Feeling Better…Why Not Join Me?

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My “Before” Seroquel Spider Belly picture with Coach Lucy, J.D.

(I am not with child…I’m pushing 50!)  

Then again, age is relative, right? While surfing memoirs on Amazon, I saw  Dr. Frieda Birnbaum’s book. She had twin boys at age sixty! 

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I wish her all the happiness in the world, but I must admit that upon learning why her life began at sixty, my first thought was:

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Back to business…

In the past 3 weeks I stopped binging, I started using the free Lose It! app (described in my last post), and I started drinking water every day. I’ve lost about 7 pounds and feel much healthier!

If you’re tempted to join me, here are some ways to psych yourself up:

Pick up a ten pound weight or something that weighs around that much. Now imagine carrying that around all day long….or if you’re where I’m at weight-wise, imagine carrying three of them!

I suggest you visit Target’s dressing room, take off your clothes, and look at the full-length mirror. (I’m not kidding.) That was my wake-up call.

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Exercise

Before I got sick at Christmas, I followed “Dr. Alsuwaidan-style” exercise. If you’re ready to bring exercise into your life, get the okay from your doctor. Next, please take a look at my post about this awesome psychiatrist’s suggestions for working out for your mood, not just your bod. I plan on returning to Dr. A’s style of exercise in May.

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Psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan practices what he preaches!

Daily Water Intake

Of course you should talk with your psychiatrist before doing something new on the dietary front. When you start increasing your water intake, do it safely because you can mess up your electrolyte balance if you don’t. Keep in mind that if you take lithium like I do, you need to be extra cautious when it comes to how much water you drink. I know you know that!

I liked these Mayo Clinic & LIVESTRONG‘s links. They have 1-page (very) general guides suggesting safe daily H20 amounts, but they aren’t geared for those who take psych meds. So put your pdoc to good use and ask him/her about it!

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Lose It! worked for me before in 2012. It was awesome until I made the ginormous mistake of tapering off meds & relapsing. It wasn’t Lose It’s fault that I gained back the weight. Anyway, the good news is that it’s working again and it’s easy (and dare I say it?) fun & educational to use.

If you want to lighten up what you carry around, c’mon, join me! (I’m not being paid by Lose It! to write this. I wish!)

I created a Lose It! group called “Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group” and I really want some company there. Visit https://www.loseit.com to sign up – it’s free. Once you sign up, look for the group by that title.

You can also write your email in the comments, and I can send you a Lose It! invite. 

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So true

To be clear, I won’t be switching this blog to a weight-loss blog anytime soon.😉 I wanted to share my good news with you, and double-check if anyone else wants to participate with me.

I’ll see you next week, and as always, thanks for reading!!!!

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.

I’ve Lost It!

 

 

LoseIt Before

Um…Lucy ate the entire pint of talenti dark chocolate gelato in one sitting. Not me!

I never had a significant weight gain until bipolar disorder entered the picture. I was a high school cross country team runner until I blew out my knee playing basketball. I eventually had successful anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery, and learned how to use weight lifting to strengthen the muscles around my knee.

Long before I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, I worked at a local gym as a front desk attendant. I was responsible for opening the gym weekdays at the grisly hour of 5:30 a.m. and greeting groggy members.

At the front desk I handed out workout towels to the eclectic membership which ranged from the founder of Netflix (before he became a billionaire and built his own gym) to University of California professors, artists, high-tech employees and the homeless.  

A year into the job, weary of being known as the “counter girl”, I became certified as an American Council on Exercise personal trainer, which was incredibly challenging. Studying for the certification was as difficult as any university class I took. I cried with relief and joy when I found out I passed my A.C.E. exam! From then on I trained members how to use the equipment, designed their exercise programs, and taught circuit training classes for two years.  

My first major weight gain happened six years ago when I was in the thick of bipolar depression; hopeless and deeply depressed.

The semi-smile you see here is the fakey kind…

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Not feeling the Christmas spirit! 

Our house only has a few mirrors, and they all show how we look from the chest up, so you can imagine how easy it might be to ignore a growing weight problem. “Out of sight, out of mind” rings a bell. 

Yet I didn’t totally have my head in the sand about my body. I knew I gained a lot of weight once my Seroquel spider belly popped out and none of my clothes fit. 

