Cool Depression/Bipolar Books, Writing Insecurity & Dog Tongues

Cool Depression/Bipolar Books, Writing Insecurity & Dog Tongues

Dear Awesome Blogging Friends,

Even if you don’t have the time, interest, or patience to watch my entire vlog, please check out Lucy’s yawn at approximately the 4:20 mark – does she have a long tongue or what?

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“Didn’t you know that long tongues are a sign of high intelligence?”

Not my best shot; yes, I’m tired today! Sigh

The two books I mention here are:

The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression  by Dr. Linda Gask $9.99 on Kindle

This is a great read so far; I’m about halfway through it. Dr. Gask has a spare, eloquent and revealing way of writing about her innermost feelings. (I give her extra credit because we know how rare it is for any psychiatrist to be forthcoming and vulnerable, either in writing or in person!) Born to a Scottish mother & English father, Dr. Gask was brought up on the east coast of England. Dr. Gask is now Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and is semi-retired. I don’t know if she likes dogs, but if she does, I bet she’d love Lucy since she’s a Scottish collie!

Finding Sanity: John Cade, lithium and the taming of bipolar disorder by Greg De Moore and Ann Westmore, $20.99 (ouch!) on Kindle

From the description: “In 1948…an Australian doctor and recently returned prisoner of war, working alone in a disused kitchen, set about an experimential treatment for one of the scourges of mankind – manic depression, or bipolar disorder. That doctor was John Cade and in that small kitchen he stirred up a miracle.”

Damn! All I’ve stirred up in my small kitchen has been store-bought soups and containers of yogurt. Too bad I can’t channel some of Cade’s genius, since my writing office is actually part of my small kitchen too!

I downloaded the Finding Sanity sample on my Kindle, but I haven’t read it yet. However, I’ve never heard of a book like this being written before – have any of you? I’m really looking forward to reading it, and I’ll let you know what I think of it down the line.

By the way, Dyane’s Informercial in the vlog features:

I ❤️ Pet Head Oatmeal Paw Butter – it soothes and relieves dry, cracked paws – they have a whole lines of dog shampoos, conditioners and um, strawberry lemonade dog perfume. Yep. More on that next week.

Finally, the Lose It! saga continues…

In tandem with my blogging amigo Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear, we’re still encouraging one other through Lose It!’s website, especially now that it’s harder for each of us to stick to our goals. (Bradley, maybe it’s the Mercury retrograde that’s going on!!??) If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

Looking forward to seeing you next Friday-ish…

love, 

Dyane

p.s. Thanks for visiting this blog and for your support – honestly, the biggest gift that bipolar has given me isn’t how it affects my personality, or my creativity, or whatever…it’s that it has connected me with YOU GUYS.

I’m serious! Xo

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Recollections of the Macabre, the Furry and the Fat

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Alpine Meadows, home to the Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, is incredibly beautiful. We’ve been coming here for years to stay at the funky “Munchkin” cabin. Miraculously, the owner only charges us a third of what she could get, and Craig makes it a working vacation so we can afford it.

We trek up here in the winter and during other years we visit during the late summer. It has been amazing for this L.A. girl to observe terrain after it has transformed into the winter and summer.

Last time we went to the Munchkin it was wintertime. The owner and her friend were there to briefly greet us. I chatted with him and learned that he was veteran of the ski industry. He recounted several colorful stories about working at the various Tahoe ski resorts.

“I was here in 1982 when the Alpine Meadows avalanche happened,” he said somberly.

Uh, what avalanche?” I replied sheepishly. He suggested I read a book called A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief. I wrote the title down on a piece of paper, intending to download a sample on my Kindle when we returned to the world of WiFi, but I lost the paper and forgot all about it.

When we got to the Munchkin last weekend, I was excited to find a copy of A Wall of White: A True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche in the basement, of all places. I began reading it and so did Craig. (We took turns stealing it from one another.) Each of us finished it within two days! A Wall of White was a national bestseller, and I could see why it was a hit– the writing was top-notch, and it was a definite pageturner.

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Although I found the story fascinating (especially the explanations of different forms of snow, and how avalanches are created) I wish I never, ever read A Wall of White. It was such a morbid, vivid, disturbing account that literally happened just a few minutes from our cabin.

One of the avalanche victims was an eleven-year-old girl – my Avonlea’s age. She died because her self-centered, #$%^& father ignored not one, but two warnings not to hike up to Alpine Meadows during a ginormous snowstorm.

Last year before I read A Wall of White, I blithely drove up to the Alpine Meadow’s ski resort’s remodeled entrance area. I wanted to publish a blog post, and since the Munchkin doesn’t have internet, I could tap into Alpine’s free Wifi. While I sat there shivering in my car, skiers stomped and swarmed all around me. I bet most of them were completely oblivious about what had taken place there 33 years ago. 

