Taking Bipolar Breaks

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Today was the day I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.  

(Just kidding…any Beatles fans out there?)

No, today was the day I woke up and I realized I was feeling bipolared out.

usually find the world of bipolar disorder to be fascinating, and as you can fathom, it’s relevant to my life as well.  When I read bipolar-related articles, studies, etc. I could very well come across a significant lead for my own recovery or to help a friend’s mental health issue. In any case, I want to be kept in the loop of this field, and I make a concerted effort to stay in the know almost every day.

But sometimes I would just love to spend a big chunk of time where the word “bipolar” doesn’t enter my mind once.

That’s impossible.  I take my MAOI (Parnate/tranylcypromine) meds three times a day. Just the simple act of taking these pills reminds me of the “b” word.

It’s possible I am also feeling burned out because even though it has been eight years since I was diagnosed, I still haven’t totally reconciled myself to the fact that I have this mental illness. Obviously, there is no way I don’t have bipolar disorder, but on a subconscious level I believe I think, “No way!  I don’t have those cooties!

I consider my burnout to be closely connected with overwhelm.  My psychiatrist advises that when I’m at my wit’s end about something (i.e. a phone conversation gone wrong, a traffic jam, a mild panic attack) to simply pray.  He’s Christian and while he never proselytizes to me about his religion, he advises me based on his own experience.  I don’t have to be a card- carrying member of any religion to pray, and I do believe in the power of prayer – both individual prayer and remote prayer.

While I can’t ignore living with a chronic illness, it’s in remission for now, thank God.  I’m stable, I’m functioning, and a side of me wants to distance myself from my “sick” side, if that makes any sense.  Those feelings may explain my wanting to detach from bipolar disorder in general.  My problem could actually be interpreted as a blessing in disguise!  I’m feeling better, therefore I don’t want to think about bipolar disorder 24/7.  That’s not such a bad problem to have. 

Being burned out on having bipolar and obsessing about bipolar are not insurmountable problems by any means.  I need more reflection and therapy to deal with my identity in regard to having a mental illness that is “hardwired” into my brain.  (I can’t believe I just quoted from that atrocious T.V. show Black Box, but I did!) That may be a simple-sounding strategy, but it very well may work.  Whatever I decide to do, I’m determined to take lots of breaks from contemplating bipolar disorder.

I’m going to pay more attention to things that having nothing to do with mental illness.  We are readying our house for a puppy’s arrival to take place very soon.  The prospect of watching a sweet, joyful little pup interact with my two little girls, who are beyond over the moon about having a puppy, will be fantastic.  

With summer fast approaching, there will be days at the beach and hours at the park where I’ll unplug from social media and bipolar obsession.  I don’t have a smart phone, so I won’t have access to the internet at either of those places, and that’s a good thing.  

For indoor activities, I can turn to my nine-year-old, who already knows more than her mom does as far as making crafts.  She has her own Hello Kitty sewing machine and how to use it; I don’t even know how to sew.  She makes beautiful rings and bracelets at the drop of the hat; I’m clueless about jewelry making.  She loves to teach others how to make things.  My other daughter is thrilled when I play hide and seek with her, pull out the Twister set, or play outside with her and our three chickens.  All of these activities and more can serve to pull me out of my head and into the moment.  I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.


 

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Twenty Years Ago

 

 

Dyane

Dyane, 2013

Twenty years ago…

1) I was twenty-four years old.

2) I worked at a special event production company, where we produced huge annual events including the San Jose Jazz Festival and the San Jose America Festival.

3) I had two angels with fur, a.k.a. dogs: Tara, a Sheltie/Wolf mix, and Shera, a fluffy white American Eskimo spaz who I adopted to keep Tara company.

4) I lived in a studio in Santa Cruz, California that I suspected was haunted.

5) I was depressed, though not clinically yet.

6) I was considered to be “sane” by everyone, even by myself.

7) I didn’t know the actual definition of “manic depressive” (bipolar) despite the fact my Dad had that mood disorder.

8) I didn’t exercise regularly or eat very well – I worked from 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. in a stressful job, and I was too exhausted after work to do much of anything.