Two weeks ago I had an epiphany in Target. (Where else? The Vatican???)

Accompanied by my oldest daughter Avonlea, I was in an extremely well-lit changing room trying on dresses in front of Target’s full-length mirror. After one glance at myself, I didn’t recognize the body I saw in the mirror.

It was apparent that if I kept up my habit of eating gelato (and a lot more sweets than that since the Italian Ben Lomond Baking Company opened down the street), my fatigue would worsen and I’d be asking for diabetes along with a host of other maladies. 

It was time to stop sabotaging my physical and mental health.

Avonlea reminded me of my success using the free internet program/app Lose It! in which I gradually and safely lost sixty pounds after that Christmas photo was taken.

Lose It! claims that its followers do better when a few of one’s friends use the program. There’s a rumor this popular blogger might join me in the Lose It! program. 

To that blogger I say, “C’mon, you have nothing to lose by trying Lose It! except for adipose tissue (a.k.a. fat)!”

images Adipose tissue – it’s what’s for dinner!

For the past three weeks I’ve eaten only low-fat, mostly organic, non-GMO-sourced food. I returned to drinking plenty of water – a good idea since I take lithium. I follow these water guidelines to be safe. The better-quality food I now eat doesn’t cost our family a great deal more because there’s a savvy shopper in the family. Craig worked in kitchens for years as a cook to put himself through school. He continues to cook at home and prefers to buy groceries. That’s fine with me!

I’ll be honest with you – I was eating a pint of talenti a night, okay? That volume of gelato adds up calorically and financially.

Can you see why I can’t blame my weight gain on my meds?

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I don’t miss my small mountain’s worth of gelato a week – it’s a miracle.

I feel much better, but it’s definitely challenging to sit with my emotions instead of distract myself with food. Reading Geneen Roth’s classic books about compulsive overeating and attending OA meetings once helped me grapple with compulsive overeating. Now I’m lucky to have my therapist to turn to; she’s one of the healthiest people I know.

Once I get out more this summer and face a few social situations, I’ll be tested, but I’ll figure it out.

My goal is to look like this:

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Don’t be jealous!

Just kidding!

Seriously, if you’re in the same boat as me, consider checking out Lose It! (Forgive me if I sound like an infomercial – I simply like their program, but I don’t work for them.)

You may be wondering where exercise fits in this regime. Well, I plan on returning to what I call my “Dr. Alsuwaidan-style exercise very soon.

Unknown-4Psychiatrist/ISBD Chair Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan

Ever since my Christmas illness cramped my cardio habit, I dropped my workouts to the wayside. I miss the way they make me feel, especially in terms of alleviating anxiety. So yes, I shall sweat again soon.

In the meantime, let me know if you want to try Lose It! by setting up your profile (it’s easy to do) and “friend” me under my name. I’ll be there to cheer you on.

I’m experienced in encouraging gym members to achieve their goals, so I’d be more than honored to encourage any member of our tribe to feel better.

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.

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Got Internet Trolls? Meet Miss Lucy, J.D.!

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I’m Miss Lucy and I have a Juris Doctor degree! I’m ready to bring it on!

 

Internet Troll Defined: in internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, and by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Two studies published in 2013 and 2014 have found that people who are identified as trolls tend to have dark personality traits and show signs of sadism, antisocial behavior, psychopathy, and machiavellianism (the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or general conduct).

My recent Huffington Post article about how ECT saved my life brought out all kinds of nasties, which I fully expected. Their mission is to find people like me who write online about positive ECT experiences, and then they spew lots of heinous comments. 

Enter a person with a lot of free time on her hands. She hails from the  remote Australian outback. I’ll call her “Olivia Newton”.

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G’day, mate! Olivia Newton’s my name and trolling’s my game!

I proclaim Olivia Newton as the winner of the “Most HuffPost Comments Written Award” (20+) and “Most Bizarre HuffPost Comments, Many of Which Have ALL-CAPS” Award.

Olivia Newton’s remarks had the flavor of Dr. Evil’s introductory speech in the film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

During a father-son therapy group brilliantly led by actress Carrie Fisher, Dr. Evil reveals his bizarre childhood in his group introduction. Dr. Evil depicts his father vividly and says, “He’d make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark.”

That line particularly reminded me of Olivia Newton’s comment which asserted that “Bipolar disorder was invented in 1995!” 

