WordPress Followers Range from Active to Silent

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Hi everyone – I hope this finds you well!

I encourage you to read this reblog “WordPress Followers Range from Active to Silent” when you have a spare few minutes.  I’ve written before to declare that I’m choosy about reblogging posts and I don’t do it very often.

I must admit that it’s very nice to be mentioned in my Aussie friend Glenn’s blog “Glenn2Point0” today.  Glenn also acknowledges my kindred spirit/blogger Kitt O’Malley in this post as well.

While that’s all fine & dandy, I’m reblogging it because I love his message. Glenn discusses topics close to my heart which I’ve written about before, such as the relationship of blogger to follower and the level of involvement one takes in being active (or passive) in the blogosphere. Everything Glenn touches on is something I find relevant to my own life and blog habits.

As far as his blog goes, I really enjoy reading his straightforward “slice-of-life” posts. Glenn’s blog includes a wide range of deeply personal issues such as bipolar disorder, loneliness, and much, much more. I never know what to expect from Glenn, which is fun. It’s truly an honor to be virtual friends with this thoughtful, inquisitive blogger.

While I’m thinking of it, why is it that most of my favorite people live in Australia and New Zealand? I’ve felt that I was born on the “wrong” side of the world for a a long time. At least I have the internet to keep me connected with my Aussie and Kiwi friends, right? And on that note, have a good day and take a peek a Glenn’s blog when you can.

Please be sure to comment that “Dy” sent you his way! :))

Handcuffed Mom

 

My girls

Fall, 2008

It seems long ago and far away

That I was handcuffed on a beautiful day

The sun shone as the officers stopped by

And because I was manic, I didn’t cry

“You’re so compliant!” one cop said with surprise

When I said bye to my girls, I had such brave, dry eyes

“5150” was sputtered in front of me

I couldn’t care less about terminology

To this day, I can’t believe it

Why a lactating mother of two would be such a threat

I needed treatment, but I complied; I was willing to leave 

My children for the hospital, near the street where I conceived

I didn’t need handcuffs – I had to laugh a bit 

I wasn’t armed with a gun…what a bunch of bullshit!

I hope no other mother who’s manic and admits it

Doesn’t go through the humiliation of being treated like a convict

 

 

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a poet by any means, but these lines came to me today.  

In fall of 2008, I had a bipolar manic episode.  My distraught husband contacted the 911 dispatch for a 5150 evaluation.  A whopping four police officers came to our house to assess me for treatment at our local hospital’s behavioral health unit.

I agreed to be brought to the hospital, yet I was still handcuffed.  It was so strange.  I didn’t resist as I didn’t want to make a scene with my baby and toddler in the house.  

Ideally instead of four officers, a trained mental health team could have come to help me and my husband.  Nowadays I’ve been reading about the emergence of crisis workers educated in mental illness emergencies, complete with home visits, and I’m so glad that progress is being made.  I only wish I could have been a beneficiary of such a program.    

Another Great Divide

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As I write this post today I’m feeling pretty out of it due to a summer cold that came on strong.  The yucky bug has lingered around our home for almost two weeks!  First it struck Marilla, and then it made mincemeat out of my husband Craig, who doesn’t even usually catch colds.  I stayed healthy while I first cared for Rilla, and then for Craig, but I knew deep down it was only a matter of time until I’d start sniffling.

So here I am, sore-throated, stuffy-nosed and sneezing in mid-eighty degree weather.  For once I am happy that our home is naturally quite cold…it strikes me as similar to a root cellar!  At least I’m able to function enough to take care of the girls even though I become a big baby when I get a cold.  Craig is working at a site with a ninety-minute-long commute each way, which is probably for the best since his bedside manner in regard to the common cold is not his strong point!  To top things off, due to the MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) medication Parnate that I take for bipolar disorder, I can’t consume any over-the-counter cold medications or else I’ll get way sicker than the cold itself. 

As crappy and crabby as I feel, surprisingly I haven’t lost my craving to blog  – at least it gets my mind off my cold for the time being!

My last post covered my social anxiety and Meetup groups.  Ever since I wrote that piece I’ve pondered other subjects to write about, including how friendships are affected by mental illness.  This post only touches on the tip of the friendship/bipolar iceberg.  (Sorry for that sketchy metaphor – I’m going to blame my poor writing on my cold.)

Seriously, I’ve wondered about what I can realistically offer as a friend now.  To be honest, I don’t have that much to give this summer.  It has only been a year since my last hospitalization for bipolar depression.  I’ve had a whopping seven hospitalizations, and it feels much less than a year since my last stay at Chez Hellhole.  My therapist, who doesn’t like to throw out psychiatric labels, recently surprised me when she told me that she believes I suffer with PTSD from my hospital experiences.

