sounds hippie-dippy, but the energy in this forest felt almost magical. A unique sort of quiet enveloped me as soon as I got on a trail. Thick rays of sunlight peeked through the tree branches so that I didn’t feel claustrophobic. I loved smelling the fresh, pure air.

The state park attracted many visitors, but it was so large that I seldom came across other hikers. An occasional horse or two startled me, but they seemed mellow. As much as I enjoyed the lack of people, it was cause for concern, especially as a woman hiking alone. (This was before my glorious, protective collie Lucy came into my life!)  

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A place I call “The Hobbit Hole”

I bought a pepper spray and reviewed how to use it properly.  I always told my husband when I’d go to the woods. He wasn’t thrilled about my hiking in such isolation, but the pepper spray made him feel a little better. Whenever I went to Fall Creek I held the spray in my hand, ready to use it at any moment. I always brought my fully charged cell phone, and I was lucky I had good cell reception in the forest.

There were other risks besides meeting an unsavory human.  Mountain lions have roamed these hills for ages. Sightings were very rare; at least there weren’t any bears!

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A baby puma/mountain lion

However, there have been a few times when I felt that my sanctuary had a sinister feel. I think the creepy sensation was more about my projecting my dark mood upon the innocent forest rather than there being an actual cause.  This gloominess usually happened when the sun disappeared from view.  Sunlight always has had a tremendous affect upon my psyche, and I’ve used a bright Sunbox light for over a decade now.

When my med-free attempt failed and I relapsed, I admitted myself to the mental hospital once again. I was in the unit three times that summer alone. Patients weren’t taken outside unless they had a doctor’s note. (I wasn’t informed of that ludicrous policy when I was there. I found out about it long after I was released. It was truly insane that patients who were able to handle being outside with supervision weren’t exposed to fresh air and sunlight.)

After I came home from the unit, I couldn’t stop thinking about the forest.  I felt like a caged animal who had finally been given her freedom. The day I was able to drive to Fall Creek and walk on the paths I tread so many times before was a momentous accomplishment.  

During my summer hospitalizations there were many times I thought I’d never be in a forest again. After being cooped up in what I can only describe as a horrible hell, it was incredible to use all my senses to savor Fall Creek once more. While I was still depressed, it helped to be around my “redwood therapists” for their very real comfort.

Being in a mental hospital does many things to you.  For some resilient souls, they stay at a unit, they get out, and they don’t look back too much or get stuck when they reflect.  On the other hand, and I don’t use the following term lightly, I know I have PTSD from being in these units multiple times.

The difference between a locked-down unit full of suffering and a spacious forest comprised of graceful trees and streams is enormous. It doesn’t get more “bipolar” than the difference between sterile civilization and majestic nature.

This summer not only did I return to my beloved Fall Creek forest trails, but I brought Lucy for the first time, and per their spirited request, my two girls! Now more than ever before, I’m grateful for the freedom of being able to visit such a stunning, peaceful place with the ones who I love with all my heart.

I hope that each of you enjoys your own special place in nature as often as possible this summer!

Love,

Dyane

Mom & Girls @ Felton

Enjoying a yummy lunch at the historic Cremer House before heading to explore Fall Creek State Park

Girls

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

My Farmer’s Market Social Anxiety & “I Don’t Feel The Magic”!

 

Ever since I recently reached my goal of losing thirty pounds, I’ve felt like my old self in some significant ways.

Before I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2007, I worked at a family-owned gym as an A.C.E.-certified personal trainer and circuit training instructor. I didn’t attend college with the intention of working in fitness, but I found that I loved helping gym members achieve their goals. During those years I maintained a healthy weight which was fairly easy to do as I didn’t take care of two kids and a dog! 

Then the shit hit the fan when my postpartum bipolar disorder erupted like a dormant volcano.

From then on, my weight went all over the place: up, down, backwards — you name it — thanks to my depression-fueled binge eating and meds, meds, meds galore – around 30 of them.

 

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This was me.

 

Now that I’m finally doing better, I decided to face one of my fears. Thanks to my post’s title, you already know what it is. (So much for creating suspense!)

Fear of the farmer’s market sounds ridiculous, but we all have our silly phobias, don’t we?  Although I don’t feel that my spider phobia (arachnophobia) is silly whatsoever! 