If you’ve never seen Dr. Evil in group therapy, it’s worth watching!  

Ever since my article was published, I was handling the negative comments fairly well. After reading the first two lines of a comment, I could tell which way it was going. If the comment seemed respectful, I’d read the whole thing and sometimes reply. If not, well, buh-bye! 

The day I read Olivia Newton’s first three Huffington Post comments, I tried to be compassionate and give her a chance.

At first I replied to her, although it was obvious that something was way off in her noggin. (I shouldn’t talk, but you know what I mean…) She left more comments the next day, and more after that, and more!!! One of Olivia Newton’s comments falsely claimed I was paid by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) to lead my free support group. (I wish!)

Then I got an email notifying me that someone replied in response to a three-year-old Amazon book review I wrote about Dr. Liz Miller’s Mood Mapping.

It was Olivia Newton! She found my review, that wily Aussie, and wrote that I was a liar because my book review mentioned I didn’t take medications. 

After I wrote the Mood Mapping review, like many people with bipolar disorder, I attempted the no-medication route and I relapsed so badly I asked for ECT and meds to save my life.

But Olivia didn’t put two and two together, although one of my chickens could do it in her sleep. Her comment calling me other names that I’ll leave to your imagination crossed a line. Of course it was no surprise that she used ALL-CAPS.

I consulted with my lawyer Miss Lucy, J.D. She barked that she’d work with me pro bono, I mean pro doggie bone!

I briefly replied to Olivia Newton on Amazon. I explained I was off meds when I wrote my review, and that her comments had become defamatory. I told her I hired a lawyer and if she wrote any further comments about me on the internet, she’d be hearing from the lawyer.

I didn’t expect that to do a thing, but it hurt so good to write it! 

I wouldn’t have written it if she lived down the street – just sayin’. If she lived here I’d set her up with The Kraken Lady!

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After that hullabaloo was over, I let it go. Then, yesterday I visited my Huffington Post ECT article to check if there were any new comments.

I noticed that half the comments I saw a few days ago were missing. Why could that be?

Olivia Newton had erased all her comments! 

I visited my Amazon Mood Mapping book review. Her comment? Gone!

Miss Lucy saved the day!

I know that hiring a canine lawyer won’t always work in these situations, but for a fleeting moment I savored a feeling of justice.

Have a great weekend, my friends!

XO,

Dyane

Lucy also moonlights as a therapist – this collie is multitalented!

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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.

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New Huffington Post Article: Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop!

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It’s definitely not a manic Monday around here, my friends.

Anything but.

At least there have been no more The Kraken Lady adventures…yet.

I may see her at tomorrow night’s ballet class. Of course I’ll let you know if anything exciting happens, and I’ll pack the poop in case I need to do an impromptu self-facial!

On the brighter side of life, I got an email notifying me that a Huffington Post editor approved my latest submission! As always, comments, likes, shares, and checks payable to Dyane Harwood are always welcome, and they’ll all create good karma for you!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dyane-leshinharwood/my-bipolar-mindset-always_b_9550912.html

See you at the end of the week – this post doesn’t count! ;) 

take care,

Dyane

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

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Close Encounter with The Kraken Lady!

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After my controversial electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) post was published on April Fool’s Day, it received quite a few scathing comments, so I felt some levity was needed today.

Although this post isn’t 100% hoot, nor is it politcally correct, I hope you’ll cut me a little slack for being opprobrious (your new vocabulary word for the day)!

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Get ready to Kraken

 

Last Thursday afternoon, life got weird.

A couple days after that weird cycle began, I read a fascinating post by blogger Andrea at Bipolar Phoenix Andrea – My Bipolar Life and How I Deal With It that our moon may have been partially responsible.

Andrea’s awesome post explained a lot about what took place during what I’ve come to call The Kraken Lady incident. (The Kraken is a legendary sea monster – for a complete description please visit here.)

 

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Last Thursday afternoon, my life was going well. I received a beautiful gift from my Mom. She sent me a long, flowy green dress, and I tried it on. I usually wear super-grungy, hand-me-down clothes, so it was a novelty to wear something new and clean! In honor of wearing my dress, I put on some makeup and brushed my hair!

The QVC Halston High-low dress

I finished getting ready to take Rilla to her ballet class and Avonlea joined us for the ride.

