No More Tapering – No More Falling: Let’s Start Over With Recovery

This Friday post presents a truly great resource. Writer Doreen Bench, a former teacher and current stay-at-home mom of three, has learned so much from her struggles with bipolar disorder.  She wants to help others through her writing and her faith.  I’ve felt inspired while reading her terrific blog “Always Recovery”, and perusing her Facebook page “Always Recovery: Anxiety, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder Awareness and Support”.

Doreen’s post “No More Tapering – No More Falling: Let’s Start Over in Recovery” resonates with me as it took me sooooo long to accept (for the most part) having bipolar and to truly accept the role medication plays to keep me functioning.  While she and I share different faiths, I can still learn so much from her in terms of spirituality.  Please take a couple moments to get familiar with this awesome blog.

See you Monday! 🙂

Dyane

p.s. the Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/anxietydepressionbipolar

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Hitting the Face Book Wall, by Walker Karraa

Dr. Walker Karraa has been a profound inspiration to me over the past year. She’s gutsy, brilliant (it ain’t easy to earn a doctorate, work *and* be a mom among other things) and totally original. She’s a postpartum/perinatal expert widely respected in the field. Please check out her latest post from the cutting-edge website she created, Stigmama.com. It will stir up your brain cells and get you thinking, I guarantee it. Take care and stay cool today in this heatwave if you’re in California like I am!

Where the Heart Lies – My New Blogging Schedule & Book Musings

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I love to blog, even though I don’t like the word itself.  “Blog” sounds too much like “frog” (No offense to frogs!) and it simply doesn’t float my boat.  But that doesn’t matter, because blogging has been a wonderful catharsis, and it has inspired my writing.  “Meeting” fellow bloggers has been a total joy.  I thank my lucky stars for this technology which allows us writers to connect with one another.

I tried blogging seven years ago.  It was the year after I diagnosed with bipolar, so I called the blog “Proudly Bipolar”.  My blogging habit didn’t take back then, for I relapsed and let the blog fall to the wayside.  Last November I gingerly re-approached the blogosphere, and the second time was indeed the charm.  When I began getting positive, helpful feedback from other bloggers I admired, it solidified my commitment to blogging.  Five months ago, I surprised myself by posting each day, never imagining that I’d keep it up for any length of time.

I’ve blogged every single day since deciding to write daily, and I’ve published over 140 posts.  

In sickness and in health.

I, in essence, married my blog! 😉

Blogging relieves my tension, and brainstorming for topics is challenging, but satisfying.  It’s particularly gratifying to write on a regular basis because I was unable to write during so many lengthy, debilitating bipolar depressions.

I’ve known the day would come where I’d break my record of daily blogging.  I know it’s healthy to take breaks from everything we do in life, except breathing, perhaps.   Even professional bloggers take days off from their blogs.  Call me stubborn, call me silly  – I just didn’t want to stop!  (Waaaaah!)  

The main reason I need to change my ways is because of my book.  Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder has been taking a backseat to my other writing, i.e. my blog, my International Bipolar Foundation blog, and articles for the website Stigmama.com and the revamped Anchor Magazine plus more.  Every fiber of my being tells me it’s not good to put my book on the back burner.  I want the satisfaction of completing it, and I feel in my gut that I was meant to not only write this book but for it to be published by an established publisher.

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As gratifying as it is to write a memoir, make no mistake – it’s hard as hell.  I can easily spend three leisurely hours writing a blog post, and still have plenty energy to spare.  In contrast, when I spend an intense, focused thirty minutes working on my book, I’m worn out for a while afterwards.  The subject matter is tough, extensive medical research is involved, and I want the writing to be top-notch.  

Just this morning, in a moment of exasperation, I wrote to a friend about this subject.  I emailed the great writer L.E. Henderson, author of A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom,  

“If I can birth two children and have electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) done, I can write a book!”  

To clarify, I know I can write a book! 😉  What will make this knowledge a reality is that I need to create more energy and time to do it.  No one is going to supply those two key conditions for me except myself.  After completing over a hundred pages, I’m more determined now than ever to see this project through.  

When I become dejected about the book writing process, I remind myself that I have the potential to realize my dream.  In 2013, I submitted a detailed book proposal to a respected publisher, and I was offered an honest-to-God book contract.  It pains me to write this, but I cancelled my contract when I relapsed with bipolar depression and had to be hospitalized. Now I’m going to wait until my book is done before approaching any agent and/or publisher. That feels like the right way to go for the time being.

