A Tale of 2 Breaks (My Broken Jaw & My Blogging Hiatus)

My jaw!


Last Saturday afternoon I was walking by myself on a flat, concrete surface a few blocks away from our house. It was a sunny, beautiful day. I finally felt healthy after having reached my LoseIt! weight loss goal. (I had gained twenty-five pounds after my book was published thanks to a daily dose of two high-end chocolate bars, chocolate gelato, and chocolate Italian pastries.) 

Anyway, I was looking forward to a rare evening alone with my husband Craig while our girls were at a sleepover party.

All was well in my world—until I tripped.

In a matter of seconds, I fell forward and slammed down onto the concrete face-first, specifically jaw first. I felt the lower half of my face crunch and I knew I had broken something. I had also gashed my chin in what turned out to be a minor injury, but it was scary and painful nonetheless. At first, I had no idea how bad the gash was since I couldn’t see my face.

As I sat there on the ground, shaking and terrified, blood poured out of my lacerated chin. I reminded myself that a cut can often bleed heavily yet not be that bad. I pressed one hand hard against my chin to stanch the bleeding and my skin stung at the contact.

Not a soul was in sight and that was unusual. But I didn’t want anyone to see me that way—I only wanted one person’s presence: Craig. Luckily I had my cell phone and I was able to reach him. The reception sucked but he heard my crying and the words “fall,” “bleeding” and the street name.

He had just dropped our girls off at the sleepover and came to get me. Even though it took him less than 12 minutes to arrive, it felt like forever. As I sat there, I prayed. Yes, I prayed. I prayed to every spiritual figure and angel I could think of, I prayed to my father, I prayed to my grandmother, and then I visualized bright light healing whatever was wrong with my jaw and chin.

When Craig got there, he took one look at me and said, “We’re going to the E.R.” Four hours, several chin stitches and one CT scan later, I was told by the E.R. physician that he conferred with a maxillofacial surgeon. I didn’t even know what a maxillofacial surgeon was, exactly, but I’d soon find out. Here’s a nutshell definition: “Oral and maxillofacial surgeons focus on treating problems related to the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaws (the upper jaw is referred to as the maxilla).”

You could say it wasn’t exactly the romantic evening date I had imagined. 

The surgeon offered to call me the next day, which was a Sunday, to offer his advice. I was extremely relieved to get his call. During our conversation, he gave me different options to consider, including treatment at other practices, and he patiently answered my questions. My intuition told me he was a good doctor. (God knows I’ve spoken to a gazillion doctors and I can tell a golden egg from a bad egg if you know what I mean!) 

I met with him for my consult last Monday since time was a big concern – I only had a two-week window to get the surgery done so my jaw would heal properly.

When I met him, he reminded me of the ECT anesthesiologist I wrote about in Birth of a New Brain. Once again, I encountered a doctor who was a lot younger than me who looked like he could be on the cover of Surfer Magazine! 

After we met, I booked him to do my surgery which will be on Monday the 19th. I’m having pins put in different places in my jaw. He’s attaching tight bands that will help the jaw and teeth alignment heal back into the right position; yes, bands, not wires.

I haven’t been able to chew any food but I love smoothies and pureed soups, so I’m not freaking out. I even throw in organic baby spinach in my vanilla Orgain & coconut milk smoothies since I can’t chew lettuce. (The smoothie actually tastes good because you can’t taste the spinach!)

I’ve been hypervigilant about walking carefully—I’m so scared I’ll trip again. I long for the time when I wasn’t worried about such a basic activity. And yes, I feel like a f*cking idiot this happened in the first place, but I can tell you I got the message loud and clear from the universe that I need to be more present. 

I wanted to return to the place where I tripped so I wouldn’t become phobic, so I went there two days after my accident and it was fine. (I think I walked in slow motion, but it was fine.)

In all seriousness, though, in light of the Parkland shootings and all the other horrible, tragic events we read and hear about day after day, my injury is teeny-tiny in comparison. Yet it’s my reality.

If my accident had happened before I found the meds that eradicated my treatment-resistant bipolar depression, I would’ve plummeted into an even deeper depression. However, after the pain and shock of the first 24 hours post-accident, I’ve been doing relatively well mentally. I haven’t binged, either – of course, not being able to chew certainly helps me avoid doing that, but I haven’t wanted to compulsively overeat at all—this is another positive surprise. I’m very thankful for these blessings and I’m relieved that my injuries weren’t worse, i.e. a head surgery or a serious illness.  


