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.

 

Stoked I Didn’t Pass Out During My 2nd Toastmasters Talk!

 

 

 

Hi there, my friends!

I hope you’re doing well…

So yes, I survived presenting my Toastmasters “Thought of the Day” to my Redwood Ramblers group yesterday.  

Once again, I was nervous as hell.

 

At least my head-to-toe shakiness wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been during my Icebreaker speech. I was less freaked-out this time, but don’t get me wrong, it was scary!!! It probably didn’t help that I forgot to, um, breathe much.

Each meeting has a different theme chosen by the member assigned the “Toastmaster” role. The Toastmaster serves as the host of the meeting. All roles, both speaking and non-speaking, rotate weekly so everyone experiences each role. Roles include the Ah-Counter (the person who counts the filler words in every person’s speech), the Grammarian (guess!) and the Timer. Yes, every speech gets timed. It’s very precise. I like it!

Yesterday’s theme was Clutter.

(Ha! It could’ve easily been re-named Dyane’s House.)

My speaking role, the Thought of the Day, needed to relate to the theme and last one-to-two minutes.

I decided upon the topic of “Clearing Mind Clutter.” I thought it would be cool to share something that actually helps clear my befuddled brain. 

The following paragraph is what I wrote on my practice notecards. When I spoke to my group, I surprised myself and didn’t use the cards, although it would’ve been fine to refer to them. Instead, I paraphrased my notes and I did silly things like the scrubbing move! (Watch the video for that one…) Oh well. I have no problem making a fool of myself – I have a PhD in tomfoolery!

 

Without further adieu….

What can we do to clear out the clutter, the confusion, and the disorder in our minds?

I found something that’s easy, enjoyable, and free that everyone in this room can do. Plus we’re in the perfect area to do it! It’s called Shinrin Yoku*** in Japanese, and in English, it’s known as forest bathing. 

I didn’t even know forest bathing even existed until I read about it last year in  Good Times. Forest bathing is a leisurely stroll in the woods for fifteen to twenty minutes. Every now and then, you stop and take extra notice of your surroundings, and during your walk, you take deep breaths…making sure you don’t hyperventilate, of course!

Deep breathing allows you to inhale organic compounds given off by the trees. The amazing benefits include lower stress, lower blood pressure, increased energy, better sleep, better focus, and an increase in the NK cells (your natural killer cells) which fight cancer — all this from a leisurely stroll!

Doing this has helped me feel better and manage the clutter in my head. I encourage all of you to take a stroll in the redwoods over the next few weeks, notice how you feel, and let me know about it.

***I encourage you to check out this forest bathing site for more info. – it’s a cool resource!

At the close of the meeting, all talks are evaluated either briefly or in depth. There’s much more scrutiny given to the “Project Talks” (Thought of the Day isn’t one) so I only got a couple comments: the speech was “well-developed and demonstrated planning,” and “giving a call to action was effective.”

At one point I walked down the aisle and back to the podium, exposing the group to my rear. (Good times!) The president advised me to consider walking slowly backward so the group saw my front and I could utilize those moments, LOL!  

Slick move, eh?

See you next week when I’ll reveal some juicy details about my upcoming interview. 

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.

 

Review — Birth of a New Brain: Healing from #Postpartum Depression by Dyane Harwood

 

 

 

 

I want to thank my writing mentor Wendy K. Williamson for writing this wonderful review of my book! I only paid her five bucks to do it! 😉

If it wasn’t for Wendy, I don’t know if my book would have been “born!” I’m forever grateful to this intrepid writer for her encouragement, humor, and wisdom.Wendy’s belief that my writing was good enough to share with others truly kept me going.

Be sure to check out her two books I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar (an outstanding memoir that was ahead of its time) and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival (which I wish I had to read in 2007 when I was diagnosed); please follow her blog & Twitter too @bipolarwendy.

Wendy has some amazing blog posts – one of my favorites is her post called “Go Ahead Writer”:

https://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/go-ahead-writer/

Once again, Wendy, thank you. I’ll always be in your debt unless I win the California SuperLotto Plus jackpot – in that case, I’ll build a writer’s colony and name it the Wendy K. Williamson Center for the Literary Arts. It will have a cafe called “Diner Girl,” a bookstore heavily stocked with her books, and I’ll give you a million dollar stipend! How does that sound? (I wish I could do that!!)

