Writing Rejection Strikes Before Publication Day!

When I read this quote my first thought was:

“Whoa…Sylvia Plath must have been manic when she wrote that!”

 

(Please note: this post was written before the Las Vegas tragedy.)

 

 

I know that things could be worse in my life.

Much, much worse.

Those of you familiar with my background know what events I’m referring to, but for those of you who are new to my blog, here’s the backstory:

I’ve been a revolving door hospital patient. I suffered from treatment-resistant bipolar depression for seven years, I’ve been suicidal, and I’ve had two rounds of electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy.

After all that, one would assume a writing rejection is not that big a deal.

Right?

Wrong.

This particular rejection really got to me. I thought my submission was good—it wasn’t amazing, but I felt it had merit. Despite the fact my submission focused on a rare mental illness, its content was relevant to readers with mood disorders of different kinds. The essay fit the editors’ specifications I had carefully perused. I had checked with the editors to make sure my topic would be appropriate and I got the go-ahead.

Here’s my rejection email:

Dear Dyane,

You are a horrible writer and geez – you need to do something else, anything else, like take up knitting, or create an herb window garden, or explore vegan cooking.

(Just kidding.)

Thanks so much for your submission to How the Light Gets In. After reading through entries, conferring, reading, and conferring more, we’re sorry to tell you that we won’t be including “The Deja vu Conversation” in the anthology. As writers, we know how much time and effort (not to mention gumption!) it takes to craft and submit a piece. Thank you for trusting us with it. We received an overwhelming amount of beautiful entries.

It was a nice problem to have. But also, it made the process of choosing very difficult. We sincerely appreciate you sharing your work with us. Also, thank you for adding your voice to the larger story of mental illness. It’s encouraging to see that there are many of us speaking up and helping to break the stigma that surrounds mental health. None of us are alone in our battles. 

Again, thank you for submitting and all the best as you move forward,

Kelley and Gillian

My take: they should have stopped the email after the first paragraph. The remainder seems saccharine and uses a cliché. I believe a rejection email should be brief and condescension-free unless it has specific feedback for the writer.

Everyone gets rejections – one of J.K. Rowling ‘s rejection letters said she should join a writing group!

 

I was especially vulnerable on Rejection Day because I had a cold. I get a nasty bug every October, although this year I was doing all I could to prevent it, i.e. taking the cold-busting, vile-tasting Wellness Formula.

Because of my cold, I wasn’t able to get out with Lucy for our restorative, attitude-adjusting, walks that almost always improve my mood.


Recently, I was inspired by my blogging friend Sara Gethin whose hit novel Not Thomas received very challenging criticism in the British daily newspaper The Guardian. While it wasn’t writing rejection per se, negative reviews have much in common with writing rejection.

She took the criticism in stride—she has such a great attitude, one I wish she could bottle and sell to me. Gethin’s situation was unique and I encourage you to read this post, part one, and this post, part two, about her experience being nominated for a fiercely competitive reader’s choice contest. 


By the way, if any of you submitted a piece to those editors and it was accepted, please take my hissy fit with a grain of salt! I will be happy for you! I will promote you! Don’t be afraid to share your good news

I need to focus on something wonderful instead: the publication of my book on Tuesday! And guess what? My first case of my books arrives TODAY by 6:00 p.m.!!!!

I’m so excited!

I’ll be taking pictures of the books fresh out of the box. I feel like they’re my babies. (I know that’s weird, but it’s true.)

Please don’t forget to tell your friends, your social networks, and everyone else you know on this planet to buy Birth of a New Brain on Tuesday, October 10th and, if at all possible, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll be forever in your debt!

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!!!

Love,

Dyane


This collie looks so much like Lucy, it’s uncanny! I’m not getting the costume though. It got bad reviews, and I know Lucy would hate it.

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw,

will be published on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10th – hurrah!

Until then, Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for Kindle and paperback pre-sales.

 

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Caffeinated Podcast Adventures & Lessons Learned


TGIF, my friends!

I hope that you’re doing well!

As some of you may know, I was super-anxious to record my 1st episode with “Dr. Kat” of the program Mom & Mind. Fortunately, she was so awesome & encouraging that I was able to calm down.

