A Polish Mother’s Stern Warning

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I’m thrilled that my friend, mentor and former editor Greg Archer has moved his blog on over to WordPress!

I encourage you to give yourself ten minutes to sit back, relax, and take Greg’s latest post A Polish Mother’s Stern Warning in fully.

Greg’s writing style, like his personality, is warm, immediate, profound and oftentimes hilarious. A prolific writer for decades, he held down one of the toughest writing jobs I could possibly imagine: being the editor of a high-profile, award-winning weekly paper. This paper isn’t some backwoods three-pager; it has a huge circulation and cult-like following. Greg was editor-in-chief at that publication for a whopping fourteen years!

I shiver thinking of the pressure he must have been under all that time, yet he never once complained to me about it. (If you watch Greg’s video he made about gratitude on his blog’s “About” page, you’ll get a glimpse about why he’s wired that why…also, look for that big clock tower that’s behind him in the opening shot. I worked two minutes away from it at the State Parks-related job I wrote about last week! 😉  

Greg boldly left his editorial position to complete his memoir Grace Revealed which received rave reviews. Plus both my Mom and my husband Craig loved it – for those of you who know me, their endorsements speaks volumes.

Since his memoir’s publication, Greg has been searching for his true home. His travels have taken him from Chi-town all the way to Maui and he’s not sure where he’s landing yet.

Through his blog Greg shares his quest with us. The highs and the lows. Even if you’re not looking for your new home at the moment, Greg’s writing will entertain you (there are several laugh-out-loud lines in this piece alone, and I’ll never think of one’s first menstrual period or pickled pigs feet the same way again!). His insights will apply to different areas of your own life – I know it.

Enjoy this amazing writer’s post – and don’t be fooled by the bits of self-deprecation. He’s way too humble about his talent and his wisdom.

Please spread the word about my wonderful friend Greg Archer’s blog

KNOW PLACE LIKE HOME. Thanks so much and I send you all my love.
Dyane

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Worthwhile journeys toward finding the true essence of home and place within (and without) us requires grit. For it is not as if you can call ahead to Starbucks or Gino’s Pizza and place a to-go order for Authenticity. (Extra-large, please. And with a side salad and deep-fried cheese sticks of Courage.) Inevitably, we must turn inward, locate and then befriend our inner GPS. Maybe that is the only way home.

That is not to say this is an easy journey on which to embark.

All this comes to mind, as I glide—OK, fine, occasionally stumble—through another excursion back in my birth home of Chicago before and during the holidays. Truth is, at times, I feel as if I have devolved into a 5-year-old. I’m a wilting flower here—emotionally speaking. I crave fertilizer for my soul, something which felt readily available during my 90 days on Maui. (and Darlings…

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Gift Shop Glee @ Donner Memorial State Park

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We had a glorious time at the new Donner Memorial State Park Visitors Center! Built for $9.6 million dollars, I was expecting a day spa and amuse-bouche as part of our visit, but ’twas not to be. 😦

Years ago in my pre-bipolar diagnosis/pre-child days, I worked at a nonprofit called Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (also known as Friends). Friends supported free educational programs at the Santa Cruz State Parks. Through my job as office manager, and later on as development assistant, I learned about the natural and cultural history of our local state parks. I worked with incredible staff, some of whom I profiled in articles I wrote for Friends‘ quarterly, award-winning newsletter Park Views. Ever since my Friends job I make a point of visiting state parks wherever we travel, whether it be in Tahoe or Hawaii.

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I worked next to the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, built in the early 1800’s

Thanks to growing up with a father who loved backpacking in the Sierra Nevada and who was was well-versed in California history, I was familiar with the story of the doomed Donner Party.

Today’s field trip brought us near the site of the Donner Party’s ill-fated venture. If you’re unfamiliar with this tragic, stomach-turning epoch of Sierra Nevada Mountain history, this blurb taken from Wikipedia sums it up:

Donner Memorial State Park is a state park of California, USA, preserving the site of the Donner Camp, where members of the ill-fated Donner Party were trapped by weather during the winter of 1846–1847. Caught without shelter or adequate supplies, members of the group resorted to cannibalism to survive. The Sierra Nevada site has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The state park contains the Emigrant Trail Museum and the Pioneer Monument dedicated to the travelers of the Emigrant Trail.

Donner Memorial State Park is located outside Truckee, California.

(For more info. visit here.)