Thank God not all falls are bad. I’ve hiked up to Yosemite Falls and it was spectacular. The fall is one of my favorite seasons, and, of course, there’s the best fall of all: falling in love.

Singer/songwriter Sam Phillips, the former Christian pop artist and ex-wife of producer T Bone Burnett, has an unusual voice. She was originally promoted as the “Christian Cyndi Lauper” and composed the score for the television show Gilmore Girls.

I love Sam Phillips’ voice, in part, because Craig introduced me to her Martinis and Bikinis album when we first got together in 1998. Her song “When I Fall” (featured in The Last Supper film soundtrack) sums up my 20-year-long relationship with Craig.

She sings, “I think you’ll be there when I fall….”

And he was.



Parting Tidbits

I’ve published 441 posts on this blog and it has been a such a good run, to say the least! But I’ve been losing steam for blogging. I’ve neglected reading my beloved blogs and commenting, which feels plain-old-bad. It’s time to take a break from blogging and the blogosphere. 

Right after I made this decision, my good friend L.E. Henderson published the insightful postTo Blog or Not To Blog.Call me superstitious, but her post seemed like a sign I was making the right choice.

I’ve absolutely loved blogging and reading your blogs. It has been wonderful to make such amazing friends and to feel understood by many bloggers in the bipolar blogging community. To those of you who encouraged me as I approached my book’s publication date, your support helped me immensely. Before I take off, I’d like to share a few tidbits.


Tidbit #1 – Never Say Never

Two days before my accident, I attended a Meetup creative writing group for the first time. I used a lined notebook and a pen instead of my laptop. It turned out the founder of the group did the same thing—we were the only two members who showed up! (Meetup is kind of like that…)  Handwriting felt strange and painful as far as my wrist was concerned, but it was good, too.

Handwriting may have stirred up something in my brain. Some of you know I vowed I’d never write another book. Why? Reasons include: “I didn’t have a good idea,” “Aren’t there enough books in the world?,” “It’s so stressful,” and more. But after my Meetup, an idea came to me that got me excited. I relinquished my vow and I abandoned my reservations and I started writing a proposal! We’ll see where it goes…


Tidbit #2 – My Remote Presentation at the 2020 Mom Project’s 2018 Annual Forum 

If you watch this, please jump to where therapist and Mom and Mind podcast host Dr. Kat Kaeni appears at the 14.30 mark. She introduces my presentation.


Tidbit #3 Awesome Website/Blog/Resources & More

Laura Marchildon of Our Bipolar Family has an incredible website, including a great book review section. Check it out at this link. Laura wrote a book review about Birth of a New Brain here

Please keep in touch with me on Twitter (@DyaneHarwood), my Facebook author page, and my website www.dyaneharwood.com where you can sign up for my newsletter at the very bottom.

Take care, my friends!

Lots and lots of love,



Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

Foreword by the acclaimed perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw. Please visit Amazon to order a Kindle or paperback version—thank you!





Au Revoir, Fat & Dr. Benicio Frey’s Webinar

Dear Friends,

If you’ve read my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, you’ll know I was an A.C.E.-certified personal trainer and worked in a gym for a few years.


This was me, “B.B.D.” (Before Bipolar Diagnosis) 

At college, I gained the “Freshman 20+” instead of the typical “Freshman 15.” Ever since my uni days, my adipose tissue (the fancy term for fat) has fluctuated in quantity due to a variety of reasons; bipolar depression and stress/anxiety have been the main reasons for my weight gain.


Last year was one of the most stressful years I’ve ever experienced.


I was under a deadline with Post Hill Press to deliver my edited manuscript. At least writing my book didn’t almost kill me (During that same year, Bipolar Burble blogger Natasha Tracy published a post called Writing a Book about Bipolar and Depression Almost Killed Me), but what did happen was that I gained almost 30 pounds in only a couple months.


If I kept up that rate of weight gain, I’d turn into Jabba the Hutt!


On a serious note, I’d risk developing very serious health conditions and complications.



I realized I had to come to terms with my emotional stress eating once and for all.

“Coming to terms” sounds nice and granola-y, but what does that really mean?


Well, for me, it begins with enlisting my counselor’s support and making a commitment to myself stop this vicious cycle.


