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.

 

My Life-Affirming Alternative to “13 Reasons Why”



The novella Brooklyn’s Song by Alexis Zinkerman


A few weeks ago I published the post Stunned by Alexis Zinkerman’s Metronome – my post title says it all. Please read it if you haven’t had a chance yet.

After I read Metronome, I bought Alexis’ novella Brooklyn’s Song and I wrote a review that doesn’t begin to do it justice, especially since I was repeatedly interrupted by my girls while attempting to focus.

Their crisis? They were in need of a special medicine called ice cream. (I need to fix the broken lock on my door!) At least I can always improve the review later on. In the meantime, I’ve included it in this post.

Here’s a sidenote:  I haven’t watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix nor have I read Jay Asher’s book, and I have no plans to do so. I rarely read or watch anything about suicide because I’m too triggered. While my intuition told me to steer clear of 13 Reasons Why I sensed Alexis would create a work that wouldn’t trigger me, and I was right. 

Brookyln’s Song –A novella by Alexis Zinkerman/5 star review

The heartwrenching topic of teen suicide has recently been covered in film, television, and young adult fiction more than it ever has before. Some of these endeavors are sensitively produced. However, other productions are harmful – they sensationalize teen suicide, depriving young people of realistic role models and situations.

Alexis Zinkerman’s outstanding novella Brooklyn’s Song was ahead of its time when it was first published in 2012 under the title Crazy Tragic Magic Life. Few books have ever addressed teenage suicide in such an insightful, wise manner.

The novella’s unique literary style is ideal for conveying the gravity of the subject matter without overwhelming the reader. At just eighty-eight pages, Brooklyn’s Song is the perfect length for depicting the journey of a teen’s grief over a great loss.

In concise, moving poetic stanzas, fifteen-year-old protagonist Brooklyn shares her shock of losing her best friend to suicide.

The reader is immediately drawn into the narrative from the first page. Brooklyn’s best friend Emily is still alive, and she reveals a secret to Brooklyn while the girls are attending a special event. The scenario quickly changes into one of tragedy.

As Brooklyn begins to move through the stages of grief, she’s resistant to therapy, but she gradually learns that counseling can help her a great deal. In a refreshingly unexpected way, Brooklyn utilizes the creative expression of writing to help her heal. Ultimately, Brooklyn begins to feel hopeful about the future again.

In each intriguingly titled chapter, Brooklyn reveals different sides of her personality. She describes her vulnerability, her loneliness as a high school student, and her burgeoning confidence in her writing. After some time has passed, she chronicles her exciting relationship with her first boyfriend.

Despite the harrowing storyline, I didn’t want to put it down – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Brooklyn!

Brooklyn’s Song is an artfully nuanced book. The novella reminded me of my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Ring of Endless Light in significant ways. Each author writes vividly, powerfully, and in a pragmatic manner. The two books’ complex-yet-clear storylines appeal to teens and adults alike. Each work grapples with the theme of suicide, the death of a beloved, and how death affects a sensitive, inquisitive teenage girl. Hope is woven throughout Brooklyn’s Song and A Ring of Endless Light, making these books truly worthwhile reads.

Brooklyn’s Song is a book I want my two daughters to read. It is a book I wish I had read when I was a teenager before suicide touched my life firsthand. This book rings true; at age thirty-three, Zinkerman was affected by suicide when her best friend took her own life. Because of that heartbreaking experience, Zinkerman was galvanized to write Brooklyn’s story.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to read this beautifully written book. I highly recommend Brooklyn’s Song to anyone interested in how it’s possible to move forward in life after an a unimaginably painful loss takes place.

I’ll be back next week to share with you how my very first book interview turns out. I’m nervous, especially since I did a little virtual snooping homework on the journalist who has been assigned to interview me. Things were looking great until that changed. That’s all that’s fit for print…for now, that is. Stay tuned. 😉 

Purchase the paperback edition of Brookyln’s Song on Amazon at this link.

Author Alexis Zinkerman

Check out Alexis’ mental health website A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health here. (Great blog title, isn’t it?)

Take care, my wonderful kindred spirits!

