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.

 

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!

“Bipolar House” To Be Filmed For Pilot!

A friend I grew up with works at a Hollywood television network. A couple years ago I emailed him my reality show concept and he shared it with a Bravo producer. The idea went nowhere…until now.
Bravo Television has selected Bipolar House: Rapid Cyclers Edition for a pilot production!
Because the cast features some major celebrity names, Bipolar House has a shot at coming to your television screen in 2018!
This was the original concept:
BIPOLAR HOUSE: Rapid Cyclers Edition
Hosted by Adam Ant, Musical Icon & Bestselling Author of Stand & Deliver
1980
Mental Health Advocate Adam Ant is still cutting albums at age 61!
 2017
Join Bipolar House Leaders Demi Lovato and Tom Cruise on a one-of-a-kind adventure you’ll never forget!

Be a fly on the wall in a cramped West Hollywood home occupied by six celebrities who have bipolar disorder!

There’s never a dull moment at Bipolar House…

Bipolar House’s intrepid participants have been given the immense challenge of creating a benefit concert.

Their goal: to design a special event imbued with the spirit of the Live Aid Concerts, packing a powerful punch against mental illness stigma!

Don’t miss the Solitary Confinement episode in which celebs who break the House Rules spend eight hours in a bathroom listening to the Enya catalog played in high-fidelity stereo!!!

Watch each Bipolar House guest’s reactions to being placed on the strict vegan diet and detox cleanse made famous by actress Gwyneth Paltrow!!!

“I’ve got the detox blues!”

And in a moving revelation, Tom Cruise announces he has bipolar disorder and explains why he takes fifteen psychiatric medications a day!!!

In the very special Scientology episode, Tom discusses how being a Thetan and signing a billion-year-long contract has helped him cope with his mood disorder.

The superstar closes the hour with a reprise of the song “Old Time Rock ‘N Roll” that made him famous in the film Risky Business. He wears his original costume. (Or lack thereof.)

Guest Appearances by:

Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jim Carrey, Mary Lambert, Axl Rose, Sinéad O’Connor, and Jean-Claude Van Damme singing whatever they’re in the mood to sing about!

The Bipolar House Grand Finale features a spirited singalong of hits including “We Are the World”, The Captain and Tennille’s “Muskrat Love” and the Frozen soundtrack! 

Prepare yourself for evenings in front of your television where you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh, and maybe you’ll cry again!!!

By now (or perhaps after you read the title) you’ve guessed this is a joke…
Happy April Fools Day, my friends.
See you next week & have a great weekend!
XO,
Dyane
 

Dyane Harwood’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.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales arriving this summer!

Cover Reveal Coming….I Miss You All!

1st-prototype-cover

Dear blogging friends, hello there!

I know, I know….I promised I’d do the exciting cover reveal yesterday, but I lied. Just kidding. The truth is that I’ve been TOTALLY flipping out about meeting my Feb. 15th deadline. (It’s nothing major…it’s just the deadline to submit my revised manuscript to The Great and Powerful Oz.)

 So please, I beg of you, give me an extension! The truth shall be revealed!

Speaking of book covers, some of you have seen the following image, but for those who haven’t had the, um, experience yet, I’ll reveal what the cover is NOT going to be.

The cartoonist Chato Stewart generously submitted this artwork pro bono for my consideration. I was grateful, but after careful consideration, I decided to take a pass.

Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart
Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart

The cover won’t be this:

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This is picture of a bona fide mountain lion who lives near me! Photo courtesy of the Santa Cruz Puma Project

The cover won’t be this either, primarily because it’s my husband’s book’s cover:


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It won’t be this:

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(courtesy of Bookshop Santa Cruz)

On the other hand, THIS could work!

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Have a great Valentine’s Day! I send you each a virtual tray of calorie-free pastries from the glorious heaven known as the Ben Lomond Baking Company.