9) I didn’t have use of the internet.

10) I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

11) I had given up on the idea of romantic love and marriage ever happening in my life.

12) I didn’t think I’d have children except for my fur children.

13) I didn’t take a single pill for anything.

14) I had no problem hopping in my car at a moment’s notice to drive seven hours to Los Angeles.

15) I went to the movies every week.

16) I was untouched by the death of a parent.

17) I was untouched by the death of a grandparent.

18) I traveled solo to New Zealand and Australia.

19) I felt that I was meant to something special with my life.

20) I had never seriously contemplated suicide.

 

 

 

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It’s a gloomy Sunday morning – it’s cold, sprinkling, and just plain-old blah.  (My daughter picked out this font color and I couldn’t tell her no!)

For me these aren’t very inspiring writing conditions, but according to the revered writer Madeleine L’Engle, the weather  is no excuse to abstain from writing unless a typhoon interferes with it.  She advises writers to write a little bit every day, even if it’s “only for thirty minutes”.  Now that I have two little girls, thirty minutes of uninterrupted writing time is a lot  of time to write!

I have nothing profound to discuss today, no brilliant insights du jour.  But I sit here anyway, typing with sparkly blue fingernails, sequestered in my husband’s office downstairs while our children gobble Gorilla Puffs.  Bob Marley sings softly in the background, and I’m waiting for any bit of inspiration to strike in terms of devising a writing topic.

It’s not happening.  

I usually generate my blog topic the day before I write each one.  I cook up ideas while working out, carting my girls to school, taking a shower, or doing other mundane tasks like laundry and dishes.  It seems the more banal the activity, the better in terms of a successful brainstorm!

I could follow WordPress’ Daily Post (dailypost.wordpress.com) for a writing prompt, but silly me, I feel like it’s cheating to do that!  Many writers would argue that it’s better to find a topic that’s worthwhile to expound on, even if the topic comes from another source, than write gobbledegook.  But so far I just can’t do it.  I’m stubborn.

The day ahead has no major plans except for some cupcake baking with nine-year-old Avonlea, who loves to bake.  She has chosen to make lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting. Now, I’m a massive chocolate fiend, and while I love lemons, to me a real cupcake must have chocolate as a primary ingredient.  I also loathe plain cream cheese, although the rest of my family can’t get enough of it.  I can’t touch it or smell it, so I’m delegating the frosting task to my husband.

I’ve only had half of my morning coffee ration, the day is still young, and who knows what could happen?  Perhaps I may even generate a blog topic while making the cupcakes that gets me excited.  One never knows.

But I’ve discovered through reading other blogs that sometimes I really enjoy simple, brief posts.  I don’t require 100% profound, Huffington Post-worthy blog posts from my virtual friends.  No matter what the blog author writes, as long as there’s something for me to peruse, I still feel connected to the writer.  

So today’s the day I’m putting a stop to pressuring myself to write something provocative in every post.  I’m accepting that divine inspiration, as much as we writers want it to descend from the heavens complete with fireworks, won’t always come.

While I wrote the above sentence, a great song came on the Bob Marley Pandora channel.  I first heard this song in one of my favorite films, The Mighty Quinn, with Denzel Washington and Mimi Rogers.  (Plus Esther Rolle – remember her?) The 1989 thriller, which film critic Roger Ebert called one of the best films of 1989, has an upbeat, reggae-infused soundtrack.  It was shot on location in stunning, sunny, warm Jamaica.

 

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The song is called “I Gotta Keep On Moving” by Curtis Mayfield.

“Lord, I’ve got to keep on moving,” rings out the first cheery line.

That’s just what I’ll do…instead of go hide under the bedcovers, I’ll keep on moving, slow and steady.  I don’t have the win The Grand Race of Life or anything like that.  I just want to keep on moving, nurture my stability, love my family, be a good friend, and help others when I can.

imgresimgres-1Have a good Monday!  And thanks for reading!

Dyane “Turtle” Harwood

 

Please donate to my walk benefitting Postpartum Progress! 