Then last Monday I joined the hosts of Podcast One’s Mind Full program to talk about postpartum bipolar disorder. Mind Full’s Alicia Perkins and Colleen Lindstrom were great and they set me at ease from the get-go.

However, I made a royal brainfart (lovely word, I know!) when I scheduled our talk. I thought our appointment was 4:45 p.m. Pacific Time. I deliberately chose that slot because it’s when I usually get a second wind and take Lucy out for her walk. At the very last minute (i.e. the morning of the recording day) I realized the schedule said Central Time, not Pacific.

Arrgh! Our time wasn’t 4:45 p.m. but at 2:45 p.m. when I was still totally dragging energy-wise. I worried I’d sound like a zombie.

So I broke my “no coffee in the afternoon” rule. I glugged a gallon big cup of Peet’s organic shortly before our recording time.

The lessons I learned were:

1) Be far more careful when scheduling anything!

2) Do not drink coffee before recording a podcast!!!

I’m happy to say that it all worked out despite my jitters. One of my gracious hosts admitted that she had just downed some coffee herself at 5:00 p.m.!

When I find out the air date, I’ll let you know!

 

Meanwhile, I’m always on the lookout for intriguing mental health-themed podcasts, especially ones that have a bipolar focus. Last week I found one called Bipolar Style.

Here’s the promo blurb:

“Bipolar Style™ is a new podcast, hosted by , about life from a manic-depressive perspective!”

I encourage you to check out host @JohnEmotions’ heartfelt and entertaining observations from the perspective of one who works a “regular job” with his bipolar on the “DL”/down low – I guarantee you’ll relate to many of the topics he discusses, whether or not you’re working!

He’s seeking podcast guests so if that interests you, give him a shout! I really love the short format of 15 minutes, too.

To listen to the Bipolar Style podcasts go to this link.  Visit BipolarStyle.com for more info. & you can find John Emotions (who loves to network & help promote fellow bp tribe members) on Twitter at @BipolarStyle

Dr. Kat

Also, if you didn’t have a chance to hear my first podcast with “Dr. Kat” you can still do it! Go to this link

To check out Dr. Kat’s 69 other Mom & Mind podcasts please visit here.


That’s all the news that’s fit to blog, but in the next few weeks, I’ll have other things to write about, such as what it feels like to finally have my book published, and what it feels like to receive good reviews…..and not-so-good reviews!!!!

I appreciate your support so much! Thanks for reading this blog and for spreading the word about these worthy podcasts.

Have a good weekend!

Love,

Dyane 

 

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.

 

 

 

Please Listen To My First Podcast!

Hi everyone and Happy Friday!

Last Monday I recorded my first podcast with Dr. Katayune Kaeni.”Dr. Kat” is the host of the popular podcast Mom and Mind. She’s a psychologist & has lived experience in Perinatal Mental Health Training, Advocacy, Treatment, and Stigma Crushing!!!

Dr. Kat was a wonderful and patient host. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to guide me through my first podcast experience. I know it might not seem like a big deal to record a podcast, but I was able to rustle up all kinds of anxiety, all the way from the technical to the emotional aspect of the process!  

It will be available this Monday and I’d love it if you could listen to it and/or spread the word about it via your social media.  You can follow Dr. Kat on Twitter at  @DrKaeni, she has a Facebook page, and her website is: http://www.momandmind.com

Our conversation will be available this Monday and I’d love it if you could listen to it and/or spread the word about it via your social media. 

Last week I promised to write about a tool that can potentially help lift depression.

What is it??? It’s an air ionizer of all things! My psychiatrist emailed me an article that has the details and I’m copying the info. for you below. Please let me know if you’ve heard about air ionizers for depression! If you have a success story to share, let me know in the comments so I can mention it in my upcoming book talks.

A Hopeful Contender for Bipolar Depression

While some psychiatric breakthroughs are greeted with a hope that borders on hype (think ketamine), others are met with undue skepticism. The humble air ionizer falls into the latter category. These devices purify air by creating negatively charged oxygen ions. The idea that they could treat depression is so implausible that scientists first employed them as placebos, before discovering that they actually worked.

