It Has Been 10 Years Since My Postpartum Bipolar Was Activated

On August 26, 2007, my postpartum bipolar disorder was activated during one of the happiest days of my life: the birth of my child.

As some of you know, all hell broke loose afterward and my treatment-resistant bipolar depression lasted a long, long time. 

I’m super-thankful I can tell you that my life is different now. Although every day remains challenging, I’m doing relatively well.

In today’s vlog, I describe my recent freak-out with Bipolar UK. I asked the acclaimed non-profit if they’d share my SELF postpartum bipolar article with their followers. 

They said no.

Why? Because Bipolar UK doesn’t recognize postpartum bipolar disorder as a diagnosis. 

I expound upon that topic in my vlog. 

On a brighter note, I mention some projects I’m working on as I approach my book’s October 10th “birth” which I hope (apart from the inevitable bad reviews) will be relatively pain-free! 

Have a good weekend, my lovely ones, and please take good care of yourselves!

XoXo,

Dyane

 

Read my latest article here: SELF Magazine “We Need to Talk About Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available in early September.

Advertisements

On The Road to Publication: Covering My Bases

 

photo-on-10-13-16-at-12-01-pm-2

Separated at birth?

Dear Friends,

Another week has flown by, and I hope that you’re doing well.

When I told my therapist that it seems like a hard time for so many of us, she agreed. She said she knew two people who recently died by suicide, and she noticed more clients are in crisis now compared to other times of the year. 

So, whatever helps you feel a little better each day, do it!

Hanging out with my dog Lucy, good food, reading the WordPress Reader, connecting with bloggers, light therapy, coffee, mood lifting essential oils, watching Netflix shows, listening to anxiety-reducing music

Those are some of my favorite things. Tell me what lifts your spirits in the comments section – I’d love to know.

And speaking of spirits, Halloween is in 18 days!

What will you be?

Visit this post to find out what my costume is – scroll all the way down.

 

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder Update

I submitted my manuscript on October 1st to my publisher. The next step is to start working with my editor. I’m nervous (who wouldn’t be?) but I’m incredibly excited that I’ve reached this stage. (I’m hard at work growing an extra-thick layer of skin because I’ll need it when I get the feedback!) 

I received an excellent foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, one of the world’s top perinatal psychiatrists. Dr. Henshaw is also an intrepid world traveler and blogger. To read about her journeys visit her blog On The Road Again – Wanderlust and the need to see more of the world.

Cover Design

Here’s the first contender:

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

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

Just kidding!

Last week I started working with a talented graphic designer who will create the cover! My girls inspired me to come up with a potential concept, and they drafted it on the Post-It pictured below. It’s fun to include them in the process, and I’m thrilled they took an interest.

I love beautifully designed book covers, and I look forward to sharing more details with you in the months ahead.

wp-1476383897216.jpg

Thinking about book covers inspired me to brainstorm about endorsement blurbs. I have an extensive list of celebrated writers, doctors, and even celebs who I want to contact, but I’m holding off until I have a completed cover I can send out to entice them, heh heh heh.

If you’re interested in this topic, publisher Brooke Warner of SheWrites Press wrote an article “An Author’s Guide to Praise and Endorsement Practices”  that’s worth a look.

I took this picture at our local indie bookstore in the children’s book section. I guess as long as no one writes this about my book, I’ll be happy! 😉 

wp-1469796185916.jpg

Social Media, I Can’t Quit You!

After a three-month-long social media hiatus, I’ve returned to Twitter and Facebook. (I took time off to focus on completing my book, and it was a great decision – I highly recommend it.)I won’t kid you – I allowed myself to get sucked right back in! 

I won’t kid you – I allowed myself to get sucked right back in! 

I’d be grateful if you could like my Facebook Book Page

Unlike Facebook, which retains your contacts when you deactivate your profile, Twitter erases your followers, etc. after a certain amount of time. Boo Twitter! I have a new Twitter handle: @DyaneHarwood — and I invite you to follow me!

