Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!

Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!

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My hound Lucy looks twice as focused as this dog when she spots a fly!

 

 

I’ve written before about my writing envy

And while I’d love to rhapsodize how much brilliant writing inspires me to better my craftor exclaim how thrilled I was when my friend’s debut novel hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I won’t. 

I’ve been reading such incredible books and blogs lately. When I looked at my Seroquel belly this morning, it was a rippling, verdant hue. 🙂 

During the years I was mired in bipolar depression, I couldn’t care less about others’ writing because I no longer felt human. I abandoned the freelance writing relationships I had nurtured, but what hurt the most was that my writing identity vanished.

When I had the great fortune to find a psychiatrist who suggested an “out-of-thebox” medication, my depression lifted. In late 2013 I resumed writing and began blogging. And I remembered someone I used to be friends with in junior high named Aimee Bender.  

We weren’t very close, but we shared a mutual love for books. On a whim, I sent a photograph of us to my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle. A couple months later, L’Engle mailed me a postcard with a picture of the Milky Way. (A fitting image to represent the author of A Wrinkle In Time.) L’Engle wrote few lines thanking me, and added, “I always enjoy seeing what my readers look like.” I treasure her postcard and keep it near my laptop.

Toward the end of junior high, Aimee and I lost touch. Thank God no drama was involved in our parting – we simply went our separate ways and I wished her well. 

In 2011 Aimee’s book The Girl in the Flammable Skirt was published, and it received rave reviews along with the Los Angeles Times best seller status. I bought it and while I found the book unique, it didn’t wasn’t my taste. I was envious of Aimee’s success, but it was a fleeting feeling. 

Recently I checked the internet to find out about Aimee’s most recent book. Her writing career is nothing short of amazing: a prolific output of books, heaps of awards, a book made into a film, a cult following, fancy teaching positions, healthy twins at age 43, a relatively good-sounding marriage, etc. The one thing she didn’t seem to have was a severe mental illness.  That’s the day I knew it was time to stop following her accomplishments! 

My literary envy is often triggered when I can’t put down a compelling book that’s so beautifully written it makes me wish I had written it. I finished such a memoir last night. As with any intense, engaging book I immerse myself in, I was sad to reach the last page. 

To Have Not is about the author’s life growing up poor in San Francisco. It was written by my upcoming Catamaran Writing Conference instructor Frances Lefkowtiz. To Have Not is an unforgettable, lyrically written memoir.

You could say that I’m a wee bit envious of the gifted Lefkowtiz. 

Gulp.

Despite the intimidation I’ll feel in the presence of this accomplished writer, I’d rather have a fantastic nonfiction instructor than a mediocre one.  More than anything, I’m incredibly grateful that I won the fellowship award to attend her class.

What helps me grapple with my nasty emerald bits is reading insightful posts by those who expose their writing jealousy. Today I found a refreshingly honest post about this very topic! Acclaimed author Robin Black reveals the not-so-nice parts of herself after her writer friends hit the literary lotto. Interestingly, Black discusses how bestselling authors possess cases of the envies just like the neophytes do. She includes original advice on how to handle waves of envy, and trust me, her post is definitely worth the read.

Happily, I didn’t get consumed with jealousy over Robin Black’s talent. Well, I wouldn’t mind having one or two of the achievements listed on her bio; they’re nothing major, really…I mean, being published in small rags like the New York Times Magazine and receiving several major grants is not that big a deal.  

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/green-eyed-writer-literary-envy

On a separate note, you might be wondering about my collie Lucy’s blossoming writing career. Well, being a goofball, I thought I’d touch upon another phenomenon that freaks me out: the fact that almost everyone I encounter is writing a book, even my beloved beast.

With her two furry paws bursting with creativity, Miss Lucy has already amassed 80,000 words about her life. 

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With the enormous amount of books being published annually, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of adding my book to the mix. Will Birth of a New Brain truly help anyone or is it primarily a quest to massage my ego? 

Although I believe these are totally normal thoughts, I must kick them to the curb.

I can reflect upon this gem of a mood booster: 

If books such as Reusing Old Graves, Why Cats Paint, Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (Arch Books – Quality Religious Books for Children), Make Your Own Sex Toys, The Bitch Who Forgot Birthdays, and the page turner Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns can be published, then my book has a place in our world!

