Shot Down By HuffPost!–What Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks

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Today’s blog post contains a quiz! 

It’s called “Guess Why The Huffington Post Rejected My Submission?”

I’ll tell you some possible answers in advance; I guess that’s cheating, but I’ll make an exception.

I thought the editor passed due to:

a) It should be divided into two posts

b) It rambles

c) The essential oils section

d) Shitty writing

Hell, I don’t know the exact reason why it was rejected. Bloggers aren’t told why their submissions don’t make the cut.

Yesterday when I received The Huffington Post notification email, silly me – I thought my post was published! My heart soared with anticipation, but when I double-clicked the email it read:

Dear Dyane Leshin-Harwood,

We appreciate you taking the time to submit your most recent post. Unfortunately, we are going to pass on it for publication at this time, and will look forward to your next submission.

Thank you very much

The Very Mean Huffington Post blog team

I felt anything but hunky dory.

After the high of my first post being published without a hitch, I was bummed. 😦 Rejection is never, never fun – unless you’re a masochist.

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I thought that my Setbacks post, at the very least, contained helpful information. Moreover, I was excited that I could take the opportunity to promote two of my fave bloggers: Blahpolar and Kitt O’Malley.

I’ll try again, guys!

But in the meantime….please, a little feedback from you, my friends. I can take it! And I know I need feedback! I’d like my next submission to be a “yes”!

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SubmissionWhat Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks

After I finally found effective medications for bipolar disorder and became stable, I knew that my stability would eventually be challenged by an awful situation such as illness or the death of a loved one. I fervently hoped that fate would forget to throw a trial my way, but those hopes were in vain.

Last month I was hit with a dilemma that sent me reeling, jeopardizing my hard-won stability. I received the bad news when my girls stood by me. I held my emotions in with all my might so as not to alarm them.

At first I considered my ability to contain myself in front of my kids to be tremendous progress.

From the point I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2007, whenever I became upset, my typical reaction was to express rage. I often got angry around my children instead of taking a time-out. I never laid a hand on my girls, but my behavior was reprehensible. I was a total rageaholic.

I’ll regret the times when I lost my temper in front of my little ones until the day I die.

Fast forward to last month.

After I received the news, my attempt to keep my rage under wraps was just a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem. My anger needed to be released, and when my daughters were gone for the day, I erupted. I didn’t hurt anyone, including myself, but I “went there” to a place I loathe with every fiber of my being.

I raged until I became a monster version of myself. It took me two days for my emotional hangover to dissipate. I was mortified about how I acted. I thought I was doing so much better! My psychiatrist had recently said how well he thought I was doing. My therapist made similar remarks during many of our sessions.

After my setback I felt like a phony imposter. I didn’t contact my psychiatrist because it wasn’t a crisis per se. I thought that meeting with my therapist would be most helpful. (I could’ve called her for an emergency phone session, but I waited for our appointment because I was certain that I wouldn’t “go there” again so soon.)

I knew my therapist would help me process what happened so that I’d react in a healthier way the next time rage descended upon me. We’ve only just begun to work on this issue, and I’ll give an update about what I learn in an upcoming post.

NOTE FROM DYANE – THIS IS WHERE I THINK I SHOULD’VE SPLIT THIS POST INTO PART ONE AND PART TWO. 

Aside from therapy, there are people, activities and tools that have helped me during this time. When you face your next challenge, I encourage you to utilize one or more of these options:

1) I connected with an understanding friend and our talk helped me a great deal.

2) I worked out on my elliptical each day for half an hour or I walked outside and got fresh air at the local high school track. Activating my endorphins may have prevented me from spiraling into depression after my setback. I follow the guidelines of the acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan who has studied exercise for mood stability.

 

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Me with my “furry antidepressant”

3) I hung out with my dog Lucy and I hugged her a lot. (She seems to like hugs!)

4) I read a few of my favorite blogs every day. These eloquent writers often mention their own setbacks and how they react to them. Even when the bloggers’ subject matter is disturbing, I’m inspired by courageous bloggers such as Blahpolar and Kitt O’Malley.

