Ready for My Close-Up…Not!

Ready for My Close-Up…Not!


Neanderthal Dyane 

(Painted by my beloved father, the violinist Richard Leshin, 1927-2009)


Here I am, looking slightly less like a member of the Homo neanderthalensis species

(Thanks to Crystal Crafton of rap.ture photography)


I hate having my picture taken. 

I posed for pics at my wedding only because I drank two bottles of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque champagne. Ever since that day, I don’t advise any gal to hit the booze a few hours before she gets married. Please allow me to explain…

Our wedding took place six years before my postpartum bipolar diagnosis. However, because of my alcoholic brunch, not eating, and not sleeping the night before our ceremony, I became hypomanic as Craig slipped the wedding ring on my finger. Ugh. Luckily I was able to get a full night’s sleep the following night, and the hypomania quickly subsided.

In keeping with the tradition of this blog, I digress.

Some of you know I turned in my manuscript on October 1st. Until the editing phase begins, there are other tasks to do, such as scheduling a headshot. 

Craig volunteered to take my picture, but I declined because this snob  wanted a professional. I know it’s possible for amateur photographers to take great headshots. One example is the shot my friend, the bestselling author Dan White (Under The Stars, The Cactus Eaters), took of his wife Amy Ettinger, also an author. Check out Amy’s beautiful headshot and what her upcoming book is about, that lucky gal!

Through a friend in my local Facebook group, I was referred to a reasonably priced photographer named Crystal Crafton and I booked her. I refrained from telling Crystal about my aversion to being photographed until we met, for I didn’t want to scare her off! We got together on Tuesday, and I immediately felt at ease with her.

The weather was sunny and clear, so I suggested we shoot at the beautiful Highlands Park across the street. As Crystal snapped away, I gritted my teeth while I emitted the sound the character Mini-Me makes in the Austin Powers movies. The intrepid Crystal had photographed far more challenging  situations, so my freaky noises didn’t faze her.

I was very happy with Crystal’s work! It’s a basic headshot – there’s nothing fancy about it, but I could always use these jazzed-up versions for publicity purposes.

Like this one, which I like to call the “Juice Newton”:


“Just call me angel of the morning, angel!”

I couldn’t resist adding a link to Juice’s video. It has gotten almost 15 million views. (If you watch it, let me know if you think that’s all her real hair!)

Then there’s “The Bellah”:wp-1476983506051.jpg

“Bellah!” is a nonsensical word my high school BFF and I made up. We used to yell it out in the middle of Ms. Shirley’s 10th-grade math class to shake things up.

Option No. Three: “My True Self”:


“Oh yes, I’m a Princess at heart, and you will wait on me hand and foot!”

When it comes to my book, I think about it often and I freak myself out with the dreaded “What If’s.”

What if they cancel my contract?

What if I relapse?

What if someone I love dies over the next year? 

I think my subconscious was trying to get me to lighten up the other night. I had a vivid nightmare in which my editor wrote me an icy email that said, “Your book will need a lot of work! We’re going to need plenty of time! Plus, we’re going to change the title to BRAIN HAMMER.”

I loathe the title BRAIN HAMMER! I love my title. I found BRAIN HAMMER pretty funny, and it felt good to laugh about it. But if it turns out I’m psychic, and my nightmare comes true, well, I’ll find other means to get my story out into the world. I’ll keep you posted! 

Quick Lose It! Update

My friends Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear), Marie Abanga (Merry Marie) and I are using the Lose It! app & website to shed pounds. Thanks, in part, to Lose It!, I lost 40 lbs. Hopefully none of those pounds were taken from my hammer brain. It helps me to stick to Lose It! so I don’t yo-yo. Bradley and Marie’s encouragement helps me to no end. You can sign up for free at – to join our group, search for the Wondrous Writers group at the website.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your wonderful comments & support, and I’ll see you next week, my friends.


p.s. Please don’t get mad at me if you listen to Angel of the Morning and it stays in your noggin waaaaay longer than you’d like!

 Facebook Birth of a New Brain Book Page – please visit & like it!

My new Twitter handle: @DyaneHarwood 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.


Psychiatrist Dr. Manipod’s “Have You Been Hit With Autumn Anxiety?”