In some ways I’m doing great, but in other ways I’m still very fucked-up.    

My friends who I feel most comfortable around are ones who have mood disorders.  One example is “S.”.  A few years ago she was diagnosed with bipolar NOS (not otherwise specified; i.e. symptoms of bipolar disorder exist but not fully for a bipolar I or II diagnosis.).  We met through the “Women with Mood Disorders” DBSA support group I created several years ago.  She is supportive, thoughtful, and funny as hell.  I can be my damaged self around S. without feeling ashamed.  S. is strong enough to be able to deal with my ups and downs, and if for some reason she couldn’t handle them at a given time, I know she would be honest with me and tell me her limits.

I have another friend, “D”, who suffered postpartum depression and she took antidepressant medication for it, which served as a godsend.  While D. doesn’t have a chronic illness like I do, I still feel deeply understood by her.  Unfortunately we don’t see each other in person very often, but she stays in touch with me through the internet.  I’m fortunate to have another friend “M”, a mom who I neglected during my years of hospitalizations.  M reconnected with me recently.  Ssuffers with depression and she’s incredibly compassionate.  I feel at ease in M’s presence – that’s no small thing in my book!  I’m thankful that she chose to reach out to me again.

I have a couple other mom friends who don’t have mood disorders and who I don’t see often.  However, I want to stay connected with them for several reasons, mainly because of our children’s longtime friendships and I also genuinely care about them.  This is not an exhaustive list of my friends, but I don’t have many friends, though.   Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I had twice as many friends as I do now; some of them very close, others more of the acquaintance variety.  

Friendships are precious and they’re also a slippery slope to navigate, especially when living with bipolar disorder.  I know I’m limiting myself by focusing on friends who live with mood disorders, but I really can’t help it!  I feel compelled to spend time with my “tribe” of people who can truly empathize with me, and who don’t harbor stigma.  

This post’s title “Another Great Divide” is the name of one of my favorite Split Enz songs.  The song lyrics brilliantly depict the breakup of a romantic relationship using simple mathematical terms, but for me the title “Another Great Divide” also evokes a rift between any two important subjects, i.e. the divide of a friendship between a “normal” person (if one exists, right?) and a person with serious mental illness.

I would love to know how any of you who live with mental illness regard and handle your friendships with those who aren’t living with bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc.  This is a subject so near and dear to my heart, so please comment away!  Take care and take your vitamins! 😉

Dyane

“Another Great Divide” by Split Enz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmWbVeu-vBM  

 

One of my fave posts featured on Stigmama

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Being a total luddite, I couldn’t figure out how to reblog my post directly from Stigmama, so I used the old cut & paste technique below.  I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and I submitted it to the awesome, cutting-edge website Stigmama.com for its “Motherhood and Meds” week.

Stigmama was founded by the brilliant Dr. Walker Karraa, who writes in her mission statement:

“I have always believed in the power of women, especially those who have been touched by mental illness or mental difference, to create change. We are different. We  see what others don’t, write what others won’t, and give beauty to the deepest experiences of motherhood and the human soul.

I created Stigmama for mothers of all ages to do just that. To speak their truths in a non-judgmental, supportive, creative community. We need the wisdom and support of others to unpack stigma of mental difference in motherhood.

How does it impact your life as a mother? How did it impact your mother’s life? Or your grandmother? If you are interested in writing for Stigmama, please contact me.” (email Dr. Karraa at  stigmamainfo@gmail.com)

And here’s my post in all its glory!

http://stigmama.com/2014/07/23/ill-take-goat-shit-pills-if-i-have-to-by-dyane-leshin-harwood/

Treating Bipolar Disorder After Childbirth

I don’t usually publish two blog posts in one day, and I rarely reblog, but lo & behold, I did both today!  Something must be in the air…

Re: today’s reblog, I read Therese Borchard’s bestselling book “Beyond Blue” soon after its publication when I was very down, and it was of great comfort to me.  I highly recommend it if you want a good book about depression & anxiety that stands apart from the mountain of similar-themed books.

In this reblog Therese addresses postpartum bipolar issues and she remarks that she’s intrigued by them for personal reasons….just like yours truly!  Therese also cites a significant medical study authored by psychiatrist Dr.  Verinder Sharma that I am very familiar with.

I sprinted to the “good”computer downstairs to comment on Therese’s site and I wrote a lengthy comment despite being distracted by two little girls freaking out about Webkinz and our rambunctious puppy having a potty accident (of course it wasn’t #1!) so I hope what I wrote doesn’t scare her and that she publishes it.  Thanks for reading as always, and I’ll be back later in the week. 🙂

Dyane

Therese J. Borchard

depressed-mother-holding-infant-SSPregnant and postpartum women with bipolar disorder more frequently have significant mental health and early mothering challenges than other perinatal women undergoing psychiatric treatment, according to a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The findings indicate the importance of properly identifying the disorder and developing specific treatments for women during and after pregnancy, the lead author said.

