Marie Abanga’s Goodreads Review of “Birth of a New Brain”

My wonderful friend of over thirty years, Mike Freeman, created this beautiful image for my Facebook book page. Thank you, Mike!


Birth of a New Brain Goodreads Review by lawyer/author/coach/speaker/ advocate/mom/blogger/poet and many more talents: Marie Abanga 

It was difficult to pick just one photo of Marie – there are SO many stunning pics of this dynamo on her blog. However, this still image is one of my very favorites and I love how it shows her in powerful, confident action!

Review by Marie Abanga

Indeed, a new Brain can be born even from the deepest dark of a debilitating mental illness

Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: I don’t make that association, however, and memoirs like Dyane’s will challenge those who think a mentally ill person is a ‘no good’!

Dyane’s epic memoir of one of the ‘not so well-known’ mental illnesses is worth its weight in gold.

Some people think: We don’t care about those ‘lunatics’ because we are not them and we will never become them. Sometimes, and as in Dyane’s case, we so wish our sick ones well, but we don’t try to learn and understand what is going on. We don’t even know what questions to ask them or how to ask questions in a respectful, compassionate way. It gets to a point where we look forward to either their being removed from our ‘normal’ existence, or  we leave them and go far away – be it for studies, work or just a fresh start.

One thing I learned from this memoir is that close or far, we can be so impacted by mental illness of a close one. Paradoxically, Dyane starts having troubling ‘mental issues’ after she has left home and is on her own, although she had felt for so long before then that something ‘weird’ was going on.

And yet:

A lot of good things, in my opinion, happen to Dyane in between the time she leaves college and when her second child is born – the birth which sparks her postpartum bipolar disorder. She takes on different demanding jobs and meets a vast array of people, most especially her ever-supporting husband.

I am so interested to know what keeps her husband staying with her in spite of her seemingly ‘unappeasable’ mental illness and mental health altogether. Maybe she’ll write a second memoir about this. He is portrayed as a caregiver par excellence both to her and to their kids, juggling these all with his stressful geological engineering job. People like her husband are to be celebrated because many with a mental illness are sooner or later abandoned even by their families.

It is once more interesting to read in this memoir about the treatment mentally ill patients seem to attract. There are basically two types of treatment. You are either treated as a human being with an illness like every other (very rare) or most often you are treated with such stigma and near shunning altogether. Dyane, even while very sick, can tell and appreciate when she is treated with empathy and even sympathy. She also narrates the times she’s treated like ‘one of them lunatics’ in and out of the psychiatric units.

All is not lost. After she has tried many different medications (making her become a guinea pig of sorts), after trying to go off medications (the first time cold-turkey, and the second time through systematic, slow tapering), and after silently challenging one of her doctor’s sarcasm about alternative treatments, Dyane has come to find a balance. Even ECT wasn’t left out; she desperately needed a new brain and thought ECT was her last chance at having a mind free of suicidal ideation and severe depression. 

Her narration is not only so funny at some points— you also wonder where she found some offbeat words and different styles. (Oh yes, she has a B.A. in English and American
Literature.) Reading the book, I noticed her courage as she started over and over again taking different medications over twenty-five times, sometimes with almost catastrophic results. 

As other advanced reviewers have noted, her memoir is a big bonus to the mental health community—a community I dare say should concern all of ‘us’ because all of the ‘thems’ we see today were once ‘us’ before. There is really no point for stigma which to me shows insecurity and fear of the unknown.

I, without any reservation, recommend this memoir to all and sundry.


Thank you, Marie!!!!!

Thanks to all of you who read today’s post! I still need to fulfill my promise to write the “Rich People and Dog Poop” post, but I’m waiting for a special kind of inspiration! (I might need to visit Lake Tahoe again for that, ha ha!)

The Birth of a New Brain’s Goodreads page also has the awesome blogger/advocate Kitt O’Malley’s advance review. While you’re there, I invite you to mark down “To read” so I know you have good taste in books! (The link is below.)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34227998-birth-of-a-new-brain?from_search=true

 

Have a great Labor Day weekend, my friends!

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available mid-September.

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Kitt O’Malley’s Review: “Birth of a New Brain” #PostPartumBipolar

Kitt O’Malley’s Review: “Birth of a New Brain” #PostPartumBipolar

 

This review of “Birth of a New Brain” by the blogger/writer Kitt O’Malley is one of the first ones I’ve read. I’m very grateful for her insights and impressions.

As a mother with bipolar disorder, Kitt has a particular appreciation for my experience. She has an outstanding blog so if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to look at the variety of her posts and be sure to read her “About” page – she’s a truly remarkable person, and I’m proud to call her my friend.