I remind myself that my book will be a worthwhile read. I’m writing for a niche market, with absolutely no aspirations of having it become a bestseller. Madeleine L’Engle said, “You must write the book that wants to be written…” and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

So what if there are trillions of books out in the world?

It’s okay.

So what if  countless writers possess such off-the-hook talent that I feel odious by comparison?

It’s okay.

It’s not easy being green, but at least I’m not alone…

* Lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate (an MAOI, which stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor)

 

 

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 Fall, 2016. 

My Favorite Birthday Gift: A Book Deal with Post Hill Press!

Post Hill

Dear Friends,

This post won’t focus upon errant hamsters, dancing cows, or much darker thoughts. I have great news to share, and I hope you’ll understand why I want to sing it from the mountaintops! 

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After a nine-year-long labor, in Fall, 2016 (as long as an asteroid doesn’t fall on me), I’ll finally be giving birth to…drum roll please!

 

          Birth of a New Brain – Healing with Postpartum Bipolar Disorder                           

Last month on my 45th birthday, I woke up groggy as usual and made a beeline for the coffee machine. I trudged over to my laptop and opened up my email.  While sipping my beloved Steve’s Smooth French brew, I spotted a message from Post Hill Press and braced myself for another patronizing rejection.  As I scanned the lines, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  They read my proposal and were interested in speaking with me! Yes, it was the same proposal that was rejected by a mean publisher which I whined about here:

https://proudlybipolar.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/lets-play-the-schadenfreude-game-a-writers-1st-rejection/)

Over the past month I received a contract, successfully negotiated a few amendments, signed and mailed the blessed document back to them. Now my goal is to produce a manuscript I’m proud of, and that’ll sell more than three copies.  (To people I don’t know!) 😉

The brilliant Dr. Walker Karraa has agreed to write the foreword. She’s the author of the highly acclaimed book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma, Healing and Growth (a #1 bestseller in the Amazon postpartum category) and founder of the wildly popular site Stigmama. http://stigmama.com./

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Now, many of the bloggers I read are absolutely amazing writers. (I bet you’re one of them!) There are numerous blogs containing writing that’s far superior to mine. So why did this deal happen if my writing isn’t National Book Critics Circle Award-worthy?  I’m stealing an answer from the talented author Kim Hooper. Hooper recently acquired a book deal with St. Martin’s Press for her book People Who Knew Me, and in her blog http://www.kimhooperwrites.com/she states,

“I still believe that getting a book deal is based less on talent than on luck and persistence.  I mean yes, you have to be a good writer.  But you have to keep trying, again and again and again.  And again.”

Kim’s right.

For years I’ve searched high and low for a book depicting PPBD, and to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing out there.  Like every author who’s passionate about her book, I believe my topics are worthwhile, interesting, and unique. That belief keeps me going when I wonder why the hell anyone would read my book.

Life hasn’t been all wine and roses since I got my happy news.  I’ve woken up many mornings at the grisly hour of 4:00 a.m. in a panic, wondering if I can pull any of this off.  I’ve been heartened by the encouragement of bloggers including Kitt O’Malley http://kittomalley.com/ Blahpolar Diaries https://bipolardyke.wordpress.com/ , Genevieve Desrochers/ Birth of a Bipolar Mother http://www.post-partum-bipolaire.me/, Anonymous, https://hidinginthespotlight.wordpress.com/, L.E. Henderson http://passionatereason.com/ and Laura Droege https://lauradroege.wordpress.com/.

All of your comments have bolstered my spirits when I’ve felt like giving up! Thank you!!! 

I’m also extraordinarily lucky to have a writing mentor in Wendy K. Williamson. https://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/ and 

http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/

I discovered Wendy years ago through one of my first Kindle purchases. I bought her bestselling memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar, never imagining that we’d correspond and become friends.

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Author Greg Archer (Grace Revealed) has also served as a magnificent mentor. The day Greg surprised me with a profile in the Huffington Post in which he praised my writing nearly made me keel over.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-archer/agents-of-change-5-inspir_b_5992870.html

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My husband Craig went through the publishing process for his award-winning book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West.  When it came to negotiating my contract, he helped me fully understand every item in the document.

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There’s a little more to my publishing journey that makes this “birthday gift” significant.