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For more information about the June 21st walk for Climb Out of the Darkness and to donate please visit:

Join Climb Out of the Darkness 2014 – World’s Largest Event for Moms with PPD & More

Validated!

 

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If we don’t ask for what we need, we usually won’t get it.  Yes, that’s an simple truism, but when we start incorporating it into our lives and ask for what we need, awfully nice things can happen, both big and small.

It hasn’t been easy for me to ask for what I’ve needed, for I’ve often felt unworthy and I’ve feared rejection.

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Yesterday I blogged that I emailed an Associated Press journalist named Frazier Moore.  I contacted him to ask if he would consider changing his writing terminology in regard to bipolar disorder.   His review of the new ABC television show Black Box was titled “Bipolar Doctor” and there were other phrases in the piece such as “bipolar people”, etc.  I explained in detail why I prefer to say  “I have bipolar.” instead of “I am bipolar”.

My post about this topic can be found here:

http://www.ibpf.org/blog/i-am-bipolar-i-am-blessed-it-and-get-it-over-itis

After emailing the journalist, I got on with my day.  I let the whole matter go – I didn’t even expect a reply.  By simply writing my email, I experienced a nice catharsis.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post,  I received a courteous response from Frazier.  He agreed with me!  Frazier wrote that in his future articles he’d take my point and “aim to be more sensitive in writing about this subject in the future…”

Super-cool!

Every success inspires me, and my small victory with Frazier fired me up to ask people more often about matters important to my heart.

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This past month I asked  to have postpartum bipolar disorder (PPBD) be officially recognized by the most influential non-profit addressing pregnancy/postpartum issues facing mothers: Postpartum Progress.

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The Postpartum Progress website states:

“We offer in-depth information, community and hope for pregnant and new moms with postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth (including postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, depression during pregnancy, post-adoption depression, postpartum PTSD, depression after miscarriage or perinatal loss and postpartum psychosis)…. We are fiercely proud to be the world’s most widely-read blog dedicated to these illnesses, with more than 1.1 million pageviews annually.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “pooh-poohed” when I’ve mentioned I have postpartum bipolar disorder to others, either face-to-face or through writing.  Hardly anyone has heard about this postpartum mood disorder.  However, I feel excluded that my mood disorder is not found in the list in the above paragraph.  It’s nearly impossible for me to explain my feelings of feeling a sense of invalidation in the postpartum world to my family and friends.

What has helped me the most when it comes to my diagnosis is to bring my experience out into the open and write about it.  Writing is not only validating; when I hear from another mother who has read my writing and has also experienced postpartum bipolar disorder, I feel like I’ve found a member of my tribe.

Last March Cristi Comes, a content editor for the Postpartum Progress website and founder of Motherhood Unadorned, gave me the opportunity to write for Postpartum Progress about PPBD.

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/story-postpartum-bipolar-disorder

This was the big break I had been wanting so badly!   I submitted my piece about postpartum bipolar disorder to Cristi, and she and Postpartum Progress founder Katherine Stone published it on the website.  I received great feedback and comments from other mothers with PPBD.

After my piece was published on Postpartum Progress, I stepped outside my comfort zone, and asked Katherine to please add PPBD to their list of mental illnesses afflicting mothers, and she did!  That may seem like a minor triumph, but for me it was a giant step for humankind!  If I didn’t force myself to ask, it wouldn’t have happened.

So I invite you to join me in moving forward together to ask for something you normally wouldn’t ask for – services, favors, money, guidance – whatever we want! In the comments tell me what you want to ask for and I’ll support you in your vision.  I’m currently asking for donations for my Postpartum Progress Climb Out of the Darkness walk that I’m doing on June 21, 2014.

loathe asking for money, but I’m doing it anyway because it truly is for a worthy cause; it’s not for me to spend on some fancy designer shoes.  It’s easier for me to ask via social media, I must admit, so I’m going to challenge myself and ask three people face-to-face in the coming week if they care to donate.  I’ll let you know what happens!