The Lose It! Update

My friends Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear), Marie Abanga (Merry Marie) and I are using the Lose It! app & website to get healthy. Thanks, in part, to Lose It! I’ve maintained a 40 lb. weight loss but I struggle with food. 

At least over the past few days I stopped bingeing at night! I still eat too much for dessert, but my dessert is a far cry from the tons of gelato, chocolate cake, chocolate bars, chocolate anything I used to eat. These days I enjoy an apple and (lots of ) almond butter! In any case, I’m relieved to have broken the bingeing cycle. I suspect that meeting my deadline had something to do with that…

If you’d like to try Lose It!, you can sign up for free at www.loseit.com – to join our little group, search for the Wondrous Writers group at the site.

###

So much for aiming to write a short post. Someday I’ll surprise you and do it. Thanks for reading, and be extra-good to yourselves!

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 in October 2017.

Unknown-1

The Heat Is On!

 

It has been a long time since I’ve skipped writing a weekly blog post, but I almost took a break from writing today. However, I couldn’t resist the blogosphere’s lure – it’s strong, and I always feel better after I write a post.

As you can guess, the reason I came close to skipping is that I’m struggling on several fronts – it’s nothing bipolar-relapse-related or tragic, thank God, but life has been extra-hard since I last wrote. That’s why you might’ve noticed I haven’t commented on your blogs yet, but I promise I’ll do my best to catch up.

Throughout the recent stress I’ve been able to remain binge-free, I’ve continued eating healthy food, and I’ve been taking my redwood walks with Lucy, and all of that is awesome. I know it sounds pompous, but that’s not just awesome – it’s truly miraculous. In the past, the ridiculous, unethical bullshit I’ve recently suffered would’ve led me right back to inhaling my Talenti double chocolate gelato. But dammit, I’m 130 pounds of strength, and I’m on a mission to keep those extra, unnecessary 40 pounds away for good!

Meanwhile, I’m almost to the finish line with my October 1st memoir deadline. I’m using every bit of my free time to work on the manuscript. To that end, I deactivated my Facebook account, I’m taking a “virtual leave of absence” with my email, and I’ve begun weaning myself off my beloved Twitter all so that I can focus my energy where it needs to go: my book.

It feels positive, healthy and empowering to do such things. (It makes it easier to take these breaks knowing that they’re temporary.) If you haven’t ever done so, I highly recommend it. Remember you don’t need any specific reason to do it! Or you can blame it on me! 😉

So yes, this week has been a particularly strange, disturbing and draining one. I definitely plan to write about it when I’m not so charged; most likely next week because I’d greatly value your take on what happened. 

As I leave you with that ‘lil cliffhanger, I hope you’ll return to read Birth of a New Brain next Thursday or Friday!

In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

love,

Dyane

 

Unknown-1

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

 

Lucy & I Celebrate Our Birthdays Today!

 

Lucy Soul

The birthday girl – I call this shot “Soulful Lucy” 

Two years ago on March 18th, a gorgeous, loving Scottish Collie was born!

Forty-six years ago on March 18th, I made my Earthly debut. 

Chillin’ with my Dad

Dy two

The words of Toni Childs (one of my favorite musicians) come to mind: 

Let me welcome you to this world

And let me tell you of my world

How it is and how it is

You want to know now?

I want to say that it’s a bad world

And tell you that it’s so, so bad

I don’t want to disappoint you my child

But this world is gonna take you gonna take you by storm, child

You will be hurt and there will be pain, yeah

But there will be love just the same, yeah

Welcome to the world, my boy and girl

Welcome to the world, welcome to the world

Toni Childs, Welcome to the World  

This song is from Toni’s amazing album The Woman’s Boat. The video of Welcome to the World is mega-surreal, to say the very least! Directed by the famous Italian Stefano Salivati, I guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like it.

 

As a child I had some memorable birthday parties…

FIFTH BIRTHDAY

When I was five my parents hired “Archie”, a creepy clown who was a big hit!

one

I look a tad perplexed, don’t I?