Whenever I visit a state park I love to check out the visitor center gift shop. Donner’s shop was extraordinary. There were the usual cute stuffed animals like deer, bear, and Tahoe Tessie. 

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The Tahoe Tessie Family

There were historical books galore, key chains and coffee mugs. I continued wandering around the spacious store until I spotted a snack section. Feeling a bit peckish, I went to take a look.

To my delight, there was jerky, but not just any old jerky.

Donner Party Memorial Jerky!

Yes, it’s new! It’s cutting-edge! It’s gluten-free!

And Donner Party Memorial Jerky was calling my name. And each packet had a very special name.

There was Spicy Grandpa flavor, Uncle Ned (now in Teriyaki!), Tangy Clara, and Garlic Black Pepper Annie!

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The Breens didn’t make it into the jerky…

I’m pleased to tell you that 10% of Donner Party Memorial Jerky proceeds benefit the Sierra State Parks Foundation.

 

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I was hoping for a red carpet at the entrance and valet service; c’mon –

$9.6 million dollars???!!! And not even a gold-plated toilet or bidet in sight.

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Mmm, mmm good! Spicy Grandpa sure tasted delicious!

And how could I possibly leave out the “Beef Jerky Time” scene from the classic Coming to America?

This post is:

“…just a fantasy
It’s not the real thing
But sometimes a fantasy
Is all you need.”

Sometimes a Fantasy, Billy Joel

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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How to Spoil a Vacation in Two Easy Steps!

 

This clip shows Lucy’s canine calm before her storm. Once she was released from her leash, my collie ran around in circles nearing the speed of light, jumping up every few feet in wild abandon!

 

How to Spoil a Vacation in Two Easy Steps!

1/ Hang out with your children (who each recently had garden variety colds) the week before taking off for your trip. 

2/ Pick up an icky germ en route to your destination, perhaps when you stopped in that dodgy gas station restroom. The nasty germ will make you sneeze from your nether regions. Ewwwww!

(Yes, according to one of my favorite bloggers Blahpolar Blue, Interrupted I’m the Queen of T.M.I. and I concur with her.)

 

Now that I’m feeling much better, my trip isn’t spoiled anymore. (I just like to be a sensationalist drama queen in my post titles.)

I wasn’t that sick, but I was miserable. It wasn’t fun for my family to be stuck with me in our small cabin as a foot of snow poured down on Monday. They wisely kept their distance as best as they could. 

Now we’re having a mellow time. The girls are playing in the snow every few hours building snow penguins. They’ve been watching scintillating episodes of My Little Pony, Craig has been playing his guitar, and I’ve been Netflix-binging on Scandal and Game of Thrones. (I have no shame!) 

I also learned something fascinating, albeit freaky, about this area’s history. Craig, an engineering geologist, researched that Lake Tahoe was home to a seiche, or lake-bound tsunami, 40,000 years ago.

I have a deep-seated fear of tsunamis (You can read about it in Earthquakes & Tsunamis of the Soul and How to Move On.)  Craig found a physics-based computer simulation of a Lake Tahoe mega-tsunami (seiche is the correct term, but the video uses “tsunami”) that’s amazing. The simulation’s description says, “The tsunami parented from a massive landslide on the Lake’s west side”.

Guess where we are? Yep – the west side!

This clip is only a couple minutes long, and I think you’ll find it interesting too:

 

Tomorrow we visit magnificent Squaw Valley to do some last-minute holiday shopping. It’s always a hoot to go there. Great beauty attracts money, and almost everyone but us oozes big bucks.They walk around in fancy ski ensembles; many of them have dogs by their side whose ski ensembles are far nicer than mine!

We’re most likely much happier than they are, right? 😉 Money can’t buy you everything!

Squaw Valley itself is stunning. It was the site for the 1960 Winter Olympics, and apart from its history, there’s something in the air here which I love that’s ineffable.

I have fond memories of Squaw reaching back to 2005 when Avonlea was a baby. I walked around The Village at Squaw Valley with cooing Avi strapped to my chest in her baby wrap. This unforgettable time was back in my pre-bipolar diagnosis days, and I strolled around the shops and paths having no idea what lay in store for our family. 

Now I feel, in a sense, that when I return to Squaw Valley I’ve come full circle. Up here among the lake and snow-covered mountains I remind myself that bipolar disorder wasn’t able to destroy me. It wasn’t able to keep me away from enjoying this beauty.

Take that, bipolar!