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So I’m making it official by stating it here: I’m going to force myself to only blog three times a week.  I plan on posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   Three times weekly as opposed to seven times a week will definitely free up some book-writing time.  (Ya think? 😉 

I’m also going to watch yet another Nick Ortner EFT YouTube video (even though he’s so hideous, ha ha ha!) because I couldn’t help but notice the title – it definitely applies to me, as does the clip’s description:

“Use EFT To Clear Patterns of Self-Sabotage” – Nick Ortner at Wanderlust

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwgFIKjTpWY

Description:

“These days,” says Nick, “we are activating our fight or flight responses in a variety of circumstances. Frustrated goals, mounting stress, patterns of self-sabotage: at the most basic level are stress responses related to fight or flight responses. The latest research shows us that when we hit these meridian points in the body while focusing on certain issues, we are actually sending a signal to the amydgala in the brain. The amygdala is the fight or flight response center.” In this Speakeasy lecture, Nick explains how tapping can release these fears and patterns.

 

As I promised to the amazing blogger Doreen Bench of “Always Recovery”, I’ll report back here with my EFT findings at some point, hopefully soon.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue reading my blog, and I wish you lots of fulfilling blogging and reading of your own.

Thanks for reading!

Dyane

 

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Lonely In Your Nightmare

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I had another “white night” last night.  This time I awoke at 2:00 a.m.  I had a vivid nightmare about my Mom dying that shook me to the core.  It was so bad that I was tempted to call her in the middle of the night to see if she was okay, but I held back.  (She’s fine; I just got off the phone with her this morning, although I didn’t want to freak her out so I kept my mouth shut about my dream.)  At 2:20 a.m. I took 50 mg of quetiapine (Seroquel) so I’m fighting a case of the mega-groggies this morning.  

I don’t understand why our brains torment us with nightmares.  I guess the “glass half-full” way to look at my nightmare was that it made me want to be nicer to my Mom and appreciate her while she’s still here!  So that’s definitely a good thing.  Still, it was such an awful dream that I’m sure a few new wrinkles formed on my forehead.

I’m now motivated to do a few things to help with the insomnia.  I absolutely need to get lavender essential oil. High-quality lavender oil definitely helps me relax, albeit in a subtle way, for both insomnia and anxiety.  I used to work at a school (College of the Botanical Healing Arts/COBHA) that trained essential oil practitioners, so I know a bit about essential oils.  At COBHA I used to have access to essential oils for sale right next to my work station.  I could purchase one anytime and at a discount.  But now, when I run out of a bottle I get lazy and cheapskatey and I don’t buy it again until I’m fairly desperate, like now!  I live in a valley chock full of health food stores.  However, I loathe going into those stores because I get easily overwhelmed by all the tempting merchandise.  Even if I’m shopping for just one item I freak out!  That’s why I can’t handle going to Costco anymore. So that’s plan #1

Plan #2 is for me to watch a little more EFT info. on YouTube.  There are tons of choices, but today I’m trying out a Nick Ortner introduction to tapping clip that can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJMV3EohDCg

This morning I emailed my psychiatrist to see what he thought about EFT and he wrote, I’ve had no experience with it, am curious, but always skeptical of “the latest healing miracle”.  If it provides more than placebo response, it will last…otherwise it will become another fad.  I’ll be interested in your experience…”

Hmm!  

I also reached out to my Facebook network to see if anyone there had experience with this mysterious-sounding EFT, and I got comments that ranged from the intriguing:

“There is some good evidence in trauma psychology with tapping.”

To the slightly meh: “Yes, I used to do it. Hmmm. It might work for some people. Doesn’t hurt to try.”

Plus two remarks that made me chuckle: “I thought it was stupid. but you never know what might work for you until you try it (keeping an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out.)” and

“some people love EFT…I needed a lot more then tapping..”

So I’ll let you know how it goes with EFT.  I have no expectations, but I do have a “Why not?” attitude which might very well work in my favor.  I won’t know unless I give it a fair try.  

Perhaps by now you’re wondering why I’ve selected the Duran Duran “Rio” cover photo and the shot of the boys in their heyday?  I simply could not write about nightmares without referencing one of my all-time favorite pop songs. “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, the haunting song from the classic “Rio” album, is etched in my brain.  