Psychiatrist Dr. Manipod’s “Have You Been Hit With Autumn Anxiety?”

Dr. Vania Manipod is an incredible psychiatrist. I’ve been following her blog Freud and Fashion for quite a while because it’s fascinating to read her insights about psychiatry.

I particularly appreciate her willingness to share her challenges and insecurities, both personal and professional. I can’t stand arrogant psychiatrists who prance around thinking they’re better than their patients. Dr. Manipod is the opposite of the big-headed pdoc, and because of her humility, I’ve been pleading with her to open a Santa Cruz practice in two years when my psychiatrist retires.

Dr. Manipod wrote an excellent post about autumn anxiety, a unique topic, & it’s definitely worth the read…let us know what you think!



Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

Freud & Fashion

I noticed a pattern in several of my Instagram posts the last few weeks: a sense of being hard on myself, feeling like I haven’t been productive enough, lacking any sense of accomplishment, feeling as if there’s no time in the day to get through my task list, etc.  Such a surge in self-criticism didn’t sit well with me, so I wanted to gain more insight and determine the trigger (as if I don’t psychoanalyze enough in my day to day life).  It wasn’t until I started noticing the anxious tone in my voice each time I told some of my patients to schedule their next appointment in 3 months (which would be around January 2017) and went on to wish them an early “Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Hannukah/Qwanzaa,” etc, that an a-ha moment occurred in my mind — Oh my goodness, it’s almost 2017!

So I started researching if there was…

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On The Road to Publication: Covering My Bases



Separated at birth?

Dear Friends,

Another week has flown by, and I hope that you’re doing well.

When I told my therapist that it seems like a hard time for so many of us, she agreed. She said she knew two people who recently died by suicide, and she noticed more clients are in crisis now compared to other times of the year. 

So, whatever helps you feel a little better each day, do it!

Hanging out with my dog Lucy, good food, reading the WordPress Reader, connecting with bloggers, light therapy, coffee, mood lifting essential oils, watching Netflix shows, listening to anxiety-reducing music

Those are some of my favorite things. Tell me what lifts your spirits in the comments section – I’d love to know.

And speaking of spirits, Halloween is in 18 days!

What will you be?

Visit this post to find out what my costume is – scroll all the way down.


Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder Update

I submitted my manuscript on October 1st to my publisher. The next step is to start working with my editor. I’m nervous (who wouldn’t be?) but I’m incredibly excited that I’ve reached this stage. (I’m hard at work growing an extra-thick layer of skin because I’ll need it when I get the feedback!) 

I received an excellent foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, one of the world’s top perinatal psychiatrists. Dr. Henshaw is also an intrepid world traveler and blogger. To read about her journeys visit her blog On The Road Again – Wanderlust and the need to see more of the world.

Cover Design

Here’s the first contender:

Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart
Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart

Just kidding!

Last week I started working with a talented graphic designer who will create the cover! My girls inspired me to come up with a potential concept, and they drafted it on the Post-It pictured below. It’s fun to include them in the process, and I’m thrilled they took an interest.

I love beautifully designed book covers, and I look forward to sharing more details with you in the months ahead.


Thinking about book covers inspired me to brainstorm about endorsement blurbs. I have an extensive list of celebrated writers, doctors, and even celebs who I want to contact, but I’m holding off until I have a completed cover I can send out to entice them, heh heh heh.

If you’re interested in this topic, publisher Brooke Warner of SheWrites Press wrote an article “An Author’s Guide to Praise and Endorsement Practices”  that’s worth a look.

I took this picture at our local indie bookstore in the children’s book section. I guess as long as no one writes this about my book, I’ll be happy! ;) 


Social Media, I Can’t Quit You!

After a three-month-long social media hiatus, I’ve returned to Twitter and Facebook. (I took time off to focus on completing my book, and it was a great decision – I highly recommend it.)I won’t kid you – I allowed myself to get sucked right back in! 

I won’t kid you – I allowed myself to get sucked right back in! 

I’d be grateful if you could like my Facebook Book Page

Unlike Facebook, which retains your contacts when you deactivate your profile, Twitter erases your followers, etc. after a certain amount of time. Boo Twitter! I have a new Twitter handle: @DyaneHarwood — and I invite you to follow me!

