Dammit, Begone “Sally Field Syndrome”!!!


 Sally Field in one of my favorite movies “Mrs. Doubtfire” with my hero Robin Williams


I saw the Oscar-winning actress Sally Field in the flesh once.  The sighting took place when I was a teenager, during a time when I didn’t idolize older, gifted female celebrities the way I eventually would.

Sally Field appeared to me not on an exotic movie set, but in the mundane doorway of my 11th grade Chemistry class.

Her son, who I didn’t know except by face, was in my class.  For some reason his mom needed to see him and that was that.  This was the same class that my friend S. arrived at one day to tell our teacher she couldn’t take the exam as she just saw someone jump to her death from Ocean Avenue on to the Pacific Coast Highway.  I remember feeling deeply, deeply shocked at her news, and I almost couldn’t take the test myself.  S. was excused, but it turned out that S. lied about the suicide just to get out of the test.  (Our friendship melted away soon after that happened.)

That was a looong digression!  Please forgive me!  Sometimes I include kooky, off-topic anecdotes that I suddenly remember from my teen years, in part, because I get so excited that my ECT didn’t erase these memories.  I feel really good knowing that certain brain cells are alive and kicking.  Who cares about the fact that I recall S.’s crazy lie and not the lines to a Shakespeare sonnet I learned in college.  It just doesn’t matter!

While the Sally Field Incident is one of my “neither-here-nor-there” facts about my life, I always found Field intriguing for uttering a famous Academy Award acceptance speech that moved me.  Here’s a seven-second-long peek:

I checked out Sally Field’s Wikipedia entry, and I was surprised that while many recall her saying “You like me, you really like me!” she actually said “You like me, right now, you like me!”, and this speech was inspired by dialogue in the film Norma Rae.  Here’s what Wiki states,

“Then came a second Oscar for (Sally Field’s) starring role in the 1984 drama Places in the Heart. Field’s gushing acceptance speech is well remembered and has since been both admired as earnest and parodied as excessive. She said, “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it—and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”Field was actually making a humorous reference to dialogue from her role in Norma Rae, but many people missed the connection. Field even parodied herself when she delivered the line (often misquoted as “You like me, you really like me!” in a Charles Schwab commercial.”

So where am I going with all this?

In my last post I wrote that I was thrilled to be nominated by the writing dynamo Wendy K. Williamson for a WEGO Health Award for “Best in Show” blog.  This is me:


I let my nomination completely go to my head and instead of enjoying the fleeting moment, I started obsessing about getting endorsements, which are needed in order to win the award.  I became a smarmy politician, so to speak, asking for endorsements wherever I could.

Wendy is going to kill me when she reads this, as she’s my writing mentor, but I spent more hours than I care to admit caught up in getting endorsements and learning about WEGO Health when I should have been writing as I had originally planned to do.  Even cleaning my house would have been a better way to spend my time than my WEGO-ing.

As I read many of the other nominees’ very moving profiles that detailed amazing accomlplishments despite their having chronic illness of all kinds, I thought to myself,

“I haven’t got a prayer to become a finalist.  Why the hell am I wasting my time and getting so obsessive???”

I made it into a popularity contest that I wanted to win.  My irrational thinking went along the lines of, ” If I get enough endorsements I’ll prove to the WORLD that….wait for it….




Let me state for the record that I get really freaky and competitive when it comes to trying to win contests of all kinds. When I was fifteen I came across a contest in which ten Izusu Impulse cars were being given away, and that a postcard had to be filled out and sent for each entry.  I filled out and sent a whopping 500 postcards to win this car, paying for the considerable amount of postage with babysitting and office assistant money I had earned, and no, I didn’t win.

Within twenty-four hours after being nominated for the WEGO, I realized I had to stop asking for endorsements here, there, and everywhere.

I accepted the fact that I won’t win.  I can’t compete with the other nominees’ enormous followings and/or their incredible accomplishments.

AND that’s really, truly okay.   I need to be happy with my nomination and let it go, let it go….

That is all.  I’m forgiving myself for letting this nomination go to my head because I don’t get nominated for awards, you see.  It’s a novel event in my life.

I don’t need a bunch of votes to prove that I’m a good person, that I’m talented, that I’m likable, and so on.

I need to believe in myself first and foremost and realize that:


I’ve made it through times of acute suicidal lows.

I’ve made it through many med side effects.

I’ve made it through both unilateral and bilateral ECT.

I’ve made it through chronic bipolar depression.

I’ve made it through the hospitalizations.

I’ve made it through my Dad’s death.