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Sending you lots and lots of love,

Dyane

Dyane Harwood’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 in October.

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Losing Ulla

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Ulla’s dog Solo

 

Ulla. Where do I begin?

When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship.

Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s hard to relate to the idea. But I was frustrated all the same because it was a genuine friendship.

How I hate writing that word “was”.

Ulla was a better friend to me than most of the friends I’ve ever had; hell, she was there for me during some of my toughest times far more than some of my relatives.

Oh Ulla.

She supported my writing, and — this was big– she helped me grieve my father’s death. She truly understood what it was like to lose a parent since she had been through it too.

She sent me e-books. She made me laugh through her original, feisty, always-brilliant blog posts. I looked forward to her provocative, witty, informative linkdumps – check out one example here

Even when she was way down, Ulla would check in with me out of the blue to see how I was doing.

We loved going off about crazy Scientology – Jeez, they gave us SO MUCH to make fun of – we couldn’t help it!!!!

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Thetan looks like a lady

 

Best of all, Ulla sent me pictures of Solo, her sweet hound.

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We tossed around the idea of her making a meme of my Lucy, and she gave me this fabulous image:

lucymd-1

I feel guilty that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) didn’t help her out of the evil treatment-resistant bipolar depression. When Ulla began asking me about my ECT experiences, I shared how the treatments helped me.

I was suicidal after my father died, and once again after I relapsed after  tapering off meds. (Word to the wise: just don’t do it!) Anyway, I had ECT each of those times, and it brought me out of those horrendous states.

While I didn’t feel happy after the rounds of ECT, I stopped thinking that I had to kill myself all the time.

She tried ECT. It didn’t work. Should I have encouraged her the way I did? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about it. If I go down that route, I feel worse. Ulla would probably tell me to shut the f*ck up and remind me that she wasn’t a puppet – ever the meticulous researcher, she made an informed choice.

When I found out the news about Ulla, even the lithium coursing through my bloodstream couldn’t prevent tears from falling down my face. (The salt usually does keep my tears at bay; it’s a very odd feeling. But that’s one shitty, unhealthy side effect this drama queen could do without. We need to be able to cry sometimes.)

Upon seeing their mom’s twisted-up face shiny with rare tears, my daughters wrapped their arms around me. A concerned Lucy circled around us and barked as if ten ambulances were speeding past our front door. 

Ulla.

Platitudes come to my mind:

“She’s in a better place.” “She’s at peace.” “She’s with her mom now.”

I’ll be honest with you – I want to believe those cliches are true. I want to believe Ulla’s okay, and that she’s no longer suffering. And here’s the final kicker:

I want to meet her…and thank her…. in person in “Some Fantastic Place” (a beautiful Squeeze song written about their friend who died) because I’ll never get the chance to do that here.

On Saturday, September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day) Jill of My Spanglish Familia and Yvette of Yve’s Corner have organized an online vigil at this link at Ulla’s blog Blahpolar, the blog I’ve mentioned numerous times as being my #1 favorite.

Yve and Jill invite us to: Bring…your fondest memories, your favourite posts, some ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘candles’, and let’s honour her struggle and mourn her loss together.”

I’ll be there.

 

 

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 in October, 2017. 

Post Hill

It’s World Insecure Writers Day!

Since there aren’t enough official “Days” and “Months” in the year, i.e.

World Bipolar Day and World Gourmet Donut Month,

I’ve decided to petition Congress for yet another day:

World Insecure Writers Day

Why not?

(Okay, okay, I’m kidding!)

Today’s post will be rather silly, superficial, and my personal favorite: whiny. (I hope you’ll enjoy reading it regardless of the content.)

A wise blogger once wrote, “Our blogs are the equivalent of our living rooms.” 

That quote resonates within me. 

Welcome to my living room – I vacuumed it just for you!

This is a time of year that breeds insecurity for me. While I love the fall, it’s also an unsettling reminder that I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar (bipolar, peripartum onset) in October, 2007. Even without my insecurity woes, I’d be waffling around in my soul.