I loooooove the song and I’ve probably listened to it 5000 times.     I used to listen to it every night on my Walkman (remember those, children of the 70’s?) just before going to sleep.  Actually I’d listen to it several times each night.  It soothed me and yes, I had a crush on Simon LeBon, what more can I say?  I loved how he crooned “You’re lonely in your nightmare, let me in.”  It was just so romantic!  

Recently while reading the New York Times bestseller “In The Pleasure Groove – Love, Death and Duran Duran”, I discovered that author John Taylor played fretless bass in “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, which made it sound all the more alluring and soporific.  

I know that Duran Duran doesn’t have a whole lot to do with EFT, insomnia or lavender oil, but no matter.  It’s fun to include them here.  Maybe I should listen to that song tonight before I go to sleep – maybe it has the power to prevent nightmares like the horror show I experienced last night!!  

If you want to give the song a listen, & see the official video, please visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdagLj8WJrs

Rock on, my friends!  May 80’s music never die! 😉  And, as always, thanks for reading. 

Dyane

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The 3:18 A.M. Anxiety Woes

imagesToday’s blog post isn’t going to win any BlogHer awards because I’ve been a mess since the inhuman hour of 3:18 A.M.  I woke up early because one of the girls had a nightmare and the poor thing started screaming at the top of her lungs.  Instead of getting back to sleep as I usually do, I just sat there in the dark, ruminated on negative things and felt very anxious.

I had taken my usual dose of quetiapine (Seroquel) at bedtime.  This medication has been an enormous help to me in terms of sleeping through the night and helping keep depression at bay.  But I didn’t want to take an additional amount at 3:00 a.m. because it would make me too groggy come sunrise.  That was the time I needed to take care of my girls and drive them to school.  So today anxiety is on my mind.  

 I have a few interesting resources I’ll share here for those of us who suffer with anxiety.  Perhaps you could explore one or all of them and let me know what helps you!

It’s rare for a blog post’s title to make me laugh out loud, but blogger extraordinaire “Bipolar On Fire” managed to do just that with me last week.  While I perused my WordPress reader I spotted the title “Holy Shit Tapping Really Works!”.

I was intrigued.

I knew Bipolar On Fire would never make a claim for any modality to work unless she truly meant it.  Her passionate title made it clear that she was on to something that was, at the very least, helpful, and possibly significant in her healing.  I had to know more about this tapping business, and I read her post with bated breath.

After a job loss, she wrote,

“I have been tapping, saying “I am safe and secure.” And lo and behold, I HAVE been feeling quite safe and secure, not having the major meltdown like I would have in the past…

To say that this has been a transformative few days would be an understatement. Tapping is really helping me to change my life!  Shit that I’ve spent ten or twenty years talking about in Talk Therapy (with no change) is CHANGING!! I can’t tell you how good this feels!  It’s like a miracle! I encourage you to Google “Tapping”, or look it up on YouTube. Do it, and then let me know how it goes. It’s Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It’s real. Thank God, whatever or whoever that is. I am grateful.”

To watch the Nick Ortner YouTube video suggested by Bipolar On Fire visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfZBHWSbrsg

I watched this long clip and I tried the personable, easy-on-the-eyes Nick’s brief tapping demo he gave to two thousand people.  His demo doesn’t come up until towards the end, so you may want to jump ahead to that.  I want to try it again,as I didn’t give it a fair chance and I admit I’m more curious.  I  may explore one or two of his other YouTube demos.  I also plan to check out the EFT founder Gary Craig’s free EFT tutorial at the following website:  http://www.emofree.com/

To read more of Bipolar On Fire’s tapping post please visit:

http://bipolaronfire.com/2014/05/07/holy-shit-tapping-really-works/

Meanwhile, bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson has written two great books: “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar” and co-authored the recently published “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide To Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder”.  Wendy and I connected through the blogosphere in which she read my blog post about how I suffered with anxiety.

In case you want to check it out, that post is:  https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/anxiety-woes/

Wendy’s graciously wrote a comment on “Anxiety Woes” which gave me effective-sounding advice that I need to follow!!!!  Wendy wrote,

“Check this out. It’s the free meditation series.

https://chopracentermeditation.com/
A couple tips, otherwise I find I don’t get good results. You’ll find what works for you, but these have worked well for me…
1. I do it right when I wake up.
2. I listen/do the meditation with headphones from my phone. (try it for the 22 day program. Click on the email link and plug your headphones in to your phone.)
3. I do it pre-coffee/tea in the morning.
4. I also make sure I don’t do too much. (ie: feed the cats, make the bed, etc.) I’ve noticed, for me, it doesn’t work as well.
5. If the cats are bouncing around I’ll go back in to the bedroom. Finding a quiet place is key. The minute I hear television or the cat jumps on my lap, concentration is broken and I’m no longer in meditation mode.
6. Also, I write about what came to me during the meditation right afterwards so I don’t forget. Sometimes I’ll go back a few days later and re-read it. It’s so cool.