In 2013, I landed a book deal with another publisher. When I got my contract it was absolutely thrilling, of course! Unfortunately, a few days later I relapsed with bipolar depression. I was hospitalized three times within six weeks. When I was released from the unit the third time, I remained terribly depressed. I continued with the bilateral electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy I had requested as an inpatient.  ECT helped me out of suicidal ideation, but back then I couldn’t write a few sentences to save my life.  I had to back out of my contract.

I didn’t think I’d get a second chance at remotely feeling like writing a book, but maybe my Dad had a hand in this one. Finding a great psychiatrist and an effective combination of medication were essential.

 

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Richard Leshin, May 22, 1927 – January 6, 2009   How he loved reading!  

And Mom, you inspired me to read. Thank you for buying me wonderful books as soon as I could hold one up, and for always believing I was a writer. Xo

 

I’m excited to work with Post Hill Press, an independent, progressive publisher. www.posthillpress.com  The team I’m working with has experience at several “Big Six” publishers, and their list features 20 New York Times non-fiction and fiction bestsellers. Post Hill Press publishes books that I purchased long before I even wrote my proposal. (I took that as a good omen!)  

Thanks for reading, thanks for inspiring me through your blogs, and thanks for your “likes” and comments, all of which have motivated me to keep submitting my book proposal again and again and again.

(and again!)

 Dyane

 

Please “like” the Post Hill Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/PostHillPress

Follow Post Hill Press on Twitter:

@PostHillPress

Writing with Distractions Without Screaming Like a Banshee

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Name that banshee!

It’s pretty quiet in these parts, and I’m overjoyed to tell you there are no rodent adventures to report.  I haven’t spotted any errant hamsters in the middle of the night, nor have rats taken up residence in my new Schwinn elliptical…yet.  

The past week has been Spring Break for my daughters, which means I lost the luxury of quiet chunks of writing time. So I did my best to pretend that I was one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle. (Ha!  I wish I had .01% of her talent, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Dy & Madeleine #1

Yep, here we are in 1997 – Madeleine L’Engle, me and my double chins!

 

No, what I mean by pretending to be Madeleine L’Engle is that during her many interviews she remarked that she could write almost anywhere, with any distractions.  As a child L’Engle was sent to boarding school in Switzerland where she barely had any privacy, even in the bathroom (!). She learned to ignore distractions while writing in her journals, and she further strengthened her concentration skills as a Broadway actress. L’Engle wrote prolifically backstage, on trains, in hotel lobbies…you name it!  

To write, I need quiet or mellow background music. I recently started listening to classical guitar and like it very much. I also tune into the Snatam Kaur channel on Pandora, but that’s risky as that style of music has the potential to put me to sleep. 

I’m also lucky that Lucy the Writing Muse often sits next to me and places her warm, furry flank on my right foot – it’s the sweetest thing. However, sometimes Lucy is viciously flatulent, but that’s the only downside to her company. 

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We live in a very small house so when my girls are here, I can barely think straight.  They are lively.  Yes, I have some old, crappy headphones. I don’t like wearing them when the kids are around when an argument breaks out or God forbid someone gets hurt.

Right this moment I’m trying my best to drown out “The Littlest Pet Shop” television show that’s blaring ten feet away.  The uber-peppy, high-pitched theme song will surely haunt me the rest of the day.

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I’ve managed to write more of my book “Birth of a Brain” each day despite the distractions.  It’s trippy and difficult work, as I’m chronicling a few of my hospitalizations and that includes some suicide-related material.  I’m not going into a ton of gory details – there are plenty of books that have done that already.  Those books definitely have their place, and I commend any author who re-visits her darkest experiences and writes about it.   I just am not drawn to writing that kind of book.

The advantage to sifting through my thick folders of hospital records, doctor reports, medication notes, etc. is that I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to have “made it”.  I don’t mean to sound smug – I can’t say with absolute certainty that I won’t ever relapse again and darken a unit door. Despite my working my ass off at clean livin’, the fact remains there’s no cure yet. I can work as hard as I can, but fate and my brain might have other plans in store for me.

After hours of reflection during this Spring Break, I still can’t believe that I was never taken outdoors by hospital staff even for a few minutes – yes, that was my experience.  After my last hospitalization, a year or two later I called the unit to ask them why I was kept inside all the time. The woman answered, “You had to get a doctor’s note to go outside.” I was never informed of that policy as an inpatient. I don’t know – it was just fucked up.  Don’t get me started about what the coffee situation was like.