Before running out the door, I checked my email and spotted a message from the acclaimed psychiatrist/Huffington Post blogger Dr. Carly Snyder who shared my postpartum bipolar disorder post on her blog. Dr. Snyder’s email invited me to be a guest on her new radio show this spring.

WOW! I did a little happy dance. That didn’t happen every day!

I was feeling pretty good, something as many of you know I never take for granted. 

Although I rarely bring Lucy with me when driving the girls to ballet because she barks in the car, she gave me that look – the look that said, “Mommy (yes, I’m her mom) please take me with you!”

High on my new dress smell, Dr. Snyder’s invite, and the warm feel of spring in the air, I decided to bring Lucy with us for the ten-minute drive up to Boulder Creek.

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Little did we know that The Kraken Lady was about to do a major buzz kill!

 

When arrived at the church where ballet took place, I parked my old Suburu on the street alongside the church. Rilla hopped out of the car to join her best friend who was in her class. Her BFF’s dad would take Rilla home so that Avi and I didn’t have to wait an hour.

Before Avi, Lucy and I left, I got out of my car for a moment. I didn’t see anyone near us, neither human nor animal, so I opened the trunk door so Lucy could get out and briefly stretch her legs.

My sweet Scottish collie walked over to the sidewalk onto a patch of dirt. The corner where she stood was partially covered with a few straggly plants that looked like weeds. Lucy just hung out there – no pee, no poo, nothing. Happy as a clam.

A woman in her late fifties pulled up in a big, shiny white truck and stopped in front of my car. 

She looked at me with disdain and said in a nasal tone, “Why is your dog in my flower bed?”

Within five seconds, I went from confident to a quivering, fearful little girl who was caught with her hand in the cookie jar. 

I pulled Lucy’s leash so she was next to me and I began apologizing profusely along the lines of “I’m so sorry, I’ll never let it happen again…”and at first I meant it.

Avi sat in the car with all the windows rolled down, and she watched the proceedings with a “What the hell is that lady’s problem?” look on her face.

Of course Lucy didn’t make a peep. And this is a dog who barks like a freak!

I allowed this woman to go off at me for at least five minutes, which is a long, long time. She just wouldn’t stop. I tried to keep my cool, but finally I snapped, and interrupted her mono-sentence with,

“I’ve apologized to you, like twenty times! JESUS!”

At that, clearly satisfied that she upset me to that degree, she drove off in her $50,000 Toyota and pulled into a long driveway, out of sight.

I was shaking. Why on Earth did I allow this stranger to speak to me that way, and for so long? I was allowed to make one mistake. She was obviously not well. Of course I knew I needed to be compassionate to her odd mental state, but still, that’s no excuse for what she did to me.

I thought I had come further in my assertiveness than becoming a puddle of jelly. 

The following day I had my standing session with my counselor. She used to take her daughter to ballet on the same street and she had an interaction with another resident. (What a neighborhood, eh?)

My therapist was walking her sweet black lab Luna at the opposite end of the street where I met The Kraken Lady. It was the first time she walked there and she reached a cul-de-sac. At that point, a woman came out and started yelling at the top of her lungs at my therapist about how she couldn’t be there.

My counselor, a stunning blonde German who’s six feet tall, took one look at this person and said in a loud, commanding voice,

Hold it right there!”  

The woman stopped her bellowing.

Then my therapist told her, “You can’t talk to me like that!”

The woman scurried off.

How I wish I said something like that, not just for myself, but as a role model for my girl.

The silver lining to this ridiculous fiasco is that Avi and I drove away thinking of wacky things I could have done in this situation. Avi loved our brainstorm, and while I’d never do any of the following, it felt good to let it out.

Most importantly, I learned my lesson: I’ll never again allow myself to be a verbal doormat to anyone. It’s so passé! When I’m tested again (my therapist said it’s a matter of when, not if!) I’ll let my inner Daenerys Targaryen out and fly!

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Things I Wish I Had Done When The Kraken Lady Attacked

NUDITY: Perhaps I could have stopped her yell-fest if I had simply disrobed. Sudden bouts of nudity could potentially throw anyone off guard.

ROMANCE: Ask her out on a date. Licking my lips lasicviously, I could’ve said in a sultry tone, “You know, lady, you’re kind of cute. Wanna go out to Scopazzi’s after I drop off the rug rats and get to know each other?