“Similar to what you find with bipolar disorder in the nonperinatal population, the overall level of clinical severity and functional impairment really stands out as being of concern,” said Cynthia Battle, associate professor (research) of psychiatry and human behavior in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

“It’s a highly vulnerable time for these women,” said Battle, who is also a psychologist at Butler Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital. “They have increased functional demands at this time.”

Pregnancy often disrupts sleep and parenting a newborn can involve getting up several times…

View original post 391 more words

Another Meetup? Whaaaat??

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Have you heard of Meetup.com?  I don’t even remember how I came across it, but I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for several years.  Last year I attended only one Meetup –  a mom’s night out in my little town.  Over dinner at a new Italian restaurant I found that I didn’t have much in common with my dining companions.  Coincidentally the three of them recently relocated to our community from the fast-paced Bay Area, unlike me, so I felt a bit out of it from the get-go.  While the evening wasn’t excruciating, I wanted to make an early exit nonetheless. (I did it as gracefully as possible!)

I was the only mom present with older children.  That fact also didn’t help me connect with the other moms, despite my trying hard to be friendly and even, ahem “normal”.  (yeah, right!) Even the food was an expensive disappointment. 

To top things off, I had given up alcohol due to my MAOI bipolar medication. The other moms drank red wine and none of them stuck to just one glass. My social anxiety was in full force and I craved a few glasses of wine like the others apparently did.  I didn’t drink a drop, for to combine my medication with alcohol is a huge no-no and potentially even fatal!    

Although the evening was a let-down, I felt very proud of myself for giving it a shot.

Despite that bummer of a Meetup, I hoped that someday I would find a group that fit me well.  Browsing through Meetup’s website you’ll find a multitude of eclectic groups offered in my area.  It’s fun to take a look!  Some groups are pretty out-there, with occasionally hilarious themes. (“Cuddling Groups” and “Bigfoot Searchers” anyone?)  Of course there are the tamer-styled Meetups, such a book clubs, a WordPress group with a whopping 500 members, dog walking groups, movie nights and writers’ groups.  Oh, and don’t forget the Alien Sightings Meetup and Tantric sexual arts!

I arranged for Meetup.com to email me whenever a group matching my pre-selected interests is formed.  Specifically I’ve wanted to be contacted when a mental health group is created.  Once I spotted a social anxiety Meetup that sounded cool, but it met an hour away from my home so I passed as that was too far away for me.  A few months ago I started yearning to be around others who hate their social anxiety as much as I do, so I went in search of the “faraway” group only to see it had disbanded.

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Boo Hoo!

In 2013, I decided to taper off my bipolar medication, and I promptly became hypomanic. Whenever I’m hypomanic, my social anxiety vanishes.  So last spring I started my first Meetup group.  I shelled out $18 for one month’s organizer dues, and decided that the group’s theme would be for women interested in natural healing for mood disorders.  While in the planning stages of that Meetup, my hypomania turned into full-blown mania, and then sank down into suicidal depression.  I admitted myself to the hospital yet again. Needless to say my Meetup group folded before our very first meeting.

Three days ago Meetup emailed me offering a 50% reduction in first month fees if I created a group within five days.  It would only cost $9.50.  At first I thought, nope!  But I didn’t delete the email.  

I couldn’t ignore a little voice inside me that said, Well, you could try it and see if there’s any interestI thought about it some more.  No…I’m not gonna do it.  You don’t need one more thing on your plate.  And you need to work more on your damn book, not plan support groups!.

The pesky little voice grew stronger, adding, You’ve been wanting a Meetup do-over.  Even though you haven’t made time to see your closest friends (you know who you are, S.!) you know you’ve been struggling with social anxiety and you’ve been lonely in your isolated mountain town.  The internet has given you some wonderful online friendships, but you need more ‘IRL’ community with women like you.  Maybe having a group like this would really help your smorgasbord of mood disorders more than you realize!

So I took the plunge.  

What the hell,  I rationalized.  It’s just $9.50 to get started, and if no one joins, I can cancel it!  I knew I’d be creating a group with very specific parameters, so I wouldn’t have high hopes for many responses.  Still, I’d keep an open mind all the same.

TWO DAYS LATER…

After spending an inordinate amount of time playing around with my Meetup group’s title, description, its appearance, and researching other bipolar wellness Meetups’ agendas, the gung-ho wind completely vanished out of my sails.