Last Monday I needed to make an online bill payment, so I drove up to Alpine Meadows with a different mindset than I had last year. I couldn’t help but ponder about how people had hiked up the same road that I drove upon. They could never have imagined that they’d soon be smothered by tons of snow. Ugh. The thought creeped me out, but it also made me feel deeply grateful for being alive.

wp-1471306240991.jpgGrateful I have my furry muse Lucy

and grateful for my precious girls!

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Yesterday we took the gondola headed to the top of Squaw Valley; I was proudly Xanax-free! We didn’t know a thunderstorm was coming our way! This is a shot I took on the way back down, just before the staff closed the gondola for the day:

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I promised last week to write about some adventures. The truth is that this has been atame week. I guess I could make something up, since I can be devious, but to quote the great Annie Lennox, “Would I lie to you, honey?”

Since I don’t have a current adventure to share, I’d like to tell you about the bear sighting I had at the Munchkin four years ago.

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I had just gotten out of the shower and walked into the dining nook. I glanced at the picture window that had a beautiful view of a steep, woodsy hill behind the cabin. Craig was upstairs, and the girls were watching television in the living room next to the nook.

As usual, I was out of it I was extremely depressed, lethargic, and medicated with meds that weren’t working except to give me zombifying side effects. Despite the fact I was in such a gorgeous setting with my family, I couldn’t appreciate anything.

When I looked out that window, I realized it was a different view than what I was accustomed to.

There was a small bear looking at me.

Oh. My. God.

“BEEEEEAAAAAAAR!!!!” I screamed without thinking. (The little book titled Bear Aware has a bunch of information on what to do and not to do when you see a bear. Unfortunately I hadn’t read Bear Aware before I had that ursine moment, so I was clueless.)

The bear looked at me. He/she probably thought something along the lines of’

”You are such a silly human! I could take you out with one of my farts!”

The girls and Craig came running into the room just in the nick of time to catch the incredible sight. With the four of us watching, the bear scampered up the hill to its mom, who was our of sight. (Craig figured out it was definitely a cub due to its size.)

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I know that some of you might think, “So you saw a bear, no big deal!” But please take my word for it when I tell you those ten minutes were a big deal. The rest of that afternoon I felt less zombie-like. Looking into that cub’s eyes permeated the stupefying effects of my meds. I can understand why bears are sacred totem animals.

The most unbelievable part of this adventure was that the cub had not only been outside of the Munchkin cabin. The bold bear had climbed up three steep flights of outdoor wooden stairs, walked through our front door (which was accidentally cracked open…all I can say about that was it wasn’t me) and went into the basement to grab a bag of garbage. The bear headed back down the stairs with its spoils in tow. This happened while we were all in the house, oblivious to our guest! The cunning cub had been silent as the dead, and was only fifteen feet away from the girls while I showered and Craig was upstairs. The bear could have easily explored the rest of the house…

Lesson learned: lock your door in bear country! 😉

 Lose It! Update 

The Lose It! quest continues with my blogging buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

The two of us have struggled lately with overeating, but we remain committed to our goals! We know it’s normal to have setbacks – it’s recovering from them that matters. Speakng of Lose It!, I’d like to share my “before and after “shots taken at The Munchkin.

This is my favorite writing spot – the balcony overlooking the back of Squaw Valley:

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2013: 170#  

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Yesterday: 125# 

It has felt so goog to be able to walk up the Munchkin’s three flights of stairs without the extra adipose tissue. Hauling the extra weight used to make me huff and puff and almost hyperventilate. Plus my knees were not happy about it either, especially my knee which had ACL reconstruction after I had a basketball injury.   

Birth of a New Brain memoir update

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Almost every morning during this trip, Lucy has woken me up at 5:00 a.m. I’ve fed her & taken her outside to do her thing. (That hasn’t been so bad since I’ve gotten a great view of the stars, something I don’t get at home since the redwoods block the sky.)

Next I made fresh blood, I mean coffee. I headed out to the deck to work on editing the final chapters and appendices/resource section. The manuscript is due October 1st, and I’m nervous as hell, but excited. I feel like I’m at the end of a ten-year-long pregnancy, and a looooong labor looms ahead. (Yes, I’ve worked on this draft since 2007 after Rilla was born.) There are no epidurals for the publishing process – what a bummer! 