For those of you who love all things Disney, Walt Disney himself designed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics. Disney also used the rock formations from Squaw as his inspiration for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Very cool!

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Me & the girls on an old chairlift at The Village at Squaw Valley, 2013

So that’s all the news that’s fit to blog. Now that I’m over my creeping crud, please stay tuned for some Tahoe adventures – if nothing happens, I promise to make something up!

Have a great Wednesday, and remember to breathe during this stressful time.

love, Dyane

 

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Snow Therapy

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My girls with their new friend – and yes, Rilla is licking him, but she lived to tell the tale!

 

I’m writing this post from the snowy shores of West Lake Tahoe. It’s a spectacular area – if you haven’t had a chance to visit Lake Tahoe, I hope that someday that you’lll have the opportunity.

Yesterday we left our Santa Cruz Mountains home and drove five hours to reach Tahoma. It usually takes us only three hours, but the stormy weather forced us to slow down. While making the journey we experienced three “seasons” in one day. I was reminded of one of my favorite Crowded House songs Four Seasons In One Day. We drove through sunshine, rain, sleet and snow.

We’re staying at a friend’s cabin who rented it to us for a song, so we’re able to afford this trip. I didn’t think we’d have internet, but I figured out how to access it, and voila! I’m stoked! 🙂 It’s very healthy to unplug, but it’s also frustrating if you’re like me and used to keeping up with your blogosphere family. I wrote about that last year when we stayed in Alpine Valley without internet access.

So….ever since I wrote my last two posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality. My vibrant friend “N” died a little over a week ago, and his son wrote something very beautiful that moved me:

“During his lifetime, my father soaked up the good will, compassion and kindness from many people like yourselves, to the point that the love in his heart could no longer fit inside of one mortal body. And now that love will have the freedom to be shared boundlessly and eternally…”

These weren’t empty words; they rang true for this remarkable man I knew for a decade, and who I trusted to take care of my little girls. After reading his son’s tribute I thought, If I could have my children write that about me when I’m gone, then I’ll be the luckiest person in the world.

Anyway, this afternoon I took a vigorous snowy walk. Lucy accompanied me and that hound was blissed out – she was so cute, with snow sprinkling her sweet furry face like powdered sugar. I walked with confidence on the snowy streets because I had Yaktrax on the soles of my boots, ensuring traction for a much safer walk.

Last year at Alpine Meadows I fell twice during my walks. I was so foolish – I could have easily hurt myself, and I must have had a guardian angel watching over me. I didn’t know about Yaktrax back then, but after seeing a guy jog by me one day, I knew he must have had something special on his shoes. I asked around and found out there are devices you can attach to your boot soles to cut down on spills. After having three friends experience fall-related head injuries over the past month, there was no way I was going walking here without Yaktrax!

While on our trek, I breathed in the amazing-smelling, icy air. I looked at all the different cabins lit up with Christmas lights as Lucy stopped every few feet to sniff at a snow bank. Being in such a different environment and getting my heart rate up was so good for my mental state. I was in a crappy mood when I started out. The rest of the family were squabbling and I had cabin fever. When I returned from my walk I felt much better. I’ll be walking every day I’m here because it’s not daunting exercise – it’s the very best kind. I wish you could join us! 🙂

If history repeats itself, as I’ve done during prior Lake Tahoe trips, I’ll be blogging a bit more than my usual 1x/week. I hope to write about any alpine adventures that come my way. I’ll let you know if I spot Tahoe Tessie, Lake Tahoe’s version of the Loch Ness Monster, or any Yetis when I go for my jaunts in the woods! (Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t worry. I’ll be extremely careful this time!) 

Take care of yourselves and have a great beginning to your week!

love,

Dyane

 

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Finding Light Amongst the Darkness


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Jonathan Van Ness, host of the hit series Gay of Thrones 

 

Last week I wrote about my friend who fell and suffered a concussion. Shortly after I published that post, he had two strokes. I just received word that he’s being taken off life support tonight, and I’m in complete shock. I’ve been close with this vibrant, loving, wonderful man for almost a decade. I’ve cared for his grandchildren and he frequently took care of my girls as well. To think of him gone is bizarre. It pisses me off. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met.

I was hoping a miracle would pull him through. I’ve witnessed a health miracle once before in my life. My Dad had a pulmonary embolism and according to his doctors, the blood clot should’ve killed him. When I went to visit my father at St. John’s Health Center, he was attached to various tubes and heavily sedated. I thought there was no way in hell he’d make it out of there alive. To my complete amazement, he pulled through that crisis and lived a couple more years.