For more information about my June 21st walk for Climb Out of the Darkness and to donate please visit:

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/join-climb-out-of-the-darkness-2014#comment-18563

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Draggin’, Green Cupcakes & Climb Out of the Darkness

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I am draggin’ today.  The weather is gloomy, and while I’m not depressed (Thank you GOD, thank you GOD. Always thank you GOD for that one!) I’m feeling lethargic and anxious for no good reason except perhaps existentially-speaking.  It’s just one of those days where I’ve become banana slug-like.

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(Here’s a sluggish side-note.  I live in banana slug heaven: Santa Cruz County, California. U.C. Santa Cruz, the college I graduated from, boasts none other than the banana slug as its mascot.  Banana slugs love to creep and crawl where I live up in the redwoods, especially on a rainy day like today.  They are not dangerous, so that’s good – just slimy.)

So on this day of apathy what do I do?

I commit to participating in not one, but two special events taking place within the next two months.

May is Mental Health Month and its theme is “Mind Your Health”.  (Kinda cute…)  I was reminded of that early this morning when I groggily attended an online meeting of the International Bipolar Foundation’s Consumer Advisory Council.  Our facilitator was Ashley Jacobs, the Director of Operations for the International Bipolar Foundation.  At the close of our meeting Ashley asked if any of us would be participating in Mental Health Month-related activities.   There was a resounding silence; out of nowhere I felt my mouth open and I spurted out, “I could make green cupcakes with green fondant ribbons symbolizing mental health, and sell them somewhere!  The proceeds would go to the International Bipolar Foundation!”

“That’s a great idea!” Ashley replied.

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Some backstory is helpful here.  Ashley and I have worked together for some time, and she edits my weekly blog for the International Bipolar Foundation.  She diligently answers my plethora of IBPF-related questions, never judging me for their sometimes-strange content.   Apart from IBPF topics, we’ve emailed one another about baking, specifically cupcakes.

Ashley knows that my daughter Avonlea is going through a cupcake-obsessed phase.  I’ve emailed Ashley photos of our cupcake creations (mostly failures, I hate to admit) that Avi and I have toiled upon.  Ashley has given me links to amazing baking websites to inspire us.  Ashley is pro-cupcake.

Green frosting is a bit sketchy, as I’m not thrilled with using yucky artificial food coloring.  There are natural (costlier) alternative colorings, however, and I’ll consider buying one  – but they’re three times the price of regular food coloring.  I also feel conflicted about selling sugary treats instead of healthier ones, but green vegan banana bread won’t cut it.  I need to figure out where to set up my table, and I’ll contact our local paper for free advertising, and give it a go.

The other event, “Climb Out of the Darkness”,  is connected with Postpartum Progress, an amazing non-profit founded by women’s maternal health advocate Katherine Stone.  Stone describes this annual event, the only one of its kind, on her Postpartum Progress website:

“It’s the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression and anxiety. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with maternal mental illness.

Women around the world participate in this grassroots event by going on a hike, climb or walk outside on the longest day of the year (June 21st) to shine a light on PPD and related illnesses. The event is open to anyone and everyone who supports our cause. Anyone can participate, as long as they register, and registration is free.”

A few days ago I commented on the Postpartum Progress Facebook page.  I wrote that I’d love to be involved in the Climb by producing a large-scale walk in my town in 2015, not 2014.  I added that I have experience in special event production and I’d want a full year to plan the event.

I forced myself to mention that in order for me to take part, I’d like my postpartum mood disorder (postpartum bipolar disorder/PPBD) to eventually be added to Postpartum Progress’ list of maternal mood disorders before the June, 2015 climb.  (I’ve bolded the currently displayed postpartum disorders in the Climb description above .)

I’ve wanted PPBD to be recognized by Postpartum Progress for a while.  When the Postpartum Progress content editor Cristi Comes (Motherhood Unadorned) gave me the chance to write about my PPBD experience for the website, I jumped at it.  If PPBD was acknowledged by Postpartum Progress, I could truly put my heart and soul into my efforts. I want my mood disorder to be represented, ya know?)  It’s a perfectly reasonable request, I think.

