Why I Care About the “Every mother, every time. Universal Mental Health Screening for Every Pregnant and Postpartum Woman” Petition

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The topic I am writing about today is of tantamount importance to me, and for countless women and their families.

Being diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder two months after the birth of my daughter was the most devastating event in my life.  If I had received any kind of pregnancy/postpartum mental health screening, I would have had a chance at early diagnosis and proper treatment.  I have a strong history of mental illness in my family, and my father had bipolar one disorder.  If I had been screened for mood disorders, an enormous amount of suffering could have possibly been averted. My story is just one drop in an ocean full of similar stories.  This cycle does not have to continue, and someone is doing something about it…and we can join her to help in a small but meaningful way.

Dr. Walker Karraa is a crusader in the field of women’s pregnancy/postpartum mental health.  On March 4th, Dr. Karraa created a groundbreaking White House petition.  This petition, which is only active until April 4th, still needs ninety-eight thousand signatures. Even if we don’t reach the goal, every signature has value.  Here’s the petition summary:

“Every mother, every time. Universal mental health screening for every pregnant and postpartum woman”

Suicide is a leading cause of death for women during the first year after childbirth. 1 in 7 women will experience a mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy or postpartum, yet nearly 50% remain untreated. In pregnancy, maternal mental illness negatively effects fetal development,and leads to adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight and premature delivery. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) can impair infant and early childhood cognitive and emotional development. Despite overwhelming empirical evidence, there is no universal mandate for care providers to screen pregnant and postpartum women for depression, anxiety, or family history of mental illness–a well established risk factor. Screen every mother, every time to prevent and treat perinatal mental illness.

To register and sign to petition (takes less than 5 minutes):

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/every-mother-every-time-universal-mental-health-screening-every-pregnant-and-postpartum-woman/rG1jLyYj

Dr. Karraa has encountered arguments by some who feel that such a screening could be detrimental, and she refutes two main arguments brilliantly at HealthyPlace.com:  

http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/yourmentalhealth/2014/03/19/mental-health-screening-for-pregnant-and-postpartum-women/

To read Dr. Karraa’s interview with Senior Editor Jeanne Faulkner of Christy Turlington’s website/organization Every Mother Counts:

http://www.everymothercounts.org/blog/201403/signing-petition-can-save-mothers-lives

Dr. Karraa’s new website Stigmama was created for women to speak their truths in a non-judgmental, supportive community.  Dr. Karraa is currently recruiting contributions by mothers facing mental illness stigma:

http://stigmama.com/

Dr. Karraa’s website:

http://www.walkerkarraa.com/

Thank you for reading, as always!

Dyane

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Triggered Once Again…

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A photo from the hospital’s website…my room looked nothing like this.  

The words “dreary”, “desolate”, and “sterile” sum up my room’s decor.   

It was eight months ago when I was last locked up in the loony bin for bipolar depression/suicidal ideation.  The relapse occurred during my tapering off lithium, and it was so nightmarish that I asked for bilateral electroconvulsive (ECT) treatments.  The ECT worked in tandem with a new medication combination, and I was incredibly fortunate to have minimal side effects.  While I’m not cured by any means, I’m 360-degrees better.

I know that “loony bin” is derogatory; I’ll use the euphemistically named “Garden Pavilion” at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula instead.  I suppose I should wipe the snide tone out of my words at the get-go, and give this hospital much more credit.  C.H.O.M.P.’s confines and staff did help to save my life.  But the way in which that was done left much to be desired.

For one thing, I was cooped up worse than our three chickens.  We allow them to “free range” every day in our yard, and they truly seem more tranquil after these excursions.  During my lengthy time at the hospital I wasn’t taken outside once with staff for a breath of fresh air and natural sunlight.  As small a thing as that may sound, I believe that staying in an ugly, uninspiring, yucky-smelling, bleak unit 24/7 prolonged my recovery, and worsened my depression.  I’ve always loved nature, and during my deepest depressions getting out in nature gave me moments of comfort and hope.

A few months after my hospital release, I made some calls to Bay Area hospitals out of curiosity .  I learned that numerous mental health units with the same population as C.H.O.M.P. take their patients out for walks or even field trips.  Why C.H.O.M.P. couldn’t do that, I don’t know.  I called the unit about it and I couldn’t get a clear answer.