So, ever since my friend’s fall, each day I’ve gotten out of bed fervently hoping for a similar miracle, yet filled with dread, wondering if I’d find out that he passed away.

Those of you who have read Birth of a New Brain for a while know that I ruminate on upsetting things more than most people. It has been essential to distract myself from my macabre thoughts with humor and fantasy whenever possible. It’s not so easy to do that, as simple as it sounds.

Have you ever heard of a show called Game of Thrones? 😉

Since its 2011 premiere, I was aware of the HBO series’ massive popularity. Even my favorite singer Neil Finn sings about the show in his catchy song Recluse on the Dizzy Heights album;  Finn’s reference piqued my interest more than anything else:

I make any excuse to stay home
But I can’t do that and I must come back
People that stay at home
Watching a Game of Thrones
And wondering what comes next
Well you can’t do that and you must come back

Recluse by Neil Finn

However, I never felt like taking the plunge to watch Game of Thrones until last week when I ordered the first Thrones disc via Netflix.  After ten minutes of Episode One, I was so grossed out that I screeched like an owl.  I wasn’t hooked, to say the least! I turned off my DVD player with a sigh. (Craig was hanging out with our girls in another room as Thrones ain’t exactly akin to The Wiggles!)

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However, the next day I was mysteriously compelled to watch the rest of the Thrones episode. Weird! I watched the second episode…I wanted more. Like it or not, I was under the Thrones spell. Being impatient for Netflix to bring me yet more Thrones, I thought I might find the third episode for free online, so I Google-searched. I couldn’t find anything that didn’t require payment until this winsome fellow lit up my screen, and, my life:

JONATHAN VAN NESS

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I love JVN…and his hair!

Jonathan is the host of Funny or Die’s super-hit show Gay of Thrones in which he briefly recaps Game of Thrones episodes in his inimitable way. As I watched his first recap I laughed out loud so hard that everyone in the house scurried over to my room to make sure I was okay. My laughing uproariously ’round here is extremely rare, you see. Lucy barked so much that you’d think someone was robbing the house.

Please note: If you think you might be offended by any of the following, please skip the next clip: graphic violence, foul language, marijuana references, Game of Thrones spoilers, poking fun at the gay hairdressing world (but by an authentically gay hairdresser) and many other things I’m sure I’m forgetting to include. I know I’ll lose some followers by sharing my brand of humor, but to be honest, I’ve always loved bawdy, clever comedy. My predilection for the profane is actually a large part of who I am…when it hasn’t been blasted away by bipolar depression.  I’ve kept this aspect of myself under wraps, more or less, until now.

I was hesitant to share this post, but I gotta be me!

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Jonathan’s recaps get better and more far out with each episode! He features hilarious clients/co-stars in his styling chair, some of whom actually appear on Game of Thrones. There’s even a brilliant Princess Bride-esque cameo by George R.R. Martin. Martin wrote the fantasy novels (A Song of Ice and Fire) that the Game of Thrones show is based upon.

Until the next Thrones season arrives, Jonathan is working on other projects apart from his full-time hair design. Today his new podcast Getting Curious will be launched on Maximum Fun about Sunni Shia relations.

Jonathan also collaborates with his friend and client Margaret Cho. You can listen to their podcast on Monsters of Talk hosted by Cho and Jim Short.

Jonathan’s YouTube channel show Gay of Everything premiered last week in which he discusses world events.

In a small-but-inspiring touch of synchronicity, Jonathan works at Sola  Salon Studios which is right near where my beloved Granny lived for many years.

I call that a Good Sign!

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Now that I’ve got that out of my system…(well, for now, anyway!)

Other not-quite-so-exciting news: last week I surprised myself by taking a cold-turkey break from Twitter. I didn’t think I could do it, but I did! Today is day #7, and I don’t miss it very much. I was becoming too wrapped up in Twitter-land, a la Facebook, which some of you will recall I quit because I got unfriended twice in one week.

I didn’t have anything super-negative happen on Twitter, thank God, but I read a few tweets from a postpartum organization I followed & supported & genuinely liked very much. I  was frankly shocked they tweeted them for I found those characters offensive and disappointing. I questioned the organization about it, but they patronized me. My reaction to these unethical, hypocritical tweets told me it was time to take a break.

