#FeatureFriday: Dyane Leshin-Harwood on POSTPARTUM BIPOLAR

1440169719398I’m very honored that my story of postpartum bipolar (a.k.a. bipolar, peripartum onset) has been selected as the first #FeatureFriday post for South Africa’s cutting-edge site Our Lived Experience. Thanks to OLE founder/writer Yvette Hess of Yve’s Corner for thinking of me, and please be sure to follow OLE  which publishes a variety of amazing posts/resources! 🙂

Our Lived Experience

We’re kicking off our new Feature Friday slot with a great friend of ours and a topic that is her particular field of expertise.

DyaneHarwood

BIPOLAR, PERIPARTUM ONSET (POSTPARTUM BIPOLAR): THE IGNORED PERINATAL  MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDER by Dyane Leshin-Harwood

I live with a form of severe mental illness that few people know about. It’s called postpartum bipolar (PPBD), or bipolar, peripartum onset as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, which is used by psychiatrists everywhere to asses their patients.

This perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) is often ignored, dismissed, or misunderstood by both the postpartum and bipolar support and advocacy communities. It’s the only form of bipolar disorder that’s triggered by childbirth, and medical professionals often miss the signs of PPBD when it first manifests in women for a variety of significant
reasons.

I was diagnosed with PPBD in October, 2007, six weeks after my second baby was born. Within twenty-four hours…

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A Pie Dough Sculpture’s Worth A Thousand Words

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Avonlea’s Thanksgiving Pie Dough “Pig Face” made in a fit of pique

 

Thanksgiving is a weird time in my head.

I feel the loss of my Dad most deeply on Thanksgiving. He died in 2009, but I think of him often and I miss him. An avid cook, my father loved making all sorts of Thanksgiving dishes. Each year he tried a different exotic stuffing recipe in one of his favorite cookbooks The Silver Palate.

Thanksgiving stopped truly feeling like Thanksgiving when he left us.

There are other holes in this Thanksgiving such as an estrangement with someone I love. Apart from that awful rift, a few weeks ago I decided to no longer spend time with some extended family members who are toxic to my mental health. For the past eight years I was passive about how they acted due to my severe bipolar depression and often feeling suicidal.

Now that I’m doing better, I refuse to be around anyone for more than five minutes who will affect my hard-won stability.

The estrangement feels bad – there’s no way around that at this time. Hopefully that will change someday. But my decision to stop being around those who are detrimental to my mental health feels empowering. My husband fully supports my decision because my mental health is of tantamount importance to him. (I know “tantamount” sounds pretentious, but it truly does describe how important my mental health is to Craig!)

There are wonderful people to focus upon such as my immediate family, Miss Lucy (she’s more human than most humans) and my Mom. My mother joined us for Thanksgiving and in her honor I gave Lucy a bath so that Mom could enjoy the beast when she smelled oh-so-fresh. I used an awesome lavender mint dog shampoo by Cloud Star, a company that donates some of their proceeds to great animal welfare organizations.

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“I’m cleaner than you are!”

Lucy Harwood, age 1 & 1/2

We had fun watching some of the 2014 National Dog Show (I don’t get the right channel for the 2015 show.) and I swear Lucy looked just as sleek and glamorous as those fancy hounds! I don’t usually watch dog shows so it was interesting to see all the incredible variety of breeds as well as witness the love and trust between the dog and handler.  I know I could write an entire blog post about the dark side of dog shows, but today it’s about the love. There has been enough dark lately. 

So that’s all the news that’s fit to blog.

I know yesterday was tough for many of you – it’s especially hard for those of us with bipolar disorder. I hope you got through the day relatively unscathed.

I’ll see you next week and in the meantime, I send you my love as always!

Dyane

Lucy snoozing on her beloved bean bag

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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