In last week’s vlog I referred to a few incidents that were utterly ridiculous, but threw me for a loop. I promised to write about them this week, and true to my word, here goes:

First I was freaked out by an unpleasant, blog-related incident. Then I was unnerved by two writing-related schmuppywuppies. 

Schmuppywuppy means a weird coincidence that reminds one of yearned-for dreams that were never realized, touched with a soupcon of envy. It’s the dark, dreary side of wistful. It’s also a good name for a pet fish.

My Yucky Bloggy Bummer

After writing over 350 posts, I never had a single request from anyone to delete his/her name from a post. That changed last month. And the irony of the whole enchilada was that I only wrote glowing remarks about the person – damn, I’d love someone to write what I wrote about me. The way I saw it, I was giving the person’s services great P.R.

The reason for his request made no sense to me, or to Craig, or to the girls, or to Lucy or even to our new, erudite Asyrian hamster Copper. I’d write more, but since this person is local, I’ll leave it at that for now.

I realized the reason for this person’s request had to be STIGMA.

Yes, gruesome, bipolar-related stigma! (Don’t you think that could be a Halloween costume? STIGMA!)

My gut feeling was that this individual didn’t want anyone on the planet to think he had anything to do with a bipolar-related blog because — gasp — someone might think HE had bipolar too. (Perish the thought!)

As I mentioned, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it threw me all the same. Apart from the stigma theory, I couldn’t imagine what else could cause him to feel that way unless this person thought I was a sh*tty writer and wanted no assocation with my blog. Was I being paranoid? Yes.

I’d love your thoughts on this one…don’t hold back. (Well, maybe hold back a little bit. I’m so sensitive…)

What Was In My High School Water Fountain Drinking Water?

At least two people in my high school class of ’87 became best-selling authors. One author is a junior high friend I lost touch with when we attended separate colleges. Her name is Aimee Bender. (I’ve briefly mentioned her here.)  

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Made into a feature film!

The other writer is Norman Ollestad; I only knew him in passing.

And this writer also attended my high school – you might have heard of her – but she was, and remains in a class all her own!

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So, a few days ago I received the latest e-letter from a publisher I admire named Counterpoint. I met the head of this publishing company last year at a writer’s conference. He was super-cool and even gave me useful advice. 

As usual, I scanned Counterpoint’s e-letter and I saw that they’re representing Norman’s second book. The newsletter editor went on and on about how fabulous a writer Norman is. (I’m sure he is brilliant, but I didn’t read his first book because I was too depresssed at the time.)

I’m happy for him because he has gone through hell, and he turned his agony into a bestseller.

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Suffice to say that when I saw Norman’s name in Counterpoint’s e-letter, and read accolade after accolade, I thought, Look at him, he’s the type of author you’ll never be: super-successful!!!

That thought came and went because even though I’m not going to get on the NYT list, I can make peace with that. It’s just all the other writing-related insecurities I have a problem with handling well.

The last thing that happened was kind of funny.  

There are a lot of writers in this area, but most of them aren’t professional and they do it as a hobby. There are many independently published local books with titles such as The Magic of CannabisJerry Garcia Is God, and How I Found Myself Dancing in the Pagan Rain

After my girls’ school started last week, I read all the introductory material from their teachers. One teacher’s welcome letter particularly interested me because she wrote her husband is an author whose newest book is coming out soon. I snarkily thought, I bet his book is called Banana Slugs and Me – A Love Story or something like that!

Of course I Googled the author’s name to discover that he had a big-time agent, a glitzy website, an exciting book tour, and, to top it off, his book is being published by one of my dream publishers.

This publisher is the one that famously took a big, controversial chance on publishing Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, who is one of my favorite authors. (The publisher is Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, now a division of MacMillan.)