Despite icky tweets, etc. that are inevitable when using social media, Twitter holds a special place in my heart. I would love to return there in January, but only if I can keep my Twitter use & reactions to a low roar. 😉

Plus Jonathan VanNess is on it, so that’s a big plus: @thegayofthrones

I send each of you a big hug and hopes that you have a holiday (or non-holiday) that surpasses your expectations! (In a most excellent way!)

love,

Dyane

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Two Concussions in One Day

Yesterday was weird.

Let me back up.

I live up in the Santa Cruz Mountains where the wild banana slugs roam, and every day is a little bit weird.

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But yesterday was weirder than usual.

After taking the kids to school (and only having one road rage-ish tizzy fit -a personal best!), I returned home to read the latest post by my friend Samina Raza of the award-winning Bipolar1Blog. 

Samina wrote about her first time ice skating. Her post was accompanied by a pictorial, which started out showing happy, beautiful scenes of Samina on the ice, and a video, but then it turned into something very different.  

Interestingly enough, Samina’s adventure wasn’t all gloom ‘n doom. While she took a spill and suffered a concussion, something else happened that day that was good – you need to read her post “went Ice Skating” to believe it!

I never would’ve guessed what happened to Samina in a zillion years. I want what she got, but I wouldn’t want to do what she did to get it!

(Say that 10 times fast!)

 

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A couple hours later I waited at the elementary school to pick up my girls. Craig called me to let me know that a good friend of ours had fallen that morning. He cracked some bones in his neck and was at the hospital; those were the only details Craig knew so far.

The news of my friends’ concussions gave me pause. 

Sabina mentioned that she wasn’t wearing a helmet, but promised she’d  definitely put one on the next time she goes to the rink. I’m so proud of her wanting to go skating again!

My other friend got his concussion from simply skipping a step on the staircase – we all do that sometimes, don’t we? His accident could happen to any of us.

These two incidents tie into my last post Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. For much of yesterday, I felt like a Payless Shoesource store could drop on me, but today the paranoid feeling is subsidingI’m slowing down a bit, driving extra-carefully, and de-hunching whenever I catch myself with my shoulders almost hitting my ears. Oh, and I’m trying my damndest not to hold my breath, a nasty, longtime habit of mine…

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My eight-year-old has third grade “mental math” homework in which she has to figure out the problems in her little noggin. Instead of mental math I’ve begun to do a little bit of “mental gratitude” list in my head. Yes, I’m lazy. I was always too lazy to do a gratitude list – don’t tell Oprah! But thinking about it certainly counts. 

Yesterday served as a wake-up call to appreciate what I have right now.

I can’t end this post without making a reference to one of my all-time favorite bands Crowded House. Their hit song Four Seasons in One Day contains lyrics that beautifully express how we never know what will happen, even in this age of psychic superstars and satellite weather systems.

Below is a link to a gorgeous video of Four Seasons in One Day. This was the first Crowded House video to be made in New Zealand. Auckland director Kerry Brown and film producer Bruce Sheridan wanted to emphasise the surreal, fantasy elements of the song, using distinctly NZ imagery. Locations included beaches and dense bush of the South Island’s West Coast, the plains of Central Otago and the Victorian architecture of Oamaru. Scenes of an Anzac Day ceremony and marching girls also highlight the homeland setting. Kerry Brown took inspiration from Salvador Dali paintings for the psychedelic effects added in post-production.

Check it out!

And please…stay safe, my friends. 

Love, Dyane

It doesn’t pay to make predictions
Sleeping on an unmade bed
Finding out wherever there is comfort there is pain
Only one step away
Like four seasons in one day

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/four-seasons-in-one-day-1992

 

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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Dear Friends, this is a revised post.

I decided to share it again today because I still suffer with that insidious, dreadful “shoe dropping” feeling. Thanks for reading!

 

Ever since my severe bipolar depression lifted, I’ve felt like I’ve been tumbling around in my dryer.  Maybe that’s not the best analogy to use, but it has been a long, strange, emotional trip!  

I’m not quite what to make of it from a medication perspective.  When my depression lifted in 2013, it correlated with my adding the “controversial” MAOI (monamine oxidase inhibitor) drug Parnate to the 900 mg/night of lithium I was taking.  I call my MAOI controversial because it’s an old-school drug that many psychiatrists “poo poo” because it has dietary restrictions. (Those restrictions are no big deal, because the benefit far outweighs them!) MAO’s don’t work for everyone, like all meds, but they have been studied and found to help with treatment-resistant bipolar depression, especially in combination with lithium.