THE SUPER IMMATURE METHOD: A few weeks ago I took the girls to Bookshop Santa Cruz as a special treat. After they picked up some bestsellers, we walked through the novelties section. They asked for this, and I caved and actually bought it.   

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I wish I had the container of fake poo with me during my tête-à-tête with The Kraken Lady. As she ranted, I could’ve opened the container, help myself to a bit of “poo” and rub it on my face, explaining  “This is my afternoon beauty treatment – my dog Lucy has extraordinary poo and it makes my skin sily smooth! Want some?”

 

WHEN IN GRATEFUL DEAD COUNTRY….I could’ve started doing a trance dance like this….

THE AMERICAN IDOL AUDITION METHOD: I could’ve burst into song. Here’s a personal favorite:

 

HOLA! COMO ESTAS, SENORA KRAKEN? There’s my high school Spanish option – I could’ve spoken to her at length in Spanish, and pretend I had no idea what she was saying!

“Tu madre es una vaca!”

Next…

ZOO RADIO QUESTIONNAIRE: I could’ve asked her a bunch of absolutely unrelated questions, “Zoo Radio Style”-  listen to this for a ridiculous giggle:

Next…

MIDSOMER MURDERS: Despite hating murder shows, I’ve become a big fan of the long-running British hit television show Midsomer Murders which first chronicles the investigations of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. I love the way he confidently flashes his police badge at unsuspecting yahoos.

Midsomer Murders inspired this complex idea:

Extensive prep is needed, but it could work. I’d have a very official-looking police “badge” created. In the Case of The Kraken Lady, I would’ve whipped out my badge, showed it to her and said I was investigating a murder near her home and explained that Lucy was my official police dog.

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DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?:

Shifting from side to side with a perplexed look, I could’ve explained that I had uncontrollable bowel syndrome and crouch down, yelling to Avi to please find me my bucket!

And…

YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD DRUG DEALER HAS ARRIVED!:

Finally, I could’ve offered her two of my emergency Seroquel pills that I carry with me.

Extremely immature? Bad karma magnets?

Yes.

But apart from healthier activities (therapy, exercise, etc.) I truly believe that sometimes you need to fantasize about doing things like this to let out repressed anger.

Catharsis = good 

Actually doing unethical stuff = tempting…but bad. Very bad.😉

Love to all of you, & I’ll be back next week!

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.

 

 

More Rejection, Acceptance, Controversy & Haters In 24 Hours!

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Dear Friends,

I loved the amazingly helpful feedback I got in the Shot Down By HuffPost!–What Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks post I published on Thursday.

Thanks to all of you for taking time to contribute such thoughtful replies!

Yesterday’s events turned out to be ironic in light of Thursday’s Huffington post rejection – it was so bizarre, in fact, that I couldn’t resist waiting until next Thursday to publish this post!

Yesterday, April Fool’s Day, I

Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head

After a cup of coffee, I sat down to check my email. I noticed a reply from an editor at The Mighty and my heart started to thump a bit faster. My cold palms became sweaty.

A couple weeks ago I submitted a post to The Mighty. It was about my postiive experience with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I knew that due to ECT’s major controversy there was a strong chance it would be rejected, but after doing The Mighty site search I found two posts that only briefly touched upon ECT. There was nothing like my detailed account.

It was worth a try.

Taking a deep breath, I opened up The Mighty email and read,

Dear Dyane,

Thanks for sharing your story! I’m going to pass on publishing this, but I hope you’ll submit again! Let me know if you have any questions.

Best,

Stinky Editor

That inevitable sting of rejection hit my solar plexus. At least it didn’t hurt as much as the other rejections, but it still, in a word, sucked. But this time I wanted to do something different besides simply sulk. The editor offered to answer my questions, so I was going to go for it!. I wrote, 

“Dear Editor
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly about my submission. I wish everyone else was like that! I appreciate your offering me the chance to ask questions, so I’ll take you up on it. I’d love to get just a little feedback. By sharing with me about what didn’t work, you’ll be helping me in terms of my future submissions and you’ll be doing a good deed!:)
Also, if I edited the piece based on your suggestions, would you be open to a resubmission?
I know you’re busy  and I’d be very grateful for anything you can share.
thanks so much,
The Loser Dyane

Then I did my best to shake off the ‘ol rejection heebie jeebies and get on with my day. I helped my kids get ready, took them to school, and survived driving among the excessively aggressive parent drivers brandishing coffee mugs as they raced around the school’s parking lot.