Love,

Dyane

—————

All photos courtesy of Alexis Zinkerman

 

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

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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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Blurbs & A New Section: “You’re Rejecting Me? Prepare to Learn Some Cat Facts!”

 

Aimee Mann has been one of my favorite musicians ever since her ‘Til Tuesday “Voices Carry” days in the 1980s. She has a new CD coming out called Mental Illness, and this brief interview explains why she gave her CD this title.

 

Hi there, my friends!

I hope you had a good week and HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

I was too lazy to dress up Lucy, so I’m using this photo instead: 

In other scintillating news…

I’ve continued putting out the feelers for book endorsements. 

Some fantastic authors and advocates have agreed to endorse the book -hurrah!

I had another rejection, but thank God it didn’t sting very much. I had emailed Andrew Solomon, the author of the bestseller The Noonday Demon, on a whim. I thought it was a longshot, but it was worth a couple minutes of my time to contact him. That same day, I received such a gracious response. Andrew explained he was overextended with his new book’s release, but he wished me the best of luck. 

My pet peeve is when I contact someone and I don’t receive a reply.

In a time when it’s so easy to send a brief email brush-off, there’s no excuse for rudeness. 

I know what you’re thinking….you’re thinking that when I don’t get a response, my email could’ve gone into the spam folder. You’re right! That’s always a possibility, and it happened with one person. And I’m not such a narcissist that I assume it’s all about me – the person could be sick or going through a crisis, for all I know. But something tells me that hasn’t been the case with a couple other folks. 

What can be done? 

Well…I could call and leave a voicemail message as a follow-up. BUT I will only call once because I don’t want to be a phone stalker.

And then there’s always the Cat Facts option, which I’ll explain later on.

 

Using Twitter to Make Connections – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Twitter has been very kind to me…

and Twitter has been a bit of a bummer!  

Through Twitter, I was able to thank the multi-talented comedian/actor/bestselling author/mental health advocate & Mohr Stories podcast host Jay Mohr for his re-tweet.  He shared my Huffington Post Postpartum Bipolar article with his followers, and after that happened, I informed him about my book, but didn’t ask for anything. He surprised me by endorsing my book on Twitter! (I’m sorry the tweet is so tiny and blurry!)

My tweeting experience with Minnie Driver didn’t have such a happy ending, but I’m okay with it now. I’ve admired Minnie Driver’s acting, singing, and songwriting for a long time. I thought she might be receptive to endorsing my book because last year she starred in the film Return to Zero. The film is about a married couple who loses a child through stillbirth.

Plus she’s a mom.

Minnie Driver and Paul “He Rocked Private Practice” Adelstein in the heartrending film Return to Zero

In my 1st tweet to Minnie, I complimented her Academy Awards dress and she “liked” it! Oohhh! I was jolly because many famous people don’t look at their fans’ tweets.  

My tweet #2 was about Minnie’s song “Down” from the Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket albumI love that song & I tweeted her about how much I’ve enjoyed it, and guess what – she “liked” that tweet too!

High on the success of my two tweets, I tweeted my book cover to her. I asked if I could send it to her for her consideration, but there were crickets.

I guess I should have gone through her publicist or manager, but I took a foolhardy chance. Sometimes you need to do that, right? 

And now, drum roll please….and a big, throaty MEOW because you’re about to read my new section.

 “You’re Rejecting Me? Prepare to Learn Some Cat Facts!”

I’ll begin by stating for the record that this is an immature activity, but hey – at least it’s not malicious or illegal. I’m referring to PrankDial – The Original Internet Prank Call Website. This company gives you three free calls. You enter the number to be dialed on the site, and they take it from there. (PrankDial claims your number and personal information won’t appear to anyone else, but don’t take my word for that!)

I decided to give PrankDial a try. There was only one choice that appealed to me and that was Cat Facts!

I knew just who needed to learn about Cat Facts. I can’t name him here, of course, but take my word for it – this guy is LAME and he needed to learn about cats! (He had nothing to do with my book…)

When PrankDial called him, it recorded his replies. After the Cat Facts call ended, the website played that recording back to me. Hee hee hee! The Lame One didn’t sound angry; in fact, I was amazed he listened to the entire recording. Perhaps he’ll show greater respect for cats, if not humans! 