The Lose It! Update

My friends Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear), Marie Abanga (Merry Marie) and I are using the Lose It! app & website to get healthy. Thanks, in part, to Lose It! I’ve maintained a 40 lb. weight loss but I struggle with food. 

At least over the past few days I stopped bingeing at night! I still eat too much for dessert, but my dessert is a far cry from the tons of gelato, chocolate cake, chocolate bars, chocolate anything I used to eat. These days I enjoy an apple and (lots of ) almond butter! In any case, I’m relieved to have broken the bingeing cycle. I suspect that meeting my deadline had something to do with that…

If you’d like to try Lose It!, you can sign up for free at – to join our little group, search for the Wondrous Writers group at the site.


So much for aiming to write a short post. Someday I’ll surprise you and do it. Thanks for reading, and be extra-good to yourselves!

lots of love,



Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.


Weekend Vlog Hello to My Friends – XoXo

photo-on-10-5-16-at-9-55-am-2Only 24 days to go! 

Dear Friends,

How are you? I hope you’re doing well. I know it’s a tough month for many of us due to the change in season. I didn’t get a chance to write my typical rambling weekly post, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my vlog.

I share a couple tools that help me deal with challenges such as seasonal affective disorder and anxiety.

I meant to talk a little about my friend Ulla, creator of the blog Blahpolar. Although I didn’t bring her up, she has been on my mind a lot. (Some of you know the awful news: last month Ulla died by suicide.)

If you’re not familiar with Ulla’s blog, here’s the link to the About page. It contains some salty words, so you’ve been warned.😉 I encourage you to read her blog – it’s one of my all-time favorites. I’m grateful it’ll remain active thanks to her friends. (Be sure to check out her quotes & memes too!)

Here are the links to the resources I mention in the vlog:

The Sunbox Company

Mayo Clinic Water Intake guidelines 

One of my fave green teas: Yogi Green Tea Blueberry Slim Life

Rescue Remedy Plus homeopathic lozenges for anxiety

The Lose It! Update

Extraordinary blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I are still trying our best to be healthy. It ain’t easy. My knee injury put a damper on my redwood forest walks with Lucy.  Due to stress, I’ve been overeating every night. Binge eating is a topic I want to address in a future post – unfortunately it plays a significant role in my life.

I’m happy to announce that the dynamo blogger Marie Abanga has joined our Lose It! group Wondrous Writers! If you’d like to try it (why not?) you can sign up for free at – to join our group, search for the Wondrous Writers group.

See you next weekend, my friends!

Lots of love,



Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.


Silly Sonnet 29 Redux to Lucy (a.k.a. I’m Not A Poet & I Know It!)


Dyane & Lucy, 2015

It has been far too serious around here, plus the weather’s turning cold and gloomy. Perhaps the gallon of locally roasted Rocket Fuel from Coffeol Roasting I enjoyed this morning affected me, because I’m suddenly feeling silly! 

My favorite Shakespeare sonnet #29 When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes popped into my brain.

I have a degree in English literature, and once in a while this kind of thing happens. As I slurped my java, I read Counterpoint Press’ newsletter, scrolled down, and BOOM! There was an interview with that guy  from my high school math class who became a bestselling author.

Seeing Norman Ollestad’s intense visage accompanied by all that glow-in-the-dark praise inspired me to commit a silly sin. I changed the Almighty Bard’s words in his beloved Sonnet #29 to reflect my current goofy, insecure state of mind. 

Thankfully Shakespeare wrote the sonnet before 1923, so he can’t sue me for copyright infringement (see this post for more about that topic) although I suppose he could haunt me a la the ghost he penned in Hamlet


 To that, all I have to say in my most nasal of Valley Girl voices is “Whatever, William!”

Without further adeiu, I present the revision to you. Hope you like it!



Silly Sonnet 29 Redux to Lucy

When, in disgrace with the Craft and writers’ eyes,

I all alone beweep my lack of talent,

And trouble the deaf New York Times Book Review with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my manuscript,

Wishing me like to J.K. Rowling more rich in….everything!

