Making Sense of It

If you shed a tear when the nightmare breaks
Just remember dreams go in opposites
You’re holding on
Yes, you’re holding on to make sense of it
You realize you’re not the only one
Who’s trying to make some sense of it”

Split Enz, “Make Sense of It”, Time and Tide

Yesterday I wrote about stigma towards mental illness in regard to my relationship with my Mom.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t have as much fun writing about that painful topic as I did when I blogged about adorable Boo the Pomeranian and Gywneth Paltrow’s $300 pillows.  But the topic of parental stigma has festered in my brain for some time, and after I finished writing the stigma piece, I found that writing about it helped me feel better.

Two nights ago I had a phone conversation with my Mom.  We discussed the postpartum bipolar book that I’m writing.  At first she said I was “obsessed” about my topic.  Her choice of words really hurt me, but in retrospect I think she was oblivious that her saying “obsessed” would upset me so much.  Mom has such a deep-seated stigma towards mental illness that it can’t help but affect her perspective, and I’m at the very beginning of coming to terms with that.  It’s highly unlikely that she’ll magically change her views – she’s almost eighty-years-old, and while I hate sounding like a pessimist, I just don’t see it happening.  So the change needs to be on my end.

Stigma aside, sometimes I feel like scrapping my book project.  There are days when I feel like I’m too immersed in the bipolar world, but I can’t help feeling obsessed so interested in it!   Despite having a father with bipolar and then being diagnosed with it myself, I still haven’t completely made sense of bipolar disorder in my life.  Writing about it helps me to crystalize my feelings, and in doing so I feel empowered instead of apathetic.

I want to reach other mothers who have lived through my kind of experience.  At first I wasn’t sure if there were any other moms who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder soon after childbirth. But I’ve been coming across these brave women here and there.  Some of them have graciously agreed to be profiled in my book.  When it comes down to the nitty gritty, I’m writing the book I would have wanted to read after I was diagnosed, and I’ve been told by some mothers that there is a need for it.  That’s all the validation I need!

A chunk of my book focuses upon my decision to try living without bipolar medication.  The section chronicles my carefully researched and planned year-long tapering process off bipolar medications, and what happened to me as a result of that decision. (A hint: it was a disaster.)  If my cautionary tale helps even one mother avoid suicide, then I have no problem being “obsessed” with bipolar!  (I don’t wish to sound histrionic, but I almost lost my life to suicide as a result of being med-free and using natural supplements/modalities.)

These days, as a research tool, I check regularly for new releases specifically about bipolar.  There are at least one or two new books published every week.  Some of these books will be great to use as references for my book,  i.e. Perinatal Psychiatry by Carmine Pariente et al, Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose, and  Preventing Bipolar Relapse by Dr. Ruth C. White. While other books won’t necessarily help me, they have brought a smile to my face, such as the racy cover of Deborah Kaminski’s Bipolar and Me.  I never know what new listings I’ll discover in the bipolar literary genre.


 Gotta love it


Sometimes our re-commitment to a project emerges from unforeseen sources.

I’ve been in need of a little fire underneath my kettle about completing my book.  Lo and behold, I got fired up yesterday when a new bipolar-themed book appeared on my Kindle titled Med Free Bipolar: Thrive Naturally using the Med Free Method by Aspen Morrow.  Out of curiosity, I bought Med Free Bipolar, which is free and published by the independent publisher Pottenger Press.  So far I’ve read the book’s description, the first chapter, and the Recommended Products section, in which I tried one of the suggested products, Q96, that didn’t work for me.

The Amazon description page reads,

The primary goal of Med Free Bipolar is to show that treating bipolar effectively through natural means is not only possible, but highly likely.”

I don’t know how someone in good conscience could promise such a thing, especially in writing.