As for another anxiety buster, I often write in the morning (and/or meditate) and it gets out my anxieties.I find my day runs smoother when I spend 10 or 15 minutes in the beginning of the day getting out what I have woken up with in my head. It’s all fear…”

You can follow Wendy’s blog at: http://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/

The Two Bipolar Chicks website: http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another wonderful free resource that has helped me over the past couple years. Meagan Barnes founded the Facebook page and group called “Women Conquering Anxiety”.  She is an amazing mental health advocate. Meagan knows a thing or two about anxiety and she has completely transformed her life for the better.  Just this past year Meagan graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and she coaches clients, specializing in anxiety.  You can download her free “10 Ways to Feel Better Today” brochure off her website http://anxietyangel.com.  Her Facebook page is:

https://www.facebook.com/AnxietyAngel

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Thanks for reading and please feel more than welcome to comment about anything that helps you reduce your anxiety, especially the “wee hours of the morning” type that I hate with a passion!!  

take care, Dyane

 

 

Not Crazy, Just Mad

bIt’s a Sunday mid-morning on Mother’s Day, and I’m in our front yard sitting in a patch of sun.  The inside of our home is much colder than the outside temperature, and I just want to warm up a little bit.   Our three chickens Hazel, Malena and Emily cluck soothingly beside me in their coop.  My husband Craig is in the living room supervising our girls playing with Lucy the feisty puppy.

We just had an argument.

I blame Mother’s Day for it.

Over the past few days, I prepped Craig about Mother’s Day, saying I would like to “do my own thing”, within reason.  I didn’t require gifts, flowers or  fancy dinner.  I thought that he’d consider himself lucky to have such a low-maintenance wife!  Then I clarified my request and said I wanted to have a lot of writing time.  I didn’t think I was being unreasonable, and he didn’t say that was unacceptable.

But just now, after I had been glued to my laptop for a few hours, my husband just told me that I had a “dysfunctional” relationship with our computer.  That was a low blow.  I’ve freely admitted I’m online too much as a rule, both to him and to pretty much everyone on the planet, but to throw a nasty label like that at me really hurt.  Plus, it’s Mother’s Day.  Shouldn’t I be treated like the Queen that I am?

Now I sit in a puddle of sunlight feeling like I’m in an icy bath.

How dare you say that to me on holy Mother’s Day!!!  I wanted to scream at him.  It would have felt soooo good to yell.  But I won’t do it because I stopped my rage-fests a long time ago.  Making a complete spectacle of myself is the last thing I want to do in front of my girls, our puppy, and our new neighbors who moved in yesterday next door.

So I’m taking a deep breath.  I’m taking another one.  I’m going to keep away from my innocent computer for a while.  Our relationship is not dysfunctional.  I have a life outside of being online, albeit more narrow than I’d like it to be.

My MacBookPro and I are just friends!  We have a healthy relationship consisting of mutual admiration and respect.  I’m reminded of a great 1984 sci-fi, romantic drama called “Electric Dreams” that depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a home computer.  It really was a charming film, and I loved it so much that I bought the Giorgio Moroder-composed soundtrack.  

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I digress.  I need to shake off my anger and do it as swiftly as I can.  I hate feeling this way.  I know what I’ll do!!!

It’s puppy therapy time!

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I shall take a few private minutes with my furball, tell her of my woes, and hold her gently in my arms.  I will let her lick my face even though her breath is pretty iffy – I’ve seen what else she licks and it ain’t pretty, or hygienic for that matter.  I don’t care.  I’m upset and I need comfort.  It’s refreshing to realize I can give myself a time-out with my canine.  Wow.  This is so cool!

As I embrace this coping strategy I can already feel a shift in my rage.  I’m still quite upset by what happened, but I’ll discuss my hurt feelings with Craig after I’ve had my Lucy time.  It might not be such a bad idea to suggest to Craig to have a few minutes alone with Lucy before we work things out.