Please prank call responsibly…or at least try to, anyway!

In the future, if someone rejects my lovely email or voicemail, I might need to share Cat Facts with such a cold hearted snake! 

I hope you got something out of this post.

It’s not touching on bipolar disorder (there are plenty other posts that do!) and it’s not deep, but that’s how I roll sometimes.

After so many years of living in my internal Nightmare On Elm Street film, it’s nice to focus on other things, even if they’re silly.

I wish you a great weekend!

Next week I’ll let you know if I contact anyone about Cat Facts! 

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.

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

A Woodsy Vlog: Endorsements & The Awesome Mohr Stories Podcasts

My Fall Creek Redwoods Vlog 

If you’re brave enough to listen (and braver still to watch my shaky camera work), you’ll be updated about my quest for book endorsements and other tidbits. I forgot to mention that my Scottish collie Lucy has the same birthday as I do: March 18th! She’s turning a whopping 3. (By the way, sorry for the abrupt end…)

Jay Mohr and “Mohr Stories” 

Jay Mohr in the hit show The Ghost Whisperer as Professor Rick Payne

Here’s Jay with Mean Jennifer Aniston and Kevin “Bacon Grease Hair” Bacon

Yes, America’s beloved “Jen” was very cruel to Jay during the filming of Picture Perfect. In fact, her atrocious behavior actually made him cry! 

If you want to hear the funny-yet-gory details, listen to Podcast #7 “The Rachel.” That podcast is in the archives, and you’ll need to download the free Mohr Stories app – it’s no big deal, but if you run into problems, just let me know.

My favorite picture of Tom Cruise 

I also love Jay’s podcast about acting as the villain sports agent “Bob Sugar” opposite Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe’s classic film Jerry Maguire. Podcast #5 “The Legend of Tom Cruise” is fascinating.

Ever since I started following the comedian/actor/producer/advocate Jay Mohr on Twitter (@jaymohr37) I’ve listened to his acclaimed Mohr Stories podcasts while walking Lucy or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. These podcasts are entertaining, educational, heartrending, funny, raunchy (sometimes) and inspiring. What’s especially cool is that every podcast is unique. Rumor has it that yours truly might appear on a Mohr Stories podcast this summer – I’ll keep you posted!

Jay has recorded over 380 (!!!) podcasts. He has said he enjoys doing these shows more than acting or even stand-up comedy, which he has done since he was sixteen. When you hear Jay interact with his guests in his garage Fake Mustache Studio, you can tell he loves what he’s doing. It’s no glitzy, superficial presentation, but an authentic conversation.

These guests include Charlie Sheen, Jerry Seinfeld, Eric Roberts, Penn Gilette, Gabrielle Reece, Krista Vernoff (she’s a writer for Grey’s Anatomy & a mini Shonda Rhimes, and it’s a great podcast for any writer!), Tom Arnold, Perez Hilton, Kevin Pollak, Dr. Drew Pinksy, Illeana Douglas, Adam Carolla, Melissa Rivers, Henry Rollins, David Lee Roth, Rufus Wainwright, Ice Cube, Jay Leno, Colin Quinn, Stewart Copeland just to name a few…what an eclectic list, eh?

Jay has a special interest in mental health topics such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. He had severe anxiety/panic disorder during his two years as a featured player on Saturday Night Live which he wrote about in his bestselling book Gasping for Airtime. Jay is a mental health advocate and a spokesperson for the “Keep Oregon Well” mental health campaign.

Logan Lynn

I encourage you to listen to Jay’s latest podcast he recorded with his close friend Logan Lynn, an incredibly inspiring person.

Logan is a survivor of multiple suicide attempts and childhood sexual abuse. He’s a musician, writer, producer, filmmaker, television personality, mental health advocate and LGBT activist from Portland, Oregon. Lynn’s music is most commonly classified in the pop, indie, rock, electronic, techno and dance genres.

