Alexis Zinkerman’s Review of “Birth of a New Brain” + Our Interview!

 

 

Alexis Zinkerman is a gifted poet, author, journalist, blogger, plus she’s a mental health advocate. I’ve blogged about Alexis’ powerful, poignant novella “Brooklyn” (That blog post was titled “My Life-Affirming Alternative to 13 Reasons Why”) and her stunning poem “Metronome” she wrote specifically for lucky me! 

In turn, Alexis interviewed me and reviewed my book Birth of a New Brain for her  blog “A Mile a Minute.” I threw a lot of information at her during our lengthy conversation, but she took it all graciously, professionally in stride.

Alexis has a great, diverse blog in which she shares all kinds of cool resources, and I encourage you to check it out when you have the chance.

I’ll see you next Friday and let you know how my first podcast recording with Dr. Katayune Kaeni’s Mom & Mind Podcast turns out. Yes, I’m nervous, although it’ll be easier than giving a Toastmasters speech!

I’ll also share a little info. my psychiatrist emailed me about a new, low-cost, alternative method that might help lift depression. Stay tuned. It’s important to know about every tool that exists that might help us, isn’t it? I’m back to using my Sunbox DL bright light in the mornings as we ease into colder, darker times.

Have a good weekend, friends, and please let me know how you’re doing if you feel so inclined…

Love,

Dyane

p.s. My book finally became available on Kindle!  I was excited to see it made Amazon’s Top 100 bestsellers list in the “bipolar” category. While that sounds groovy, I knew the list fluctuates wildly and I’ve been told by published authors the ranking system is inaccurate and worse. So, while I don’t take the list seriously, I couldn’t help feeling thrilled to see it near Carrie Fisher’s #1 book!

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 Kindle and paperback pre-sales.

new brainDyaneHeadshot

I first came across Dyane Harwood’s blog after she left continuous comments on my blog and we began a conversation through email and in the comments. Dyane writes her blog after being diagnosed with peri-partum bipolar 1 disorder to help others make sense of their condition and find resources. Dyane’s bipolar was triggered by childbirth.

“It was a trifecta of hormones, genetic predisposition, and sudden sleep deprivation,” she said during a fifty minute conversation we had over the phone.

Dyane’s father was also bipolar. And even though she lived though a childhood of moodswings, her own mood shifts were not treated until the births of her daughters. She said that today there are medication studies by perinatal psychiatrists about how to treat women who have been diagnosed before becoming pregnant.

Her new memoir Birth of a New Brain takes one through her journey and how she learned to treat her…

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My Life-Affirming Alternative to “13 Reasons Why”



The novella Brooklyn’s Song by Alexis Zinkerman


A few weeks ago I published the post Stunned by Alexis Zinkerman’s Metronome – my post title says it all. Please read it if you haven’t had a chance yet.

After I read Metronome, I bought Alexis’ novella Brooklyn’s Song and I wrote a review that doesn’t begin to do it justice, especially since I was repeatedly interrupted by my girls while attempting to focus.

Their crisis? They were in need of a special medicine called ice cream. (I need to fix the broken lock on my door!) At least I can always improve the review later on. In the meantime, I’ve included it in this post.

Here’s a sidenote:  I haven’t watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix nor have I read Jay Asher’s book, and I have no plans to do so. I rarely read or watch anything about suicide because I’m too triggered. While my intuition told me to steer clear of 13 Reasons Why I sensed Alexis would create a work that wouldn’t trigger me, and I was right. 

Brookyln’s Song –A novella by Alexis Zinkerman/5 star review

The heartwrenching topic of teen suicide has recently been covered in film, television, and young adult fiction more than it ever has before. Some of these endeavors are sensitively produced. However, other productions are harmful – they sensationalize teen suicide, depriving young people of realistic role models and situations.

Alexis Zinkerman’s outstanding novella Brooklyn’s Song was ahead of its time when it was first published in 2012 under the title Crazy Tragic Magic Life. Few books have ever addressed teenage suicide in such an insightful, wise manner.

The novella’s unique literary style is ideal for conveying the gravity of the subject matter without overwhelming the reader. At just eighty-eight pages, Brooklyn’s Song is the perfect length for depicting the journey of a teen’s grief over a great loss.

In concise, moving poetic stanzas, fifteen-year-old protagonist Brooklyn shares her shock of losing her best friend to suicide.

The reader is immediately drawn into the narrative from the first page. Brooklyn’s best friend Emily is still alive, and she reveals a secret to Brooklyn while the girls are attending a special event. The scenario quickly changes into one of tragedy.

As Brooklyn begins to move through the stages of grief, she’s resistant to therapy, but she gradually learns that counseling can help her a great deal. In a refreshingly unexpected way, Brooklyn utilizes the creative expression of writing to help her heal. Ultimately, Brooklyn begins to feel hopeful about the future again.

In each intriguingly titled chapter, Brooklyn reveals different sides of her personality. She describes her vulnerability, her loneliness as a high school student, and her burgeoning confidence in her writing. After some time has passed, she chronicles her exciting relationship with her first boyfriend.

Despite the harrowing storyline, I didn’t want to put it down – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Brooklyn!

Brooklyn’s Song is an artfully nuanced book. The novella reminded me of my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Ring of Endless Light in significant ways. Each author writes vividly, powerfully, and in a pragmatic manner. The two books’ complex-yet-clear storylines appeal to teens and adults alike. Each work grapples with the theme of suicide, the death of a beloved, and how death affects a sensitive, inquisitive teenage girl. Hope is woven throughout Brooklyn’s Song and A Ring of Endless Light, making these books truly worthwhile reads.

