Hunkering Down

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HUNKER

Dictionary.com defines “hunker” as: to hide, hide out, or take shelter (usually followed by down):

“The escaped convicts hunkered down in a cave in the mountains.”

 

Now, I’m not an escaped convict, but on Tuesday I’ll be hunkering down in a cave-like office in the mountains to finish writing Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder.  I have seventy pages written so far, and it has “only” taken me over two years to do that, ha ha ha!

I have some amazing mentors willing to help me, including the bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson (I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival), Lisa E. Henderson (author of A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom and Thief of Hades) and last but not least, my husband Craig, who wrote the multiple-award-winning Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West.  

Despite having had the opportunity to “just do it”, I keep procrastinating.

Today my Facebook newsfeed reminded me of my dilemma.  A famous Maya Angelou quote appeared:

 

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While I’ve always admired Maya Angelou’s writing, I’d have to say there are greater agonies than bearing an untold story, such as drug-free childbirth and a little thing called bipolar disorder.  But I definitely feel like I was meant to write this book, I yearn to make it happen, and I won’t feel complete until it’s finito.

Anyway, last week I read a few chapters in Darien Gee’s book Writing the Hawai’i Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story.  (I’m not from Hawai’i, but I love anything related to the Aloha State, especially Kona coffee and chocolate macadamia nuts!)  Gee states early on that it’s tantamount to set a deadline to complete one’s memoir.  She was so convincing about it that I felt inspired to set a deadline.  One of my favorite authors SARK prefers to call it a “completion date”, but I don’t mind the rather grim tone of “deadline” – it has a certain weight to it.

Deadline.  It’s a simple-sounding action, isn’t it?  Deceptively simple.  Perhaps setting a deadline will work some kind of magic into my subconscious and it’ll nudge me into accomplishing my dream.

Why not? 

I chose March 18th, 2015, my 45th birthday, to complete my first draft.  Coincidentally, March 18th the same day as my American Collie puppy Lucy’s birthday, so I consider it to be quite a powerful day.  If things go as planned, I’ll buy a vegan chocolate cake from Black China Bakery (they made our wedding cake) and invite you all to come enjoy a piece!

I originally meant to work on Birth of a New Brain during the summer, but my “best laid schemes” fell to the wayside.  At first I felt so discouraged, but after my initial disappointment, I let it go. (Don’t you dare start singing the song from “Frozen”!)  

In any case, I knew I’d be able to concentrate on my writing when my daughters’ school began.

Avonlea and Marilla  return to school Tuesday, which is also Rilla’s seventh birthday.  I like the fact that I’ll resume writing on Rilla’s birthday, and that I’ll end on the birthday that I share with Lucy!  The birthday bookends seems propitious to me – I’m into that kind of superstitious way of thinking.  

When the girls are in class, I’ll have the luxury of time and quiet.  Last year I was usually the only one in the house, and while it was wonderful to have a peaceful environment, it was a little creepy too.  This year I’ll have my canine muse Lucy to keep me company.  She likes to sit on my feet as I write at my desk – I love her soft warmth, and fortunately she isn’t so heavy that I lose the circulation in my toes.

Lucy Muse

I’ll take advantage of the school year to finish writing Birth of a New Brain, even if I’m the only one who reads it! If I can grow two humans, surely I can finish writing half a book.  Right?  (Uh oh…I hear crickets chirping in my mind.)  I’m going to try really hard.  

This leads me to the subject of my blog.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’ve never had aspirations to be a professional blogger.  I live half an hour away from Silicon Valley where BlogHer was created.  I knew from reading the San Jose Mercury News that blogging was hip, lucrative, and a creative outlet for writers, but I still didn’t feel drawn to it.  Then seven years ago I opened up my first WordPress blog, but my blogging didn’t “take” because I was still severely depressed.  

Last December, after trying over 20 medications, I finally started taking a medication combo. that worked to lift the bipolar depression.  I impulsively gave blogging a half-hearted second try and it took ahold of me in a profound, very cool way.  

I thank my lucky stars that blogging has been such a pleasure.  While writing has been stressful and frustrating at times (and I’ve written about feeling jealous of the mega-successful bloggers!) my participation in the blogging community has been overwhelmingly positive.  Blogging has helped me strengthen my writing discipline and introduced me to many gifted writers.  Another perk that I know you can relate to has been the “likes” and comments I’ve been fortunate enough to receive; they’ve made me feel heard, appreciated and understood.

 

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I used my blog as a way to prove to myself that I could write on a regular, even prolific basis.  I still don’t know how the hell I blogged every single day for several months straight.  I wasn’t hypomanic or manic.   It sure wasn’t hypergraphia (compulsive, extreme writing) which I actually experienced right after Rilla was born.  I wasn’t on illicit drugs of any kind.  Moreover, I was taking fairly high doses of three sedating medications: lithium, tranylcypromine (Parnate, an MAOI) and the infamous Seroquel.  

I believe that writing regularly stimulated my brain and actually kept me from becoming depressed

If I didn’t feel such a deep-seated drive to write my book, a goal which I’ve had ever since I was nine-years-old, I’d blog all the time.  But I know that I need to hunker down and take the energy I’ve directed towards blogging and funnel it into….you-know-where! (It rhymes with “nook”!)