TWELFTH BIRTHDAY

When I turned twelve, I invited my closest friends to come over to my house for chocolate cake. On a whim, everyone except for latecomer Tina dressed up in my Mom’s eccentric 70’s outfits. We slathered on grease paint makeup left over from Halloween. Since we lived in Southern California, naturally we went to the beach. Along the edge of the Pacific Ocean we played in the sand like toddlers, and built sandcastles. It was one of my best, most carefree birthdays.

 

20160312_131415-2

SIxjpg

My alter ego…I’m not sure what look I was going for, exactly, but I sure liked those black dots!

SWEET SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY

My sixteenth birthday was a mess. It was 1986, the year I was a spoiled brat. I demanded that my parents throw me a birthday party at an expensive restaurant.

I bullied Mom and Dad into shelling out far too much money for mediocre Mexican food at Santa Monica’s Huntley Hotel. The management failed to tell us they were in the process of redecorating the dining room, so it was super-shabby instead of its usual state of super-sleek.  

FiveIf you stare hard you’ll note the blotchy walls; at that point I didn’t care what the room looked like; I wanted the excruciating thing over!

Single and lonely like many sixteen-year-olds, the one person I wanted to attend my shindig was nowhere to be seen. “Red”, my first real love, had dumped me a few weeks before my birthday. He decided to date one of my closest friends and she had no problem with it.

To top things off, my parents surprised me with what appeared to be a singing gigolo named “Mr Wonderful”. Mr. Wonderful was anything but wonderful. I would’ve preferred a singing gorilla, a singing banana slug, or even a singing clown.  

Fourjpg

Gotta sing! Mr. Wonderful, the singing telegram

 

FORTY-THIRD BIRTHDAY

Then there was my manic birthday party: March 18, 2013. While slowly tapering off meds (something I DO NOT recommend to anyone!) I dropped from 155 to 120 pounds. I couldn’t see that I had become almost skeletal. There’s a lot more I could add about this time in my life, but in a nutshell, I had taken my weight loss way too far. 

Here I am during the hypomanic phase of my tapering experiment. Four months later I’d be hospitalized for bipolar depression and ask for electroconvulsive therapy yet again.

Dyane H

 

Lesson learned! I never demonize my meds!

It’s going to be hard to top this year’s birthday after what happened on my 45th birthdaybut I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to forget about making comparisons, those odious things. 

And who knows what might happen?

***Awesome St. Patrick’s Day Update***

I received a fantastic gift this morning. I was notified by Huffington Post that my first article was published!

If you could visit this link to my article “Postpartum Bipolar: The Invisible Postpartum Mood Disorder” and comment/like/share/“Become A Fan”, that would be FANTASTIC!

(Not to sound greedy, but the more comments etc. I receive, the better.)

The article was chosen as a Featured Blog Post!

unnamed

 

As long as it’s a relatively drama-free day, there’s chocolate for me, and a dog treat for Lucy, I’ll be extremely grateful. 

 

Great show, catchy song, hip band…but what do you think of that dress???

Twojpg

Thanks Mom for your encouragement & love!

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

Unknown

Is My Book Worthy of Being Published & More Redux

ImageI wrote this post in January, 2014, which seems like a lifetime ago. It was before I received my all-time favorite birthday gift. 

I’ve been sick the past couple days with a nasty cold/cough…

images-2

While I’ve been stuck in bed, I revisited some of my oldest blog posts. Is My Book Worthy of Being Published? & More caught my eye. I wanted to share a revised edition of the post, and I hope you enjoy it!

These days I’m focusing on writing blog posts rather than completing my memoir. Unfortunately when I write blog posts I feel like I’m “cheating” on my book, if that makes any sense! Oh well – I could have worse problems, right?

Apart from feeling like I’m a cheater, I go through fits and starts about whether or not I even have a story worth publishing. 

For those of you writing books, do you feel the same way?