It means bringing my shame out into the open, which is why I’m publishing this post despite having second, third, and fourth thoughts.


I’m also a fan of self-help books, although I admit I never do the exercises they usually require. Nevertheless, I just started reading a self-help book and a healthy food cookbook. Both of them are inspiring me and I’ll share those titles here after I finish reading them.

The only thing that has ever helped me lose weight has been using a free tracking app called Lose It!

Last year I wrote about using Lose It!:Losing a Mirror Carp Feels Good.


If you’re like me—an emotional, compulsive overeater/binger/midnight fridge marauder—and you’d like to join me and get healthier, please consider joining Lose It! I keep reading that pairing up with others when embarking on weight loss greatly increases your chance of success. 


On Lose It!, I belong to two groups where we cheer one another on. Once you’ve signed up, go to “Community”, then select”Find Groups” and type one (or both) of these in:

Moms with Bipolar group

Bipolar Battlers group

And now for something completely different….


Dr. Benicio Frey

Apart from my weight woes, I wanted to let you know psychiatrist Dr. Benicio Frey will present a free webinar about perinatal mood disorder research next Wednesday, January 17th from 9:00 a.m.- 10:00 a.m. PST.  

The webinar is sponsored by the International Bipolar Foundation and it’s not too late to sign up – just go to this link!

The following section is just part of Dr. Frey’s impressive bio.; you’ll find the rest of it on the IBPF link:

“Dr. Frey is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, Academic Head of the Mood Disorders Program, and Director of the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare. 

In 2008, Dr. Frey received a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship award to study brain imaging in perimenopausal women with depression, at the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Currently, Dr. Frey has over 100 articles published in peer-reviewed journals.”

Lastly, I want to share a cool new resource with you – it’s run by John Emotions, the charismatic podcaster and founder of Bipolar Style. John wanted a “private, more focused area to talk about Bipolar” that will surpass Facebook forums, etc. He created Bipolar Party on Yammer and I really like the layout – it’s original and it has great potential. 

Come join us! If you’re interested, email me your email address so I can send you an invitation: dyane@baymoon.com 

And on that note, have a good weekend, and I’ll see you next Friday. (I hope I’ll see some of you on Lose It! too. Feel free to ask me any questions about it in the comments!)

Take good care & lots of love,



Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

Foreword by the acclaimed perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Please visit Amazon to order a Kindle or paperback version—thank you!

Another Book Review from Another Awesome Blogger!

Is Lucy going to lick my book?



Dear Friends,

I’m writing this post from the beautiful snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe, and I plan to take some pictures to share with you next Friday.

I can’t resist sharing one more review of my book. I don’t care if you skip the review – you have my blessing, but just make sure you check out the awesome blogger Ashley’s Mental Health @ Home” – I love her tagline:


Sign me up for that foundation, Ashley!

Here’s the direct link to Ashley’s review:


By the way, Ashley has worked as a nurse and pharmacist and she’s the author of numerous medical articles. She has some excellent posts about different meds—take a look.

I’ll be back next year (on Friday, Jan. 5th, that is) and in the meantime, please take good care of yourselves.



Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by the acclaimed perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw. Please visit Amazon to order a Kindle or paperback version—thank you!


Mental Health @ Home

Birth of a New Brain book coverBirth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder chronicles author Dyane Harwood’s journey with postpartum onset bipolar disorder.  The story’s rich, vivid descriptions draw the reader along on the intense roller coaster ride of the author’s illness experience.  Many elements of her story will be hauntingly familiar to those whose lives have been touched in some way by bipolar disorder, including mood symptoms whose true nature only became apparent with hindsight and well-meaning attempts to get off medication that result in disaster.

Mental illness was a part of Dyane’s life from the beginning, as her father had bipolar disorder.  When she first began to struggle with her own mental health, she was diagnosed with depression.  Glimmers of hypomania made occasional brief appearances, but as is so often the case with hypomania the symptoms were only recognizable as such upon later reflection.

Depression is the most recognized postpartum…

View original post 566 more words

A Nerve-racking, but Ultimately Fulfilling Book Talk!

Park Hall Community Center, December 7th, 2017

Dear Friends,

Last night was my big book signing/educational presentation – it’s the last one I’m doing this year. I had done a ton of publicity in advance of my talk—I arranged and gave 3 local newspaper interviews, I posted flyers all over the valley, I used social media, and I was a guest on a popular Bay Area radio show.