So yeah, I have anxieties, aches and pains, I have “bipolar wrinkles” and white hair. I have belly fat that bugs me despite my working out every day.  But in the writing of my book and in sharing this post with you, I feel a lot better.  Writing can serve as an attitude adjustment, because I’ve been reminded that holy shit, my situation could be a LOT worse!  

On a related note (bear with me – please) aside from Madeleine L’Engle, one of my other favorite bestselling authors is SARK.  The San Francisco-based author and artist has over 2 million books in print, and she has a free “Inspiration Line”.  

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SARK has run this line for over 15 years and I’ve been calling it since it began.  (1-415-546-EPIC)  She changes the message every few months when she feels inspired.  SARK talks for a few minutes and then you can hang up or leave her a message.  Lately she has been VERY inspired as she’s getting married for the first time in her life and she turned 60 last year.  Never say never.

SARK has often closed her inspiration messages with the line “My gift to you is….” She’d come up with all kinds of creative, fanciful “gifts” of ways her callers could appreciate beautiful moments in life in a non-throw-uppy way.  (Yes, that’s a word.)

I explain all that because I want to give you a gift, too.  I can’t come up with anything truly SARK-like, as much as I wish I could. Moreover, I don’t have money I can throw your way, but I want to give you the gift of appreciating something today that you might be taking for granted.   

It doesn’t have to be deep – it can be the kind of soda you’re drinking.  It can be the warm socks you’re wearing.  The purring of your cat.  The CD you’re listening to, or the fact that your internet is working.  

It can be deep too. 

What am I appreciating today? The sunny weather. I love it.  When I suffered with bipolar depression for years at a time, I obsessed about the phrase “The tyranny of a beautiful day”.  I felt like such a failure for hating the gorgeous, sunny days because all I wanted to do was to hide in the darkness beneath my blankets – I wanted to fall asleep forever so I could escape the pain.

Now I want to get dressed and go out into that sunshine.  Today.

I don’t take today for granted, and I never will again.

Love to you all,

Dyane

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bloody, Sweet & Bookish Friday the 13th

Tsunami w:Girls

The sign says: “SEAWALL CLOSED – SEAWALL TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO TSUNAMI DAMAGE – REPAIRS TO FOLLOW SOON”

If I can face my tsunami phobia, I can face this summer!!!

 

It has been summer break for less than forty-eight hours, and nothing too terrible has happened yet, thank God. We got through Friday the 13th/the full moon in one piece.  Although Lucy the puppy, in her playful way, bit Rilla on the lip with her razor-sharp teeth.  Although it was a tiny wound, Rilla bled profusely and the poor girl screamed like a banshee; the decibel range she hit was extreme.  I was folding laundry in another room. When I heard screams and tracked down Rilla, all I saw was bright red blood – it was on her clothes, hands, floor and of course her face.   I was amazed at the amount of blood I saw given the minute size of her scratch. That’s how my Friday the 13th began: with plenty ‘o blood, which was fitting, I suppose!

After the excitement of Rilla’s scratch, it was just one of those “blah” days where nothing much happened.  We went to buy ballet tights, got stuck in construction traffic, and the trip to the store took twice as long as usual. When finally arrived at the store, the staff measured Avonlea’s height so we could select the appropriate tights. At the register I was informed the store, which I had shopped at for over twenty years, no longer accepted checks.  I considered their policy to be rather ridiculous, but instead of throwing a hissy fit as I was tempted to do, I sighed and put the item back. ( In case you’re wondering, I didn’t have enough money in my other bank account to use my debit card for the tights.)

I felt nervous during our excursion because we left twelve-week-old Lucy “Vampire” Puppy alone at home.  I made sure she had plenty of water, food, and Pandora classical music playing softly in the background. I checked that the room was totally secure.  When we came back home, she was fine, but I wish she could have joined us during our errand.

We hung out around the house the rest of the day.  I forbade the girls to turn on the TV because we’ve all been watching it way too much.  We played “School”, in which Avonlea was our teacher and instructed us in my least-favorite subject: math.  Then I took a Facebook surfing break while they played “Chutes & Ladders” and chess.  