I don’t need to have an organization declare me a winner.

I’ve always loved what Saturday Night Live self-help guru Stuart Smalley (played by Senator Al Franken) said,

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!”


I’m going to let the illustrious Stuart Smalley’s words of wisdom be my motto for 2015, and I’ll look within instead of to accolades.

Of course if there’s any kind of contest to win a lifetime supply of chocolate, all of this goes to the wayside!



A Shameless Plea for Your Support! (Not $!) & Much More…


Dy & Lucy  kiss

Throughout my life I’ve been great at promoting others who I believe in with all my heart, whether it be their books, their causes, their blogs, their music, their food…whatever! 😉

But when it comes to tooting my OWN horn, it’s another story.  However, today I’m in the mood to toot away because Wendy W. Williamson, author of the bestselling memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and co-author with Honora Rose of the acclaimed Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder, has nominated me for a WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show” Blog Award.  

I normally post on Friday, but I’m so excited about this news that I’m firing off this post right now!!!

A WHAT-GO?  you might ask?


Here’s more to know about WEGO:  WEGO empowers health activists to help others.  WEGO Health is a different kind of social network, built from the ground up for the community leaders, bloggers and tweeters who are actively involved in health online. WEGO Health is a platform for committed health advocates to foster new relationships, gain access to helpful resources, and to grow their communities.

To endorse me takes under thirty seconds.  After you endorse me, you’re prompted to share the nice act you just did (and to ask for endorsements on my behalf) via your Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc.

To endorse me (and to nominate/check out other worthy candidates – check out the misc. categories on the Wego site!) please visit:


Wendy wrote an incredible nomination blurb that I might wind up having tattooed on my face…although it’s long, so my derriere would be a more fitting location –  here it is in all its glory – my head swells up every time I read it:

Dyane’s site is the best out there. I love that she tells it like it is and supports her fellow followers. A gifted writer, she clearly conveys through humor and honesty what is happening in her world and the world around us. Dyane taps in to our feelings beautifully, saving us from emotional isolation. Activist, champion, Dyane is both and more.”

You may be wondering what does a WEGO winner actually get.  Well, they each get $50,000 and a lifetime supply of chocolate!  No, just kidding.  

Here’s what WEGO has to say on the matter:

“Winners will be publically announced during our ceremonies in March, 2015 and each winner will receive special Health Activist Awards business cards signifying them as the winner of this year’s program, a donation to their Health Activist, a feature on WEGO Health’s blog and social channels, special access to WEGO Health opportunities throughout the year – including chances to speak at or attend conferences.”

(This would be awesome because I haven’t had a business card in a decade! 😉 No, really, an association with WEGO would allow me to reach more women with postpartum bipolar disorder and beyond….it would be fantastic!)

So I’m a happy camper this morning.  Once again, I’m amazed by what happens when we connect with others through the internet who inspire us. When I first read Wendy’s engrossing memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar, I found myself unable to put it down and I finished it the same day. I never imagined that I’d be in touch with this author, let alone be gifted with a wonderful friendship and writing mentorship with her.  

The same thing happened to me in terms of inspiration when I contacted Jennifer Marshall of the Bipolar Mom Life blog.  She’s also a 2013 WEGO Health Activist finalist and creator of the groundbreaking “This Is My Brave” Show.  There are so many positive things I could write about Jenn & her mental health advocacy that it would take a glowing blog post to begin doing her justice, and that’s just what I did – I wrote one.  See here for my post about Jenn:


Jennifer and “This Is My Brave” co-executive producer Anne Marie Ames are bringing the show to other cities in 2015, & you might want to participate.  

The show’s concept can be viewed here:


The entire “This Is My Brave” premiere show is on YouTube and it features my friends Elaina J. Martin (“Being Beautifully Bipolar” blog on Psych Central & http://www.blog.elainaj.com/) and Meagan Barnes (http://www.anxietyangel.com/) :


So I’d like to dedicate this post to four extraordinary women who have made a huge, positive difference in my life over the past year:








and a special thanks goes to Cristi Comes, creator of the “Motherhood Unadorned” blog (http://www.motherhoodunadorned.com/)and founder of the Mental Health Blogging Network. Cristi’s encouragement, advocacy, and networking have been invaluable to me.

Last but not least, I must thank LUCY THE CANINE MUSE – I can’t leave my furry girl out because she sits on my foot while I write, and she makes me so happy!   Lucy does not have a blog or website at this time, but watch out – she never ceases to amaze me with her puppy brilliance.