Unfortunately, I spaced out about getting the talk recorded yet again. Drat!

I didn’t read my speech to the audience verbatim; in fact, my main mistake was going off-topic far too much, resulting in a presentation that was at least 15-20 minutes too long. I cringe thinking about it!!! The good news is that I learned my lesson and I won’t do that next time!

This talk was a benefit for NAMI/National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Valley Women’s Club and $300 was raised for them through my book & refreshment sales! 

Ten-year-old Marilla sold books again and did an amazing job. My husband took care of the PowerPoint projector side of things. I’m tuckered out and plan to wait at least a month before scheduling another local talk. 

Wonderful people from the Valley Women’s Club and the Friends of the Boulder Creek Library helped me with the event – they sold cookies & coffee, they helped set and clean up the room, and they provided moral support. There were also incredible friends and acquaintances who showed up such as my postpartum doula/author Salle Webber (The Gentle Art of Newborn Family Care) and my virtual friend/social media genius/blogger Carol Stephen, who I met in person for the 1st time, and my fantastic friend Martha Graham-Waldon, author of the award-winning Nothing Like Normal – Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia. Martha helped Marilla sell books and they got an A+ – for doing an excellent job!

There were also strangers who moved me deeply during the Q & A session when they shared some of their own struggles. A few of them were near tears due to heartbreaking situations they were currently facing. I was able to put them in touch then and there with a perinatal therapist I knew well and she happened to be in the audience. I knew she’d be fine with the instant referral (she was) and they spoke after the talk.


I created a handout I gave to everyone last night that’s chock full of useful info. I’ve copied it for you below.

I’m going to go get a bite to eat and watch one of my favorite Netflix or Acorn TV shows. These include Australia’s The Heart Guy, Glitch—Season 2 (which has Rodger Corser the star from The Heart Guy; he’s such a brilliant actor), New Zealand’s The Brokenwood Mysteries, and the U.K.’s Love, Lies & Records. 

I wish you all a good weekend in which you take care of yourself and do some things that make you happy!

Lots of love,



Park Hall Community Center Author Talk, December 7th, 2017

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

General Information and Resources

Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (“PMADS”)

1)Antenatal (during pregnancy) and postpartum depression

2) postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

3) postpartum psychosis

4) postpartum bipolar disorder (bipolar, peripartum onset in the DSM-5)

5) postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

5) postpartum panic disorder

6) postpartum anxiety disorder

Symptoms of Mania:

Elevated mood, irritability, pursuing goal-directed activities more than usual, heightened energy, a decreased need for sleep, excessive talkativeness, pressurized speech, racing thoughts, spending sprees, hypersexuality, and grandiosity.

Symptoms of Depression:

Feelings of anger or irritability, {postpartum-related: lack of interest in the baby, possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself}, feelings of sadness, tearfulness, crying, emptiness or hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports, sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much, tiredness and lack of energy, even small tasks take extra effort, reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain, anxiety, agitation or restlessness, slowed thinking, slowed speaking or body movements, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame, trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things, frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide, unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis (not a complete list)

Delusions or strange beliefs

Paranoia and suspiciousness

Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)

Rapid mood swings

Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan’s Suggestions: Exercise for Mood Stability

1) Get your doctor’s blessing to exercise, then find an exercise you enjoy doing such as walking, hiking, yoga, swimming, running, treadmill, etc.

2) Exercise 30 minutes a day, six days a week. Research shows that this is what’s needed to affect the brain.

3) Make sure your activity is intense enough so you break a sweat and can’t maintain an ongoing conversation. (If you can’t exercise 6 days/week, shoot for a minimum of 5 days.)

(For more information please visit: medium.com/@MoAlsuwaidan)

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Santa Cruz County Chapter

http://www.namiscc.org          Help Line: 831-427-8020

NAMI Santa Cruz Support Groups link: http://www.namiscc.org/groups.html

NAMI offers a variety of educational classes for consumers and caregivers


DBSA (Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance), Los Gatos/San Jose Chapter

Join DBSA San Jose/Los Gatos’ Meetup Support Group, Organizer: Mike Pearl

Depression/Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA San Jose)

San Jose, CA
97 Members

Find comfort and direction in a confidential and supportive setting, and where you can make a difference in the lives of others.  DBSA San Jose support groups are volunteer ru…

Next Meetup

Depression/Bipolar Peer Support Group (Mountain View)

Saturday, Dec 30, 2017, 10:00 AM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →


CaringBridge Website

Use this wonderful free resource to help organize community support, give updates during a health crisis, receive donations for medical costs and much more.