In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the the book, Morrow writes, “If you are not sure if the Med Free Method bipolar edition is right for you, take the quiz…” and a link to Morrow’s blog is provided.  The quiz is detailed in an attempt to screen out people who should not try the Med Free method, yet Ms. Morrow still implies that most people with bipolar can live “med free”, which I find to be contradictory and unethical.

This is obviously a sore subject for me.  I’m not stating that all people with bipolar disorder must depend upon bipolar medication in order to live stable, healthy, fulfilling lives.  According to my research over the past two years, a small percentage of people with bipolar can live well without medication.  I’m just not one of them!

Unless I consulted a medical school graduate/bipolar disorder expert who had supervised many patients who proved they could live well without meds long-term, I would never trust following anyone’s “method”, no matter what they write is possible.

No way, no how.

Queston Dr

The blessing in disguise is by my reading a bit of Med Free Bipolar , my resolve has been strengthened to finish writing Birth of a New Brain.  Nothing will stop me from sharing my postpartum bipolar experience, as well as including other mothers’ experiences, with the world where our stories belong.

I don’t work for Big Pharma – I’ll state that for the record.  I didn’t want to have to take meds and of course I’d rather not now.  But my meds have saved me .  Anyone who reads my book who’s on the fence about living without bipolar meds will have second and third thoughts, which is one of my goals in writing the book.  I’ll also be able to sleep well at night knowing that I’m not giving people false hope and/or putting them in danger.

I know that Ms. Morrow has the best of intentions in helping others, and I’m sure she has played a part in some powerful success stories that will be discussed in her book.  But I stand by what I wrote here.  My goal is to be as authentic, ethical and inspiring in my writing as I possibly can.  If my book can help moms make more sense of how to live well with postpartum bipolar disorder, and how to do that safely, then one of my biggest dreams will come true.

Mara hair


17 thoughts on “Making Sense of It

  1. I am going to read the book. I am a mom recently diagnosed. After child birth and it hit me hard. and parents, oh my I haven’t told mine yet. My mom just think that i am on regular anti depressants and she wants me to quit that as well, I hear ya sister. I think you are an amazing woman !

    • Zephyr, (((hugs))) my friend. To be a mama with a recently diagnosis is sheer hell. I don’t blame you for not wanting to tell your parents one bit!!! Thank you for writing, and for your support – I can’t tell you how much it means to me coming from *you*, for you understand. I encourage you to join my friend Becca Moore’s new online support group for parents with bipolar. Becca is incredible and she’s the mom of 7 (!) children – I just joined myself. Here’s the link: Sending you strength and love and all good things!!! xo, Dyane

      • Thank you thank you ! It feels so amazing to hear these words from you hun ! U really made me feel ‘not alone’ in this. You are simply amazing. Wish you all the strength and courage. Love ya ! I will join the group for sure. Thanks for suggesting it to me.

  2. I love the Split Enz lyrics, very appropriate. I tried to go off of my bipolar meds once too, with a similar result (suicide attempt, psych hospitalization). I think it’s unethical to promise a med-free life with bipolar if one takes natural remedies. I’m not a mother, but I look forward to reading your book

    • Great to read your comment, Robin!

      My heart goes out to you regarding what happened with your relapse off meds -I am so glad you made it through such hell!!!

      I thought about mentioning in my post that a good part of my book will appeal to anyone interested in bipolar, really, not just to moms. (You can skip the parts that don’t apply to you, and I won’t take it the wrong way!)

      I am so proud of you for co-authoring your book with Sharon. My husband worked with his co-author Gary Fogel on their book “Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West”. It took Craig & Gary seven years to complete the book, but once it was published by the University of Oklahoma, it won some great awards and found an audience.

      I’ve started following your blog and will stay in touch! take good care and thanks again for your comment.

      Dyane p.s. What a sweet cat gravatar!!!

  3. Dear Zephyr, you are such a sweetie and I send love right back at ya! I look forward to getting to know you in Becca’s parents with bipolar support group! I am thrilled that my words help you in any way – you are 100% right – you are *not* alone in this! xoxoxoxo keep in touch!