 

A Santa Cruz Mountains resident

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“If you want my body and you think I’m sexy, c’mon sugar let me know!”

 

Just for the heck of it I looked at the Wikipedia list of phobias to see if there was a specific one for farmer’s markets (you never know!), and the only phobias that fit are:

I planned my first farmer’s market foray of 2016 with my older daughter. She wanted to accompany me so we could buy fruit to make smoothies. Santa Cruz County has a thriving farmer’s market scene, so I picked the smallest one. It was in a town where the chances were extremely slim that I would run into anyone I knew, and that’s exactly what I wanted.

My intrepid girl was well aware of my social phobia, and she was awesome about that in every way. When we got to the farmer’s market at 9:00 a.m. there were very few people, and my eye immediately spotted someone I knew. 

“Oh, shit!” I blurted out.

The one person who I couldn’t handle seeing was there:

X

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X’s presence made absolutely no sense. X doesn’t live in that town; moreover he lives near the best, biggest farmer’s market in this area. Of all the people in the world, I never expected to see X.

I couldn’t help but surmise that this was a test by the Universe, and I got a big, ‘ol F! 

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Avi and I turned around and made a beeline for my car. We went to a park and a couple hours later we returned to the market without any incident. We got some yummy peaches and plums which didn’t even make it into the planned smoothie.

Although that farmer’s market experience didn’t go well (cough, cough – understatement!) I decided my next step would be to attend our local farmer’s market. I couldn’t imagine running into X again, but after a session with my counselor, I was prepared to stick around if that event occurred. 

On the appointed day we had a major heat wave. I love the heat, but this heat wave reached the mid-upper 90’s, and perhaps it wasn’t the ideal afternoon to face a phobia. I did so anyway, and this time both girls came with me. 

When we arrived I felt more relaxed than I expected. I saw a few familiar faces, but no one who triggered me, i.e. no reminders of blown-out friendships to wince over. (I’ve had quite a few of those since 2007, which merits another post or three.)

In the tradition of this blog, I digress.

So, there we were, strolling away in the heat and dripping sweat. We sipped ice water that was kindly given out for free by the market promoters. Despite the soaring temperature, I felt a nice sense of well being that I hadn’t felt in a LONG time.

Until I heard his voice….

Hey Dyane! Is that you?”

It had been over two decades since I last heard him say my name. I’ll call him “Spicoli” because the first time I encountered him he was stoned out of his mind.

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We met over twenty years ago, when my Sheltie dog Tara ran away from my studio. I frantically ran from door-to-door in the neighborhood asking people if they had seen her. Spicoli was one of my neighbors, and after he answered his door, he asked me for my phone number. At that point in my life I was single and very lonely, not to mention hysterical that my beloved dog was missing, and I gave my number to him.

We dated for only a few months. From the start I knew he wasn’t the one for me. Not by a long shot. He dropped hints that I wasn’t pretty enough for him, and that he had dated someone in the past who “looked like a supermodel”. That wasn’t great for my weak self esteem. Oh yes – he also frequently said some rather creepy things about how gorgeous one of my best friends was. Yep. A real winner!

One evening I made him a nice dinner and afterwards we sat on his couch.

“Dyane, I just don’t feel the magic,” he said.

And that was that.

So long, farewell.

I just wish I had been the one to say it instead of him.

Fast forward to the magical 95 degree Felton Farmer’s Market!

I had no idea Spicoli now lived in my neck of the woods. The good news is that I was able to talk to him without freaking out. It helped to have my beautiful girls by my side, wondering who the hell their Mommy was talking to – I must admit the scenario was pretty funny. Spicoli had been a talker when we dated, and he shared that he was divorced and dealing with a really sad situation. I felt sorry for him, to tell you the truth.

While Spicoli was not someone I loved, seeing him brought up a vivid memory of my being rejected. He commented on how good-looking my daughters were, but he didn’t make a peep about my appearance. After losing weight and carrying myself with renewed confidence, I didn’t feel like chopped liver like I did when we dated!

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“Spicoli, I ain’t no Cindy Crawford, but I ain’t no chopped liver! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

After he walked away and I caught my emotional breath, I told my girls a little bit about our past. Without thinking, I mentioned Spicoli’s “I don’t feel the magic” phrase and they found that absolutely hilarious! As we visited the various vendors, they took every opportunity to say “I don’t feel the magic about this carrot, Mommy!” and “That ice cream over there might make me feel the magic – can we get some please?”