I’ll keep you posted on what happens this fall – the good and the bad! (Hopefully more of the former than the later.) I’ll be back next Friday, and I wish you a great week and perhaps a (positive, fun) adventure of your own!

love,

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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Wherever You Go, There You Are…

 

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Lucy & I chillin’ at Where We Met gelateria in Tahoma, California

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The girls got pomegranate, sweet cream and pink grapefruit gelati. Yum! Where We Met makes gelato daily using a base imported from Italy. It’s hard to believe this chocoholic mom gave birth to these two creatures, for they could’ve ordered milk chocolate! It pains me to write this, but they don’t like chocolate! (I try not to hold that against them.)

 

Tahoma, a town on the shores of Lake Tahoe, California, is beautiful.

While being surrounded by such beauty won’t erase my bipolar disorder and anxiety, it’s exhilarating to spend time in a place where I’m anonymous. I live in a small mountain community where I’ve burned many a friendship due to my bipolar disorder over the past decade.

Back home I’ve been profiled in the local paper a couple times about creating a DBSA chapter and leading free women’s bipolar support groups. My picture accompanied those articles, so I was “out”with bipolar. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to be out; I thought it was important to personalize the mood disorder. However, I knew some people, mainly other moms, would steer clear of me as a result. I don’t regret what I did, but it was a bittersweet choice. 

Anyway, during our Tahoma walks with Lucy, the girls and I noticed that most of the people we’ve encountered are very friendly compared to where we live. It’s refreshing to observe my daughters experiencing this rather archaic behavior. 

I apologize for sounding like Debbie Downer, but don’t you think that waving or saying hello to strangers has become a lost art in many places? (Since my Mom reads this, I’d like to add that the girls are well aware about being careful around strangers thanks, in part, to this neurotic, Jewish-born mother!)

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When I stood up to move my purse, Lucy climbed up on my chair, plonking herself down as if she was a regular planning to order an americano. 

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I’ve been taking Lucy out for long walks every day by myself. I never know what to expect when we head out the door. After having my very own bear encounter a few years ago in Tahoe, I’m fairly bear savvy. (Mom, please…don’t worry – I’m forty-six.)

I love how walks can foster brainstorming. During yesterday’s walk I was inspired when we passed by the Golden Retriever house, my moniker for it. The homeowners had a large flag of two goldens waving above their front door, and no less than three large Golden Retriever posters displayed in their windows. What an awesome example of canine love.

When I walked past two handmade “Thanks for Driving 25” signs across the street from their home, it was obvious the Golden Retriever homeowners made them. 

I began thinking about doing exactly what they did. Why not? I’m sooooo tired of drivers racing past our home at 40-60 M.P.H. I’m already anxious, as some of you know, and these wanna-be Evel Knievels do nothing to help ease my anxety. 

We live on a steep, narrow mountain road situated ten feet past a blind curve. Whenever I leave our driveway, I pray I won’t get hit.

I know what you’re thinking: 

Why did you buy such a place, Dyane? 

Well, the short story is that it was cheap and I was dumb about realty…I mean ignorant!

We have a long wooden fence in front of our house that Craig built on our property. So, I’m going to make and post my own neon signs – maybe throw some eye-catching nude pictures on them. Any suggestions of models? (I’m kidding, Mom. Maybe.) If those signs help some folks slow down even a little bit, it’s completely worth the effort.

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I snapped this pic while exploring a mountain trail with Lucy – there have been no bear sightings yet! 😉

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Cabin Fever = when your girls turn into dogs and bark all afternoon!

Meanwhile my book deal with Post Hill Press looms ahead,causing many white nights. Luckily I’ve spent some afternoons in the cabin editing the MS. My husband, the published and acclaimed author Craig, has been helping me out by taking the girls to groovy state parks like Vikingsholm because I can’t write unless I’m alone with Lucy.

How I wish I could write anywhere just like Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite authors, was able to do. She wrote on trains, hotel lobbies, backstage when she acted on Broadway, you-name-it, but I simply can’t do it.

If you can write virtually anywhere without ear buds, consider yourself highly gifted!

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I’ll be up here a few more days, and I’ll share any adventure that comes my way in next week’s post.

In the meantime, I wish you a great week, as always!

Love,

Dyane

p.s. The Lose It! quest continues with my blog buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. Pairing up with him helped me not just attain my weight loss goal but with maintenance. I’ve lost almost 40 pounds, almost the equivalent of a Lucy, and my knee pain has improved. Thank you Bradley!

If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the Wondrous Writers group. We’d love to have you join us.

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Facing Social Anxiety Again & A Publishing Talk

 

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I promised my friend, the blogger Kitt O’Malley, that I’d write about a publishing talk I attended. Kitt, as you bravely navigate the BlogHer#16 conference today, this one’s for you!

I was fired up for the talk until my anxiety reared its hideous, soul-sucking head on the morning of the special event.