Kitt O'Malley

Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder by Dyane Harwood. Foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dyane Harwood thrilled me when she sent me an advance copy of her memoir, Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. (I pre-ordered it and was anxiously awaiting it’s October 2017 release.) Her memoir fills a much-needed niche in sharing the experience of bipolar disorder, peripartum onset (beginning during pregnancy or within four weeks after delivery).

With her friendly approachable writing style, her strong spirit shines throughout her memoir, even when describing the devastation of bipolar disorder. Her story shows how important it is to not give up. She had to undergo ECT and multiple medication trials to find what worked for her.

Dyane explains both the traumatic symptoms she experienced and technical psychiatric information clearly and accurately. She managed to inform and inspire the me. Her book is well-researched and includes useful and informative resources throughout and in her appendices. She even includes me as…

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It Has Been 10 Years Since My Postpartum Bipolar Was Activated

On August 26, 2007, my postpartum bipolar disorder was activated during one of the happiest days of my life: the birth of my child.

As some of you know, all hell broke loose afterward and my treatment-resistant bipolar depression lasted a long, long time. 

I’m super-thankful I can tell you that my life is different now. Although every day remains challenging, I’m doing relatively well.

In today’s vlog, I describe my recent freak-out with Bipolar UK. I asked the acclaimed non-profit if they’d share my SELF postpartum bipolar article with their followers. 

They said no.

Why? Because Bipolar UK doesn’t recognize postpartum bipolar disorder as a diagnosis. 

I expound upon that topic in my vlog. 

On a brighter note, I mention some projects I’m working on as I approach my book’s October 10th “birth” which I hope (apart from the inevitable bad reviews) will be relatively pain-free! 

Have a good weekend, my lovely ones, and please take good care of yourselves!

XoXo,

Dyane

 

Read my latest article here: SELF Magazine “We Need to Talk About Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in early September.

Cool Mental Health Podcasts Aplenty!

What a striking logo – I love it!

 

Do you listen to podcasts? I’m a relative latecomer to the podcast world, but hey, better late than never, right?

Thanks to Lucy’s daily walk, I’ve turned into quite the podcast connoisseur. We strut our stuff for 20 minutes. At that point my girl gets tired so we head for an empty baseball field. Lucy hangs out on the grass while I walk laps around the dugout. That’s the perfect time to listen to downloaded podcasts on my cell phone’s speaker – some people prefer headphones. You can listen to podcasts in cars, at home, at the gym, standing in line at the market (just kidding – you’d get lots of glares unless you have headphones! 😉 etc.

Once again I must remind you Lucy is so darn cute, and the hound is thirsty after powering out those twenty minutes. Because I love to spoil her rotten, I bring a plastic bowl I fill with a bottle of water. She chillaxes and rehydrates in the great outdoors while I get in my workout!

When freshly bathed, this furry beast appears half her size!

————————————————————————-

 

When I began my podcast exploration, I started out with the best of the best:  Mohr Stories on Podcast One.

Mohr Stories is hosted by actor, comedian, poet, author, and sports enthusiast, Jay Mohr.  Here’s the podcast description: 

“Each week, laugh, be surprised and think deep, as Jay talks to an entertainer, athlete, musician, author or game-changer about showbiz, comedy, and life beyond your typical interview conversation. Guests have included Anthony Bourdain, Perez Hilton, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jay Leno, Reggie Watts and more. Frequent visitors include John DiMaggio, Brad Williams, Jim Jeffries, Adam Carolla, and of course, the occasional Christopher Walken impersonation.”

Last year Jay invited me to be on Mohr Stories but I wanted to wait until after Birth of a New Brain was published in October. When the air date is confirmed, I’ll let you know!

The super-cool hosts Alisha Perkins and Colleen Lindstrom of Mind Full

 

Mind Full is “an open, honest and entertaining discussion about mental & physical health, hosted by author, runner, and baseball wife Alisha Perkins, and MyTalk 107.1 radio personality Colleen Lindstrom.” 

I’m really enjoying reading Alisha’s memoir Running Home: Big-League Wife, Small-Town Story about living with anxiety, long-distance running (which I used to do until I blew out my knee), and glimpses of what it’s like being married to a high-profile baseball player – there’s much more to it than that, of course.

Alsha’s eye-catching cover!

To listen to Mind Full, visit this link.

I’m recording an episode with Alisha and Colleen in late September & I’ll post the air date when I know it! 