I don’t want to quit blogging cold-turkey because that would make me depressed!  I don’t need to write novella blog posts like I used to do, either. I plan to blog once a week and see how it goes.  Blogging weekly seems reasonable, and it’ll keep me connected to the blogosphere.  I’m telling you, it really lifts my spirits to stay in touch with my blogging friends on a regular basis.  

I’ll aim to post on Mondays so I can use the weekend to free-write and have fun with it!  I’ll keep you updated about my life and the progress of  Birth of a New Brain, and I’ll stay in touch with you via your blogs, without fail. 

Take care, friends, & I wish you a wonderful week!

Dyane

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33 thoughts on “Hunkering Down

    1. You’ve helped me in more ways than one, Jean!

      I’ve been seeking a word to use instead of sh*t, and Snickers fits the bill!
      My children, who are sick and tired of their potty mouth mother, thank you!

      I visited “Send Sunshine” and I’m its newest follower! I need it after the Troll Experience – you were the only one to read her troll droppings before I marked them as spam & deleted them, so you know what I’m talking about! She also came after me on Twitter, so I blocked her! (At least she has some semblance of humor – she tweeted “I LOVE my picture!”)

      I think you’ll appreciate this: I looked at who she followed on Twitter before blocking her. She follows a lot of cannabis growers and also an heirloom seed company that’s five minutes down the street from where I love called Renee’s – how bizarre given that she lives down under in Western Australia! (She owns a nursey called Australia Clivia)

      On a much brighter note, thank you so much for your encouragement/support – I’m honored that you’ve read some of my older posts! :))))

      Hope you have a great weekend!
      Dyane

      1. She…she likes a place that lives near you?! Goodness gracious, this troll has…issues. I’m so glad you’ve become Gandalf and declared “You…shall not…PASS” at every access point. 🙂
        Oh I rely quite, quite heavily on family-friendly cussing. I use “snickerdoodle” a lot. “Smack.” Ummm, I do use the German for “S**T,” which I think is spelled “Scheisse,” so I’m waiting for one of the kids to say that by a teacher and get a talkin’-to. 🙂
        I enjoy your older posts! It’s neat to see how someone starts opening themselves up as writers online. I’ve only been blogging for…what is it now, 14 months?…Anyway, it’s not been that long. When I see how long others have had their blogs, I can see that one CAN keep up this writing thing, and one can really learn a lot from what others say. When I read your post about how you keep writing, because to stop will bring the depression on–I realized, YES, THAT, exactly that. And if Dyane can share what she shares, and press forward despite everything, then so can I! 🙂 Thanks for showing us newbies we can DO this!

  1. You are to finish the book and ship me a signed copy! That’s an order (LOL!) As to blogging…I loved what you wrote about it! I also used to blog 5 days a week…but where I used to love it…it became like work and therefore I toned it down. But the healing blogging has brought me, has been amazing! Here in my little corner of the world, the blogging community has taught me that I am not that negatively special as I used to think of myself…I just live in a country that makes me negatively special!

    1. Okay, I promise to do that; I’ll send you a signed copy & a box of chocolates!! :)))

      You are SPECIAL to me in the best sense of the word!!!!!!!!! And I’m thrilled and stoked to see that you published a blog post today – I’m looking forward to reading it as always.

      I am SO glad that blogging has brought you healing, and it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist’s fee, right? 😉 Just kidding – we need our meds and our blogs AND our docs!

      Sending you lots of love and thank you for being there for me!!!!

    1. “YOU CAN DO IT!!!!”

      (Imagine that being said out loud in a cheesy, self-helpey tone, a la Chris Farley when he played a motivational speaker on SNL who lived “down by the river” – such a hysterical scene! I hope you’ve seen it!)

      And yes, you must finish Lisa’s book AND you MUST post more bloggage!!!
      You’ll be doing two good deeds! 😉

    1. You are a silly, K.!!!! I know you know how & even where to find me…
      Lucy is giving me the stink eye too! She barked at me to stop it with the blogging, and even nipped at my laptop.

      The (totally self-induced) pressure is on. I can work well under pressure, especially in a cave-office….but I’m not good with too much pressure, hence the six-month-long timeframe. Please pray for me now more than ever!!!

  2. Dyane, I’m positive you won’t be the only one wanting to read your book – me, included! Your blogs have been a blessing to me as well. And don’t consider yourself old re: publishing your first book. I have 20 years on you, and am looking to publish my first in the next couple of years. As my grandmother used to say, “You’re a spring chicken!” 🙂

    1. Your words completely lifted my spirits, Susan!
      (They never fail to do so, come to think of it.) I love the phrase “spring chicken” and I’ve used it a lot over the years!!!

      Count on me to buy your book when the time comes. I feel truly honored that you find this blog a blessing, and hope you will please keep in touch with me.

      From one spring chicken to another, and with love & light to you always,

      Dyane

  3. You are definitely not the only one who wants to read your book. I wish you all the best completing it but don’t rush it ever because you feel you have to, work at your own pace. You are a fantastic and inspiring blogger. I mean that. Every word.