Evidence in unipolar depression

That discovery was first reported in 1995 by Michael Terman’s laboratory at Columbia University,1 and since then 5 controlled trials have emerged in unipolar depression Each has been positive, with effect sizes in the range of what we see with antidepressants (total sample size: n = 168) Ionizers are well tolerated and lack significant risks, and the research that supports their health benefits dates back to the 1950s. Although their safety and efficacy are reasonably well established, we know little about their mechanism of action, which is part of what has hindered their mainstream adoption.

Which device?

Another factor that has limited their use is the difficulty of finding air ionizers with the right specifications. Without FDA regulation, it’s hard to know which device to use. Many ionizers produce ozone as a by-product, which can damage the lungs. Others don’t generate a high enough density of negative ions to treat depression. In the clinical trials, only high-density ionizers worked; low-density devices served as a placebo.

Recently, Dr. Terman has helped remove that obstacle by identifying a low-cost device that’s feasible for clinical practice: the Wein VI-2500. (My psychiatrist wrote: I looked up the price of the Wein VI-2500 – $74.00) This device generates ions at a high enough density to treat depression (450 trillion ions/sec), with ozone production well below the FDA’s cut-off for safety (< 0.05 ppm)

How to use

The Wein is easy to use, and Dr. Terman has a useful guide on his website. Patients can either sit near the device for daily sessions or have it turn on while they are asleep using a socket timer. Sessions should be 30 to 90 minutes. Either way, they need to be close to the device (within 3 feet) and keep things that would pull the negative ions away from them (mainly other electronic devices) away from the ionizer. Unlike the lightbox, air ions do not affect circadian biology, so the device could feasibly be used at any time of day, or even left on throughout the night, although the available studies employed a morning protocol.

Dr. Terman expects to see improved air ionizers in the near future and keeps updated product recommendations at www.cet.org

While we may not understand their mechanism in the brain, we do know what they do in the air, and that story has some natural appeal. If you’ve ever enjoyed the fresh air around a waterfall, ocean breeze, or humid forest, then you’ve experienced natural air ionization. When water breaks into the air, it creates negative oxygen ions. Those ions have a pleasant scent and also filter out pollutants such as cigarette smoke, dust, and mold. Indoor air tends to be depleted of negative ions, mainly because of the effects of air conditioners, heaters, and dehumidifiers.

Ionization and bipolar depression

What remains unknown is whether these devices will work in bipolar depression. One study has been published, but the primary aim was to test light therapy in bipolar depression, and the high-density air ion group was too small to draw conclusions (n = 2)

On the other hand, we have no evidence that these devices destabilize mood, and Dr. Terman is not aware of any cases of hypomania caused by ionization.8 Air ionization has been tried in manic patients, with results that suggest it may improve manic symptoms. Those 2 studies did not have the rigor to conclude anything beyond the suggestive. They used a double-blind crossover design with single treatment sessions in a total of 28 patients. Their findings are consistent with a host of small studies in normal populations that suggest negative air ions improve irritability and tension, while positive ions tend to have the opposite effect. Dr. Terman does warn that the ionizers can raise energy and alertness, so they should be used in the morning if tried in patients with bipolar disorder.

The bottom line

My previous column listed 20 treatments with at least some controlled-trial support for bipolar depression. In practice, that list is often insufficient to meet the clinical needs of patients with this chronic and highly recurrent condition. Beyond that evidence base, I’ll consider treatments that work in unipolar depression and have a low risk of destabilizing mood. Aerobic exercise makes that list, and air ionizers deserve a place on it as well. Their empiric support may not be as robust as what we have for exercise and depression,but their ease of implementation will be a plus for many patients whose depression has sapped their energy and motivation. 

REFERENCES

1. Terman M, Terman JS. Treatment of seasonal affective disorder with a high-output negative ionizer. J Altern Complement Med. 1995;1:87-92.

2. Terman M, Terman JS, Ross DC. A controlled trial of timed bright light and negative air ionization for treatment of winter depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55:875-882.

3. Goel N, Terman M, Terman JS, et al. Controlled trial of bright light and negative air ions for chronic depression.Psychol Med. 2005;35:945-955.