Afterwards we walked Lucy on what I refer to as our “death street”.  What could be a relaxing, enjoyable stroll with little Lucy is a scary risk when it comes to walking her on our road.   We live in one of the absolute worst neighborhoods for dog walking.  I was a desperate dumbshit during our search to buy this home.  (A ripe topic for another post, I promise you.)  Perhaps if I ‘d walk Lucy when I’m partially naked, that might get our unneighborly speeding drivers to slow the hell down for ten seconds when they pass us.  On second thought, that idea could backfire – they might speed up instead, because seeing me without clothes would frighten them! 😉

As the evening came to a close, I completed a book that I’ve wanted to finish for some time:  L.E. Henderson’s A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom: One Author’s Journey Through Writer’s Block and Beyond.  I discovered Trail of Crumbs while searching my Kindle for bipolar-themed books.  I hit a goldmine when I found this book because I had also been searching for books about writing.  In the sample I downloaded, Henderson reveals that she has bipolar disorder and in the book she explains its influence upon her writing career.  In Trail of Crumbs, her third book, she vividly describes her experience with bipolar disorder interwoven with tried and true writing advice.  Apart from buying her book, I located Henderson’s blog and Twitter account, signed up to follow both, and we’ve been in touch ever since.  Henderson has been a wonderful source of encouragement and has inspired my writing process.

Henderson is a fantastic, imaginative fantasy novelist as well.  She is creative and original when sharing a variety of techniques to spark one’s writing.  Out of curiosity I read two Amazon reviews for Trail of Crumbs. One review made me feel wistful, for it was the review I wish I wrote for this book!  Here it is, in part, by “Carrie” of Ohio:

 5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for any writer March 27, 2014 by Carrie
 Although at first glance this book is a discussion of how the author rediscovered her writing after suffering crippling bouts of mania and depression, its pages go far beyond that. The advice is sound for any writer who has at some point struggled to maintain momentum. From presenting techniques such as ‘clustering’ to recommending the use of You Tube videos as visual research for unfamiliar experiences (such as hot-air balloon rides), fiction writers will find a wealth of information in this book. The author is obviously a gifted writer, and her strong analogies helped clarify more abstract concepts. If her non-fiction is this good, I can only imagine how good her fiction is! I easily read this book in one sitting and certainly recommend it to other writers, no matter where they are in their creative journey.
Unlike Carrie, who read the book in one sitting, I’ve been meaning to complete Henderson’s book for several months.  There are reasons for this that have nothing to do with the excellence of Trail of Crumbs.
Over the past year, I’ve been having difficulties with focusing while reading my beloved books.  For me, it takes way more energy and focus to read a book compared to reading the assorted blog posts in my WordPress Reader.  During my reading time, which is mainly in the evening just after the girls have gone to bed, I’m totally exhausted from the day and from my three meds, all of which have potentially sedating properties.  I think I can change this pattern by taking better care of myself, mainly by not eating so much sugar and caffeine, which I know has been blowing out my adrenals.  I exercise almost daily, and that helps me, but unfortunately it can’t compensate for a lousy diet.
Also, this may sound strange, but I think that I’ve been self-sabotaging in terms of finishing this specific book. The reason?  Well, I knew that Henderson’s book contains lots of juicy writing advice that could very well help me complete my own book which I’ve put on the back burner for weeks now.  I’ve begun examining this issue with my therapist as of last week. During our sessions we’ve discussed many experiences that I want to include in my book.  Because she has worked with me for years, my therapist can fill in certain significant blanks in my recollections; plus she provides invaluable perspective.  She suggested that from now on I tape record our sessions and see if that helps me with my writing.  I’m curious to see how that goes and I feel it’s definitely worth a try.
I’d love to read about your experiences with writer’s block/writer’s anxiety & (if it applies to you) how bipolar disorder has  affected  your writing- I think almost all writers face these challenges at one point or another.
.   

 

 

Making Sense of It

If you shed a tear when the nightmare breaks
Just remember dreams go in opposites
You’re holding on
Yes, you’re holding on to make sense of it
You realize you’re not the only one
Who’s trying to make some sense of it”

Split Enz, “Make Sense of It”, Time and Tide

Yesterday I wrote about stigma towards mental illness in regard to my relationship with my Mom.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t have as much fun writing about that painful topic as I did when I blogged about adorable Boo the Pomeranian and Gywneth Paltrow’s $300 pillows.  But the topic of parental stigma has festered in my brain for some time, and after I finished writing the stigma piece, I found that writing about it helped me feel better.