    1. Thank you from the bottom of my toes, Your Inner Happiness!!!!!!! Your comment really resonated with me on a “heart” level – it helps me to read your line not to rush it!

      Then again, I think I’m twice as old as you!!!! I feel more frantic about the passing of time; how the years do go by! (I’m stealing some of sentence from one of my fave songs “Years Go By” by Split Enz)

      Anyway, reading your words this morning made me feel great – they really did. Much love and happiness to you, and may your studies be absolutely amazing and fulfilling! (((hugs))) xoxo

  4. I think it is important to do the blog and the book for yourself, no one else. Write what makes you feel good and at the pace you enjoy.

    That being said, I am a fan! I look forward to your posts!

    1. Good advice, Vic; no, make that excellent advice! I am so happy you’re a fan! Comments such as yours inspire me and give me strength when the negative, bugaboo thoughts crawl in…so thank you very much! p.s. once again, you wrote such an awesome blog post over the weekend!!!

    1. Thank you, you rockin’ Pisces!!! (right? Not quite Aries?) I’ll keep ya posted! I’m looking forward to reading that Letter, by the way! I thought about it some more and I’d want to do the same thing – post it on my bloggeroo!

      1. I posted the first half! I figured it’d be best to split it into two parts — the first one all about what I did wrong and my apology, and the second one about what she did wrong and if I can forgive. Second one will be up tomorrow.

        And yep, Pisces! Depending on what you go by, I’m kind of on the cusp, but all I have Aries-wise is stubbornness. Haha.

      2. I can’t WAIT to read your blog this afternoon!!!!!

        I guess I felt hesitant when I first told wrote on your blog to just send it to her because I published on my blog an lengthy post about a friend who I felt “did me wrong” -without saying her name, but still, it was obvious it was her. This was about a friend who never read my blog posts….and then guess what? She just happened to read that post! It was incredibly hard for me to find out that I hurt her, and I cried like a baby to her about it, but at the same time, my post opened up a discussion between us and we were able to remain friends. We’ll never recapture the closeness we once had, but that’s how it goes sometimes. So there’s a good chance that something positive will come from your brave action.

        Thanks for writing – I know you are super-busy so it means a lot to me!

        xoxo Dy

      3. Sadly, there is no friendship reconciliation possible with us. We both did too much wrong to each other. But, I am willing to be friendLY for the sake of the kids (giving stuff away — tomorrow’s post).

        I sent it to her last night via Facebook because that’s the only way I know to get in touch with her, but it doesn’t show that she’s read it yet or not, so that’s why today’s post focused on my wrongdoings instead of hers.

  5. You will defiantly not be the only one reading that book! I can’t wait for you to write it! I had never heard of “hypergraphia” but I can totally relate! I gave birth 8 weeks ago and I’ve been so manic! Writing is the only way I have found to release that aggravated ecstasy I feel within!
    Writing your blog once a week is great! It is obviously an important connection for you to make. I also really love that you reply to your reader’s comments, it means so much to us!
    (Sorry for using so many !!!!!!! It’s just that I’m so excited to hear there is someone else out there who feels the way I do!)

    1. Thanks sooooooo much Supermommyoftwins!!!!!!! (I adore exclamation marks too – we are both cool! ha ha!) What a fantastic comment. Yes, hypergraphia is a totally real condition which some people “poo poo” and say it doesn’t exist. They are so wrong. For me it was a batsh*t crazy experience, let me tell you! But writing that way helped me release the “aggravated ecstasy”. (That’s the perfect way to describe it!) My wrist almost fell off, and my carpal tunnel came back with a vengeance, but I couldn’t stop. I write more about how hypergraphia manifested in me in the first chapter.

      Check out this link that explains it well; it’s interesting as it mentions historical figures who had it, & it mentions bipolar:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergraphia

      I’m SO happy you will want to read my book and I’ll keep you posted about it. I hope you blog about how it goes for you with the doctor, etc. I don’t want to scare you in the slightest, but I went from mania into depression around 2 & 1/2 mos. postpartum and I want you to get support so that doesn’t happen to you!

      Lots of love and hang in there with the babies and with your other child too! You’re amazing!

      xoxo
      Dy

    1. Thank you so much! Your comment brought some much-needed happiness to my evening. I hope this finds you well and I’ll be sure to check out your blog more very soon!

      Have a great week & thanks again for reading and for your wonderful encouragement.

      Dyane 🙂

      1. Dyane – wow – Your words brought to me a positive energy and appreciation. You have a unique page with brilliant topics, I appreciate it. I would like to share with you one my piano melodies.

        Wishing you a cherish Week:)

      1. Just listened to your music and it’s absolutely gorgeous! That’s such a great song – “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – of course I love the Elvis version too! 😉 Thanks for sharing it – I wrote a comment on YouTube about it too. Take care….keep in touch!!!

      2. Thank you Dyane for your kind words – I am glad you enjoyed the tune and the melody. I will stay in touch with you as you have a wonderful and amazing page!!

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