4. Terman M, Terman JS. Controlled trial of naturalistic dawn simulation and negative air ionization for seasonal affective disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163:2126-2133.

5. Flory R, Ametepe J, Bowers B. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of bright light and high-density negative air ions for treatment of seasonal affective disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2010;177:101-108.

6. Perez V, Alexander DD, Bailey WH. Air ions and mood outcomes: a review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry.2013;13:29.

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What do you think?!?!?!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. Today I didn’t get a chance to find some cutesy memes I love to intersperse through the post (it’s one of my favorite things about blogging!) but I hope to have time to that next Friday. (And for all I know, maybe some of you are muttering “Thank God, I can’t stand memes!”)  😉

Have a wonderful weekend  and please take good care of yourselves,

Love,

Dyane

 

 

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.

33 Days to Go!

You might be asking, “33 days to go to what?”

(Lucy already knows the answer—she’s such a smart Scottish collie!)

October 10th is my book’s official “birthday,” otherwise known as its publication date. That momentous day will be the perfect excuse to buy a super-yummy chocolate cake. Even if a snarky one-star review is posted, I can drown my freak-out in amazing chocolate!

I’m excited to tell you that at last Kindle pre-orders are now available! 

Thanks to Candice Curry for the image – her blog also has suggestions about how to launch a book heremy favorite is #6: Stand in your street and scream all about it.

This morning I read two great articles by fellow National Association of Memoir Writers author Lizbeth Meredith. Check out her blog’s About page featuring her truly incredible story here.

First, I read her insightful Independent Publisher article “Lessons Crisis Taught Me, Revisited During Publication.” 

Then I read Lizbeth’s blog post “Five Easy Ways to Launch My Book.” She gave excellent suggestions on how her followers could easily support her book launch. Lizbeth inspired me to reach out to you for your help!

(When your time comes, I’ll owe you one!)

 

These suggestions originally appeared in Lizbeth’s blog post. I edited them and added a few silly things of my own.

1. SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT:

Please “LIKE” my author page on Facebook. Poor little me—I don’t have many likes. Apparently, it helps to look like you’re The Bloggess or Cheryl Strayed in terms of having a bazillion Godzillian likes. How does that really, truly help someone like me? I don’t know, but it’s easy, you’ll gain good karma if you believe in that, and I’d be grateful for your support!  

Here’s the link:

https://www.facebook.com/Birth-of-a-New-Brain-Healing-from-Postpartum-Bipolar-515878388510811/

I’d love you to follow me on Twitter (@DyaneHarwood) – as some of you know, I’m a big Twitter fan. I invite you to share news about my book through tweets and via other social media of your choice. I haven’t used my #BirthOfANewBrain hashtag very much, but feel free to do that and tag me anytime!

2. BUY Birth of a New Brain: Please consider buying the book, especially now that it will be on Kindle and cost less $! Even if you don’t want to read it (which I TOTALLY understand!!!) you can give it to someone, donate it to a library, or give a copy to a nonprofit involved with mental health.

Anyone who gives a copy (or three) to Bipolar UK will get a very special gift from me!!!

3. REVIEW: After you’ve read the book, post a 5-star review of the book on Amazon. (Okay, okay, I’M KIDDING ABOUT THE FIVE STARS. Am I joking? Well, not really, heh, heh, heh! The old chestnut “There is truth in jest” comes to mind!)

Lizbeth wrote something very important about reviews: “If we’re friends or family, please acknowledge that or Amazon may erase your review. Full disclosure is the best policy.” Thank you Lizbeth!

4. GOODREADS: Please add Birth of a New Brain to your shelf on Goodreads and review it when you can. I’m still learning about Goodreads – I know I could probably do a lot more networking on there, but I’m lazy.

5. NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Finally, please sign up for my newsletter at my website: http://www.dyaneharwood.com (Scroll to the very bottom.) I won’t send you too much info. – in fact, I haven’t sent a thing to my whopping list of 5 members yet. But maybe I’ll have some cool giveaways, maybe I could promote your cause if it’s mental health related….who knows what I can do? Whatever it’ll be, I promise it will be good.

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading my blog!

Love,

Dyane

 

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.

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.

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.