Two nights ago I had a phone conversation with my Mom.  We discussed the postpartum bipolar book that I’m writing.  At first she said I was “obsessed” about my topic.  Her choice of words really hurt me, but in retrospect I think she was oblivious that her saying “obsessed” would upset me so much.  Mom has such a deep-seated stigma towards mental illness that it can’t help but affect her perspective, and I’m at the very beginning of coming to terms with that.  It’s highly unlikely that she’ll magically change her views – she’s almost eighty-years-old, and while I hate sounding like a pessimist, I just don’t see it happening.  So the change needs to be on my end.

Stigma aside, sometimes I feel like scrapping my book project.  There are days when I feel like I’m too immersed in the bipolar world, but I can’t help feeling obsessed so interested in it!   Despite having a father with bipolar and then being diagnosed with it myself, I still haven’t completely made sense of bipolar disorder in my life.  Writing about it helps me to crystalize my feelings, and in doing so I feel empowered instead of apathetic.

I want to reach other mothers who have lived through my kind of experience.  At first I wasn’t sure if there were any other moms who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder soon after childbirth. But I’ve been coming across these brave women here and there.  Some of them have graciously agreed to be profiled in my book.  When it comes down to the nitty gritty, I’m writing the book I would have wanted to read after I was diagnosed, and I’ve been told by some mothers that there is a need for it.  That’s all the validation I need!

A chunk of my book focuses upon my decision to try living without bipolar medication.  The section chronicles my carefully researched and planned year-long tapering process off bipolar medications, and what happened to me as a result of that decision. (A hint: it was a disaster.)  If my cautionary tale helps even one mother avoid suicide, then I have no problem being “obsessed” with bipolar!  (I don’t wish to sound histrionic, but I almost lost my life to suicide as a result of being med-free and using natural supplements/modalities.)

These days, as a research tool, I check Amazon.com regularly for new releases specifically about bipolar.  There are at least one or two new books published every week.  Some of these books will be great to use as references for my book,  i.e. Perinatal Psychiatry by Carmine Pariente et al, Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose, and  Preventing Bipolar Relapse by Dr. Ruth C. White. While other books won’t necessarily help me, they have brought a smile to my face, such as the racy cover of Deborah Kaminski’s Bipolar and Me.  I never know what new listings I’ll discover in the bipolar literary genre.

Bipolar

 Gotta love it

 

Sometimes our re-commitment to a project emerges from unforeseen sources.

I’ve been in need of a little fire underneath my kettle about completing my book.  Lo and behold, I got fired up yesterday when a new bipolar-themed book appeared on my Kindle titled Med Free Bipolar: Thrive Naturally using the Med Free Method by Aspen Morrow.  Out of curiosity, I bought Med Free Bipolar, which is free and published by the independent publisher Pottenger Press.  So far I’ve read the book’s description, the first chapter, and the Recommended Products section, in which I tried one of the suggested products, Q96, that didn’t work for me.

The Amazon description page reads,

The primary goal of Med Free Bipolar is to show that treating bipolar effectively through natural means is not only possible, but highly likely.”

I don’t know how someone in good conscience could promise such a thing, especially in writing.

In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the the book, Morrow writes, “If you are not sure if the Med Free Method bipolar edition is right for you, take the quiz…” and a link to Morrow’s blog is provided.  The quiz is detailed in an attempt to screen out people who should not try the Med Free method, yet Ms. Morrow still implies that most people with bipolar can live “med free”, which I find to be contradictory and unethical.

This is obviously a sore subject for me.  I’m not stating that all people with bipolar disorder must depend upon bipolar medication in order to live stable, healthy, fulfilling lives.  According to my research over the past two years, a small percentage of people with bipolar can live well without medication.  I’m just not one of them!

Unless I consulted a medical school graduate/bipolar disorder expert who had supervised many patients who proved they could live well without meds long-term, I would never trust following anyone’s “method”, no matter what they write is possible.

No way, no how.

Queston Dr

The blessing in disguise is by my reading a bit of Med Free Bipolar , my resolve has been strengthened to finish writing Birth of a New Brain.  Nothing will stop me from sharing my postpartum bipolar experience, as well as including other mothers’ experiences, with the world where our stories belong.

I don’t work for Big Pharma – I’ll state that for the record.  I didn’t want to have to take meds and of course I’d rather not now.  But my meds have saved me .  Anyone who reads my book who’s on the fence about living without bipolar meds will have second and third thoughts, which is one of my goals in writing the book.  I’ll also be able to sleep well at night knowing that I’m not giving people false hope and/or putting them in danger.

