Wish You Were Here

Dad with Leonard Bernsteind?

My Dad with the great composer Leonard Bernstein

After hearing my father audition, Bernstein told him that he had what it took to be a world-famous concert violinist

Today would’ve been my father’s 88th birthday.  

I wish my Dad was alive to celebrate his birthday for so many reasons – mainly so his two beautiful granddaughters could get to know him and enjoy his remarkable talents as a: Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist, oil/watercolor painter, sailor, model airplane builder, expert skier, woodworker, gourmet cook, book/poetry aficionado, gardener, college professor, violin teacher, backpacker, world traveler, Spanish speaker, and Irish Setter/Golden Retriever lover! 

I’m leaving out much, much more, but that list alone explains why time spent with my father was never dull – unless he was struck by a bout of severe bipolar depression. When that occurred he’d hide away in his bedroom with its thick curtains drawn shut as if it was a sepulcher. There he slept to escape his misery.

While growing up, I saw firsthand how manic depression affected my father, and I hoped to high heaven I’d never experience it. But that’s not how things worked out, and my father felt responsible and terribly guilty that I inherited bipolar disorder.  

I called him from the psychiatric ward’s single pay phone during my first hospitalization. I was six weeks postpartum and full-blown manic. (My suicidal depression wouldn’t arrive until weeks later.) Four hundred miles away, Dad answered the telephone. I told him I had just been diagnosed with bipolar one disorder. It was the first time I ever heard him weep.

Since I was manic, as soon as the psychiatrist looked me in the eyes and told me my diagnosis, I wasn’t fazed. During my conversation with my father I tried comforting him. I urged Dad several times not to worry about me, but he knew what lay in store for his beloved daughter. He knew that the shit would hit the fan in my brain, and it did. Again, and again, and again.  Six more hospitalizations would follow, I’d ask for unilateral ECT after he died, and for bilateral ECT after I made the disastrous decision to taper off bipolar meds.  All in all, I’d try over thirty-five medications to no avail.

Despite all my suffering, with the help of my immediate family, my doctor, my therapist, the medical establishment and (gasp!) even evil Big Pharma, I’ve come through “Dyane’s Inferno”.

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I wish that my father could’ve witnessed how my bipolar disorder didn’t destroy me. Wherever he is (for I don’t believe that when die, that’s it.), maybe Dad knows I’ve reached this hard-won, relative stability.

I wish I could’ve called my father after I was offered my book contract; Dad knew I wanted to be a published author from the time I was seven-years-old.  He was a voracious reader, and at bedtime he read me The Juniper Tree stories (a tad disturbing, but fascinating nonetheless) or Edgar Alan Poe’s haunting poem Annabel Lee, one of his favorites.

In the last couple years my father was alive, I’d search the Los Angeles Public Library’s online catalogue for books I thought he’d enjoy. Using his library card number, I’d request books about the violin, sailing, and history to name a few. This memory makes me happy because I know that the books served as bibliotherapy, despite the recurrence of his bipolar depression. He always thanked me profusely for finding books he couldn’t put down.

Dad would be so proud to see me achieve my dream of having my book published by Post Hill Press. (I still think he pulled some celestial strings so that I got the deal!)

I’m beyond grateful that Dad and I had our time together.  

I’ll be dedicating my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder to my girls, Craig, my Mom, Miss Lucy,

and of course…

Dad.

Dad unshaved

Dyane & Dad 002 (1)Eight-months-pregnant Dyane & Dad, 2004

Annabel Lee

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Update from the Boondocks of Bigfoot

 

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Hey there my Sasquatch lovin’ friends,

I’m in a goofy mood, which comes at a good time after my Facebook Fiasco. a.k.a. the unfriendings over the past week. After I published my last post, I received fantastic comments packed with insights and support, and I felt a bunch of warm fuzzies.  Thank you so much!

It has been five days since I deactivated my Facebook account and I don’t miss it at all! I remain on Twitter, and it helps me feel connected to the internet, but as one follower Jasminehoneyadams of Invoke Delight  https://invokedelight.wordpress.com/  wisely notes,

“I much prefer Twitter for social media, where it’s less personal and there’s no pretension of people being friends; they’re more acquaintances which is less confusing for me, and it’s less upsetting if someone unfollows because it’s just the way Twitter works.”

I agree!

So you may be wondering what’s the story about this Bigfoot title? Well, I live five minutes away from the world-famous Bigfoot Discovery Museum. (I’m sure you’ve heard of it.)  

I’m not proud that despite living in these mountains for close to a decade, I haven’t been inside the legendary exhibit. My time will come. Last year I met the Museum’s owner Mike at the post office and he was very charming. He even offered to watch my puppy Lucy outside the post office when I mailed a package. I promised Mike I’d pay the museum a visit because let’s face it, one’s life is not complete until a pilgrimage to the Bigfoot Discovery Museum is made.  

There isn’t really much of a connection between Bigfoot and last week’s virtual rejection. Today I gazed out the window at the beautiful redwoods, and thought, How lucky I am to have such a view! Bigfoot came to mind because the hirsute creature supposedly roams these woods. Then I began to laugh, because of all the places in the world for me to settle down, I had to pick Bigfoot’s ‘hood. (Well, at this point I’d trust Bigfoot more than a lot of “friends” on Facebook!)

I used to hike all the time at nearby state parks, and I never once spotted the wily beast, but who’s to say what’s the truth of Bigfoot’s existence? (There must be an X-Files episode about it, right?) In any case, I’d much rather be pondering the mysteries of Bigfoot than surfing Facebook and wasting time better spent on important projects, not to mention finding out that someone has unfriended me!

Speaking of important projects, I’ve been working each day on Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. I’ve made some progress, but I have a looooooong way to go. I’m slower than molasses when it comes to completing the draft, but I’m highly motivated due to the book deal with Post Hill Press. To help inspire me to do the best job I can, I bought Your Life is a Book by Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann, which has 99% 4-5 star Amazon reviews:

 

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I don’t have a good track record when it comes to utilizing self-help books, but I’m hoping that reading this book (and doing some of the exercises) will be a positive experience. I figure it’s definitely worth a try!

Because of the huge surge of interest in reading and writing memoirs, there are numerous awesome-sounding memoir how-to books available. I considered buying Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir and Adair Lara’s Naked, Drunk & Writing, but I was drawn to this book. Another book that caught my eye was written by a New Zealander (! yes !) named Lindsey Dawson. She wrote Crack Your Life: How to Write a Memoir That Rocks. Although it only got two reviews, reading the glowing, detailed praise made me download a sample on my Kindle. I haven’t read it yet, but I will.

I’ve also been enjoying the Twitter feed of @WomenWriters. It has frequent tweets, but the beauty of Twitter is that it’s easy to sift through tweets without becoming overwhelmed. @WomenWriters offers links to helpful articles on websites including Women Writers, Women’s Books. http://booksbywomen.org/  I highly recommend @WomenWriters and the site!

Be good to yourself, be good to your friends, and please protect yourself from negative, toxic people/headlines/whatever!

Thanks for reading…

XOXO

Dyane

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For more information about the Bigfoot Discovery Museum please visit: 

http://bigfootdiscoveryproject.com/