And then there is the cost of hospitalization.  I manage our bills, and we’re going to be paying C.H.O.M.P. for a very long time.  My hospital visit cost TONS of money not covered by Medicare.  I could have bought several new cards for what my hospitalization cost.  Again, I realize that I sound ungrateful and that my life is worth any exorbitant medical bill, but it still, for want of a better word, sucks.  I would have rather saved up all that money for my children’s college education.

The truth of the matter is that I feel triggered this afternoon..  My husband and daughter left for Los Angeles this morning.  Craig’s acclaimed book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West is being honored for winning the Regional Literature Award by the Great Southwest Book Festival in Hollywood.  I could have accompanied them, but I chose to stay home to write and relax. The tedious eight-hour-long drive to L.A. and and eight-hour-long drive back for only a three-day-long visit didn’t appeal to me.  (Flying there was too expensive.)  Fortunately Craig is so easygoing that he didn’t mind my staying home in the slightest.  He’s even making time to visit my Mom while there, and she’s thrilled she’ll see her eldest granddaughter.

It’s just that I haven’t been away from either Craig nor Avi since I was hospitalized and that makes me feel nervous and sad.  Memories of prior separations (I’ve had seven lengthy hospitalizations since 2007) are surfacing that I don’t want to dwell upon.  I have no concrete reason to be nervous or sad – I’m in good physical health, way better mental health than I’ve enjoyed in years, and I’ve set up plans for a few fun activities to do while they are out of town.

I am lucky to have my other daughter with me.  Rilla deserves to have me be in relatively good spirits during this one-on-one time.  So what I’ll do to get in a better frame of mind is:

1) Work out on the elliptical – this always puts me in a better mental state 

2) Plan a couple fun, special things to do with Rilla (Our big splurge is going to the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which she has been begging me to do for ages.)

3) Use my Sunbox (I use this bright light for thirty minutes in the morning when I write or surf the internet. It helps me keep depression at bay)

4) Write 

5) Invest in some good quality chocolate!

and lastly…

6) Don’t be a recluse.  When I stay in the house all day long, it’s very bad for my mood.  Even getting out for a little while makes a big difference.

Time flies by so quickly that the three days will pass by in a heart beat anyway.

I can’t help but have a Pollyanna moment after sharing these thoughts.   I’d rather be home, freaked out, than back in that cold, scary hospital.  All I have to do to feel better is look out my window at beautiful redwood trees and the clucking trio of chickens.  It’s a pretty damn good life.  So I’ll just take the myriad of hospital bills in stride, and I’ll deal with my Garden Pavilion memories that come and thankfully go.  I have my life back in my own hands, and that’s what matters now.

I dedicate this Crowded House song “Better Be Home Soon” to Craig & Avonlea; the lyrics have a different meaning than my situation, but it’s a classic song!

The Nasty Bits of Envy

searchAs I write this today, I’m in a bit of a funk.  Nothing too alarming, mind you.  In my true “T.M.I.” fashion, despite turning forty-four on Tuesday, I’m not hitting menopause yet. Hence, my monthly “adventure” is on its way.  Apart from that, it was a rough morning dealing with our kids.  They clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  After dropping them off at school, I stepped in a small mountain of chicken poo and I tracked it all over our floors until I finally noticed it.  On the brighter side of things, it’s helpful for me to blog while crabby, as writing is such a great catharsis.  Plus I don’t have to cut a chunky check to either a psychiatrist or a therapist.

Anyway, these things I mentioned above are small matters.  Whenever I glance at the news, I am reminded that life could be much worse.  The fact that I’m keeping bipolar relapse at bay is enough of a cause for daily celebration.

So, what are the nasty bits, exactly?  Well, I must begin with mentioning author Anthony Bourdain. One of his many books is titled The Nasty Bits.  While his title refers to the edible parts of animals that most North Americans would never eat in their wildest dreams (tete de veau/calf’s head, anyone?), I thought of the title in relation to my pesky envy problem.

I have nasty bits of envy rising up frequently.