I know that Ms. Morrow has the best of intentions in helping others, and I’m sure she has played a part in some powerful success stories that will be discussed in her book.  But I stand by what I wrote here.  My goal is to be as authentic, ethical and inspiring in my writing as I possibly can.  If my book can help moms make more sense of how to live well with postpartum bipolar disorder, and how to do that safely, then one of my biggest dreams will come true.

Mara hair

 

Blogging Boo Boos

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Over the past four months as a neophyte blogger, I’ve made a few mistakes, both big and small.  I am sure you’re familiar with the term “drunk dialing”.  Today I created a term similar to drunk dialing, but sans the alcohol:

“botched blogging”

The big mistake I made almost cost me a dear friendship.  I botch-blogged about a longtime friend who I felt had done me wrong.  I made the “no-brainer” mistake of writing and publishing when I was angry, which was exactly when I should have stayed far away from my laptop.  While my friend didn’t read my blog, she and I were connected through Facebook.  I spaced out on the fact that when I published a blog post, it was posted on Facebook as well.  She spotted the post title, read my damning words, and immediately called me to ask why I hadn’t simply spoken with her instead of blogging about her.  I am a lot of things, but I’m usually never this dumb.

images-1As I reflected upon what happened, I think I may have subliminally wanted her to read that post so that we could work things out. (You won’t find this post in my archives, by the way; it’s long gone!) Thank God she forgave me and we moved on, and our friendship is actually stronger than before.  I learned a very obvious lesson once and for all: to think twice, no, thrice, before posting anything that could hurt someone else.

What I considered to be smaller mistake wasn’t actually a mistake.  I simply found that the consequences of my publishing a post made me feel uncomfortable.  What happened was this: I wrote a “mini book review”.  (This review was non-defamatory; it’s still in my blog archives in case you want to read it! )

I feel that I was honest in my assessment, and the majority of the review was positive.  If anyone read the review and had an interest in bipolar memoirs, I think she would want to read the book.  However, I included a few criticisms as well.  I didn’t use foul language (hurrah!) and I tried my best to be fair.

Months after I wrote the review, I posted on the author’s Facebook page.  I wrote that I complimented her book title in my weekly International Bipolar Foundation blog.  (To read the entire IBPF post, visit  http://www.ibpf.org/blog/i-am-bipolar-i-am-blessed-it-and-get-it-over-itis )

My IBPF comment was, “While Kindle-surfing I discovered a book titled More Than Bipolar – A Memoir of Acceptance and Hope by Lizabeth D. Schuch and I love that title!  She has the right idea.”

Silly me, I actually forgot that I had written a detailed book review of More Than Bipolar.

If I had remembered, I wouldn’t have caught the author’s attention on her Facebook page. Since my review contained criticism, I was honestly worried I’d make an enemy.

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After reading my Facebook comment on her page, the author located my personal blog and read my complete review of her book.  She responded with a detailed comment and fortunately she was incredibly gracious regarding my criticism.  I felt grateful that she didn’t lash out at me.  (Moreover, I was impressed.  I could learn a thing or two from her!)  Now that I’m forty-four, I thought my skin would be thicker, but it’s not.  I felt bad for criticizing another writer’s work, especially a writer who has bipolar disorder.  (When I re-read that last line, it sounds rather codependent, but it’s the truth.)

I guess I should stick to writing teeny, positive book reviews comprised of two sentences each (i.e. most of BP Magazine’s book reviews really are two long sentences each, and the ones I’ve seen aren’t exactly critical!)

I admit that I love reading strikingly honest articles full of juicy details that sometimes commit the “sin” of too much information.  There are topics I would LOVE to blog about here, but if I did, I’d lose a friend or family member’s love, and no blog is worth that risk.

I can now truly understand the appeal of blogging anonymously.  In writing anonymously, a writer could have so much freedom in revealing the messy aspects of her life.  Furthermore she’d receive feedback and support from readers that is so dear to most bloggers. There is something alluring about blogging for an audience of people you mostly don’t know and who you most likely never meet.  I’ll wind up by stating that I love writing this blog, and I am so grateful to you for reading it.  I wish you all a wonderful day and that you won’t make the same egregious blogging mistakes that I made!

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