After noticing that I wished to hold off until 2015, Katherine commented asking me, “Why not start out this year?”  I paused for a moment.  Then I reviewed the Postpartum Progress Climb website more closely  and I realized that I didn’t have to organize a big, ol event in less than sixty days.  (By the way, I could have joined another Climb group, but the closest one is too far away from me for my comfort.)

This June 21, the Climb date, it can all be very simple.  I won’t have to gather up a bunch of people.  There are three ways to participate, and of them is that I can walk as an individual.  I can involve my family and friends (and hopefully my new puppy!!) if I choose.  That’s the perfect way for me to get crackin’.  I registered a few minutes ago, and if you’d like to sponsor me, please visit this link:

http://www.crowdrise.com/dyaneharwood-COTD2014/fundraiser/dyaneharwood

My two daughters donated the contents of their piggy banks, and my husband donated too!

Thanks, as always, for reading, and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Dyane

 

For more information about the Climb Out of the Darkness event and Mental Health month, please visit:

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/join-climb-out-of-the-darkness-2014

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

 

TMI & UTI’s & 7 Cups of Tea!

 

Happy Freaky Friday everyone!

Did you watch Black Box last night?  I recorded it and plan to watch it over the weekend.  Stay tuned for my humble opinion. Today I planned to be the day that I don’t write a meandering, 1200+ word blog post.  I thought I’d l write 100-200 words and let my readers’ eyeballs and cerebellums relax a bit!  Unfortunately I didn’t meet that goal just yet.  Please bear with me.

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Yesterday, when I started writing this, I was under the weather – at least not mentally, but physically.  I woke up at 3:00 a.m. due to my six-year-old daughter screaming at the top of her lungs from a nightmare.  Poor thing – she crawled into bed with us, shaking like a leaf.  I couldn’t get back to sleep afterwards, which is always frightening and frustrating since if when I experience sleep deprivation that can trigger bipolar mania.

When I crawled out of bed at 6:00 a.m., I suspected I had a urinary tract infection.  I won’t go into detail.  If you’ve experienced the pain of a U.T.I. you will know exactly how I felt.  My husband left for work at a job site two hours away.  I worried that I’d have to bow out of my obligations for the day and make my girls miss yet more school.  This was one of those times I wish I had a family member living close by who could rescue me.

Then, a miracle happened.  My pain and fear completely lifted and I was able to function once more.  I got the girls ready for school, I drove them in bumper-to-bumper traffic to their classes, and then I headed for the closest CVS to buy a U.T.I. pain medication and some cranberry juice.

I’ve rhapsodized throughout this blog about how much I love my M.A.O.I. bipolar medication Parnate (tranylcypromine), which lifted my severe depression last fall.   As wonderful as this medication is, Parnate does have its drawbacks such as food and alcohol restrictions and some medication contraindications.

Before I purchased the U.T.I. pain reliever AZO, I had to make absolutely sure that it would be okay to combine it with Parnate.  Again, angels were smiling down upon me because the pharmacist told me it would be fine to take AZO.  I also bought a U.T.I. home testing kit, which was very convenient as it will indicate if I do indeed have the infection.  (I didn’t even know these test kits were now available – it’s cool to see new items like this on the market.)

I didn’t plan on writing about my U.T.I. because I know it doesn’t make for exciting reading.  But in contrast to that snoozy topic I discovered something I want to share with you that is exciting and I hope you’ll agree.

It’s a website called http://www.7cupsoftea.com/

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Here’s the nutshell description:

7 Cups of Tea is an on-demand emotional health and well-being service. Our bridging technology anonymously & securely connects real people to real listeners in one-on-one chat sessions or phone calls.

Anyone who wants to talk about whatever is on their mind can quickly reach out to a trained, compassionate listener through our network. We have hundreds of listeners who come from all walks of life and have diverse experiences.

People connect with listeners on 7 Cups of Tea for all kinds of reasons, from big existential thoughts to small, day-to-day things that we all experience. Unlike talking to family or friends, a 7 Cups of Tea listener doesn’t judge or try to solve problems and say what to do. Our listeners just listen. They understand. They give you the space you need to help you clear your head.