 Postpartum Support International Warmline


PSI Warmline: (Toll-free) 1-800-944-4PPD (4773) You’re welcome to leave a confidential message anytime, and one of the Warmline volunteers will return your call as soon as possible, providing you with basic information, support, and resources in your area. If you’re not able to talk when the volunteer calls you, you can arrange another time to connect.

 International Bipolar Foundation

(858) 764-2496, comprehensive information & resources about bipolar disorder

BP/Bipolar Magazine


 Suicide Hotline Numbers

If you’re in the U.S. and thinking about suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800- 273-TALK (8255) suicidepreventionlifeline.org—they are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area.If you’re outside the U.S., please visit this link for a list of international suicide hotlines: suicide.org/international-suicide- hotlines.html

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) has a database of international crisis centers at iasp.info/resources/ Crisis_Centres/

Postpartum Psychosis Resources

 “What is Postpartum Psychosis? Teresa Twomey, TEDxBushnellPark


Author of Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness

Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP)
The APP website offers a link to a private forum for mothers with postpartum psychosis and/or bipolar disorder.


Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that a medical professional has determined provides benefit for an individual with a disability. This may include improving at least one symptom of the disability. Emotional support animals, typically dogs, but sometimes cats or other animals, may be used by people with a range of physicalpsychiatric, or intellectual disabilities. In order to be prescribed an emotional support animal the person seeking such an animal must have a verifiable disability. To be afforded protection under United States federal law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a note from a physician or other medical professional stating that the person has that disability and that the emotional support animal provides a benefit for the individual with the disability. An animal does not need specific training to become an emotional support animal.[1] Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation, such as a waiver of a “no pets policy”, for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAA and Section 504.[3]

 Mom & Mind Podcast with Dr. Kaeni & Dyane Harwood

Episode 70, Postpartum Bipolar Disorder


Dyane Harwood’s Website

Sign up for Dyane’s newsletter—just scroll down to the bottom of the page for occasional e-updates about events.


Recommended Blog

 Kitt O’Malley www.kittomalley.blog


Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

Foreword by the perinatal psychiatrist and acclaimed author Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Now available on Amazon in paperback & Kindle versions!

My “Psych Byte” Webinar for the International Bipolar Foundation


It’s the day after Thanksgiving at dawn. I’m watching a beautiful orange-gold sunrise while Lucy is chomping her dog food and everyone else is asleep. I hope your Thanksgiving went as well as possible. For those of you in other countries, I hope your week has been a good one.

This will be a short post, but you have the option of watching a “Psych Byte” YouTube video I recorded last month.

What’s a Psych Byte?

It’s a mini-webinar series produced by the International Bipolar Foundation. I was asked to participate last year and I nervously accepted because I was told my discussion could be as short as 15-20 minutes.

Pre-recorded webinars can be heavily edited or recorded in one take with minimal or no editing. Once I started recording the Psych Byte, I had to keep going—there was a little editing done, I believe, but not much. There are mistakes galore, but I like to think that makes the talk more interesting and authentic! At least I don’t think I used any potty language!

If you give it a listen, I hope you learn something new. If you could please “like” and share the YouTube link that would be awesome. The more positive response, the more likely the International Bipolar Foundation will note the need to share more information about postpartum bipolar disorder & how it relates to postpartum psychosis.

Also, if you’ve read my book and found it to be a worthy read, please review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I’ll be very grateful to you!

Take care & have a good weekend!!








Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.

I Get By With A Little Help From My (Famous) Friends

My most famous friend of all, Lucy with her new hedgehog “baby”


Happy Friday!

I’m sitting at a table at La Placa Bakery. La Placa is an amazing pastry/gelato wonderland recently purchased by a family from Sicily. It’s responsible for my gaining at least ten (maybe 12 15) pounds. Yes, it’s all La Placa’s fault I gained a muffin top, certainly not mine.

