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 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.) 

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 checked a text on my cell phone and 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,

Dyane

 

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!

JamisonBook

 

 

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Looking for a Good Book?

The following authors graciously endorsed my memoir, and they have written fantastic books. I urge you to read their work!

  

 

“Birth of a New Brain is a gripping account of the awful juxtaposition of childbirth and the onset of bipolar illness. Dyane’s 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: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character

 

 

 

“This is a story of when love alone can and cannot heal in bipolar disorder. It is a story of mental illness seen through the eyes of a daughter, a wife, and a mother. Birth of a New Brain was a privilege to read.”

Dr. Greg de Moore

Author of Finding Sanity: John Cade, Lithium, and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, Australia

 

“With artful prose and brutal honesty, Dyane Harwood depicts her struggle to have a stable, peaceful life as a wife and mother amidst the turmoil brought on by postpartum bipolar disorder in Birth of a New Brain. Despite many false starts, missteps, and even cruel and indifferent treatment at the hands of certain medical professionals she encountered, Harwood soldiered on and finally arrived at her own truth. The answers, for the most part, were inside her all along and consisted of self-care habits, including healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and consistent exercise. Thoroughly researched with a wealth of resources for mothers and families, Birth of a New Brain is an invaluable resource and reference point for mothers grappling with shifts in mood after the birth of their children.”

Matt Samet

Author, Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness

Editor, Climbing Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

“Dyane Harwood’s writing eloquently brings to life the complex interaction between the person, her world and the changes in how she how she perceives it wrought by the onset of mania following childbirth. She unpicks the essential conflict faced by all of us who experience chronic mood problems—between the pressure to follow sometimes uncertain ‘medical advice’ uncritically and the need to retain some sense of self-agency because with that comes the hope of being able to lead the kind of lives we want to live. She rightly challenges the doctors who project their own failings onto the ‘problem patient. Indeed, she highlights the importance for all of us of finding a doc in whose expertise one can really invest some respect and trust. We are all so much more than our ‘illness’ but can find that goal hard to achieve. Dyane Harwood’s extraordinary book shows us how to do it.”

Dr. Linda Gask

Author, The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression, Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester

 

“Dyane’s journey through mental illness has taken an astonishing amount of twists and turns, and in Birth of a New Brain, she generously and courageously shares her experience so that others may learn from it. Birth of a New Brain is an invaluable and hopeful guide for anyone confronting mental illness so that they can get the help they need and deserve, from professionals and family, without shame.”

Mark Lukach

Author, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

 

 

 

 

“Dyane Harwood’s new book Birth of a New Brain is a phenomenal gift to the mental illness community, especially for postpartum sufferers. Dyane’s clever weave of gut-wrenching honesty entwined with intricate storytelling illuminates an under-profiled mental illness. Birth of a New Brain is an important addition to the world’s mood disorder literature, and it will help those with perinatal and bipolar disorders of all kinds. Delve into Dyane’s incredible story, one that untangles the baffling and under-reported illness of postpartum bipolar disorder. Prepare to be moved. You won’t regret it.”

-Wendy K. Williamson
Author, I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and co-author of Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder http://www.wendykwilliamson.com

 

Dr. Carol Henshaw, who wrote my book’s foreword, co-authored The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry. 

Dr. Henshaw writes the wonderful travel blog On the Road Again – Wanderlust and the Need to See More of the World

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder,  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 later this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Toastmasters Humiliation & Kay R. Jamison Blurb Bliss

This is what I’m going for, T.S. Eliot!

 


Last Wednesday at Toastmasters, I turned on my laptop and spent a considerable amount of time placing it in the perfect position to record my speech #2.

I was so freaking nervous that I spaced out on pressing the “record” button so I can’t share the video as I had planned!

During the five minutes of my speech “The Dr. A. Way,” I was a shaking bundle of exposed nerve endings. I made a complete ass of myself.

I was hit particularly hard because I thought I had a chance at improving just a little bit. I spoke about a topic I knew well (“Exercise for Mood Stability” by Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan) and I even brought some fun props, but nope – I still blew it.