The 7 Cups of Tea website has much more relevant, fascinating information and I strongly encourage you to visit it and read the FAQ page.  I had no idea this free internet service existed until last night.  I was on Twitter participating in a “BraveChat” evening chat group.  BraveChat is connected with the “This Is My Brave” project. One of the other participants, “Manic Medic” (an EMT and mental health blogger) mentioned 7 Cups of Tea as a helpful resource.

The categories that the listeners specialize in include anxiety, depression, bullying, eating disorders, managing emotions, panic attacks, surviving breakups, traumatic experiences and workplace stress. The  listeners are available to talk to teens or adults. I emailed the founder of 7 Cups, Glen Moriarty, to see if any of the listeners have a background in bipolar, because when I did a general search on his site, nothing came up. He replied to me that their search function is really slow and it’s not working the way it should; they do have some listeners with a background in bipolar, but he’d have to get back to me with the specifics, which I’ll share here in a later post.

I love love love my therapist, but she doesn’t have severe anxiety like I do.  (Thank God!)  It might be helpful to talk to a “trained listener” who can discuss the anxiety from a different perspective.  In any case, I think this is a wonderful-sounding resource, and I love simply knowing it exists.  If you decide to try it out, please let me know what your experience is like.  And on that note, I wish you all a wonderful weekend!!!

 

 

The founder of 7 Cups of Tea “Glen” explains where the site name comes from:

“7 Cups of Tea is actually the name of a famous Chinese poem. The suggestion is that each cup provides a different level of healing. It’s important that our community feels that 7 Cups of Tea is a place where you can sit down and have several cups of tea with a friend. It isn’t just a one-time meeting. You can touch base as much as you like.”

 

7 Cups of Tea, by Lu Tong (795 – 835 CE)
The first cup kisses away my thirst,
and my loneliness is quelled by the second.
The third gives insight worthy of ancient scrolls,
and the fourth exiles my troubles.
My body becomes lighter with the fifth,
and the sixth sends word from immortals.
But the seventh—oh the seventh cup—
if I drink you, a wind will hurry my wings
toward the sacred island.
Translated by Christopher Nelson 

I Love Kind, Smart Journalists!/ “Black Box” – To Bash or Not to Bash?

 

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Yesterday while on Facebook I spotted an International Bipolar Foundation post about the new ABC television series Black Box premiering tonight.

Here’s ABC’s Black Box overview:

“The twenty-first century is the era of the brain, and this show will be riding that wave on the cutting edge of medicine. The brain is the source of everything — from whom we love to how we act and feel. It is the ultimate mystery, which is why doctors call it the “black box.” Dr. Catherine Black and the staff of “The Cube” will constantly be challenged by cases never seen before on television. The patients have rare, highly visual, often hallucinogenic and startling conditions, which we will see through their eyes as Dr. Black diagnoses and treats them.”

Wikipedia’s description adds:

“Dr. Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly) is a famous neuroscientist who secretly has bipolar disorder; the only person who knows is her psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hartramph (Vanessa Redgrave), who was with Catherine after her first break and has been a maternal figure for Catherine since her mother, who also suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide.”

The International Bipolar Foundation post provides a link to a Washington Post/Associated Press article about Black Box written by the renowned AP national television columnist Frazier Moore.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/a-bipolar-doctor-probes-the-brain-on-black-box/2014/04/22/ed899e12-ca28-11e3-b81a-6fff56bc591e_story.html

Let me back up a bit.  I first read about “Black Box” a couple weeks ago in a great blog called “Bipolar, Unemployed and Lost”.  Here’s that post link:

http://insideabipolarhead.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/black-box/

After I viewed the official Black Box preview on YouTube,  I checked out the show’s ABC website and decided I would watch Black Box when the time came.

Back to the Washington Post article.  Frazier Moore wrote an intriguing Black Box article, but the title he chose and the phrasing within his article inspired me to write him a brief email.  His title, as you can infer from the Washington Post link above,  starts with “A Bipolar Doctor” and the phrase is “She’s bipolar.”

Those of you who have followed my writing know I never gave a hoot about how the word “bipolar” was used until I was diagnosed with bipolar!