I returned home intending to work on my book; I wanted to forget all about The Mighty.

Later on I checked my email and noticed a message from The Huffington Post.

First words that came to my mind?

Ah, shit. Another rejection….great.

I opened it up. It wasn’t a rejection.

They published my ECT post! I submitted the ECT post to Huffington the same day I sent it to The Mighty, as both outlets allow writers to submit previously published posts and sometimes they share content.

I screamed with triumphant glee. Poor Lucy, wondering what the hell was going on, began barking loud enough to wake the dead.

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I knew that this ECT article would receive very different feedback than my postpartum bipolar article, and I was right. But I went into this with my eyes open. I’ve been on both sides of the psych fence: I’ve been anti-psychiatry before I became pro-psychiatry. 

So I was fully prepared for the anti-psychiatry brigade, the Dr. Peter Breggin groupies, and a bevy of anti-ECT readers to descend and write all kinds of negative comments. 

It didn’t matter to me what their comments said. 

The bottom line was that I needed to share my truth, my experience.

In grade school I memorized the the Bill of Rights, in which our First Amendment states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I treasure my freedom of speech more than ever and I worked hard to get this chance to use it. 

So far I’ve only responded to certain comments. There are some seriously out-there comments that are a lost cause when it comes to my trying to explain anything.

I would love it if you could visit this article and see what I’m talking about.

One anti-ECT reader mentions that “bipolar was invented in 1995” and she asked me for a list of all my Dad’s doctors’ names.  She also wrote other colorful comments – clearly this was the day’s excitement for her.  

I shouldn’t be too glib – these are all human beings after all. I’m just grateful that I don’t need to be in the same room with those who oppose my point of view.

So that was my April Fool’s day – a rejection and acceptance of a hotly controversial subject close to my heart.

Without further adieu, here’s the link, and as long as you don’t tell me that bipolar was invented in 1995, and you’re respectful, I’m fine with your disagreeing with anything in the post! 

I’ll see you ’round next Friday, if not sooner, because I had some other really weird, challenging things happen to me within the same twenty-four-hour period – these events brought out the Daenerys Targaryen in me!!!

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I can’t wait to share with you what happened!

In the meantime, be well, dear bloggers!

XO,

Dyane

 

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

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Shot Down By HuffPost!–What Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks

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Today’s blog post contains a quiz! 

It’s called “Guess Why The Huffington Post Rejected My Submission?”

I’ll tell you some possible answers in advance; I guess that’s cheating, but I’ll make an exception.

I thought the editor passed due to:

a) It should be divided into two posts

b) It rambles

c) The essential oils section

d) Shitty writing

Hell, I don’t know the exact reason why it was rejected. Bloggers aren’t told why their submissions don’t make the cut.

Yesterday when I received The Huffington Post notification email, silly me – I thought my post was published! My heart soared with anticipation, but when I double-clicked the email it read:

Dear Dyane Leshin-Harwood,

We appreciate you taking the time to submit your most recent post. Unfortunately, we are going to pass on it for publication at this time, and will look forward to your next submission.

Thank you very much

The Very Mean Huffington Post blog team

I felt anything but hunky dory.

After the high of my first post being published without a hitch, I was bummed.😦 Rejection is never, never fun – unless you’re a masochist.

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I thought that my Setbacks post, at the very least, contained helpful information. Moreover, I was excited that I could take the opportunity to promote two of my fave bloggers: Blahpolar and Kitt O’Malley.

I’ll try again, guys!

But in the meantime….please, a little feedback from you, my friends. I can take it! And I know I need feedback! I’d like my next submission to be a “yes”!

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SubmissionWhat Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks

After I finally found effective medications for bipolar disorder and became stable, I knew that my stability would eventually be challenged by an awful situation such as illness or the death of a loved one. I fervently hoped that fate would forget to throw a trial my way, but those hopes were in vain.

Last month I was hit with a dilemma that sent me reeling, jeopardizing my hard-won stability. I received the bad news when my girls stood by me. I held my emotions in with all my might so as not to alarm them.