I had an attack of massive “Meetup Remorse”:  

What the hell was I thinking???? I’m not ready for this! No way!”

Luckily Meetup’s policy is to wait two days after a group’s creation before its announcement and listing goes live to members and the public.

Despite the fact I’ve felt better in a lot of respects after last summer’s hospitalization for bipolar depression, over the past year I haven’t felt social. I’ve rarely hung out with longtime friends.  My idea of creating a group given the antisocial state I’m in is nothing short of preposterous.  

As I’m sure you’ve figured out already, a more realistic goal would be for me to join a group already in existence.  Sadly there’s nothing like that in my area. When I researched other similar-themed Meetups around the world, I was surprised and envious to see such awesome, welcoming descriptions.  Cool examples include a “New York Women with Bipolar brunch” group, and a “Sydney, Australia Women with Bipolar group”. There are many more mental wellness groups that look so cool and again, I wish there was one in my backyard.

It was fun to dream about forming a group that I’d like to be a part of, but the time isn’t right. Maybe someday I’ll have a change of heart and I’ll be in a better place with my social anxiety to pick up where I left off.

 

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Tired, Puppy Runs & Sleep Deprivation

 

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It has been a week of disjointed sleep due to sick children, a sick husband, and a sick puppy! 😦 Yes, even our four-month-old American Collie Lucy was struck by illness after eating a bowl of cat food.  I can’t believe that even though I’ve cared for two other dogs, I was ignorant of the dangers of cat food upon dogs’ digestive systems!

Lucy’s malady was my bad. Yesterday I picked up Avonlea at her friend’s house and I brought along Lucy for the ride.  We were invited into the friend’s house for a moment, and I was oblivious to a large bowl of cat food  in the kitchen by the entrance.  Needless to say, Lucy ate that rich cat food in a heartbeat.  The poor pup woke up around 2:00 a.m. and had explosive diarrhea covering almost a third of the bedroom floor and spattering the side of a wall!  (At least it was a wooden floor and not shag carpet!)  It was truly a grisly sight, and the stench could raise the dead.  My first thought was “How could something so foul emanate from something so incredibly cute, sweet and fluffy?”

To my complete frustration, after cleaning up the mess and returning to a very poor quality of sleep, I woke up an hour later.  I got up due to my daughter’s coughing spell, and so I rose out of  bed to dose her with cough medicine.  At 3:30 a.m. I drifted into another one of those semi-asleep states that are not refreshing.

These dilemmas I describe are nothing close to crisis-type situations. I thank God for that, since I’ve been through so many emergencies I should be some kind of honorary E.M.T.  The reality of my life is that my kids and husband had run-of-the-mill colds and Lucy ate the wrong thing.  They didn’t have eyeball-devouring amoebas.

Even so, whenever I lose a lot of sleep I freak out.  I worry that my sleep deprivation could trigger mania, since sleep loss has been the reason for my past manias.  Most memorably, sleep deprivation due to labor resulted in my becoming manic and my being diagnosed with postpartum bipolar one disorder.

Because of my susceptibility to sleep deprivation-induced mania, I was tempted to take extra Seroquel.  I’ve only done that once in the past eleven months I’ve taken it.  As alluring as a bigger dose sounded, I desisted.  The way I see it, I’m already putting my body through enough stress as it is with my heavy-duty meds.  A bigger dose of Seroquel would only serve to create more grogginess the next day.  I made sure to work out on my elliptical for forty-five minutes , as cardio exercise always helps me sleep better.   I even ate less sugar than usual, as we were out of my beloved Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.

Yeah, I’m tired.  At least tomorrow’s another day, and I’m hoping to be less tired.  My fingers and toes crossed that I won’t feel so zombie-esque.  While I had high hopes to write a “good” blog post today, an exciting topic didn’t come to mind, but it still feels nice to write instead of cleaning up puppy diarrhea.

It’s gratifying to know that even if I publish something I’m not thrilled with, I’ll still reach you. I have a feeling you’ll give me a “pass” this time around.  Since I’m constantly impressed, entertained and inspired by what pops up in my WordPress Reader, sometimes I feel those posts are a hard act to follow.  It’s okay, I can shove my petty insecurities aside, and in any case, I’m not going to lose sleep over that!

And now, as my special treat of the day, I’m going to go browse through my Reader  as I relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.  Your blogs never cease to amaze me, and I love reading each post.  Thanks for giving me something to look forward to after a tedious day of squabbling children, a puppy with Vesuvius-like bowels, and a sick, crabby partner.

T.G.I.F. (hope yours is great) and have a wonderful weekend!

I’ll be back next Monday.  In the meantime, take good care and thanks for reading.

Dyane

 

Photo on 2014-07-06 at 16.18 #4