Then there’s the popular Mom and Mind podcast with Dr. Katayune Kaeni. “Dr Kat” is an internet friend of mine and she invited me to be a podcast guest a while ago, but I wasn’t ready to do that until now. Here’s the description:

This podcast is for new mothers, new fathers, families and the health care providers who support them. We discuss the things you need to know about your mental health during the transition to motherhood and parenthood. It’s for partners too, who are also going through their own changes. Dr. Kat, a specialist in maternal mental health, interviews moms, dads, experts and advocates about how to cope, manage and recover from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. We talk about postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and SO MUCH MORE! We get real. We get honest. We put on our stigma crushing boots and address the realities of the transition to motherhood and parenthood while offering hope, healing, and resources for help. Please find more information at http://www.momandmind.com”

 Mom and Mind is on iTunes – you can visit the link here. 

 

I want to check out the podcast archives at:

The Mental Illness Happy Hour

and

The Hilarious World of Depression 

 

Both of those podcasts have gotten a lot of praise. If I come across a particularly cool episode, I’ll be sure to share it here. And if you have a favorite podcast, please tell me about it in the comments!

Have a good weekend, my friends! Until next week, lots of love! 

Dyane

 

You can read my latest article here: SELF Magazine “We Need to Talk About Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in early September.

Spiders in the Night Make Me Tired

It’s 10:30 a.m. and I’m tired.

Yesterday evening I received a disturbing email from a relative. It was unsettling because its content indicated that the relative has some signs of Alzheimer’s. (Kitt, I plan on reading your Bipolar and Dementia blog post today!)

Later that night around 2:00 a.m., one of my girls woke me out of a deep-ish sleep (which in itself is extremely rare!) to tell me there was a big black spider by her bed and I needed to send it to Spider Heaven STAT!!!

When I got to her room,  I found not one, but two of the creepy crawlers, plus there were two other spiders in the hallway! (Bipolar on Fire, my fellow arachnophobist, I thought of you!) 

Ahhhhhh!!!  

I do not like spiders!

As Dr. Seuss wrote in Green Eggs and Ham,

“I would not like them
Here or there.
I would not like them
Anywhere.”

Sorry, spiders of the world, it’s nothing personal. 

At least I can look on  the bright side here – at least the spiders weren’t as big as this:

 

 

Did I mention I have poison oak…the second time this summer!  I guess I need to be more aware of those “leaves of three (and) let them be” once and for all!

These are small problems, well, except for the dementia issue, but I’ll be okay. When I take Lucy for her walk later this afternoon, that will give me an attitude adjustment.

As long as I keep away from the poison oak, ticks, and of course, spiders!

 

What is it about Alice Cooper that’s so gosh darn likable? Hmm, maybe I could dress up as him for Halloween this year!

 

Thanks for reading and an extra-big thanks for your encouragement over the past few weeks!!! Have a great weekend!

XOXO,

Dyane

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in early September.

Thanks For Your Support – Good News!

 

 

bp Magazine has come to its senses!

Let me begin by telling you I had given up all hope of bp Magazine seeing the postpartum bipolar light!

Ironically, after I had unsubscribed to bp‘s Twitter feed and their email newsletter and closed off my heart to them, I got an email from bp’editor.

Lo and behold, I was informed there would be an opportunity for me after all. I was invited to write about postpartum bipolar for the “On My Mind” column in bp‘s Winter 2018 issue!

I wish I could say it was my magical, powerful “I’m disappointed” email I had sent to bp’s publisher that did the trick. But I suspect other actions came into play.

What I believe had the most influence was that some of you contacted the editor. (THANK YOU Kitt O’Malley and thanks to everyone else who wrote the editor and who retweeted on my behalf including Samina of the Bipolar 1 Blog and Bipolar on Fire.) Please let me know if you helped out in the comments and I’ll give you credit in the next post!

After I sent the publisher my “I’m very disappointed” email and didn’t hear back, I wrote a lengthy email to the editor. Then I did something I was sure was going to have bp’s staff place my name on their sh*t list.

I conducted a week-long Twitter Tantrum. Every time a reputable organization such as the UCLA Semel Friends, Postpartum Support International, or DBSA tweeted my SELF postpartum bipolar article link (which they all did numerous times) I retweeted it and tagged @bpmag.

It was a helluva lot of tweets!

For the record, I do not recommend doing this if you’re upset with someone or with a group. Remember, I had given up on hearing from bp Magazine forever!

I mega-tweeted to prove a point to them.

I knew that chances were very high I’d be burning a bridge with their staff, but as you guessed, I was past the point of caring about consequences. 