Two Bipolar Chicks

I’m writing this on a dreary Sunday morning as the sounds of Nickelodeon’s “The Fairly OddParents” blare in the background.  (At least it’s not SpongeBob. I must be grateful.)  When you have young children, and there’s the opportunity for the family to sleep late on a weekend, you can bet the kids will wake up WAY earlier than they ever do on a school day.  6:00 A.m.?  Sure, why not! Call it Murphy’s law!

This will be a short but sweet post to spread the word about a new blog written by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose titled “Two Bipolar Chicks” on Blogger.  The blog is associated with their recently published book “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living With Bipolar Bipolar”.  

Unfortunately I’m even more unfamiliar with the workings of Blogger than I am with WordPress.  As Blogger won’t allow me to reblog over to WordPress, here’s the direct link:



BipolarChicksCover 200x300 cropped


This book is cool for many reasons, but especially because it’s up-to-date, hip, funny.  The authors, who both have bipolar, offer varied suggestions for self-care including bright light therapy, & a short section on essential oils.  (Please see my last post for more misc. info. about using essential oils for anxiety & bipolar *in addition* to meds:  https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/the-bipolar-blogger-network-why-i-smell-like-salsa/)

I also loved Wendy’s first memoir, the bestselling “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar”.


Wendy has been one of my key writing mentors.  She has given me such useful advice that I suggested she should turn it into her next book.  She runs a successful writer’s group where she constantly learns from other writers of all levels.  Nice!

The Two Bipolar Chicks make good use of Twitter, tweeting about different topics relevant to those of us affected by b.p., as well as tweeting about garden variety topics that often make me laugh.

Here’s the Twitter address:  @2BipolarChicks

So that’s it…short but sweet as promised!

And speaking of sweet, be well, my sweet friends, & see you Friday!

Dyane 🙂










The Bipolar Blogger Network & Why I Smell Like Salsa!



I’ve had a weird week, but I’m relieved there hasn’t ben any serious drama in my neck of the woods.


A few days ago I got some good news: I was accepted into the Bipolar Blogger Network.  I’ve known about the BBN for over a year, and while I wanted to apply for membership, I kept procrastinating.  (It wound up taking me less than two minutes to email them!)

I’d already been following a third of the BBN bloggers, and I’m sure that the other two thirds listed are worthy blogs to follow.  I encourage you to peek at their website to check out the assortment of bloggers.  If you’re interested in joining, please contact them, as they’re constantly on the lookout for blogs to add to the network.  

Here’s a brief explanation about the Bipolar Blogger Network’s philosophy:

“The Bipolar Blogger Network is the brainchild of a couple of friends bemused by the lack of networking options for those with various flavours of bipolar.  We intend for this place to be a hub for all who have an experience to share. If you have any questions, queries, comments, or a desire to join the network, feel free to drop us a line!  We are always happy to add new bloggers to the network; in joining, you make us all stronger together by sharing your slant on life with bipolar.  (http://www.bipolarbloggernetwork.com/)


Meanwhile, a few weeks ago I found a blog called “The Oil Experiment” focusing upon the blogger’s experience in using essential oils for health concerns.  Blogger Michelle Rocker addresses specific essential oils that she uses on her children who have autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.  Michelle uses essential oils for anxiety among other maladies.   

Even though I love essential oils, when I first read Michelle’s blog post about bipolar, her son and essential oils, I was miffed.  My first thought was,

How stupid and unethical for someone to suggest essential oils as a treatment for bipolar disorder!!! 

Over ten years ago I worked at the College for Botanical Healing Arts (www.cobha.org) which offers extensive training in their essential oil practitioner program.  In 1998, COBHA’s practitioner program required the student to complete 440 hours of vigorous classroom studies plus an internship and exam.  It wasn’t a hippy dippy curriculum to say the least.  The directors are world-renowned experts in the field of essential oils, and the other teachers had tons of experience and credibility.  From my time there as an office manager, I learned a bit about the basic therapeutic use of essential oils.  

I only took a few of COBHA’s courses, including Level One, their introductory course.  I don’t recall learning about essential oils being used for bipolar disorder in the late 1990’s.  However, I hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar yet, so bipolar wasn’t on my radar like it is now.  That said, my father had bipolar disorder and he was alive back then, so I would’ve paid close attention if we were taught anything about “e.o.’s” that could benefit his mood disorder.  

After reading more of Michelle’s blog regarding her children who have bipolar, ADHD, and Aspergers (and who she claims have benefitted greatly from using essential oils under their close M.D. supervision) I was curious about using the oils for anxiety.  I didn’t want to try using any essential oils for bipolar, however, as my lithium & my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) are working well, thank God.  I don’t want to mess with them at all!  