Suggesting to hang out with one’s pet to overcome a nasty spat may sound simplistic.  I don’t think it is.  The feedback I’ve gotten from my pet-owning friends is that their “fur children” have helped them with emotions such as anger, sadness and loneliness immeasurably.  I remember the comfort I felt as a little girl laying by my Irish Setter’s warm side, hearing her gentle
breathing and watching her chest rise and fall.  It has been a long time since I’ve had my own dog comfort me, and the gift of Lucy’s unconditional love is a Mother’s Day gift of the highest degree.

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Mother’s Day…I’m Just Not That Into You

I don’t need flowers, I don’t need a fancy dinner, and I don’t need lingerie.

I DO need chocolate.  But I prefer to pick it out myself since I have VERY high standards!

I am referring to Mother’s Day, of course.  While I know that many people appreciate this holiday, I’m not one of them.  I’ve never connected with it, even after I became a mother.  All I cared about growing up was my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas – that was it.  This year I’ve felt particularly repelled by the incredible amount of spam that has appeared in my email folder over the past three weeks.

Strawberries for Mother’s Day!!!  Floral bouquets for Mother’s Day!!!  You-name-it for Mother’s Day!

For me this day has become too loaded with happy expectations and it ends in disappointment.  Who needs it? Especially since you all know I have THE best Mother’s Day gift ever:   snooze

Seven-week-old puppy Lucy snoozing on my pillow despite the fact she’s technically not supposed to be on the bed.  Please let that be our secret!

As thrilled as I am to be under Lucy’s spell, she’s not a panacea to all my problems. I’m having one of those days in which PMS symptoms are beginning to rise their ugly heads.  As a result, I’ve been irritable and unable to relax.  All day long I’ve had an annoying feeling that I should be accomplishing a lot more than I’m doing, and I’m not cutting it!

I wish I could just nap in an instant as sweet Lucy does, complete with puppy dreams.  With two lively children in this house, I don’t see a nap in my immediate future.  What will help me is working out and breaking a good sweat.  That’s my plan for the late afternoon.  My workout becomes all the more alluring because it’s the time when I read your blog posts on my Kindle.  All the juicy, incisive, inspiring writing I read makes my elliptical workout whiz by.

Despite my aversion to Mother’s Day, I admit I’ll take advantage of the holiday all the same.  I’m not asking for much, so I’m easy compared to other “high-maintenance” moms. who require high-end jewelry and Creme de Mer.  I want to be able to hang out with fluffball Lucy, write, work out, and eat something yummy at home.  I know the girls have made me gifts at school and those will be the only gifts I need.

The other day I read a fascinating post on Stigmama.com that discusses Mother’s Day in a different light.  Stigmama.com founder/author Dr. Walker Karraa also mentions other topics close to my heart in relation to motherhood, maternal mental health and awareness campaigns.  Dr. Karraa writes in a highly original, powerful way and her perspectives are never boring!  The post is located at:

http://stigmama.com/2014/05/05/mother-may-i/

Speaking of that which is powerful, yesterday I watched the documentary “Running From Crazy” featuring Mariel Hemingway. The film examines the Hemingway legacy and it takes a close look at suicide and the genetics of mental illness.  What affected me the most were the scenes of Mariel having candid mental-illness themed conversations with her two grown daughters.

Neither daughter said she had severe mental illness, but in one scene Mariel told her daughter pointedly she had been “very worried” about her when she suffered depression.  Mariel had every right to be gravely concerned when depression surfaced in her child, as a whopping seven of her family members had taken their lives, “maybe more” as Mariel said.

While watching “Running From Crazy” it occurred to me for the umpteenth time that as a mom with two daughters of my own I’ll always worry about my girls succumbing to bipolar disorder.  I don’t want my Avonlea and Marilla to feel like Mariel Hemingway.  I don’t want them feeling like they are “running from crazy” throughout their lives, sprinting like mad to escape severe mental illness that arose in the generations before them.

On second thought I’d like the money my husband will spend on a Mother’s Day fancy card, flowers, and dinner to go to a meaningful cause: The International Bipolar Foundation.  The International Bipolar Foundation helps those with bipolar and anyone else affected by bipolar, and they’re active advocates.   As we’re a family on a super-tight budget, we rarely donate to non-profits.  However, since I’m fairly certain that money shall be spent on me for Mother’s Day, I’d like to direct it to a place that makes me feel good.

And now that I’ve gotten theses concerns off my motherly chest, I shall forget about putting away dishes, doing laundry and paying bills and return to Puppyland!!!  Happy Sunday.  😉