Starting to Freak About the Catamaran Writing Conference

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Yes, I’m beginning to feel nervous about leaving my cozy comfort bubble to attend the 2015 Catamaran Writers Conference at Pebble Beach. I certainly won’t let my freakiness stop me from going to such an incredible-sounding event. But I’m definitely intimidated about hobnobbing with established writers, not to mention some famous ones. It’s not like I’m a writing neophyte. I have a book deal with Post Hill Press, but I’m not exactly Karen Joy Fowler (our keynote speaker and the winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction) either.

I’m daunted at the prospect of having my writing critiqued by a group, but that’s the primary reason I’m attending. I want a fresh perspective about my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder; specifically I want feedback about Chapter One, the material I submitted for our class to review. An acclaimed memoirist/memoir instructor, Frances Lefkowitz, will discuss her take on my chapter and I’ll gain insights from my classmates as well. 

The last time I was away from my family for more than a day was in 2013. That summer I was hospitalized three times after I slowly, slowly tapered off lithium and relapsed into bipolar depression/suicidal ideation. I admitted myself into Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, a.k.a. CHOMP. (I’ve always found that to be a bizarre acronym; CHOMP reminds me of a vicious shark – no offense to shark lovers!)  While there I requested bilateral ECT (electroshock treatment/electroconvulsive therapy) which brought me up to a functioning level. I have no regrets about ECT and consider it a lifesaver. However, my bipolar depression didn’t go away until I began taking lithium and my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) Parnate that fall. 

Ironically CHOMP is located very close to the Catamaran Writers Conference site, but I’m determined not to darken its doors unless I suffer from severe writer’s cramp or the like. My meds are doing their job, thank God, and I’m still working out almost every day “Alsuwaidan Style“.  

I think that sometimes after we suffer so much trauma, it’s hard to fully accept the “happy stuff” that comes our way. A part of me feels that this conference is too good to be true. Moreover, thoughts of “I’m not worthy! My writing sucks and it’s not worthy either!” have floated through my mind.

I’ll do my best to let my negative perceptions pass through my brain, and focus on breathing in the fresh ocean air that permeates the campus. My past anxiety crutches of booze and benzos are no longer an option. As hippy dippy as this may sound, I’m going to turn to nature and sweat to help me grapple with my assorted heebie jeebies. There’s a gym I will use on campus, and there are group hiking activities and other outdoor field trips (i.e. to gorgeous Tor House, home of Robinson Jeffers, a John Steinbeck tour, and exploring sites that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson, i.e. China Cove and Pelican Point ) for the writers.

I can also blog about my angst to you, right? I’ll have my laptop  and WiFi by my side, and I’ll let you know how it all pans out.  🙂

XoXo,

Dyane

p.s. It’s not too late to join me! August 1st is the registration deadline. Sign up at 

http://catamaranliteraryreader.com/conference-2015/

 

Here are a few hideous campus shots! 😉

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And the atrocious area of Pebble Beach & China Cove!

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Kindle Bonanza: Free Triple downloads from me to us all

I am reblogging this fabulous offer as Marie is a wonderful writer, woman, advocate, inspiration & that’s only a small part of who she is! I’ll be back to my regular 1x/week blogging schedule this Friday. p.s. I still haven’t caught up with reading your blogs – please forgive me – I’m going to try my best!

Hope you’re doing well, my friends. XOXO Dyane

Marie Abanga's Blog

Dear World with less than 30 hours left in this Kingdom of Belgium, I thought about what I could offer us all to express my profound appreciation for all the direct and indirect help I have had in becoming the woman I now am.

I am therefore offering us all free kindle downloads of all the three memoirs I have written and published since coming here. The bonanza runs from tomorrow the 30th up to Sunday the 2nd of August on the amazon. Just type out the titles on Kindle Amazon, and I hope the following links help too. Share this with your friends and family, the reading apps are equally free to download for those without Kindles you know 🙂

Amazon.com: Battered, Tattered, but not Shattered: Finding the Strength in What Remains eBook: Marie Abanga: Kindle Store

Amazon.com: My Brother’s Journey from Genius to Simpleton: Battling with his mental…

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The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Real Tweets

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Horseback fun in Alpine Meadows

 

I’ve been missing reading your blogs in Alpine Meadows, but it’s good to be forced to unplug every now and then. Although there is no Wi-Fi in our cabin, I brought along my MacBook and Avonlea figured out how to use the Mac’s iMovie app. I didn’t even know I had iMovie or what it is, so it’s very cool to have my ten-year-old show it to me. (And here I am, a former American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women intern!) Anyway, Avi and her sister had a blast making a bunch of trailers; see below for one wacky example.

I’ve been low-tech for the most part, taking long hikes with Lucy. We’ve been exploring trails overlooking the appropriately named Red Dog Ridge. I love hiking – I used to do it all the time in L.A. Hiking reminds me of the happiest times in my life in which the word “bipolar” wasn’t part of my lexicon. 

Watching Lucy sniff wildflowers and tree stumps, her tongue lolling out to the side in ecstasy, is one of the best parts of this trip. We haven’t run into any bears yet, but I’m on the lookout, and I know what to do if we have an ursine encounter. (Mom, do NOT worry!) Lucy’s ear-splitting barking will help frighten them away, and I’m to make very loud noises, and/or sing loudly. Craig said that if I belt out my beloved Crowded House catalogue, my shrill voice is guaranteed to drive away any bear.