Over the past few months I’ve returned to writing regularly,both  as a hobby (this blog) and for work (my book).  While writing has been gratifying, I’ve become too caught up with author comparisons.  Comparisons can be odious indeed.  (I wish I could take credit for coining that phrase, but alas, it was created circa 1440 by John Lydgate.)

At least I’ve come to terms with the fact that my book, once published, will not become a bestseller.  The subject matter I’m writing about isn’t mass market material, and I can accept that.  I am writing the book that I wish I had when I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, plain and simple.  If it helps only a handful of readers, I’ll be totally thrilled!

I had a junior high school friend who went on to become a bestselling writer, a highly respected professor, and a winner of numerous mega-prestigious writing awards.  Her fan base is massive and almost cult-like.  One of her books was even made into a feature film with a “big name” star.  While I’m happy for her, I’ll admit I’ve had pangs of green as well.  I’m not going to name her because after my botched-blogging (discussed in yesterday’s post), I’m sure she would find this comment and rake me over some coals.

I keep reminding myself, “You are writing first and foremost for yourself.  You are not writing to win a Pulitzer Prize.”  One of my favorite authors Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle In Time) comes to mind.  Wrinkle, which has had phenomenal success over the decades, was rejected by many a publisher until it found a home at Farrar, Straus & Giroux.  L’Engle even had an entire decade of rejection and almost gave up writing when she hit forty.  That kind of brutal rejection has occurred with many other famous authors as well.

Meanwhile, my husband’s book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West has won many awards of its own!  In fact, this weekend he’s being honored  in Hollywood, Los Angeles.  Quest for Flight won the Great Southwest Book Festival’s Regional Literature Award.  I ‘m proud of him and also genuinely thrilled for him – and I only have a smidgen of envy regarding his accomplishments, which I joke about openly with him.  I called his book “the other woman” during his years of writing it, and he was able to take that in stride.

Fortunately my love for him overtakes my envy and smushes it.  He has always encouraged me to write during the fifteen years we’ve been together.  Craig even calls me the “real” writer in the family, as I was making money from my articles long before he received his first royalty check.  It has also been awfully convenient that he can give me advice culled from his seven-year-long experience writing his book and working with the University of Oklahoma Press.

While blogging has been a surprisingly fulfilling way to write, I’ve gotten way too caught up in the blogging popularity game. (blogularity?) WordPress makes it easy to spend all day analyzing  your blog statistics, which can be fun, but it can also be discouraging.  When I discover a brilliant blog with twenty thousand subscribers in comparison to my eighty-seven followers, it takes the wind out of my sails.  Let me re-phrase that: I allow the mega-blog to take the wind out of my sails.

Yesterday I was Facebook surfing and visited a page belonging to someone with a fulfilling-sounding life that many people would give their eyeteeth to enjoy.   She’s a beautiful person, inside and out.  She wrote a comment that gave me pause; however, writing to her friends that Facebook had a tendency to make her feel “less-than” rather than good enough or even great.  

I thought, “No way!  If Facebook affects her like that, then what can it do to the rest of us?”  

I’ve already won the only prize worth having as far as I’m concerned: my family & stability despite having my insidious bipolar disorder.  There is no need to get caught up with the “not being enough” syndrome.  I’m about to have a session with my counselor, and now I know what to bring up with her today.

She’s not a blogger, nor on Facebook.  (Ah!  The horror, the horror!)  But she does all kind of other cool things, plus she’s a wife, mom and therapist.  My counselor has been totally supportive of my writing and she believes that in sharing my experiences through a book, I’ll  definitely help others.  She’ll be able to shed light on my feelings of envy and insecurity – she knows me very well.   After our meeting, my face will turn from green to rosy pink, and I’ll keep you posted on how I handle my envy  in the months to come!