Featured like her, like her with agents and publicists possessed,

Desiring this woman’s literary art and that woman’s literary scope

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the lark at break of day arising 

From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with 5-star Amazon reviews (among other things!)

*here is the original masterpiece Sonnet 29: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes by William Shakespeare


Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.


Cheering My dear Dyane all the way with love

As I write this, my friends, I’m still working on my book until tonight – this is called, um, neurotic. But why not, right?

I rarely reblog, but I felt compelled to share this beautifully written post by Marie Abanga. Here’s what I wrote on her blog:

“I can’t thank you enough for this beautiful, beautiful post, Marie.
You’re gonna make me cry, girl!
(Okay, you just did!)

I’m going to reblog it! And you’ll see I re-tweeted it, although Twitter got rid of all my contacts and my old handle! Mean Twitter!

This is a truly amazing post and it has touched my heart like no other. Thanks again from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.
Lucy loves you too!

p.s. I’m thinking of Ulla today. Wish she was here to read this. Xo”

Marie Abanga's Blog

DearDyaneLeshin-Harwood, sadly I don’tknow how to properly link from a phone, but I tried my best…

It all started 9 years ago with your courageous decision to not bottle it up and pretend it never happen, your painful and challenging crawls and strides to get a book deal and submit a draft…

Today, as you finally get to submit that draft, which is a big big step to the fulfilment of your dream and desire to see your exceptional story and advocacy message out there in the literary and psycho-scientic world, know that am rooting for you. I am so proud of you because as an author I know some of the frustrating and yet rewarding pumps of it all…

I am sure dearest, that several member of our e-family as well as your actual family, are equally so supportive and super proud of you…

As I board…

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Submitting My Manuscript to My Publisher! Resources & Boo Boo’s


Greetings, my friends!

Yes, I’m thrilled to announce I’m finally delivering my baby to my publisher, but it’s not a human baby. For starters, I take lithium & a MAOI, so I’m done with all that. From now on if we want to add to this family, we’re going to the Santa Cruz SPCA!

I’m delivering the manuscript of my memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder to Post Hill Press on Saturday. Dr. Carol Henshaw agreed to write the foreword, and I’m truly honored. She’s one of the top perinatal psychiatrists in the world, a highly acclaimed author, and intrepid world traveler.

I began writing Birth of a New Brain nine years ago after my daughter was born. I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, and it took forever to complete the book because of my treatment-resistant bipolar depression. If you want to know more about that saga, well, you can read my book next October 2017!

The past week has been a whirlwind of editing, writing, assembling last-minute photos, and completing the freaky metadata form. I also realized I made a ghastly mistake, which you’ll read about, I promise. First the good stuff:

The following links contain incredible resources that helped me. They might help you with your writing projects too. 

Filler Words Detract from the Power of Your Writing!

Rae Ford’s Write for Your Life blog post Ecstasy Editing Notes: 20 Filler Words and How to Get Rid of Them is soooooo worth checking out! (Rae, that “so” was for you, LOL!) 

In 2015 I printed Rae’s page, and put it in my “procrastination” file. On Monday I finally got out Rae’s pointers and combed through my 320 pg. manuscript. I cut as many of the filler words as I could. It was an exhausting process, but editing those suckers felt good! 

Grammarly Fun

Yesterday I splurged and bought Grammarly Premium for one month ($30),  and I have one word to describe it:


(That is a real word according to Miss Lucy. And if you refer someone to Grammarly, you can each get a free week’s trial period, but I was too lazy to do that.)


I discovered more awesome editing tools and the cool NY Editors website. Some goodies are free and some cost cha-ching! Visit “Instantly Improve Your Writing With These 11 Editing Tools” at this groovy NY Book Editors link.

My Quotation Nightmare – Don’t Make My Amateur Mistake!


I did something SO foolish and SO lame, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but if you learn from my mistake it’s worth the shame!

A Bit ‘O Backstory:

I spent many hours searching for apt quotes I placed at the beginning of each of my 28 chapters, and one quote for the “front matter” area. I enjoyed searching for these quotes – it was a labor of love.

Some of the quotes were from songs, others were from books, poems, and newspaper articles. Yours truly didn’t get permission to use any of them.