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Black Box series co-creator Amy Holden Jones commits the same wording sin; her remarks include “bipolar people” and “someone who’s bipolar”.   

When I first read those four items, I felt the equivalent of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard – screeeeeeechhhhhh!  Hey, we all have our “things” that set us off, and this phraseology issue is obviously one of mine.  Maybe I hold such strong opinions about speech and bipolar because I’m the daughter of a speech pathologist/trained theater actress.  Moreover, back in college, I took a “Speech for Teachers” course during my studies to become an English teacher.  My professor gave me the top grade in the class.  The main reason, however, why I feel the way I do is when I say “I’m bipolar” it sounds like that’s pretty much all I am, and nothing else.

I’ve written an essay about the wording of bipolar disorder, and if you want to subject yourself to my entire spiel (I suggest having a cup of coffee first) it has been published by the International Bipolar Foundation, Birth of a New Brain, and at Stigmama.com:

http://stigmama.com/2014/03/12/dyane-harwood-mother-first-bipolar-a-very-distant-second/

ANYWAY, I was in the mood to contact this influential journalist about my cause, so I placed my quivering fingers upon my keyboard and took off.  I tried my best not to come across as freaky-deaky, as I might have acted that way in the past with other people whose writing triggered me.

Here’s what I wrote:

"Dear Frazier,

I hope this finds you well.  I just read your article about the new
television show "Black Box" and I found it exceedingly well written and
interesting.  I would like to bring up a point for your consideration.

I am writer living with bipolar disorder; I was diagnosed at age
thirty-seven just eight weeks postpartum.   I grew up close to my father
who had what was then called "manic depression". (Manic depression is the
term that both Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of "An Unquiet Mind" and I
much prefer.)

I like to tell others that "I have bipolar" instead of saying "I'm
bipolar".  It sounds petty, I know, but more people with this mental
illness feel the same way as I do than you'd expect.  I'm finding that
it's the most respectful way to address people who live with this mood
disorder and so I wanted to share my thoughts with you.  I hope you 
take this email with a grain of salt.  If I didn't like your writing, 
I wouldn't bother taking the time to contact you! 🙂

I wish you the very best!

Warmest regards,

Dyane Leshin-Harwood, B.A., C.P.T.  
Freelance Writer
Consumer Advisory Council Member, International Bipolar Foundation
Blogger, International Bipolar Foundation
Author of the upcoming book:
"Birth of a New Brain - Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder"


(Dear readers, I couldn't figure out how to change my font back to how it first was:0)
When I checked my email this morning, I was stunned to see a reply from Frazier Moore in 
my in-box.  His warm, diplomatic response, which I copied in part below, really made my 
day.  I honestly didn't expect him to write back, and I had let the whole matter go.

Moreover, Frazier included a brief section (which I've deleted out of respect for his 
privacy) that implied that he had been affected by someone with bipolar disorder in his 
extended circle. It was obvious to me that his own experience has given him 
empathy and compassion for those who suffer with mood disorders. 
I believe that all good journalists have both of these qualities, 
and I am pleased that Frazier Moore appears to be one of them!

Frazier wrote me:
"Thank you for your gracious note. 
I take your point and will aim to be more sensitive in writing about this subject in
the future (which could very well happen if "Black Box" is a hit).  

Btw, I would be interested in what you think about the show if you happen to watch. 

Best, 
Frazier" 


 

On the International Bipolar Foundation Facebook page, there were many 
heated comments in regard to the Black Box announcement - 
it was interesting to read the replies.  To date,
the majority of the comments were negative in regard to the show and 
Black Box hasn't even aired yet.  

(To read these replies, visit the following link and scroll down to the Black Box post 
from 4/22/14)
https://www.facebook.com/InternationalBipolarFoundation

After my exchange occurred with Frazier I felt emboldened to keep speaking up about 
what matters to me as far as bipolar disorder (or anything else) is concerned.  
If each of us addresses the bipolar disorder-related 
issues that are important to us with others, then a 
positive sea change could actually occur.

I will definitely let you and Frazier know my thoughts about this show!