Xo,
Dyane

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ARC’s, Anxieties, Insecurities, and More

 

Lucy

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My Writing Muse 

 

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Holding my first galley, or advanced review copy (ARC)

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Charging the ARC with positive crystal hippie energy.

Hey, before you make fun of me, I live with a geologist so we have tons of crystals in this house. Moreover, I live in a hippie town, so I figured, why the heck not??? I charged the ARC for an hour before I sent it to my dream endorser who requested a hard copy for consideration. Stay tuned for the outcome…

 

Happy Friday everyone!

This week has been all about the ARC.

The what?

The advanced review copy, or ARC. Many people don’t know what the acronym stands for, including some authors! The ARC is the more recent term for a galley, which is an advance copy of your book that’s sent to book reviewers, endorsers, and the press.

This pre-publication copy doesn’t quite look like a book – the pages are simply bound and it might resemble a college term paper. Sometimes the copy hasn’t been fully edited. The cover art isn’t usually included. (For two cool links that will explain more about ARC’s and how to make your own, please visit here and here.)

Sometimes reviewers want the ARC via computer, such as a PDF file. Other times they want a hard copy printed out. Today I sent out my first hard copy to an incredible bestselling author. I’m superstitious so please forgive me for holding off on naming names until I get an answer  I’m crossing my fingers and toes that I’ll get good news in the near future! Even if I don’t get the endorsement, I’ll write about what happens. This endorsement, or “blurb” will appear at the top of the front cover. (Click here for helpful articles about attaining blurbs.)

***Anxieties***

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I’ve been extremely anxious about sending the galley to this famous author. I’ve procrastinated all week, but today after a “pep text” from the gifted author/journalist Greg Archer who has interacted with 95% of the most famous, talented people on the planet (check out his blog Know Place Like Home) I sat down and forced myself to do it.

I had purchased a beautiful card to accompany my book. My hands shook so badly that I screwed up while writing the title of one of the author’s books – how embarrassing!!! Since I paid $7 for the Papyrus greeting card, I just did my best to correct it! I’m keeping it real! (This is the card I sent – I love their cards so much! The Halloween ones are the best I’ve ever seen…)

 

***Insecurities***

Although I tried to mute or unfollow any social media outlet I thought might share the Demi Lovato Situation, I didn’t get everything, so I encountered announcements of a red carpet extravaganza event.  My insecurities were triggered each time I spotted the photos and press releases. But it wasn’t healthy to keep cursing Demi Lovato & her high-rolling production team to the darkest corners of Hades – I needed to move on once and for all. 

My wise daughter Avonlea told me, “Mommy, even if you were chosen, you know you would have freaked out going to New York and being on that panel with Demi Lovato!” and she was right. It would have been too much – I’m not ready for that kind of media exposure. My social anxiety would have been through the roof.

My close friend and mental health advocate/blogger extraordinaire Kitt O’Malley read my mind when I told her it would’ve been too difficult. She reminded me how something stressful (like filming and flying to New York for the red carpet/panel discussion with Demi Lovato) could trigger hypomania. I’m 99.9% sure it would have been the case for me. The rejection was a blessing in disguise.

***Better Late Than Never: At Last I Have An Author Website!***

After procrastinating for several years, I bought a domain name on Wix for $24 for one year. I opted for Wix’s month-to-month Premium Plan at $7/month. I could’ve signed up for a longer subscription time resulting in a lower monthly cost, but I wanted to try it out for a few months, and then decide.

http://www.dyaneharwood.com

If you take a peek, please keep in mind I’ve only just begun to play around with the site, and there are some sample sections up that have nothing to do with me or my book! Please sign up for the mailing list. Also note that Miss Lucy is my media inquiries canine associate for the time being.

***Insecurities (Yet Again!)***

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I’ve started reading bestselling author Joanna Penn’s book and I really like the useful information and her down-to-earth writing style. Some of the sections don’t apply to me, but that doesn’t matter – I read them anyway because they’re brief and interesting. I definitely recommend you read this book, especially if you have insecurities as a writer! I’ll write more about this book as I go along. Here’s the nutshell description:

“Being a writer is not just about typing. It’s also about surviving the rollercoaster of the creative journey. Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer’s block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more.

This book collects the mindset issues that writers experience, that I have been through myself over the last nine years and that perhaps you will experience at different times on the creative journey. Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote so that you can dip in and out over time. It includes excerpts from my own personal journals as well as quotes from well-known writers.”