On the one hand, I would’ve appreciated reading a book about my particular diagnosis. As of now, there’s no book I can find that specifically addresses postpartum bipolar disorder. If that continues to be the case, it’s a blessing in disguise, since I want my book to stand out in the sea of ubiquitous bipolar memoirs.

Oftentimes when a writer covers a particular unusual topic, another writer halfway across the world (or even down the street) is writing about the same specialized subject  This happened with my husband’s book about a West Coast aviation pioneer named John J. Montgomery, a contemporary of the Wright Brothers. In all honesty Craig’s book was far superior than the other book in terms of writing quality. 😉 Additionally, Craig is John J. Montgomery’s great, great nephew, and he had access to amazing primary sources that no one else had.

TeamHarwood

Team Harwood prepping a case Craig’s books with protective plastic covers. The girls will sell them at his next book talk, a benefit for the Friends of the Library. Craig’s still in demand for presentations although his book was published in 2012! He has only had a few people fall asleep during his talks – one snored very loudly.

At this point, I’m in too deep to renounce finishing Birth of a New Brain, so I’m going to keep plugging away. 

UnknownOn a related note, I have a hobby that inspires me to not give up writing my book .  

When I wind down in the evening, I search my Kindle Fire’s Store using the keyword “bipolar”. Then I select the “Recently published” sort. I do a separate search and sort for “postpartum”. 

 

images-1

KINDLE FIRE

 

I’ve noticed that more and more bipolar disorder and postpartum-related books are being published. (Note: This trend is much stronger now than it was in 2014!)  

I can tell at a glance that most of the bipolar-themed books I spot in the Kindle Store are unimpressive. Just from reading these books’ descriptions I notice the writing is inferior. To be blunt, these books (which are sometimes less than 40 pages long, yet sport titles such as All About Bipolar Disorder!) simply don’t contain many redeeming qualities!

51k2BkB9-3L._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_

At 39 pages, I doubt this book is comprehensive. I sure as hell wouldn’t want Dr. Morrison for my doctor!

images-1

Let me tell you all, quack, about, quack, quack, bipolar disorder!!!

Other books appear to be personal journals rather than books meticulously crafted for the public. (I know this because out of sheer curiosity I download free samples of those books; I love Kindle’s sample feature!)

Why do these observations motivate me to continue writing my book? Well, I might have just flamed the inferior quality of 90% of what gets published, but I do admire those writers for their chutzpah – for “just doing it”. If they can do it, why can’t I? 

Through my Kindle searches I also notice which publishers release mental health books, and then I dream of landing a publisher specializing in mental health issues such as New Harbinger (Update: they soundly rejected me) or Hay House.

When I feel down about taking forever to get my book done, I think of my husband Craig. His award-winning book Quest for Flight (University of Oklahoma Press) took seven years to write while he also worked full-time and was hit with my bipolar disorder illness, seven hospitalizations, and other crises. He wrote for fifteen minutes a day, usually before the rest of the family got up to distract him.

51oXuixHHeL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

I love the cover! 

 

I don’t want to take seven more years to finish Birth of a New Brain, but witnessing Craig’s slow, steady and successful path ha helped fire me up to continue writing my blog and return to working on my book soon.

 

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

Unknown

Two Concussions in One Day

Yesterday was weird.

Let me back up.

I live up in the Santa Cruz Mountains where the wild banana slugs roam, and every day is a little bit weird.

Unknown

 

But yesterday was weirder than usual.

After taking the kids to school (and only having one road rage-ish tizzy fit -a personal best!), I returned home to read the latest post by my friend Samina Raza of the award-winning Bipolar1Blog. 

Samina wrote about her first time ice skating. Her post was accompanied by a pictorial, which started out showing happy, beautiful scenes of Samina on the ice, and a video, but then it turned into something very different.  

Interestingly enough, Samina’s adventure wasn’t all gloom ‘n doom. While she took a spill and suffered a concussion, something else happened that day that was good – you need to read her post “went Ice Skating” to believe it!