In the evenings we’ve been watching a BBC series called From Lark Rise to Candleford. For you Downton Abbey addicts it has the fantastic actor Brendon Coyle, a.k.a. Downton Abbey’s John Bates.

I haven’t been writing as much as I hoped I would, but I’ll be honest with you – I’d rather hike than write! Plus I’ll be doing some heavy-duty writing soon enough. Want to join me? There’s still room in my Catamaran Writing Conference Nonfiction workshop with Frances Lefkowitz. Lefkowitz is the author of an incredible memoir  * entitled To Have Not and the founder of the Community Memoir Project. She has taught memoir courses alongside luminaries including the high holy Cheryl Strayed. The registration deadline has been extended to August 1. Visit www.catamaranliteraryreader.com for details.

I look forward to catching up with your lives next week when I plug back in to my daily dose of reading devouring your blogs.

Have a great weekend!

Dyane

 * That’s for you, L.E. Henderson, author of the five-star A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom: One Author’s Journey Through Writer’s Block and Beyond.

This prolific writer lives with bipolar and has been a tremendous inspiration. I do declare…“titled” is so pedestrian!

 

Introducing DBSA Santa Cruz with a Board Full ‘O Chicks!

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Last week after I published my postpartum bipolar post, I was so happy that it was reblogged, retweeted, and received wonderful comments – thank you so much! That same day I got some more good news. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) confirmed that my DBSA Santa Cruz County Chapter application was accepted.

Years ago I founded a DBSA chapter but when I relapsed with bipolar depression, I wasn’t able to continue. My replacement wasn’t able to keep it going either, so it folded.

I renewed the chapter for a variety of reasons, but here are just a couple: I wanted to give the “Women with Mood Disorders” support group I facilitate more credibility in our community. When I promote our support group to the press it sounds more legitimate if we are affiliated with the DBSA. I wanted to utilize DBSA’s numerous Chapter Resources as well.

I live in a mountain valley comprised of four towns and we need more than just one free mood disorder support group – my group is the only one around. That’s unacceptable in a community of thousands, and my goal is to recruit other peer leaders to run more groups.

A DBSA Chapter needs a Board of Directors and I’m honored that the co-authors of the bestselling Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival Wendy K. Williamson (author of the bestselling Im Not Crazy Just Bipolarand Honora Rose are serving as Vice President and Secretary.

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We have my husband Craig S. Harwood, author of the award-winning Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, as Treasurer.

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Lucy is our mascot and as some of you know, she’s working on her first book

When Your Human Has Bipolar! to be published by Life Is Ruff Press.

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Meanwhile, I’ll be quiet on WordPress during the next few weeks. We’re returning to Tahoe to the internet-less Munchkin Cabin – the very spot where a bear cub came into the house, quiet as a mouse, while we were all home. (It was someone’s fault. Someone forgot to shut the front door and left a sack of garbage in the hallway – a big no no in bear country!)

I’ll miss my daily check-ins with your blogs.

Have a great few weeks and I’ll check in upon our return!

love,

Dyane

Alpine girlsAvi on John Muir Trail w:LucyEvening at Squaw

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of  Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growthwill be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

Still in the Closet About Depression? by Plucky You

Still in the Closet About Depression? by Plucky You

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Hi my friends, & happy Friday!

I’m reblogging Still in the Closet About Depression because Plucky You is an awesome blog containing OUTSTANDING posts! The blogger, a professional writer/editor, is incredibly talented. This plucky one’s articles have been published in some absolutely amazing places that I’d like to share, but I need to get permission first! 😉

Please tell your friends to follow Plucky You and take a look at the Plucky Books section; it’s one of my favorite mood disorder-related compilations. 

I have no idea what I’ll be blogging about next week except for the fact it won’t be about postpartum bipolar disorder and it will be short, i.e. under 600 words. I promise. (Famous last words!)

No, really, between the PPBD posts and my book, I need a little break from bipolarland. (We all do!)

Have a fantabulous weekend & I’ll e-see you next Thursday.
Xo,
Dyane

PLUCKY YOU

Here’s an interesting question. How many people do you know—include yourself in this—who are out about their mental illness with friends, family, and coworkers? I’m just guessing that the majority of people can check either the first and/or the second on that list, but very rarely the third. It’s hard to imagine freely offering this information to your boss or manager at work, unless of course you work for yourself, as I do. But we all have different comfort levels with our personal information.

I admire people who can just be up front about their mental health, like fellow writer Dyanne Harwood whose blog Birth of A New Brain covers the day-to-day struggles of life as a mom with a perinatal mood disorder closely related to bipolar depression. She is doing herself, and everyone who lives with a mental health diagnosis, a favor by standing up to the big scary monster of shame that threatens us with revenge…

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Bipolar, Unemployed & Lost Vlog

I can’t help but reblog this for many reasons!

Watch this beautiful African American woman/mental health advocate Tempus who lives with bipolar disorder speak out!

Long ago “Oh Temp” (her alias until today!) published my “You’re Just Like Me” interview on her blog and she made me feel like my experience with bipolar mattered.

She’s eloquent, super-funny, honest – and she said some really nice things about me. I’d still reblog this even she said mean things about me. Follow her blog & Twitter today, please! 🙂 

This is the kind of blogger who I believe in with all my heart, and who inspires me for the way in which she’s fully “out” with bipolar disorder.