At first I considered my ability to contain myself in front of my kids to be tremendous progress.

From the point I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2007, whenever I became upset, my typical reaction was to express rage. I often got angry around my children instead of taking a time-out. I never laid a hand on my girls, but my behavior was reprehensible. I was a total rageaholic.

I’ll regret the times when I lost my temper in front of my little ones until the day I die.

Fast forward to last month.

After I received the news, my attempt to keep my rage under wraps was just a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem. My anger needed to be released, and when my daughters were gone for the day, I erupted. I didn’t hurt anyone, including myself, but I “went there” to a place I loathe with every fiber of my being.

I raged until I became a monster version of myself. It took me two days for my emotional hangover to dissipate. I was mortified about how I acted. I thought I was doing so much better! My psychiatrist had recently said how well he thought I was doing. My therapist made similar remarks during many of our sessions.

After my setback I felt like a phony imposter. I didn’t contact my psychiatrist because it wasn’t a crisis per se. I thought that meeting with my therapist would be most helpful. (I could’ve called her for an emergency phone session, but I waited for our appointment because I was certain that I wouldn’t “go there” again so soon.)

I knew my therapist would help me process what happened so that I’d react in a healthier way the next time rage descended upon me. We’ve only just begun to work on this issue, and I’ll give an update about what I learn in an upcoming post.

NOTE FROM DYANE – THIS IS WHERE I THINK I SHOULD’VE SPLIT THIS POST INTO PART ONE AND PART TWO. 

Aside from therapy, there are people, activities and tools that have helped me during this time. When you face your next challenge, I encourage you to utilize one or more of these options:

1) I connected with an understanding friend and our talk helped me a great deal.

2) I worked out on my elliptical each day for half an hour or I walked outside and got fresh air at the local high school track. Activating my endorphins may have prevented me from spiraling into depression after my setback. I follow the guidelines of the acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan who has studied exercise for mood stability.

 

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Me with my “furry antidepressant”

3) I hung out with my dog Lucy and I hugged her a lot. (She seems to like hugs!)

4) I read a few of my favorite blogs every day. These eloquent writers often mention their own setbacks and how they react to them. Even when the bloggers’ subject matter is disturbing, I’m inspired by courageous bloggers such as Blahpolar and Kitt O’Malley.

5) I read memoirs. I welcome getting lost in the minutiae of another person’s fascinating life. I’m currently reading Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life in Music by Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart.

6) I eat some high quality, snobbylicious organic milk chocolate – I know dark is healthier, but so be it.

7) I use high quality essential oils. Lavender and orange essential oils are two of my favorites; they’re calming and mood elevating, respectively. I worked at the College of the Botanical Healing Arts, an essential oil practitioner college where I studied the efficacy of essential oils for mood. I was taught by one of the world’s essential oil experts, college founder Elizabeth Jones.

To learn how to use essential oils safely, the website altMD is a great resource. I recommend referring to altMD for what I call “The Big Three”: depression, anxiety and insomnia. To learn how to use essential oils safely for depression visit here, for anxiety visit here, and for insomnia visit here

8) Music. Any music that soothes you, play it…immerse yourself in it. I love listening to music in my car since my family doesn’t share my love for 1980’s rock; I’m sure you have your favorite spot.

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80’s Music Forever!

9) Connecting with my girls and husband. Hanging out. Listening to them. Being present with them.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that a setback feels like an emotional tsunami. But you will recover from unexpected stumbling blocks. Make sure you have emergency action plans established with the key professionals in your life such as a psychiatrist and/or therapist. Create your own list of activities that make you feel good, healthy and safe.

In her memoir An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison wrote,

We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadness of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this – through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.

To achieve mental stability with bipolar disorder is precious, so do all you can to protect it.

I wish you strength in building your internal sea wall, and resiliency for the times that sadness and overwhelming forces take hold.

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Perhaps if I wrote about something related to the subject of this scintillating article I would’ve had success, but no matter.

Now that I’m able to take risks again, I can’t let one “NO” stop me, especially after my The Huffington Post Rejection Saga! If you’re considering taking a risk, I invite you to comment – I’ll cheer you on, free of charge!

In any case, I think my skin has gotten a little bit thicker from this rejection, and that’s good, right?

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My new look!

See you next week, and please, take good care of yourselves!

 Love, Dyane

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

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