Big mistake.

Moreover, I should have known better! Last month I contacted the American Psychiatric Association’s Permissions Department. I applied for their holy permission to cite two brief paragraphs. Guess what they wanted?


(I appealed, but I was told no. I got around that snafu by paraphrasing the information I wanted to quote.)

Yesterday when I reviewed the “need for permissions” clause in my publishing contract, this image came to mind:



It was time to do a little research I should have done, um, last year. It turns out I need permission to quote anything published after 1923. Of course, any publisher/person/alien/whatever can charge a fee (i.e. songs are notorious for costing major bucks) unless that source allows a writer to quote without formal permission. (See this link for infoplus, there are tons of other sites with all kinds of information about this topic.)

Even one line of a song is a no-no, which sucks because I had song quotes from Dolly Parton (yes!), Crowded House, Split Enz, Toni Childs, Bic Runga, and Howard Jones – yes, 80’s music forever, people!


This morning I figured I had nothing to lose by emailing an author asking if she could provide a quote with a similar message to what I read in her book. (Her remark was the most relevant, meaningful quote out of th etwenty-nine.)

I had the good fortune to locate her email address online, but I didn’t have high hopes. Well, she wrote me back within the hour and graciously gave me the perfect quote. I’m thrilled! Remember this is an option if all else fails.

Below are some of the quotes I tearfully deleted. I’m not afraid to post them here because I can always delete anything in WordPress in 20 seconds. 

I also registered at Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s publisher Penguin Random House * and I applied for permission to use her quote. It wasn’t that big a deal, and I’m glad I did it. I’ll know by eight weeks if it’s a yay or nay. I’m hoping they won’t ask for $600.00


On hypergraphia:

My writing felt like a disease: I could not stop, and it sucked me away from family and friends. Sensations outside of language dried up: music became irritating discord, the visual world grew faint…While my hypergraphia felt like a disease, it also felt like one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It still does.

Dr. Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain

On bibliotherapy:

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe

Madeleine L’Engle

Electroconvulsive therapy/ECT:

I had been in a place where no drug could touch me. ECT was like a huge crane that pulled me out and let me back down on land. But I still had to walk the rest of the way.

Martha Manning, Undercurrents: A Therapist’s Reckoning With Her Own Depression

Benzodiazepine addiction:

To escape, you must make a conscious decision to break the fear-benzo-fear-benzo cycle.

Matt Samet, Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness (fab book!)

And it’s de rigueur to have something from the great Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison:

Suicidal depression involves a kind of pain and hopelessness that is impossible to describe — and I have tried. I teach in psychiatry and have written about my bipolar illness, but words struggle to do justice to it. How can you say what it feels like to go from being someone who loves life to wishing only to die? Suicidal depression is a state of cold, agitated horror and relentless despair.

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind, in the New York Times Op-Ed piece “To Know Suicide”

I’m glad I figured out this mess three days before submitting the manuscript. Maybe I can still apply to the powers that be to use some of my favorite quotes. If I get permission, maybe the quotes can be added during the editing process. I’ll check with my editor and give you an update in a future post.

Lose It! Update

Awesome blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I continue struggling mightily with our healthy eating/exercise program (I have a knee injury and I’ve been overeating every night, a topic for another post…) but we aren’t giving up! No way! If you’d like to join us, sign up for free at  and search for the Wondrous Writers group.

Halloween Is Coming – What Shall I Be, What Shall You Be?

Halloween is my favorite day of the year! My daughter Avonlea came up with my costume idea last night. She sure cheered me up after that quote fiasco.

I’m going to dress up as….


(This show is my current glorious, guilty pleasure – while my family watches Avatar and makes fun of me, I watch Melinda send everyone to the light! I mean, how can you go wrong with actors Jay Mohr, Camryn Manheim and David Conrad?)


I already have the perfect vampire-ish dress; now I just need to get a ton of makeup (she wears pounds of it in every episode, plus fake eyelashes) and, um, maybe get ahold of some falsies, since (TMI Warning) because when I lost forty pounds, um, a lot of it came from up top. Oh well.

And on that lovely note…

Thanks for reading!

much love,



Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.