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Blogging Boo Boos

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Over the past four months as a neophyte blogger, I’ve made a few mistakes, both big and small.  I am sure you’re familiar with the term “drunk dialing”.  Today I created a term similar to drunk dialing, but sans the alcohol:

“botched blogging”

The big mistake I made almost cost me a dear friendship.  I botch-blogged about a longtime friend who I felt had done me wrong.  I made the “no-brainer” mistake of writing and publishing when I was angry, which was exactly when I should have stayed far away from my laptop.  While my friend didn’t read my blog, she and I were connected through Facebook.  I spaced out on the fact that when I published a blog post, it was posted on Facebook as well.  She spotted the post title, read my damning words, and immediately called me to ask why I hadn’t simply spoken with her instead of blogging about her.  I am a lot of things, but I’m usually never this dumb.

images-1As I reflected upon what happened, I think I may have subliminally wanted her to read that post so that we could work things out. (You won’t find this post in my archives, by the way; it’s long gone!) Thank God she forgave me and we moved on, and our friendship is actually stronger than before.  I learned a very obvious lesson once and for all: to think twice, no, thrice, before posting anything that could hurt someone else.

What I considered to be smaller mistake wasn’t actually a mistake.  I simply found that the consequences of my publishing a post made me feel uncomfortable.  What happened was this: I wrote a “mini book review”.  (This review was non-defamatory; it’s still in my blog archives in case you want to read it! )

I feel that I was honest in my assessment, and the majority of the review was positive.  If anyone read the review and had an interest in bipolar memoirs, I think she would want to read the book.  However, I included a few criticisms as well.  I didn’t use foul language (hurrah!) and I tried my best to be fair.

Months after I wrote the review, I posted on the author’s Facebook page.  I wrote that I complimented her book title in my weekly International Bipolar Foundation blog.  (To read the entire IBPF post, visit  http://www.ibpf.org/blog/i-am-bipolar-i-am-blessed-it-and-get-it-over-itis )

My IBPF comment was, “While Kindle-surfing I discovered a book titled More Than Bipolar – A Memoir of Acceptance and Hope by Lizabeth D. Schuch and I love that title!  She has the right idea.”

Silly me, I actually forgot that I had written a detailed book review of More Than Bipolar.

If I had remembered, I wouldn’t have caught the author’s attention on her Facebook page. Since my review contained criticism, I was honestly worried I’d make an enemy.

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After reading my Facebook comment on her page, the author located my personal blog and read my complete review of her book.  She responded with a detailed comment and fortunately she was incredibly gracious regarding my criticism.  I felt grateful that she didn’t lash out at me.  (Moreover, I was impressed.  I could learn a thing or two from her!)  Now that I’m forty-four, I thought my skin would be thicker, but it’s not.  I felt bad for criticizing another writer’s work, especially a writer who has bipolar disorder.  (When I re-read that last line, it sounds rather codependent, but it’s the truth.)

I guess I should stick to writing teeny, positive book reviews comprised of two sentences each (i.e. most of BP Magazine’s book reviews really are two long sentences each, and the ones I’ve seen aren’t exactly critical!)

I admit that I love reading strikingly honest articles full of juicy details that sometimes commit the “sin” of too much information.  There are topics I would LOVE to blog about here, but if I did, I’d lose a friend or family member’s love, and no blog is worth that risk.

I can now truly understand the appeal of blogging anonymously.  In writing anonymously, a writer could have so much freedom in revealing the messy aspects of her life.  Furthermore she’d receive feedback and support from readers that is so dear to most bloggers. There is something alluring about blogging for an audience of people you mostly don’t know and who you most likely never meet.  I’ll wind up by stating that I love writing this blog, and I am so grateful to you for reading it.  I wish you all a wonderful day and that you won’t make the same egregious blogging mistakes that I made!

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Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care – gimme some!

imgresI’ve always loved the very sound of the famous Shakespearean line from Macbeth:

“Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.”

Although I have a degree in English literature and I read Macbeth, that was over twenty years ago, so I’ve forgotten most of the play, but not that line.  “No Fear Shakespeare.com” and “italki.com” explained the full meaning of the words very well:

“Here Shakespeare means that sleep ‘knits up’ or secures what has become confused or tangled in our lives. (something that is raveled is tangled confused or knotted) Sleep brings loose ends together. It lets things settle down and smooths out what was giving us problems before we went to sleep.”

Oh wow, I’d kill for sleep like that.  My sleep has been much better since I started taking Seroquel at bedtime, but I often have what I call “Seroquel dreams” which are bizarre, slightly disturbing dreams.