5) I read memoirs. I welcome getting lost in the minutiae of another person’s fascinating life. I’m currently reading Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life in Music by Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart.

6) I eat some high quality, snobbylicious organic milk chocolate – I know dark is healthier, but so be it.

7) I use high quality essential oils. Lavender and orange essential oils are two of my favorites; they’re calming and mood elevating, respectively. I worked at the College of the Botanical Healing Arts, an essential oil practitioner college where I studied the efficacy of essential oils for mood. I was taught by one of the world’s essential oil experts, college founder Elizabeth Jones.

To learn how to use essential oils safely, the website altMD is a great resource. I recommend referring to altMD for what I call “The Big Three”: depression, anxiety and insomnia. To learn how to use essential oils safely for depression visit here, for anxiety visit here, and for insomnia visit here

8) Music. Any music that soothes you, play it…immerse yourself in it. I love listening to music in my car since my family doesn’t share my love for 1980’s rock; I’m sure you have your favorite spot.

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80’s Music Forever!

9) Connecting with my girls and husband. Hanging out. Listening to them. Being present with them.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that a setback feels like an emotional tsunami. But you will recover from unexpected stumbling blocks. Make sure you have emergency action plans established with the key professionals in your life such as a psychiatrist and/or therapist. Create your own list of activities that make you feel good, healthy and safe.

In her memoir An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison wrote,

We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadness of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this – through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.

To achieve mental stability with bipolar disorder is precious, so do all you can to protect it.

I wish you strength in building your internal sea wall, and resiliency for the times that sadness and overwhelming forces take hold.

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Perhaps if I wrote about something related to the subject of this scintillating article I would’ve had success, but no matter.

Now that I’m able to take risks again, I can’t let one “NO” stop me, especially after my The Huffington Post Rejection Saga! If you’re considering taking a risk, I invite you to comment – I’ll cheer you on, free of charge!

In any case, I think my skin has gotten a little bit thicker from this rejection, and that’s good, right?

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My new look!

See you next week, and please, take good care of yourselves!

 Love, Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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MAOI Med-Bashing Isn’t Cool!

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The adage “You can’t believe everything you read” is more true than ever in the internet age. And the saying takes on a whole new meaning when it hits too close to home. 

While researching articles about people’s experiences with electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy, I found two posts written by an author — I’ll call her Madame Spuriosa — that alluded to the medication that changed my life: my MAOI.

Her posts contained misleading and/or blatantly inaccurate information about this class of medication. If you’re unfamiliar with MAOI’s and read Madame’s posts, you’d be dissuaded to try this potentially life-changing medication for treatment-resistant bipolar depression.

The experience reminded me how important it is to do your own research about medications and not blindly accept a blog, The Huffington Post or a doctor’s opinion about anything. I was stunned by what the author’s physician said about MAOI’s…I’ll get to that soon.

Simply researching a reputable site can make a profoundly helpful difference.

My doctor and I often use Mayo Clinic and Wikipedia can be very helpful, but of course it’s wise to check several sources & not just reply upon one. 

Consider calling your pharmacist if you like him/her (I’ve read some horror stories about pharmacists who could pass for Satan!). Quiz her about your meds during a slow time – don’t call at 5:20 p.m. when there’s a line ten customers deep. Many pharmacists know a great deal, and they like to share their knowledge as long as they don’t have a ton of customers. If you go this route, just ask her if she’s not super-busy when she comes to the phone.

 

Back to the MAOI Saga….

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Months ago I was contacted by a blog reader who, after reading about my experience with MAOI’s, decided to try one because she was resistant to numerous bipolar meds.

Here she shares how much an MAOI helped improve her quality of life:

“I stopped by your blog while trying to find something that worked for my depression, after failing 6 or so meds and wasting 10 years of my life with this unsettling emptiness. I learned about MAOI’s from browsing through your personal struggles. 2 months later on Parnate I think I’m beginning to feel… just fine. I like it. Thank you.”

When I read that comment, I knew my blogging wasn’t some useless hobby, as I’ve been told. It’s one thing to blog about silly things, which I often enjoy doing – it makes me happy, but it’s entirely another matter to be told your post has helped someone you’ve never met. 