Anyway, last week I was having a blah day. I jumped online for a teeny, tiny hit of serotonin that supposedly activates when one checks Twitter. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Imagine my astonishment when I noticed the comic/actor/author Jay Mohr had tweeted this gem to his 333 thousand followers!!!



While Jay’s generous, wonderful tweet didn’t result in an immediate explosion of my book sales, it didn’t matter. His belief in my book and his contribution of the preface are two of the best gifts I’ve ever received, bar none. 

Jay’s at the helm of a couple dynamic podcasts on Podcast One—America’s Lakers and the acclaimed Mohr Stories 

Speaking of podcasts, I want to promote my friends Rebecca Lombardo and the holistic psychiatrist Dr. Denise McDermott.

Rebecca, who has bipolar disorder is an author, podcast host, and a mental health advocate, plus she has a social media promotion business. I’m sure I’m leaving something important out about her, but please trust me when I say she’s super cool! She’s a big Twitter fan; follow her at: @BekaLombardo. Rebecca will be a guest on the Dr. Denise Show podcast, which premieres tonight, and I encourage you to listen! Dr. Denise is also a Twitter fan and tweets many positive and beautiful messages—follow her at: @DrDeniseMD

Rebecca Lombardo, co-host of Voices for Change 2.0 with her husband Joe

Twitter: @Voices4ChangeRJ 

The vivacious, progressive Dr. Denise and her magnificent dog Boomer

Here’s the link to the Dr. Denise podcast.

I apologize for this post being rushed. I’m sure there are typos galore, but at least it will be much shorter than my usual novella.

In twenty minutes I’m meeting with the facility coordinator who manages the venue where I’ll speak in December. My next talk will be slightly different than my October library presentation. I need to jazz it up a bit! (But I draw the line at pole dancing or hula hooping.) I’m not sure what I’ll be doing just yet, but I’ll do my best to get it recorded so you can see what I wind up doing.


Okay, it’s WordPress publication time, but before I press that little blue “Publish” button I have a little more to write. I know the start of the holiday season is rough for most of us and most likely that’s putting it mildly.

Ever since my father died in 2009, Thanksgiving has not been the same. He loved that holiday so much, so I miss him more during Thanksgiving than the other days of the year.

If you’re going through a similar struggle, I send you an extra big hug, and no matter what you’re facing, I implore you to take care of yourself. Thanks so much for reading and for taking time to “like” and comment.

Lots of love,

Dyane “Typo Sinner” Harwood

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.

My Lunch with Spalding Gray

Spalding Gray

June 5, 1941 – January 11, 2004


In my last post, I wrote about a memoir by Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review. When I read Ms. Paul’s memoir My Life with Bob, I discovered we both were fans of the acclaimed actor/author Spalding Gray.

Ms. Paul wrote of her fervent desire to have lunch with Spalding Gray, but that never came to pass. However, I did have lunch with him, but my time with the brilliant raconteur did not go well.

I wrote about my miserable lunch with Spalding Gray. It’s preceded by an account of my first “grown-up” job and my chronic dysthymia, now known as persistent depressive disorder. How I wish we could do our lunch over again in 2017. He’d still be with us, a grandfather perhaps. I’d be 100% more confident compared to how I felt in 1992.

While it’s not exactly an uplifting read, I hope you find it interesting.



I drank my first cup of coffee at age twenty-two.

The momentous event occurred on day one of my entry-level, full-time job. I had been hired to be the office manager of Silicon Events, a special event production company. After years of part-time jobs, it was a shock to suddenly work a long stretch of tense, busy hours five days a week. I was slow to get going at the 8:30 a.m. starting time, but once I drank that first cup of coffee, I became much peppier thanks to the zip of caffeine. Moreover, I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed the taste of French roast. My love affair with java had begun, and I took full advantage of the Mr. Coffee machine located five feet from my desk. 

Because Silicon Events had a skeleton crew of four employees, each of us did a myriad of duties. The lion’s share of my job included standard office tasks such as accounting, filing, and answering phones. As time went on, my responsibilities became more diverse, challenging and interesting, especially when I began working at our summer events.

I assisted Colin, the dark-haired, slightly stocky director, and his wife Sheryl, the company’s creative director. She was a beautiful olive-skinned blonde with expressive brown eyes. I worked alongside the development coordinator named Blake, a tall surfer who was atypically driven compared to the other laid-back Santa Cruz surfers I knew.