In 2017, The National Council for Behavioral Health honored Logan with the prestigious “Award of Excellence” for “Excellence in Artistic Expression” for his music and for creating the “Keep Oregon Well” campaign and social movement to fight the stigma of mental illness through the arts. 

The Mohr Stories app is free, and here’s the link for the Logan Lynn podcast.

Take the time to listen to it. You won’t regret it!

 

And I thought I’d write a very brief introduction to the vlog. Ha!

Take care, my friends. Have a good weekend!

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.

It’s now available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link!

The Evolution of a Book Cover/Update

 

Welcome and Happy Freaky Friday, my friends!

I’m writing this post in a zombie-like state.

(Now, before some of you comment, “That’s nothing new,” please hear me out.)

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I met my editing deadline on Wednesday night, and I swear I felt like I had a baby. I’ve never worked that hard on something before, with the exception of labor. I was so exhausted that I actually slept well. (
My fellow insomniacs will get the significance of such an event!) I’m slowly coming back to life…

I look forward to reading your blogs again and replying to your wonderful comments.

Some of you have seen the current cover on the Facebook page (please “like” & share the love!) and Twitter. It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon  (woo hoo!), and the Kindle pre-sales option will come this summer. It’ll be out October 10th.

A week ago my book got posted on Amazon, and it was SUPER-exciting! It went to #20 on Bipolar Book bestsellers for an hour! 😉 It was the #1 Hot New Release in Amazon’s “Pregnancy & Childbirth” category for an afternoon or so! 
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But yesterday I had a little surprise!

My publisher asked me to consider changing the front cover title font from cursive to regular. (Regular…schmegular…whatever that word is! I told you I’m a zombie!)

Although I’ve disagreed with them before on other points, I was okay with this suggestion. More than okay. But I don’t like the all caps element. (You’ll see what I mean when you look at the 2/16 image.)

Some backstory you should know is that I negotiated with my publisher to handle the cover design, but they would get final approval, of course. And they did approve what I submitted. (Hope that makes sense.)

Moving on…

Here’s how the cover came to be:

My daughters and I thought of an idea. We created this mock-up. (Sorry for the terrible picture, but you get the idea…) The title, subheader, bylines were black on the mock-up, but we wanted our designer to use a sparkling white color instead of black.

Avonlea wanted the title font to consist of stars (and those fonts exist), but that didn’t quite work out.

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We gave that mock-up to our remarkable graphic designer Vanessa No Heart to play with. Vanessa sent us a bunch of ideas that boiled down to this image with three different color palettes:

coverone

 

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covertwo

 

I liked this one the best:

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My publisher prefers this font. They have a very good rationale which I’ll paraphrase below.

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2/16 Image

I’m down with the publisher’s font, BUT I’d like “Birth,” “New,” and”Brain” to have the first letter capitalized.  I’m really hoping they’re going to be honky dory with that feedback!

Here’s the loosely paraphrased rationale:

“Dear Dyane,

We think the design you submitted will hurt sales. 

Readers use visual elements to identify the book’s topic, and this process happens super-fast

Usually, script fonts signify humorous topics, light topics

Your memoir covers a serious, important topic. Our font makes it look more serious, not like a Harlequin romance novel

When you look at books online or in a store, you spend a fraction of a minute looking at a cover. Cursive is harder to read. Many readers pass on the book ONLY because they don’t want to take a closer look at the font!”

Okay, that all makes 100% sense! Like I mentioned, I just don’t like the all-caps version. It’s too stark and I don’t feel the magic! 😉 

The publisher also wrote they wanted my approval on the suggested font, which was very cool of them to do. Technically, I think they could have insisted that I had to accept the new font. At least they are being respectful.

In the big picture of worldly events, this is a very, very, VERRRRRRY minor situation, and I’m not going to freak out. But I do love nice book covers, and I’d like to be proud of mine, you know what I’m sayin’? 

Stay tuned…..let me know your deep or shallow thoughts on the matter, and if you don’t like the cover, I understand – it’s not for everyone…& most importantly, have a GREAT weekend!!!!!

XOXO

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 now available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link!

 

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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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