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Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers (as J.F.Penn) and non-fiction, a professional speaker and award-winning entrepreneur. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the Top 10 sites for writers.

And now I’m about to enjoy an episode of Shetland, a murder mystery set against the stunning Scottish backdrop of the Shetland Isles. I’m addicted, and I’m not ashamed! My Scottish collie Lucy has genetic roots from this rugged part of the world, so I have her watch it with me.

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It’s really well done, and it’s no surprise that Shetland has earned rave reviews. During the first ten minutes, I couldn’t understand the thick Scottish accents and I set the disc aside, disappointed. I’m so glad I gave the series a second chance. All I needed to do was to select the subtitles option, and everything became clear. Let me know if you’ve seen it!

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Actor Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez

Have a good weekend, and say hello in the comments!

XOXOXO

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.

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

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A Noise I’ll Never Forget…

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Photos courtesy of the Santa Cruz Puma Project

Today at 3:00 a.m., I woke up and realized I left something important in my car. I needed to get it, so I walked up the hill to our driveway. It was pitch black outside and brrrrrrrrrr…cold!!!!

On my way to my car, I heard the chickens rustling loudly, and I thought maybe a few raccoons had been around. As I began opening our wooden gate, I heard a very low, rumbling, resonant growl the likes of which I’ve never heard before. It sounded like a mountain lion’s growl.

My gut told me whatever made that noise was NO dog! I can’t prove it, but I swear it was a mountain lion. 

I fled back to the house. Running away from a mountain lion is exactly what you aren’t supposed to do – it can provoke a mountain lion to attack you! You’re supposed to make yourself look big, i.e. raise your arms up high and yell.  

After I heard that unforgettable sound, I stood still inside our house for a good 20 minutes, trembling from fear, thinking about what took place.

We live in mountain lion country. Recently, mountain lions have been spotted a few minutes up our street, so it’s entirely plausible that my gut was right. 

It’s their home as well as ours, but that growl was one of the most frightening sounds I’ve ever heard. (It sounded a lot like the growl at this link.)

And I’m grateful to that mountain lion because it didn’t attack me. That’s not the way this gal wants to go – oh, my dear mountain lion/neighbor, if you’re going to come after me, please wait until my book Birth of a New Brain is published in October! 

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.

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On the Homestretch of Editing “Birth of a New Brain”

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I look a lot like her, complete with frizzy hair and her expression! (But she’s dressed way better than I am.)

Hello, hello!

You might have noticed I’ve been taking a hiatus from reading your blogs. Believe me, I miss them! Hopefully you haven’t been making voodoo dolls in my image for neglecting your posts.

I swear on a tower of glorious Halo Top Ice Cream pints I shall return to your blogs come February!

To add insult to injury, I still owe replies to comments some of you made on my last post – that one about the awful email I wanted to send my writing teacher. While I plan on responding, I must say that each of you who gave me advice was 100% right!;)

De to my Jan. 31 deadline, every spare moment I have is allocated to editing 300 pages of….well, now I can state for the record that my manuscript (ms) no longer resembles Bandini Mountain.

However, sh*t describes exactly how I’ve felt about my ms ever since I got it back from my editor last month, and heck, long before that.

After making the editor’s suggested changes, I realized that my book was NOT ready to be perused by anyone, especially a famous author who agreed to consider contributing a cover blurb. 

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Even after following my editor’s suggestions, the ms still needed a TON of work, and I made up my mind that I was going to give it one last shot before turning it in. I’ve been “killing my darlings” and last night I deleted an entire chapter that didn’t further the story. Sorry to sound like a drama queen, but deleting those pages almost killed me.

With the exception of giving birth, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I’ve been sleeping, but I’ve had vivid nightmares such as the one where alien-human hybrids were eating people around me, and it was clear I was next in line. I woke up just in time.

There was another nightmare that was even worse: I was editing my ms and found an error, and I fixed it, only to discover it had reappeared. That happened with the same error over and over again, a la maddening Groundhog Day fashion. 

Yuck!

At least Lucy has been by my side; her loving energy has been an enormous boost. (That’s her hedgehog “baby” next to her paw.)

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So that’s what has been going on in my life, and things will continue to be that way until January 31st. Every second I’m not taking care of the girls or doing the neverending chores, I’m in my office (i.e. on my bed) editing until I can’t take it anymore, and I guiltily close the ms Word file to play hooky on the wicked internet.

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How are you?

Sending you my love, as always,

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 in October 2017.

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