I’m writing this post on my forty-fourth birthday.  I hoped that I’d wake up this morning after a decent’s night sleep, without too many freaky Seroquel dreams.  I was crossing fingers and toes that I’d leap out of bed refreshed and ready to start the day with a nice, sparkly attitude.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and as a result I’m a bit of a zombie.

Our two little girls like to take turns hopping into our bed at ungodly hours.  Time and time again, we lecture them about this, and explain how important it is for Mommy and Daddy to get enough sleep.  They promise us they’ll stop their interruptions, but their promises are made in vain.  We can’t lock them out of our room because our room is connected to theirs and there is no lock.  (Even if we had a lock, it wouldn’t solve the problem.)  When we insist that one or the other girl returns to her own bed, ear-splitting cries ensue and all in all, it’s not a pretty scenario.

It’s not a hopeless situation.  I know they will stop when they turn eighteen.

Meanwhile, besides the girls’ nighttime unpleasantries , my digestive system had unpleasantries of its own.  I had an upset tummy right before bedtime.  Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I mussed up our bed at 2:00 a.m. Yes, me, not either of my children.

T.M.I.  Sorry.  Please forgive me.  (Can I blame my oversharing on my lack of sleep?)

Waking up at 2:00 a.m. scares me, because I know if I don’t go back to sleep, a bipolar mood swing could be triggered.  Like many people with bipolar disorder, I am incredibly sensitive to sleep loss.  I remember back in the early 1980’s my Dad, who also had bipolar, was prescribed sleep deprivation by his U.C.L.A. psychiatrist.  The doctors advised him to use sleep deprivation to lift his depression.  I don’t recall if sleep deprivation worked for Dad, but I know it would be absolutely disastrous for me.

Sleep deprivation actually triggered my bipolar mania.  In 2007, after I went into labor at 9:00 p.m., I didn’t sleep, and I became hypomanic.  Ultimately I became full-blown manic.  I experienced hypergraphia as well.  (Hypergraphia is compulsive writing triggered by changes in brain chemistry.  I’ve blogged about hypergraphia here: https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/writerly-ramblings-and-hypergraphia-part-1/)

So, at 2:00 a.m. after cleaning up my mess, I was wide awake and I didn’t foresee sleep in my future anytime soon.  After hemming and hawing, I decided to take another 100 mg dose of Seroquel.  I thought that the extra amount would do the trick, although I was hesitant to pop the pill because I didn’t want to be super-groggy the next day.

It didn’t work.

I believe my insomnia culprit was a seemingly innocent cup of extra-strong Columbian coffee that I had a few hours after breakfast.  I grind our coffee beans daily, and yesterday I used a lot more than usual.  Not the smartest move.  I used the usual amount today and I’m hoping tonight is better on all counts.  I think I’ll sleep better as long as I don’t eat all of my velvety chocolate birthday cake and get high on sugar!

Thanks for reading, and please comment about what helps you sleep.

Sweet dreams!

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The Sweetest Birthday Yet…

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“We want to welcome you to this world, and yes there will be days and nights, when  you’ll wonder is the world right?  We want to welcome you to this world, and yes, there will be days and nights when you’ll know the world is alright!”  Toni Childs, “Welcome to the World”

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Chillin’ like a villan!

Ever since my Dad died in 2009, my birthdays have been bittersweet.  I wish he was here to call me and sing “Happy Birthday” the way he used to do.  A friend wrote on my Facebook wall this morning that he is always with me, and I know he is.   I’ll still have fun on my special day, and I know he’d want me to do just that – he’d also want me to treat myself to gourmet chocolate and that is definitely happening!

Apart from missing my father, I’m thinking a lot about the music I love that lifts my spirits.  Toni Childs is one of my favorite singers.  She’s also a humanitarian and fellow dolphin lover.  Any birthday or birth reminds me of Toni Childs’ powerful song “Welcome to the World”, which I’ve listened to literally hundreds of times.  I didn’t think there was an accompanying video since it wasn’t one of her big hits such as “Don’t Walk Away”, “Zimbabwe”, or her duet with Peter Gabriel “I Met A Man”.  Luckily I was wrong!  Yesterday, on impulse, I checked YouTube and I was so excited to find Toni’s video of “Welcome to the World”.  I watched it and found it to be very beautiful and moving. Here’s the link:

Right now, despite rough days and anxious moments, I’m finding the world “alright” as Toni sings in her song.  I’m especially grateful to hit 44 as a woman who has reached a hard-won recovery with bipolar disorder.