Next week we’re going to the popular Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market located next to the gym where I used to work. Who knows who I’ll run into there? 

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thanks so much for reading!

love, Dyane

p.s. I started a  Lose It! Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group. The insightful blogger Bradley of Insights From A Bipolar Bear is a group member. His encouragement has helped me so much – it’s far better than going it alone! I can send you an invite if you include your email in a comment, or sign up for free at www.loseit.com and find us under Groups. 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Hell Hath Frozen Over – I Meditated with My Psychiatrist!

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Over the past couple years the subject of meditation has become somewhat of a running joke with me and my psychiatrist Dr. D. 

The backstory: Dr. D. has meditated regularly for decades. Whenever we’ve discussed meditation, he has sung its praises with such sincerity that if you were in his office, I bet you’d contemplate trying meditation.

I’ve read anecdotes about how meditation can help bipolar disorder. I bought the book The Tao of Bipolar: Using Meditation and Mindfulness to Find Balance and Peace by Dr. C. Alexander Simpkins. (I got up to Chapter Two.)

I resisted meditating no matter what – even for a minute.

Why?

I just didn’t want to do it!

Waaaaah!

I’m in my head enough as it is!

Tell me to eat better. I’ll do it.

Tell me to work out? Okay.

Tell me to clean the nasty toilet? Um, alright.

Last Thursday was my regular session with Dr. D. A last-minute childcare snafu required me to bring along my youngest daughter. Knowing that Dr. D. taught his sons to meditate when they were young, I threw caution to the wind. I asked him if he could tell my girl a bit about meditation, and he happily complied. Rilla listened attentively, making me very proud. (Fortunately she didn’t say anything like, “My mom says that she would rather vomit or clean up dog poop than meditate!”)

He suggested we do a brief meditation together.

Gulp.

Using a free app called Insight Timer on his phone, Dr. D. set our meditation time for two minutes. I dimmed the office light, and he started the program. After we heard a gong sound, the three of us sat quietly, letting our thoughts go where they may – mine raced back and forth as usual. Two minutes later, his phone gonged again. 

We survived, 100% unscathed!

As much as I knew that doing meditation was good for me, I knew I wasn’t about to commit to a daily practice. Yet. (Never say never, right?)

Later Rilla told me her experience was “boring”, a totally understandable reaction from an eight-year-old. (Or a forty-six-year-old.) I praised her for giving it a go.

For a hilarious intro. to meditation, watch JP Sears’ video – if you like this one, check out his “How to Be Ultra Spiritual” video which is even funnier. 

The Groovy Ketogenic Diet Update

Yesterday I got a BP Magazine email containing the article “Bipolar, Food & Mood: My Battle of the Binge: One Woman’s Story of Taming Cravings to Keep Her Diet And Moods In Balance”

I’ve been taking a break from reading bipolar-themed emails, but for some reason instead of deleting it, I took a peek at the piece. Lo and behold, I noticed the first comment was about a reader’s experience with ketogenic diets! In all my years of reading BP I’ve never noticed anything with the word “ketogenics”. Was it a sign?😉

Jeffrey wrote,

“In July 2015, I switched to a Ketogenic diet, at first to help me improve my athletic ability. A side benefit was a direct improvement of my mood, a clear stabilization. At that time I was unaware that I was dealing with Cyclothymia. Then in August 2015, I had a bad hypomanic episode but I was able to work with it and stay on track. 

I got on anticonvulsants, and I have Zyprexa as a breakthrough when I have a hypomanic moment. I am now extremely stable. The dietary change has helped me stay even more on course than anything else.

The science behind a Ketogenic diet has helped me understand why it balances out my mood. Going on it and staying with it has been a challenge, but now I prefer it. I have more energy, I sleep better, my athletic performance is good (I don’t “bonk” when I run!”) and it keeps me creative in the kitchen. 

A ketogenic diet isn’t for everyone, but there is some scientific evidence that it effective as an adjunct treatment for mood disorders…”

Thank you Jeffrey!

I’m still reading my Keto Clarity book. (I’m a slow reader when it comes to nutrition books!) I remain daunted by trying ketogenics, because if you want to do it correctly, it’s a lot more than simply switching to a low-carb, high-fat diet, but I’m tempted to give it a try.