Our office was a three-hundred-square-foot room, and since we didn’t have cubicles, we could overhear one another’s phone conversations. While sound barriers would’ve helped, they also would’ve made the small room even more cramped. We eventually got used to blocking out the others’ voices, and Colin was often out of the office, resulting in one less distraction.

My job kept me on my toes, literally and figuratively. Silicon Events produced weekend musical events in Silicon Valley that attracted thousands of attendees. These festivals featured world-famous musicians such as Etta James and Crosby & Nash. Due to his former career in the concert industry, Colin was well connected in the music business and he had an outstanding reputation.

This was my first experience working closely with a perfectionist. One of my primary duties was answering the phone. Our callers ranged from big-time talent agents who represented Ray Charles and Willie Nelson to mellow Santa Cruz shaved ice vendors hoping to rent a booth at our next festival. None of them knew we worked out of an office not much bigger than a closet.

Colin wanted his staff to be professional and give callers the impression we worked in a sophisticated agency. If I made a mistake during a conversation, he’d usually overhear me and brusquely correct me the moment I hung up the phone. At least he didn’t yell, but I felt humiliated and stupid for making errors. I was young and new to office procedures—it was to be expected I’d need time to learn. After a couple of months, I finally started getting the hang of the policies and I became a valued member of the company.

I loved working with Sheryl. She was funny, creative, and caring, and she complimented me on my hard work, attention to detail, and my interpersonal skills. I never grew tired of Sheryl’s appreciation of my strengths. Her faith in my abilities boosted my confidence. I knew how lucky I was to have her in my corner.

Blake was only a couple years older than me and he became a brother figure. Like Sheryl, he was a blast to work with and the three of us often joked around. Blake was always willing to help me with a work project if I hit a snag. I frequently picked his exceptionally intelligent brain. I knew he was bound for greatness and I turned out to be correct; ten years later he’d become a successful district attorney.

Blake and I thrived in our first “grown-up” jobs, and we operated as a family unit more than as a staff. There was dysfunction among us, as there is with any family, but I worked at the company for over four years.

At work, I developed good relationships with a variety of people including talent agents, government agency representatives, and media contacts. I coordinated hundreds of food, art and craft vendors who participated in the annual summer festivals we produced. What kept me from looking for another job was feeling valued, interacting with talented people, and the excitement of producing a special event.

However, the start of almost every workday, a thick depression would hit me hard. At 8:00 a.m. I’d sit in my Jetta in the parking lot, dreading the moment I’d have to force myself to walk twenty feet to the office where I’d don a fake smile. As anyone could imagine, it was exhausting to live that way on a daily basis. No one ever questioned me about my mood, and I was relieved I wasn’t found out outright. I worried if I revealed how bad I felt, I’d lose my job. I didn’t confide in friends or family nor did I seek counseling, which would have been immensely helpful. My only outlet was writing in my journals.

When I sat down in my chair to begin work, I was able to ignore my low mood. I drank a few cups of coffee and the buzz helped lift me out of lethargy. Being busy helped me to stop ruminating about how terrible I felt. When I answered the phones I faked an upbeat tone, calling upon my latent acting talent to be as convincing as possible. I returned home each night to my beloved Sheltie dog Tara, my journal, and an empty studio, pessimistic and deeply lonely.

Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts


One fall morning at work I found out Spalding Gray, one of my favorite authors, would be performing at Villa Montalvo. The villa was a stunning Italian Mediterranean-style mansion nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Villa Montalvo was an ideal place to see a performance and the expensive ticket prices didn’t stop the venue from quickly selling out every show.

Spalding Gray was known for his signature monologues in which he sat behind a plain wooden desk on an empty, dim stage. His performances include Swimming to Cambodia about his experience filming The Killing Fields, Monster In A Box about writing his only novel, and Gray’s Anatomy about his diagnosis with a rare ocular condition called “macular pucker” which can cause blurred, distorted vision.

He often played the role of a doctor in films due to his intellectual air, a shock of white hair and his trademark Rhode Island accent. Producer/actress Fran Drescher handpicked him to play the psychiatrist in her hit television show The Nanny. Spalding Grays’ performance as the Stage Manager in a revival of Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town was so outstanding it would’ve made Thornton Wilder proud.