I know that inevitably hard rains are gonna fall down once again.

All I can do to deal better with deaths of loved ones, or serious illness of those I love (or God forbid, myself)  is to take my meds, exercise, eat (much) better, get enough sleep, see my pdoc & counselor, and stay productive.  Meditating would be nice, but I’m still not there yet! 😉

There’s more…there’s always more I can do, but that laundry list is a good foundation.

I already woke up this morning with the best birthday gifts.  I know it sounds corny, and I’m sure you’ve already guessed what these gifts are – my two daughters and my husband. It doesn’t get any better than that.

When it’s your next birthday, I hope your wildest dreams come true!

Dy twoDyane & Dad, the dynamic duo

Great Blogs by Writers with Bipolar: L.E. Henderson’s “Passionate Reason”

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photo51ZAAgPzzOL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Now that I have added a big chunk of daily writing time to my life, I have less time to search for new blogs and keep up with old favorites.  I’ll remain on the lookout, however, for extraordinary, compelling blogs that catch my interest.  I guess I can always get up earlier in the day to read them! 😉

I discovered a blog which met my stringent requirements through purchasing an e-book.  The blog is L.E Henderson’s “Passionate Reason”, and I bought Henderson’s book A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom: One Author’s Journey Through Writer’s Block and Beyond a few weeks ago for just 99 cents.  I’m finding her book fascinating and relevant to my own writing “trail”, especially since Henderson addresses how her bipolar disorder has affected her creativity and writing output.  (Note to L.H. Henderson: I would have paid $9.99 for this book in a heartbeat!)

I’ve only reblogged one or two posts over the past few months.  You could say I’m picky about what I select – I don’t just reblog anyone! 😉 I found it interesting how Henderson writes below about the intriguing dilemma of writers who find writing a tortuous process.  Her comments reminded me of a book I splurged on a few months ago, You’ve Got a Book In You! A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams by Elizabeth Sims.  Sims asserts that writing a book is “fun and easy”!   While writing my book has felt gratifying, due to much of the subject matter, it hasn’t been exactly fun nor easy.  In all fairness, I’m still reading Sims’ book, but at this point I think I’ll  reach a happy medium between fun/easy and tortuous, and that’s acceptable to me for the time being.  Who knows, though?  We’ll see.  I better finish Sims’ book soon!

Visit L.E. Henderson’s blog to read her other entries, and to learn about her published novel Thief of Hades based on the Greek myth.  Without further adieu, here’s L.E. Henderson’s post about the unearthing of her book Trail of Crumbs – enjoy!

From Creative Block to Creative Freedom: “Trail of Crumbs” UnearthedPosted: 15 Mar 2014 05:01 AM PDT

It has been about a year since I published my e-book A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom. Though I consider myself primarily a fiction writer, its content was important to me. It was a record of my transition from depression and block to recovering creatively, which led to finishing my newest fantasy novel, The Ghosts of Chimera.During the time of publishing “Trail,” I was going through some monumental upheavals, which led to my move from SC to Florida, where I live now. It was not until I had a chance to settle down that I even thought to be bothered that my book, dropped into a lonely corner of cyberspace, had found few readers outside my family.And I literally mean a few. Writers, which were my target audience, were silent.No one was buying. No one was reading. No one was reviewing. But the book meant a lot to me. The lack of feedback was upsetting.I was used to getting feedback because of my blog articles, in which I reiterated many of the same points I had made in “Trail.” Whenever I submitted these articles to Reddit, the response was always overwhelming, with readers telling me that the posts inspired or helped them.I had written the book to be read. I considered that the price tag of 3.99 might have been the wall that was keeping people from buying. I actually considered giving the book away from free so that I could at least get responses, but I did not want to send the message that I thought it had no value when, in fact, the opposite is true.

At one time, when I was blocked and depressed, a book like “Trail” would have made a big difference to me. Recently I went back and looked at my book, and realized that I had changed a lot since the time of publication.