In tandem with the depression I had a terrible, agitated insomnia resulting in barely any sleep for two nights. My psychiatrist suggested I take Seroquel for the insomnia.  I took 100 mg/night and I was able to sleep again. (Update: I gradually tapered down to 25 mg and then stopped taking Seroquel  few months ago.)

Once again I am walking pharmacy.  I’ve come a long way from being medication-free (which resulted in relapse, including suicidal ideation and hospitalization), and I am resigned to popping pills three times a day if it means I can function and be relatively depression-free.  

I’m not thrilled about being dependent upon meds the rest of my life, but I’m definitely resigned to it.  My psychiatrist and therapist believe I can eventually reduce the dosages of some of my meds, but I don’t want to change anything right now.

I have been holding my breath both literally and figuratively.  I’ve always been an anxious person, and once bipolar disorder entered my life, the anxiety skyrocketed.  I became addicted to benzodiazepines (that’s a section in my book; it wasn’t pretty) but I was able to successfully wean myself of the benzos.  Books like the rock climber Matt Samet’s Death Grip, which chronicled his benzodiazepine addiction, inspired me to cut those drugs out of my life for good.

I suspect I hold my breath in part so I can irrationally control something in my life and it’s a nasty, nasty habit.  I have also been holding my breath in the figurative sense because of my fear that the depression will return at any moment.  Growing up in a worrywart culture of Jews, I was taught to fear the very worst, and that tendency remains with me.  I think self-defeating thoughts such as, “Now that my damn depression is finally gone, something really bad is going to happen!”  This way of thinking is fruitless, and let’s face it – I can’t control the universe.  I don’t like that one bit!  Having a family obviously compounds my worrying, and gives me more to fret about.

My psychiatrist Dr. D. advises me to add meditation and to pray.  (Yes, pray.) I’m still not at the meditation point, but praying is easy, quick and free, so I sometimes do that.  I’ve never been a religious person, but I’d call myself spiritual and believe in a higher power which I usually refer to as God, and sometimes (gasp) with four-letter words I’ll spare you reading about here. (No offense to those of you who are deeply religious!)

All my troubles were put into perspective yesterday when I reported for jury duty selection for the first time in my life.  I was completely freaking out about the process.  My worry was so strong that at the very last minute, I asked my doctor for an excuse note. That felt wrong. Then I listened to the jury commissioner’s phone recording explaining what would happen to those citizens who did not report for duty.  

The penalty: a fine up to $1500.00 and up to five days in jail!  Hearing about those penalties sent me over the edge. Even though I had two sick kids home from school and I hadn’t showered for three days, I ran out the door in a dirty sweater and sweat pants, with no makeup and messy hair and drove to the courthouse.  (Thankfully Craig was able to watch our children and work from home.  I felt very lucky to have that support.)

To my surprise, it turned out that it was a very interesting experience, although it was sometimes tedious. I realized that the reason I was so resistant to attending the jury selection was my fear of the unknown. I was scared I wouldn’t know where to park.  I was scared I wouldn’t find the right building.  I was scared I’d be grilled by the judge and lawyers in front of everyone.  

Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, none of these logistics would have frightened me to such an extent that I felt paralyzed to act. Now that’s no longer the case, not one bit.

It turns out I figured out everything I needed to do, and I wasn’t quizzed in court; in fact, I was excused.  To my amazement, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to participate on the jury!  

Sitting in that sterile court room, I watched a young person on trial for a crime, and the intense scene triggered a deep sadness in me. I pondered how the person’s family must have felt, and how such a serious allegation would affect his life forever.  It was sobering to witness, despite the fact that the judge had a sense of humor and he humanized the proceedings.  Moreover, the room had such a serious, almost scary energy, and I was relieved that I was simply an observer, not someone on trial.  I also noticed the anxiety of some of the prospective jurors who didn’t want to be there one bit – one of them even began to cry when she told the judge she had a financial hardship.

When I left the cave-like court room and walked outside into the beautiful, sunny day, I was grateful.  I was on my way home to a loving family. They were proud of me for facing my fear of the jury process.  I’m glad that I have my freedom and that the “shoe” I’m so petrified of is still suspended in air for now.

Like everyone, I have no idea what the future will bring, but being in the moment as much as possible can only help.

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Happy Friday, my friends!

I wish you all a good weekend.

Sending you my love as always, and I’ll be back here next Friday.

love, Dyane

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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