 I purchased two essential oils from a friend.  I know these two e.o.’s (wild orange and cilantro) are safe for me to use in tandem with my MAOI.  (Those who take MAOI medication have food and alcohol restrictions.) I’ve used orange essential oil for years, and I’ve eaten cilantro for years.  I’m not allergic to either oranges or cilantro, and they aren’t contraindicated for consumption if taking an MAOI.  

I followed Michelle’s lead in putting a few drops of cilantro underneath each big toe (she places it on her toes due to the fact she dislikes the smell of cilantro and it’s also a reflexology point) and I put the orange on my wrists as she suggested.

I smelled VERY strongly of cilantro – this stuff is POTENT.  Luckily I like the smell of cilantro, but even so, it’s a little much for me.  I don’t mind smelling like salsa if my anxiety level drops!  It could be a worse smell, right?  I absolutely love the smell of orange – I’ve adored orange – and I think that its smell cheers me up rather than lowers my anxiety level.  Michelle implies in her anxiety blog post that cilantro is supposed to be the heavy-duty essential oil for anxiety.  (The link is posted below.)

So, what’s the verdict?  

I think cilantro essential oil helps in a subtle way, but I’ve only tried it a few times.  I’ll keep using it, perhaps in different spots than underneath my toe, and I’ll see if I notice a difference in my anxiety level.

During my next meeting with my psychiatrist I’ll ask his opinion about using essential oils for mood disorders. (I’ll make it clear that I’d use the e.o.’s in tandem with my meds, not in place of them!) I didn’t feel the need to ask him about orange or cilantro oils due to the fact these e.o.’s are food-derived and safe to combine with my MAOI.  I’ve been using orange essential oil for many years with no problems.  But I would want to ask my pdoc about the more obscure essential oils that aren’t food-derived, i.e. vetiver, melissa, frankincense etc.

Here’s Michelle’s post about using the essential oils for anxiety


Do you use essential oils? If yes, why & which ones do you use?  Do they help you?

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend everyone!
Dyane 🙂

Writing Heals My Brain



This post was originally published on Stigmama last week.  It was my answer to Stigmama’s founder Dr. Walker Karraa’s question, “Why do you write?”  For some silly reason I wasn’t able to reblog it, so I’m doing the old copy & paste instead! 

Each time time my writing is featured on Stigmama.com, I’m honored.  I witnessed this website’s “birth”, so to speak.  Stigmama’s thriving Facebook page now has a whopping 9000 likes, & there are many talented contributors!  

I’m including Dr. Karraa’s comment to my piece at the end because it’s an incredible, insightful comment – it really moved me.  If you’re interested in contributing to Stigmama, please visit Stigmama.com and check it out. Have a wonderful week & see you Friday!




Writing Heals My Brain

I write because I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine-years-old.

I write because my mother gave me wonderful books to read as a child, and
she always believed in my writing ability – she still does at age 80!

I write because it grounds me.

I write because the act of writing restores me to the self I was
before a mental illness almost destroyed me.

I write to prove to myself that all the soul-sucking medications I’ve
taken didn’t kill my creativity after all.

I write because writing has given me the opportunity to interview extraordinary people.  Before I was diagnosed with bipolar, I interviewed Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of “An Unquiet Mind”.  My topic was about women, depression and exercise.  Thanks to her input, I sold my first magazine article. (Little did I know I would share the same diagnosis with Dr. Jamison a few years later – at least I was in good company!)

I write because I can write, even after I had electricity pulse through my brain over fifty times during electroconvulsive treatments (ECT).  My long-term memory is still intact. I write because it stimulates some mysterious part of my brain and makes me feel better.

I write because it’s free therapy.

I write to share and connect with other people worldwide who have suffered like me.

I write to help other moms know they aren’t alone with their postpartum mood disorders.

I write because no one, not even bipolar disorder, can take away the fact that I’m a Writer.


*Photo: Dyane with the Newbery Award-winning author Madeleine L’Engle at her writing workshop in 1997.  L’Engle wrote “A Wrinkle In Time” and over sixty other books.  Madeleine L’Engle is one of Dyane’s all-time favorite
authors, and Dyane counts spending time with this amazing writer as one of the most meaningful highlights of her life.


Dear Dyane

Your piece here speaks to I write something so hard to get at.  But you get there…the mystery of writing.  You write, “because it stimulates some mysterious part of my brain and makes me feel better.”  This is so true. Writing does activate a part of ourselves that we can’t identify, but we know like the back of our hand. That is the mystery, the paradox.