I went back and re-edited it to incorporate insights I had since first publication. I also thinned out some of my dashes.

During the time I wrote “Trail” I was a bit manic and cycling through punctuation obsessions. (See earlier post: “My Great Manic Comma Blizzard.”)

When I looked at my first edition, I could see that I had way overdone the dashes, overriding my poor editor, who had done me a great favor by thinning out all my commas, little prepared for the dash fiend I was about to become.

In the new version, my dash explosion is safely contained.

Since I released my updated version with a 99 cent price tag, a few copies have actually sold and I have gotten a response from a fellow blogger.

Dyane Harwood at https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/ had some kind things to say:

Henderson released this relatively short book (88 pages) for only 99 cents on Kindle. In Trail of Crumbs she analyzes the creative writing process and how her bipolar disorder adversely affected her writing. She ends the book on a high note in sharing how she was able to let her creative juices flow again. I just started reading it, and I’m finding it interesting and well-written, so it was quite a deal for less than a cup of coffee!

Harwood ran across my book while researching bipolar disorder for her work-in-progress called Birth of a New Brain. I was happy to have captured the attention of a bipolar blogger because the audience I originally envisioned were bipolar writers who were blocked and depressed the way I was.

But since writing is known for being a bipolar process, I thought my book would appeal to a more general audience of writers as well.

Bipolar or not, many writers speak cynically about their profession, describing writing as torture or a type of insanity. While these things are often said tongue-in-cheek, a grim reality underlies them. Writers are not known for being happy but are instead known for alcoholism, mental illness, drug addiction, and suicidal urges.

To make matters worse, the world of writing advice is ridden with guilt, fear, and self-punishment.  Typical messages, which I see in many writing blogs, are: Stop being so lazy and selfish. Put the reader first. Write what you think others want to read. Do not be narcissistic, preachy, affected, or self-indulgent.

By all means do not offend the reader. Do not use the words “very” or “then.” Do not use adverbs. Or talk about yourself. Just who do you think you are anyway?

In the popular understanding of what it means to write, writing is all about being careful. The true object of writing, which is to build, is side-lined. You would think that the arbiter of “good” writing was Miss Manners, when in fact the best writing is about honesty, not politeness; creating, not tearing down.

In writing my book, I wondered why so many professional writers hate writing and why we view writing as something we have to make ourselves do.

But it could be different. When I was in college, the writers I desperately envied were the ones who loved writing so much that they had to do it every day, like Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. They defied the stereotypes. They viewed writing as a way to be happy.

At the time I had no idea how they had achieved this. I speculated that they were such geniuses that their minds and emotions were just better wired.

But after my experience of learning to enjoy writing again, I suspect not. More likely, they were people who were able to ignore cultural messages about how writing should be done and retain a sense of wonder that, for most people, burns bright in childhood and then fizzles out in adolescence.

So far I have avoided trying to sell anything in my blog. That is not its purpose. I much prefer to talk about other issues that interest me. But today I am making an exception.

My book costs the same as a dollar store spatula, less in fact. And although spatulas are wonderfully useful, I feel confident in saying that my book is worth more.

Not that my book is a “system” or a promise of magical results after 30 days, nor does it claim to be the only way that writers can work. It is a personal experience that mapped my transition from thinking I could never write again to my discovery that I could love and enjoy it more than I ever had before.

But for that to happen, I had to let go of conventional ideas about the writing process that I had absorbed over many years.

But back on point: If you are thinking about purchasing a spatula, restrain the impulse a little longer and buy my book instead. Your old one can hold out a little longer, until you are able to recoup your investment.

Then read my book, get back to me, and tell me what you think. I am eager to hear what you have to say. To any of you who have already bought my book, thank you!! And please tell the others that it is feasible to have spatulas and creative freedom, too.

With patience, Young One, all things are possible.

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Visit L.E. Henderson’s blog at :  

http://www.passionatereason.com/

To purchase the e-book on Amazon, visit:

http://www.amazon.com/Trail-Crumbs-Creative-Freedom-Authors-ebook/dp/B00IR002D0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395061396&sr=1-2&keywords=A+Trail+of+Crumbs