When I spotted the editor’s email in my in-box yesterday, my hands turned cold and clammy and I started to freak out. I was sure the email would say something like this:

 

 

When I forced myself to read the email, it was a very pleasant surprise.

So there you have it! I guess the moral of the story is really about how awesome the blogosphere and Twittersphere can be in one’s time of need. If I didn’t have amazing virtual friends (you know who you are!) then this dramatic turn of events wouldn’t have occurred.

The magic of the “I’m Disappointed” email can only go so far…

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next Friday, perhaps even with the post I promised to share about rich people and dog poop!

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in early September.

Should bp Magazine Publish A Postpartum Bipolar Article?

The original topic for today was going to be “Dog Poop & Rich People” and believe me, I’ll cover that subject soon! It’s a subject very close to my heart. But there’s another topic I’m passionate about & I could use your social media support

I’d be so grateful for your help!

Some of you may have heard of bp Magazine, the world’s largest magazine that focuses on all things bipolar.

bp Magazine’s publisher Joanne Doan was kind enough to contribute this endorsement for my book. She wrote:

There is a distinct need for Dyane Harwood’s book Birth of a New Brain. Although Dyane had a specific trigger for her bipolar disorder, peripartum onset after the birth of her second daughter, her story applies to anyone who has been affected by depression, mania and anxiety, either firsthand or through caring about someone who lives with a mood disorder. Dyane’s perseverance in finding treatments and strategies to regain stability will offer hope to those on the same journey, whether they’re at the very beginning or somewhere along the way.

Joanne M. Doan

Publisher of bp Magazine | hope and harmony for people with bipolar

In 2016, one of bp Magazine’s writers contacted me to be quoted in her article – I think it was about anger. I asked if she would pitch her editor about writing a bipolar, peripartum onset/postpartum bipolar story at some point, and she said yes. I sent her my press kit which included all the wonderful blurbs by Joanne Doan, Kay Redfield Jamison, Dr. Verinder Sharma, etc and asked her to forward it to her editor with the pitch.

Recently she pitched the editor. The editor passed.

I was shocked. This pitch wasn’t all about promoting my book – it was mainly about bringing attention to a form of bipolar in a magazine dedicated to bipolar disorder! (There has never been an article written about it before.) Of course, my book would be mentioned, but not in depth.

By the editor passing on her pitch, it can be implied she thinks that expert opinions such as Kay Redfield Jamison’s are meaningless:

Dyane Harwood’s Birth of a New Brain is a gripping account of the awful juxtaposition of childbirth and the onset of bipolar illness. Her book is an informative and important contribution to our understanding of this triggering of mental illness that happens more often than is generally recognized.

—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire

Ironically, SELF magazine asked me to write an article about postpartum bipolar. The article was published online last Tuesday. While that was wonderful, I’m so disappointed (!)  bp Magazine finds this topic unworthy. I’ve gotten great feedback from the SELF piece and from organizations that have retweeted the article (Intl. Bipolar Foundation, UCLA Semel Friends, Postpartum Support International, DBSA, and many others) indicating there’s a strong interest in this subject.

ww.self.com/story/postpartum-bipolar-disorder

SO, my friends, I know I need to let it go, but before I do could you please consider contacting bp Magazine asking for a postpartum bipolar article? One idea is you could write something along the lines of:

“Hi. I read the SELF postpartum bipolar article and I’d like more information from the #1 bipolar magazine in the world!”  😉  

There’s nothing else I can do except ask you to help, please.

Here are the best ways to reach bp Magazine with your opinion:

TWITTER

@bpHopeMag

You can write a Letter to the Editor!!!

Either email: mailbag@bphope

or

http://www.bphope.com/connect/letter-to-the-editor/

Send a general comment to:

http://www.bphope.com/connect/contact/

If you’re a writer, pitch them YOUR idea about a postpartum bipolar article! (You will get paid!) Maybe you could interview me! 😉 Subtle hint, eh? 

How to query bp Magazine: Send your query letter in body of an email, not as an attachment. Your query should be accompanied by three recently published attached samples and a professional resume. Email queries all to mailbag@bphope.com

Look on their website for more details here. 

You can send a message on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/bpMagazine/

THANK YOU!!!

XO,

Dyane

P.S.This is the first time I’ve shared a GoFundMe link in this blog. My friend Julie Horner could use $ support to save her home. She’s a writer and a wonderful person, plus she’s promoting my book events through her volunteer work for the local paper.

Every $1 counts. If you can give anything and/’or share this link, thanks from the bottom of my heart!

https://www.gofundme.com/help-julie-horner-save-her-home

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is now available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in August.