Brooklyn’s Song is a book I want my two daughters to read. It is a book I wish I had read when I was a teenager before suicide touched my life firsthand. This book rings true; at age thirty-three, Zinkerman was affected by suicide when her best friend took her own life. Because of that heartbreaking experience, Zinkerman was galvanized to write Brooklyn’s story.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to read this beautifully written book. I highly recommend Brooklyn’s Song to anyone interested in how it’s possible to move forward in life after an a unimaginably painful loss takes place.

I’ll be back next week to share with you how my very first book interview turns out. I’m nervous, especially since I did a little virtual snooping homework on the journalist who has been assigned to interview me. Things were looking great until that changed. That’s all that’s fit for print…for now, that is. Stay tuned. 😉 

Purchase the paperback edition of Brookyln’s Song on Amazon at this link.

Author Alexis Zinkerman

Check out Alexis’ mental health website A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health here. (Great blog title, isn’t it?)

Take care, my wonderful kindred spirits!

Love,

Dyane

—————

All photos courtesy of Alexis Zinkerman

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available now on Amazon for paperback pre-sales, Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

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Stunned by Alexis Zinkerman’s “Metronome”

The gifted author/poet Alexis Zinkerman

 

 

Alexis Zinkerman is a journalist, poet, and mental health advocate, and she has bipolar one disorder. She holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University, and her novella Brooklyn’s Song is available on Amazon. Alexis was first diagnosed with bipolar in 1996, but it took her many more years to find the right treatment course.

I discovered Alexis’ blog A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health through her International Bipolar Foundation blog. She also has a website right here where you can sign up for her Love Notes newsletter.

Alexis is the reason why I broke my “I Only Donate to One NAMI Participant/Year” rule.

When it comes to NAMI walks, I’ve always donated to my dear friend, the advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley. (Follow her blog here!)

But I made an exception for Alexis. You’ll see why after you read her April 14th post “You Can Help Too. No Amount Is Too Small” which I’ve copied, in part, below. (I changed the color settings and font sizes found on the original post.)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To celebrate I will be running/walking in a 5K to help NAMI-CT. NAMI-CT offers support groups for people with mental health conditions as well as monitors legislative activity at the state level on mental health policy. They also educate schools and parents on mental illness. I wrote their annual report a few years ago.

This is a cool organization and I hope you’ll help me if you can…I sincerely understand if funds are tight for you, readers. But if anyone out there wants to forgo that morning coffee and support a great cause, no amount is too small. All your donations will go directly to NAMI-CT. I have been training for this 5K for over a year now with strength training and running on the treadmill and outside when weather permits. I will think of all my readers as I run/walk this event.

And…anyone who donates will receive a personalized poem from me on the topic of their choice.” 

 

I donated $10 to Alexis’ NAMI group, and this is the poem she wrote for me:

 

Metronome

Stability.

Why am I this dried up

when on meds?

Lithium, you save my soul

but

I no longer have the creativity

and manic energy

I need to function

There are manic floods

and depressive droughts

Then, there are droughts

caused by the meds

Droughts where you feel

nothing

not the highs or the lows

The doctor evened you out

so you forgot how to feel

I want to be manic again

so I can sing poetry to the sky,

write all night,

be super-productive…

I want to be manic again

I miss my creative thoughts

coming at rapid speeds faster

than I can write them down

But the drought of no emotion

is here to stay

I must re-learn how to feel

what everyone else feels

without the extremes.

I don’t like it this way

but at least, I have a life.

 

(c) Alexis Zinkerman

 

After I read Metronome, I emailed Alexis. This is an excerpt of that message:

My god, you have the poetic gift, Alexis!

I'll start with the title:  Metronome.

Well, it's perfect in many ways. It brought back memories of my 
violinist Dad's metronome ticking away in his practice room which 
was next to my bedroom. I found it to be an object of fascination 
as a little girl.

I'll be honest - I'm usually not a poetry fan. I've never 
gravitated to the majority of the poems of Madeleine L'Engle & L.M.Montgomery, my two favorite authors. They were *big* on writing 
poetry, and they frequently referenced others' poems in many of 
their works.

Your style reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's: bold, vivid, and true

Your amazing piece spoke to me.
First off, I could understand it - that's a major plus.
There are soooo many poems that are beautiful to read, but frankly I have no idea what they're about, therefore I get frustrated and Ifeel dumb.

Not so with yours! Hurrah!

Second, you get bipolar. You clearly understand mania and what 
lithium can do. In a remarkably concise way, you express this 
complex mood disorder (including the hypergraphia I had) so 
poignantly and lyrically.

Wow!  Just wow!

 

Please consider donating a few dollars to Alexis’ team (and Kitt’s, if you’re flush with cash! 😉 and you’ll be thrilled when you receive a personalized poem in return.

You can follow Alexis on Twitter: @azinkerman

Next Friday, my friends I’ll publish a post about how my first talk for Toastmasters went.  I’m scheduled to do it on May 3rd.  It’ll be a tale of sweat, tears, anxiety, and (hopefully) triumph for making it through the four-six minute speech without passing out.

I’ll try to record it so I can share it with you here.  In the meantime, take good care of yourselves!

Lots of love,

Dyane

 

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017.

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!