I have a new friend in this area who has eaten the ketogenic way for several years. She has done a lot of research about the keto diet, and she has offered to answer any questions I have. Nice!

Lose It! Update

I’ve reached my goal of losing 30 pounds! The app that helped me achieve this weight loss is called Lose It!, a food tracking/logging device. It’s easy to use, and it woke me up as far as how I was treating myself like a human garbage can.

Want to join my Lose It! Group Wondrous Writers? I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com

That’s all the news that’s fit to blog. There’s more, there’s always more, but I’m tryingt to keep it down to a low roar.

In the meantime, sending you lots of love, & see you next week!

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Losing A Mirror Carp Feels Good

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Soaking up the sun with my John Cena-worthy 3-pounders.😉

 

     30 lbs is the equivalent weight of this mirror carp!

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Whoa! 

 

Dear Friends,

I’ve been writing about my weight-loss journey, and I appreciate your sticking with me especially if you have zero interest in the topic. Rest assured, I’ll soon return to expoundng on other important subjects including Bigfoot and my Scoth collie Lucy’s career.

Now that I’ve reached my goal of losing a mirror carp, I’m proud of myself. I didn’t think I could lose 30 pounds, especially becuause I take lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate, an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) for my bipolar one disorder. I took Seroquel from 2013-2015, and that med affected my metabolism, causing me to gain weight in the stomach area.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a compulsive overeater for decades. During the past year I was downing one pint of Talenti chocolate gelato every night, so I couldn’t blame all the changes in my body upon my bipolar medications.

Anyway, here I am, feeling so much better despite my black hairy tongue, hoping that I can keep up my new lifestyle, especially when the sh*t hits the fan.

Weight loss veterans know that the truly hard work comes after one’s goal is achieved.

I can’t loop too much about the future. No matter what happens, it has been awesome to take care of myself. It’s even better being a positive role model to my girls and Lucy. 

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Where’s my treat?

Little efforts add up. I bring a big bottle of water everywhere I go. When I take my kids out somewhere to eat, I don’t order a bunch of grub even when I’m not hungry the way I used to do. I’ll drink water or order a black coffee, and joke with the server that I’m a great tipper. (True.)

I haven’t returned to my 30-45 minute-long workout yet because I’m not ready, but every other day I lift my fearsome Target dumbbells for ten minutes. Bicep curls and tricep lifts – that’s it. I put on Pandora 80’s music channels which makes the ten minutes go by fast.

Yes, it’s all about baby steps. 

 

The Groovy Ketogenic Diet Update

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I’m halfway through reading Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet and while I want to try it because it allegedly helps with bipolar disorder symptoms, I find the logistics VERY daunting. 

Despite my intimidation, I found an interesting article about this diet’s affect upon bipolar. Check out Dr. Georgia Ede’s website Diagnosis: Diet – Nutrition Science Meets Common Sense: “Bipolar Disorder and Diet Part II: Low Carbohydrate Diets”. There are almost 100 comments, and I’m curious about what they say. In any case, I’ll keep you posted about what I wind up doing.

Do any of you follow the ketogenic diet? I’d love to know about your experience.

Even if you’re not ready to make a major change in your lifestyle (it took me almost two years to stop eating junk) please know you can lose weight while taking bipolar meds. I’m not claiming this credo applies to every person under the sun, but I think it’s true for many people with bipolar disorder. 

The free app that helped me achieve my goal is called Lose It! which is simply a food tracking/logging device. It’s easy to use and it woke me up.

If you want to try it, I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com 

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170 pounds and so unhappy that I couldn’t even look at the camera.

Most of what I ate back then was Talenti gelato, countless packages of the Immaculate Baking Company’s raw chocolate chip cookie dough, and Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream.

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Sorry for the blur – this pic has selfie-itis syndrome.

While I still have my Seroquel Spider belly, I can live with it because I’m feeling much healthier and happier. Three months ago I cut out 95% of the sugar I was inhaling. I began eating mostly organic food, and kept preparations as simple as possible. My husband supported me, thank goodness; he didn’t mind my doing my own thing. I stopped bingeing cold-turkey and started drinking lots of water and green tea. I also joined Scientology to follow my idol Tom Cruise. (Just kidding! Can’t get too serious about this healthy eating stuff…)

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You can do it!