A couple of years before his Villa Montalvo visit, I attended Spalding Gray’s sold-out Santa Cruz show Monster In A Box. The audience was riveted during his performance—you really could’ve heard a pin drop in that room. He had an endearing, fascinating quality about him. It was incredible to observe how he seamlessly incorporated humor, pathos, and brilliant insights. Despite some disturbing truths he had revealed about himself in his monologues and books, Spalding Gray inspired me.

Despite some disturbing truths he had revealed about himself in his monologues and books, Spalding Gray inspired me.

Silicon Events worked for Villa Montalvo, and I didn’t hesitate to ask if I could serve as Spalding Gray’s production assistant. After being granted permission, I helped fulfill his production rider (contract) requirements. Some performers’ riders could contain notoriously high-maintenance demands such as providing a bowl of a particular color M&M candy in the dressing room. Luckily Spalding Gray’s rider requirements weren’t too difficult. There were only a few slightly unusual requests such as hiring a shiatsu masseuse to help relax him before his show.

The day Spalding Gray came to town, I rented a new gold Pathfinder (my dream car at the time) at my expense. My Jetta was showing its wear and I thought I could impress Spalding Gray with a nice car! I nervously drove to his hotel to pick him up and take him to lunch at the Good Earth restaurant in affluent Los Gatos.

To my utter humiliation and disappointment, our meal was a horror show.

After we had sat down, I puffed up with pride and said magnanimously, “Mr. Gray, I’m treating you to lunch! Get whatever you’d like!”

He murmured a distracted “thanks” as his eyes perused the menu.

I’m sure he assumed Villa Montalvo was treating him. Perhaps if he knew I was paying out of my meager pocket, he might have softened a bit.

My attempt to appear calm didn’t work. Rivulets of sweat from my armpits created dark shadows on my pretty silk pink blouse. As we sat across from one another at a small table in the harsh sunlight, I was in such a dither that he got visibly annoyed with me.

He declared, “You’re jagged!”

Jagged? What the hell kind of word is jagged? I thought.

It was apparent from Spalding Gray’s derisive tone that being jagged was most definitely not a good thing. My face flamed red and beads of sweat popped out on my upper lip. I wanted to sprint out the restaurant door and run twenty-two miles to Santa Cruz so I could hide in my studio.

I didn’t know what retort I could make, so I went with my old standby.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, unable to meet his eyes.

I hastily finished my cashew chicken salad sandwich and strawberry fruit smoothie. He had ordered the same entrée as me. We busied ourselves eating since our conversation had taken its nosedive. I was surprised no one recognized him – maybe people were scared to ask for autographs because of the negative energy surrounding us.

While I might have gotten away with being “jagged” with another actor, Spalding Gray was known for his moodiness. I naïvely thought I could charm the actor. However, I didn’t anticipate I’d become so jittery I’d alienate him.

After lunch, I brought the actor back to his hotel so he could have a shiatsu massage I had arranged with “Yoko.” I was exhausted from our brief interchange, but there was still work to do. After the show, I went backstage and met Spalding Gray’s girlfriend and work partner Kathie Russo. She was lovely, gracious, and welcoming to all of Spalding Gray’s fans, even the jagged ones.

Spalding Gray and Kathie Russo


Although our time together had been an ordeal, my shame melted over time and I continued to keep up with Spalding Gray’s new books and films. I read about his early years in which his mother, a Christian Scientist who had untreated bipolar disorder, died by suicide. I read that Spalding Gray suffered from recurring depression and some of his physicians suspected he might have bipolar disorder. Then I read about his horrific car accident in 2001.

While traveling in Ireland, Spalding Gray was in a car crash in which he had terrible injuries including a skull fracture. He fell into a deep depression following the accident. He consulted with the famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, the doctor portrayed by Robin Williams in the Academy Award-nominated film Awakenings. His general outlook grew worse and in 2004, he went missing. At age sixty-two, Spalding Gray jumped off the Staten Island Ferry to his death in the freezing water, but it took two months for his body to be found. His family was agony as they waited for the news. He left behind Kathie, their two sons, and his stepdaughter.

When I heard the news about Spalding Gray’s death, my first thought was, What a horrible, horrible way to die! I felt so sorry for his family, especially since it took such a long time for them to learn what had happened to him. No wife or child should ever go through such hell.

I hope with all my heart he is now at peace.

One of my favorite Spalding Gray books: Morning, Noon and Night



Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.