 

  I thought about bailing…

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My name is Anxiety and I love to freak you out!

 

The talk was only a ten minute drive from my house. I made sure to bring my Rescue Remedy Plus lozenges which help alleviate my anxiety in a subtle way. They’re much healthier than benzodiazepines, they are sugar-free and non-addictive. The lozenges aren’t cheap ($8 for 10) but they are worth every penny and I love the taste. 

I figured I could maintain a low profile at the event and my social anxiety could take a back seat. I’d soon learn I was wrong about that assumption.

Although I have a book deal with Post Hill Press and I know some basic publishing tenets, I was curious to find out if I’d learn something new. 

I was anxious from the moment I showed up; even so, it felt good to sit in a room with other writers. I was proud of myself for getting out in the world again. 

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I learned a few new facts and concepts that I found fascinating, such as the importance of gearing up for public speaking at book signing events. The presenter explained to us how much public speaking can make a significant difference in an author’s career.

I know how vital it is to have dynamic public speaking skills at book signings because of my husband Craig. He has given over 50 talks about his book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West (University of Oklahoma Press).

Craig loves giving these talks, he’s a gifted speaker, he created an engaging PowerPoint presentation, and get this: he’s unafraid of audience members who like to argue with him about his book’s premise – even the obnoxious ones! The icing on the cake is that he has sold a lot of books at his talks.

Shameless Plug

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These days I feel faint at the thought of getting up in front of a crowd, but since my book isn’t out until fall 2017, I’m shoving my fears aside for now.

The talk was scheduled to last an hour, but (unsurprisingly) it went overtime. I wanted to bail after sixty minutes because I was growing more anxious, so I missed the Q&A. In the past I would’ve stuck it out and suffered; this time I gave myself permission to leave because when it comes to my anxiety and public gatherings, I’ve decided to take baby steps .

On my way out the door, two encounters challenged me within five minutes – one bad and one good. 

The Adorable Collie 

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As I rushed out the library entrance, I saw a gorgeous collie sitting ten feet away. The dog’s leash was tied to a post. I had to stop and gaze at the magnificent, mellow creature – this dog reminded me of my Scotch collie Lucy. I stayed for a few minutes and grew more and more livid that this collie’s DUMB owner left this beautiful dog by itself.

I was particularly sensitive because a month ago a dog was stolen in a nearby park with the owner only a few yards away from him! I still see flyers about his disappearance everywhere.

Anyone could have stolen this collie. I wanted to speak with the owner in a non-hostile way, explaining how this dog could be stolen in 10 seconds, or at least leave a note for the owner, but I’m ashamed to tell you I wanted to get going. I still regret leaving the collie without attaching a note to its fancy leash.

 

Meeting a Nice Writer with Bipolar

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As I admired the lonesome collie, a man walked by us who I recognized from the seminar. He stopped and began chatting with me.

This is where my social anxiety kicked in big-time. As you know, I was anxious from the get-go, I was upset about the collie’s situation, and I wanted to be invisible.

I told him that I needed to jet back home and he acknowledged that politely. Then, in typical Dyane fashion, I blurted that I was aghast that someone would leave the collie there. He agreed. I began walking to my car and he joined me. I was comfortable with our brief “hi, bye” sort of talk.

As we crossed the parking lot, the writer asked me about my writing. All the while I wanted to get the hell out of there. I babbled my book’s premise (“Uh, it’s a memoir about one of the least-known forms of bipolar, postpartum bipolar…”) and he said he had bipolar as well. Well, that wasn’t something I heard every day in the library parking lot!

He’s working on a book about bipolar that sounds inspiring, so I gave him my hideous business card (I’ll include a photo of it in an upcoming post) and we’re going to keep in touch.

My friends, I felt SO dumb and anxious after this harmless interaction! I think that if I met that writer under different circumstances (i.e. when I wasn’t hopped up from being in an overcrowded room of writers, and when I wasn’t upset about an abandoned collie) my anxiety would’ve been lower.

Lose It! Update

My friend Bradley, author of the excellent blog Insights of A Bipolar Bear, is my Lose It! buddy.  We encourage one other through the Lose It! website. Pairing up with him has helped me immensely, both in attaining my weight loss goal and with maintenance.

If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section, or you can sign up for free at www.loseit.com and search for the “Wondrous Writers” group. We’d love to have more of you join us.


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Next week I’ll be writing from the spectacularly beautiful Alpine Valley. Hopefully I won’t have any close encounters with bears like I’ve had in the past.

There’s nothing like looking in the eyes of a young bear to make one’s anxiety skyrocket!

I prefer to lock big brown eyes with Lucy…

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take care & lots of love,

Dyane

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.