    • stay blessed dayne. i just started and i am taking meds and so far they seem to help but its a lot of up and down. how hard was it for people who were off meds. I was watching a documentary UP and DOWN, some of them actually were off of it and were coping up real well

      • I’ve never heard of that documentary “Up and Down” – I’m curious about it! I wonder if the people who were not on meds for well for a long, long time…I’ll look around for it. Thanks for your sweet words by the way – they mean a lot to me. :)))

  4. I know of someone who is off their bipolar meds. Actually two someones…I just wonder how do you know if you are one of those people who can live without the meds ya know?

    BTW, there is an actual book out like that? Shouldnt that be like against the law or something? Telling people when they have the cure for everyone when they dont….thats misguiding people on a huge scale

    • That’s the thing – you don’t know if you can truly be off meds until you do it. The way I feel about it now is that it’s not worth the risk, especially if you have kids. I would think this book would be against the law, but she includes disclaimers like “this book is for entertainment and educational purposes only” and how it’s not intended to treat or diagnose anything. (hmmmm, yet it sounds to me like it is!) It doesn’t seem right. p.s. thanks for commenting – you rock!

  5. Maybe they should say virtually med free,as you know Dyanne,my own position is one of using meds for managing mania,but apart from Hypericum Perforatum & Epa rich Omega 3 fish oils which are prescribed for me(this is done off list,ie it is using fish oils for the treatment of depression,which is something that is recognised for it’s efficacy, but is not actually recognised in terms of a Dr being able to prescribe it,it had to be organised by my consultant Psychiatrist, same went for the Hypericum Perforatum,this was done as I was one of the Bipolar people for whom antidepressants made manic & for whom mood stabillizers didn’t work.)
    I have found that I have had to become accustomed to feeling really shitty sometimes,however I was able to master programming modalities & am adept at tuning out that whisper/shout in my mind that urges me to die.I have however let this disorder deliniate the path my life has taken,I will never know what it is like to be a parent,I chose this as I believe that at some point I will commit suicide,indeed it is important to know that I have that escape available to me,so if the despair is ever so overwhelming that I simply can’t bear to continue I have a way out.
    This is not as I’d wish it in an ideal world,but it works for me at this stage,but I will confess to being worried about how it will go when I can no longer muster my full game,as I age & strenuous exercise is too much for me,then what?I do know that I can think my way into making a peaceful end to it,simply by altering my mindset to one where I don’t fight the urge to die & go with it instead,one of the weaknesses of the cognitive programming modality is that once you’ve learned it,it is controlled by your core intention,change that & away you go.
    But would I change & do it with meds,I really can’t say,as my experiences with mood stabillizers & antidepressants has been so overwhelmingly negative,I’d really need convincing,in fact I think I’d rather die.
    But as we all know,we are all different & what works for you is what you need to do,my way works for me,at least so far.
    Luv 1Wheel

    • Just want you to know, dear MartinOneWheel, that I saw you stopped by here! Thank you so much for your comment. You are truly brilliant and you really understand bp from so many different points, both obvious and obscure. You could be a professor! 😉

      I want the best for you – you are a wonderful person. I value your candor in your comment about your view regarding suicide etc. Your honesty means a lot to me, and honestly? I hope you never have to take that route, but I understand your viewpoint about that, completely.

      I hope that your spring is going better, and that you’re getting plenty of unicycling in.
      I want you to keep “mustering the game” for as long as possible.

      big (((hugs))) from Dyane across the pond!