After reading the author’s lengthy bio, I found out that some of his previous books were compared to my junior high classmate Aimee Bender. Small world, eh?

What can I learn from all this?

What might you learn from any of this?

It’s okay to be jealous, and it’s okay to be petty, but keep on moving. 

Keep on writing, or keep on doing whatever you enjoy, even when you get insecure about your ability. Move through those negative thoughts, distract yourself, do anything but linger in the great sinkhole of envy and insecurity because these thoughts can drain the spark out of us faster than when Lucy chases after a squirrel.

Take a lesson from Arrow’s song Groove Master from The Mighty Quinn soundtrack. Arrow reminds us to keep on moving! (If you haven’t seen The Mighty Quinn, you need to put it on your bucket list.) 

I know there has to be another lesson to learn from the recent events, but I have to pick up the kids at school. I’ll let you know if anything comes to mind next Friday. In the meantime, happy September!

XoXo

Keep on groovin’,

Dyane

Lose It! – We’re Losers and We Like It!!

My friend Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear and I are continuing to use Lose It!’s website. We encourage one another to reach our goals, especially now that it’s harder to eat well for a myriad of reasons. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

 

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Cool Depression/Bipolar Books, Writing Insecurity & Dog Tongues

Cool Depression/Bipolar Books, Writing Insecurity & Dog Tongues

Dear Awesome Blogging Friends,

Even if you don’t have the time, interest, or patience to watch my entire vlog, please check out Lucy’s yawn at approximately the 4:20 mark – does she have a long tongue or what?

LucyYawn

“Didn’t you know that long tongues are a sign of high intelligence?”

Not my best shot; yes, I’m tired today! Sigh

The two books I mention here are:

The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression  by Dr. Linda Gask $9.99 on Kindle

This is a great read so far; I’m about halfway through it. Dr. Gask has a spare, eloquent and revealing way of writing about her innermost feelings. (I give her extra credit because we know how rare it is for any psychiatrist to be forthcoming and vulnerable, either in writing or in person!) Born to a Scottish mother & English father, Dr. Gask was brought up on the east coast of England. Dr. Gask is now Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and is semi-retired. I don’t know if she likes dogs, but if she does, I bet she’d love Lucy since she’s a Scottish collie!

Finding Sanity: John Cade, lithium and the taming of bipolar disorder by Greg De Moore and Ann Westmore, $20.99 (ouch!) on Kindle

From the description: “In 1948…an Australian doctor and recently returned prisoner of war, working alone in a disused kitchen, set about an experimential treatment for one of the scourges of mankind – manic depression, or bipolar disorder. That doctor was John Cade and in that small kitchen he stirred up a miracle.”

Damn! All I’ve stirred up in my small kitchen has been store-bought soups and containers of yogurt. Too bad I can’t channel some of Cade’s genius, since my writing office is actually part of my small kitchen too!

I downloaded the Finding Sanity sample on my Kindle, but I haven’t read it yet. However, I’ve never heard of a book like this being written before – have any of you? I’m really looking forward to reading it, and I’ll let you know what I think of it down the line.

By the way, Dyane’s Informercial in the vlog features:

I ❤️ Pet Head Oatmeal Paw Butter – it soothes and relieves dry, cracked paws – they have a whole lines of dog shampoos, conditioners and um, strawberry lemonade dog perfume. Yep. More on that next week.

Finally, the Lose It! saga continues…

In tandem with my blogging amigo Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear, we’re still encouraging one other through Lose It!’s website, especially now that it’s harder for each of us to stick to our goals. (Bradley, maybe it’s the Mercury retrograde that’s going on!!??) If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

Looking forward to seeing you next Friday-ish…

love, 

Dyane

p.s. Thanks for visiting this blog and for your support – honestly, the biggest gift that bipolar has given me isn’t how it affects my personality, or my creativity, or whatever…it’s that it has connected me with YOU GUYS.

I’m serious! Xo

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.