Here’s another example of MAOI bashing by Dr. Julie Holland, author of Weekends At Bellevue and Moody Bitches.

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Dr. Julie Holland’s Moody Bitches is described as A groundbreaking guide for women of all ages that shows women’s inherent moodiness is a strength, not a weakness”

Here’s an excerpt of my Moody Bitches review:

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She Lost Me When She Dismissed the Medicine That Eradicated My Bipolar Depression (In 1 ignorant sentence!)

I enjoyed Dr. Holland’s first book Weekends At Bellevue and I wanted to like this one! I’m pro-medication and pro-psychiatry. I want to promote female psychiatrists whenever I can. Unfortunately I can’t do that with Dr. Holland.

In Moody Bitches Dr. Holland wrote that she was against prescribing MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) without providing ANY convincing reasons behind her statement; once I read that, she lost me as a fan.

An MAOI (Parnate/tranylcypromine) has been a life-changing medication for my treatment-resistant bipolar depression, especially after I combined it with lithium. 

Thanks to my psychiatrist (who thought out of the box and went with this “old-school” med combo of the MAOI and lithium) I have a good life. Before my MAOI was added to my lithium, I had no purpose for seven long, horrific years, ever since my bipolar disorder, peripartum onset was triggered in 2007.

(I wrote about how my life changed for the better…)

None of these amazing blessings would’ve taken place if not for my MAOI. So all I can emphasize in this review is that I no longer recommend this doctor’s books to anyone, and I lost every bit of respect for her professional acumen since she dissed MAOI’s.

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The following excerpts are from Madame Spuriosa’s posts. I bolded the lines in red that troubled me.

I went for a psychopharmacological consultation and was given three options: MAOI (another class of medication), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I was terrified of ECT and I did not want to deal with the dietary restrictions with the MAOI.

When I read that blurb, this is what came to mind:

I don’t want to deal with a lot of things, like unsightly leg hair, gassiness, not being rich, and road ragers on meth, but if I have to give up some foods and booze in order to no longer be severely depressed, then I’ll gladly deal with those dietary restrictions, no problemo!

Madame’s other post states:

My doctor was calm and cool while he presented my options. The first was to try a different class of medication, pretty much the only medication I had not yet tried…there were dietary issues, such as certain cheeses and chocolate that cannot be consumed. I looked at my doctor with a straight face and told him there was no way I could cut out chocolate. Luckily, he smiled and offered me a second option. (Dyane’s note: Madame opted for ECT rather than try an MAOI.)

When I read that section, I was flabbergasted!!!

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Astonished!

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Gobsmacked!

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Flummoxed!

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You get the idea.

No medication fits everyone – believe me, I know that, and I certainly don’t mean to give anyone false hope about MAOI’s. 

But the truth is that lithium and MAOI’s work, and not only do they work, but they work for treatment-resistant bipolar depression remarkably well. Studies done in the ancient 1970’s (the decade I was born) found that MAOI’s seem to work best when combined with lithium.

What I want to emphasize is that MAOI’s dietary restrictions are totally, completely do-able, and they’ll actually make you a healthier person. There are many different lists in circulation of MAOI dietary do’s and don’ts.

While some of those lists mention cutting out or reducing chocolate, I’m here to say that you CAN have chocolate, a.k.a. the most important food in the world. I’m living proof that it’s perfectly safe to eat chocolate and take an MAOI because I’m fairly sure I’m composed of about 90% chocolate.

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This is me.

My friends, if you’ve read this far please give yourself an “A+” for being a great blog follower and a kind reader. I appreciate you so much!

You probably can guess that along with postpartum bipolar disorder, I’m going to keep mentioning the existence MAOI’s until the cows come home to…chew their cud, I guess.

Maybe I’ll write a song about it.

End of sermon.

Well, for now. 😉

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Unless it’s from the Weekly World News of course!

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Have a good Thursday!

love,

Dyane

Read my debut Huffington Post article Postpartum Bipolar Disorder: The Invisible Postpartum Mood Disorder here! 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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