I won’t give up on these speeches! In five months I’m presenting my first book talk. I refuse to be a mass of quivering jello in front of my family, friends, and community members.

Now, I know I won’t conquer all of my anxiety – I’m realistic – but I’m going to work hard on dialing it down a notch or ten… 

The cool thing (or sadistic thing, depending on how you look at it) about belonging to Toastmasters is that I’ll face my public speaking fear every seven days. It’s up to me when I want to schedule the remaining eight speeches of the “Competent Communicator” program, but at each meeting I’ll be required to speak through various roles, i.e. Ah-Counter, Table Topics, etc.

Meanwhile…

I still can’t quite believe Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of the classic memoir An Unquiet Mind, is endorsing Birth of a New Brain!  It’s a wonderful feeling to think that someone like her will support my book. 

Last night Rilla told me to “stop bragging on Twitter” about the KRJ endorsement, so I erased a braggy tweet I was writing. I reluctantly admitted she was absolutely right. It’s humbling when your nine-year-old is more mature than you are. 

All is quiet here tonight, and I’m off to enjoy a late dinner and watch my new favorite show Rosewood.

Rosewood’s star Morris Chestnut is a fantastic actor. I wasn’t familiar with his work until I saw his performance as an ER doctor in Nurse Jackie. If you’re looking for a new show, I encourage you to check out Rosewood on Netflix.

I hope you have a good weekend!

Lots of love,

Dyane

 

 

 

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 on Amazon for paperback pre-sales; Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

 

Thank You Dr. Jamison & The Unknown Angels

 

Dear Friends, 

Last year, I wrote about Anthony William’s book Medical Medium

William explained how praying to a group called the “Unknown Angels” helped him a great deal. At first, I was quite skeptical. However, the thought of asking those mysterious-sounding Unknown Angels appealed to me so I went for it and I started talking to them.

Every day for the past six months I asked the Unknown Angels out loud (per Mr. Williams’ instructions) to help me in specific ways.

I spoke to them at least once a day, preferably where no one could see me! 

My requests were pragmatic and focused on safety and happiness for my kids and my husband. I prayed before walking my dog Lucy in the forest and asked that we wouldn’t encounter mountain lions. (So far, so good.)

At some point during each prayer, I asked that my “dream author” (clinical psychologist/bestselling author Kay Redfield Jamison) endorse my book. 

 

I knew Dr. Jamison’s endorsement wasn’t likely to happen, but I sent a letter to her staff anyway. If I didn’t take a chance, the phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained” would haunt me forever.

Dr. Jamison wasn’t known to endorse books very often; in fact, I hadn’t seen any book endorsed by her except for the outstanding The Midnight Disease written by her friend Dr. Alice W. Flaherty.

Why would Dr. Jamison endorse a first-time author like me? (Well, I had some good reasons, but I was doubtful she’d agree with them!)

On Monday around 7:30 a.m., I found out that Dr. Jamison will supply my book’s cover blurb. My neighbors found out too — I screamed and sang obnoxiously loud for five minutes. Lucy, alarmed to see me act like such a freak, chimed in with her cacophonous howls.

Now, I don’t have Dr. Jamison’s exact words yet.

She could change her mind. 

Maybe I should’ve waited to share my happy news with you until I had her endorsement in hand, but I can’t help it.

I only wish I could tell my father about this wonderful honor.

In any case, I want you to remember my story when you’re on the fence about pursuing something you consider a major longshot.

I want you to go for it.

And even if you’re a skeptical agnostic like I am, take a look at my blog post about the Unknown Angels, or if you believe in something else, focus on connecting more with it.

If you talk to the Unknown Angels, you might get flak from family & friends. I sure did! At least it’s a positive focus, right?

You might even be happily surprised with what comes your way….

Have a good weekend, and thanks so much for reading & commenting!

Love,

Dyane

 

p.s. Remember the interview I was fretting about? It went absolutely ***fine**** & it was 100% drama free. When the link is up, I’ll share it with you here.

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 on Amazon for paperback pre-sales; Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.