Through the #WhyDoIWrite Series, I am growing in my understanding of how writing resets us. And how women in particular write as an action in the world. Not a reaction, not a reflection as much as an action like walking, blinking, moving. Less an activity, more an action. I am reading Virginia Woolf’s diary (at least the parts her a-hole DH Leonard would allow published) and she gets to this as well. It is a verb for women. Writing is an “ing”. I have been thinking a lot about my maternal grandmother as well–who had the psychic skill of automatic writing. She could sit and channel others and it flowed through her pen–or jury rigged Smith Corona type writer! She too suffered from depression and mania, as did her mother who was bipolar and a Quaker minister, and I am told spoke in tongues. Their gifts were their channels to the automatic. The mysterious part of the brain that free flows higher consciousness. No matter WHAT is done to it. ECT, brain injury, stroke, death–it is still there. That part.  That part that automatically channels Spirit.

Thank you for being one who does just that. I too am overwhelmed by the growth of this community.  But I am not surprised. Women are wonders. And with a pen in our hand?  

We are free.

Dr. Walker Karraa

Mundane, Mysterious and Bloody Acts of Writing

Photo on 2014-09-10 at 11.34 #2Lucy the Canine Muse says hello while I’m writing at my desk


Today I reviewed the introduction and chapter one of my book, which I wrote several years ago.

I was totally appalled with certain sections that I used to think were rock-solid.  

I wondered things such as, “What on EARTH was I thinking?”, “Why-oh-why didn’t I see those errors? I have an English degree, dammit!”,  and “Whhaaaaaaat?

Writing is so strange.  If I write a few paragraphs and wait just one day, I always find ways to improve them.  Always.  At the very least I find egregious, embarrassing typos and/or syntax bugaboos.  More often than not I find entire sections that need to be changed or cut.

It’s perplexing, and it raises my blood pressure, but I also find this phenomenon fascinating.

When is a piece of writing done?  The pattern that I describe shows that writing is never truly complete, and that it can always be smoother, wittier, more profound, and even 100% grammatically correct.  The same concept could be applied to any creative pursuit, of course.  

I guess it’s about acceptance of the imperfect, and about setting limits with one’s examination (navel gazing?) of one’s writing.  That sounds simple enough, right?

Oooooh, it’s not simple!  Not for this silly procrastinating perfectionist!

I’ve also been daydreaming about other aspects of writing, i.e. what inspires us to write,  and “the flow” of creativity that descends upon us when we least expect it.

The other day I listened to an interview with Neil Finn, who is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of Crowded House.  Neil was being interviewed about Crowded House’s album “Time On Earth”.  That album holds special meaning for me because some of its songs are about the suicide of Neil’s best friend, a gifted musician named Paul Hester, Crowded House’s drummer.  I met Paul in New Zealand when I flew there to basically stalk Crowded House, and he was charming, kind and funny with me, since I was a nervous wreck.  He reportedly suffered with bipolar disorder.   I write more about Paul and Neil here:


Neil’s interview closed with his observations of the songwriting process.  He mused,

 “Tapping into the divine inspiration – I have no idea and I never will,  I don’t think…it always seems like it’s harder every time, but it probably isn’t.  It’s probably the same.  The contradiction being in the whole process is that when it happens it’s effortless, and getting to the point of where it’s effortless is an internal struggle, so I don’t know…I don’t understand it.”


As Neil discussed his songwriting I realized that his thoughts about “divine inspiration” applies to writing a book as well as a song.   My ears pricked up when he mentioned “internal struggle”.  I’m not feeling like anything is effortless this morning, nor do I feel graced with divine inspiration, although there’s plenty of internal struggle going on!  (Note to Wendy K. Williamson, bestselling author of I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar, if you’re reading this, I promise not to whine too much in future posts. Well, maybe.)



Recently the writer Jeff Smith of Higher Trust Marketing shared a Ernest Hemingway quote with me that gave me pause:

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I’m no Hemingway, and I never will be (or aim to be) for that matter!  What I do want is for my writing to be consistently good, insightful, and ultimately helpful to others.  Do I really need to “bleed” in order to do that?  

I hope not.  

I’ve suffered enough, like all of you reading this.  No bleeding, please.  

As some you know, my goal is to finish the draft by my birthday!  At this point the only birthday present I want for the rest of my birthdays is to finish the damn draft! 😉  I’ll keep you posted.

Have a GOOD weekend, dear readers!!!