I never would’ve guessed what happened to Samina in a zillion years. I want what she got, but I wouldn’t want to do what she did to get it!

(Say that 10 times fast!)

 

imgres

 

A couple hours later I waited at the elementary school to pick up my girls. Craig called me to let me know that a good friend of ours had fallen that morning. He cracked some bones in his neck and was at the hospital; those were the only details Craig knew so far.

The news of my friends’ concussions gave me pause. 

Sabina mentioned that she wasn’t wearing a helmet, but promised she’d  definitely put one on the next time she goes to the rink. I’m so proud of her wanting to go skating again!

My other friend got his concussion from simply skipping a step on the staircase – we all do that sometimes, don’t we? His accident could happen to any of us.

These two incidents tie into my last post Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. For much of yesterday, I felt like a Payless Shoesource store could drop on me, but today the paranoid feeling is subsidingI’m slowing down a bit, driving extra-carefully, and de-hunching whenever I catch myself with my shoulders almost hitting my ears. Oh, and I’m trying my damndest not to hold my breath, a nasty, longtime habit of mine…

imgres

 

My eight-year-old has third grade “mental math” homework in which she has to figure out the problems in her little noggin. Instead of mental math I’ve begun to do a little bit of “mental gratitude” list in my head. Yes, I’m lazy. I was always too lazy to do a gratitude list – don’t tell Oprah! But thinking about it certainly counts. 

Yesterday served as a wake-up call to appreciate what I have right now.

I can’t end this post without making a reference to one of my all-time favorite bands Crowded House. Their hit song Four Seasons in One Day contains lyrics that beautifully express how we never know what will happen, even in this age of psychic superstars and satellite weather systems.

Below is a link to a gorgeous video of Four Seasons in One Day. This was the first Crowded House video to be made in New Zealand. Auckland director Kerry Brown and film producer Bruce Sheridan wanted to emphasise the surreal, fantasy elements of the song, using distinctly NZ imagery. Locations included beaches and dense bush of the South Island’s West Coast, the plains of Central Otago and the Victorian architecture of Oamaru. Scenes of an Anzac Day ceremony and marching girls also highlight the homeland setting. Kerry Brown took inspiration from Salvador Dali paintings for the psychedelic effects added in post-production.

Check it out!

And please…stay safe, my friends. 

Love, Dyane

It doesn’t pay to make predictions
Sleeping on an unmade bed
Finding out wherever there is comfort there is pain
Only one step away
Like four seasons in one day

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/four-seasons-in-one-day-1992

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Unknown

 

#FeatureFriday: Dyane Leshin-Harwood on POSTPARTUM BIPOLAR

1440169719398I’m very honored that my story of postpartum bipolar (a.k.a. bipolar, peripartum onset) has been selected as the first #FeatureFriday post for South Africa’s cutting-edge site Our Lived Experience. Thanks to OLE founder/writer Yvette Hess of Yve’s Corner for thinking of me, and please be sure to follow OLE  which publishes a variety of amazing posts/resources! 🙂

Our Lived Experience

We’re kicking off our new Feature Friday slot with a great friend of ours and a topic that is her particular field of expertise.

DyaneHarwood

BIPOLAR, PERIPARTUM ONSET (POSTPARTUM BIPOLAR): THE IGNORED PERINATAL  MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDER by Dyane Leshin-Harwood

I live with a form of severe mental illness that few people know about. It’s called postpartum bipolar (PPBD), or bipolar, peripartum onset as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, which is used by psychiatrists everywhere to asses their patients.

This perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) is often ignored, dismissed, or misunderstood by both the postpartum and bipolar support and advocacy communities. It’s the only form of bipolar disorder that’s triggered by childbirth, and medical professionals often miss the signs of PPBD when it first manifests in women for a variety of significant
reasons.

I was diagnosed with PPBD in October, 2007, six weeks after my second baby was born. Within twenty-four hours…

View original post 846 more words