 

As always, sending you lots of love, 

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Black Hairy Tongue, Earthquake Fun & Facing a Fear

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My yucky brown tongue & Avi’s healthy pink tongue

Avast, me hearties…yuckier photo ahead!

Greetings, my friends!

It has been an interesting week.

I learned something new, and you’re about to learn it too! Did you know that after one takes antibiotics (in my case, for walking pneumonia) it’s possible to get a case of Black Hairy Tongue? The answer is a resounding yes!

What on earth is Black Hairy Tongue, exactly?

WebMD explains, “The name black hairy tongue may sound scary, but the condition is harmless. Black hairy tongue is caused by bacteria or fungi in the mouth, which make the tongue appear black and hairy. It’s easily remedied by good old-fashioned oral hygiene.” (For more info. visit this WebMD link)

Thank the stars, not all cases are black-colored tongues; I got lucky with a coffee-colored brown one. I could’ve sported this look:

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I freely admit my case could’ve been much worse. The above shot is TAME compared to what else lurks out there. My advice: Don’t do a Google image search for “black hairy tongue”, ever. Yowza!

I’m grateful that my black hairy tongue isn’t black nor hairy! When my doctor looked at it she told me that I just need to wait it out for a month. It’s not contagious. There are no medications to take, but it’s a good idea to scrape my tongue after brushing my teeth daily. No problemo.

My yucky tongue experience brought me back to my childhood. I watched the following jingle a zillion times. It’s sung by the actor/singer Scatman Crothers who warns about a different kind of yuck mouth, but it’s so catchy and convincing that I wanted to share it.

Local Earthquake News:

We had a early morning jolt last weekend that freaked me out. At 3.6 on the Richter scale, it was nothing compared to the Loma Prieta quake I lived through back in 1989. (It registered a fearsome, deadly 6.9.) My entire family slept through the 3.6, except for Miss Lucy and yours truly.

There’s something about feeling this particular force of nature that cuts to the core. You’re out of control in a BIG way. It’s unnerving, to say the least. Hearing our house creak and shift wasn’t the way I preferred to spend the crack of dawn. But once again, this is another situation that could’ve been much worse. I was relieved a bigger quake didn’t follow the 3.6!

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The epicenter was less than 20 miles away from Chez Harwood

Facing My Festival Fears:

My first “grown-up” job was producing annual large-scale festivals in Silicon Valley for four years. After I left that position, I took a looooooong break from attending any festival, even the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival. I thought I went to enough festivals to last several lifetimes.

Last week I was unexpectedly gifted with tickets to the Redwood Mountain Faire, a local, family-friendly festival that attracts great musicians. It would’ve been rude not to go, so I forced myself. I planned to say hi to my generous friend on their staff, and dash away shortly after that.

Rilla said she’d join me, and I thought she’d also want to leave soon after our arrival. But as fate would have it, she ran into some of her friends, and she begged me to stay all day! (We compromised at four & 1/2 hours.)

The event was well-produced, it was in a beautiful setting, and I had to admit it was fun, especially since I didn’t need to work and deal with angry food vendors, etc. While taking a breather in the shade I chatted with some cool, friendly locals; it turned out they were the parents and grandparents of Rilla’s ballet classmate. The grandma, who used to live on our street decades ago, told me about some fascinating musical history that took place across from our house. (I was flabbergasted, but that’s for another post!) My social anxiety took a backseat for a change.

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A festival isn’t a festival without a shaved ice booth!

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Rilla caught me in a particularly relaxed moment

Ketogenic Update: I’m still very curious about ketosis because of its purported  beneficial effects upon bipolar symptoms. I sampled a few books about ketogenic nutrition on my Kindle, and Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric C. Westman impressed me the most. I couldn’t resist splurging on it, and I’ll let you know what I think about it soon!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. I appreciate your reading this blog so much! I’ll touch base late next week, and in the meantime, please take good care of yourselves. Happy Summer!

Lots of love, Dyane

 

p.s. You can still join our Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group on the website/app Lose It! Group member Bradley of Insights From A Bipolar Bear has helped me with his encouragement! I’ve lost 25 pounds of “Serouqel weight” since I began using Lose It!, and let me tell ya, it feels good to carry around less poundage.

If you join us, Bradley & I will encourage you. Why not try it out? I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com and find us under Groups

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.