  6. As a person who fights bipolar on a daily basis I see it like this. We are no different than cancer patients or diabetics. They have to take meds to attempt to healthy, productive life. We are no different. Yes, we have to take consistently take those meds on a daily basis; if we don’t that’s when the roller coaster happens and eventually we end up in the hospital. I know from experience. Yes, just like with any illness there are natural ways to treat the condition. For some it works, great, but don’t be nieve. Be smart, realistic. After many years of fighting the bipolar battle I found a combination of medication and natural sources that work. That’s the key, we are all so diverse and this is such a complex illness it’s important that you find what works best for you and stick with it. Even as bad as you hate taking those pills and there are times you don’t feel like you need them, trust me you do. For me it a combination of meds, exercise, and oils. Lavender oil, a couple drops on the forehead works miracles. I am off all anti-anxiety meds. Peppermint oil, a couple drops across the abdomen helps upset stomach; which is one of many side effects I have from my meds. My point is, there is no golden key for everyone. Whether it’s all meds or all natural. You have to decide what works best for you.
    I love that you are talking about bipolar depression after childbirth. It is so important and it is not talked about enough. My problems started after my second. This is awful, but God I don’t talk about this. I remember sitting in the rocking chair, holding my perfect, new born baby girl. I sat there with the most uneasy creepy, crawly Feeling like I wanted to throw my baby against the wall. It was the worst feeling to not trust myself with my baby girl. I made an appointment with my GYN immediately. That was the beginning my trial and error game with anti-depressants. That was almost 9 years ago. I found my pyschiatrist about 6/7 years ago. Over all these years with him we have tried multiple medications and toyed and played trying to find what worked for me. After two hospital visits, too many razor blade scars to count, and almost losing my family we finally found meds that work. I am so sorry this post is so long. IT’s hard to come across people who know where I am coming from. Bless you for starting this blog!! It is so important for women to know what they may be feeling is not normal, but at the same time is not their fault.

    • This is an amazing comment. You never have to apologize for the length of any comments you write here! I’m blown away by all you’ve been through, and I’m inspired by how far you’ve come.
      Bravo to you for not being on anti-anxiety meds! (I’ve taken them for so long, and finally got off them but it has been SO hard!)

      I *love* using essential oils, by the way. Lavender is one of my favorites and so is orange (especially blood orange, which is difficult to find but incredible) & of course there are many other kinds, both familiar and exotic.

      Somewhere in this blog I wrote about working at a school that certifies people to be essential oil practitioners. It sounds a little hippie-ish, but the 440- hour-long program is super-rigorous. Essential oils that are high-quality truly work for many ailments.

      Anyway, I agreed with every word you wrote. There is no golden key, just like you say. I applaud you for seeking medical help when you were postpartum and were feeling so uneasy – many women, tragically, are unable to be proactive the way you were able to manage. Thank goodness you were able to think clearly enough to get to that GYN!

      I could write a lot more here but I just wanted to send you a belated thank-you for taking the time to read the post and respond in such a heartfelt, encouraging, understanding manner. I totally understand where you are coming from, and I wish you the ABSOLUTE best with all my heart.

      be well!!! Dyane

      • Thank you for your comments!! You know for so long I have felt captive to this disease, bp. Now, after all these yrs. Of experimenting with meds, finally, I have my life back. I just needed one thing, a voice. This blog has given me a voice, Thank you. Oh, about the oils…. 🙂 They make me smile. I haven’t used blood orange. Do you have to order it? I just buy mine from the natural food store. I get sick a lot from my meds, peppermint works great. Thanks for your kind words.

      • hey again kdbug12 – I bought the blood orange oil personally from a renowned essential oils expert workshop leader who was only in town for the weekend. I paid only around $13 for a small bottle, but that was over a decade ago. If you are interested, his name is John Steele, he’s based out of Sherman Oaks, CA and his company is called Lifetree Aromatix. Here’s a link to learn more about the rare oils he’s involved with:

        I am SO glad you’ve been given a voice via blogging, and that the essential oils make you smile – I looooooove them and need to buy some again! I run out and then get lazy, you know what I mean? Anyway, I’m sending you my best today! :))))) be well, dear kdbug12! Dyane

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