Lucy Puppy Visits My Psychiatrist!

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Greetings and happy Friday everyone!

Today I planned to write about my Dad, as it’s his birthday.  My father died in 2009, and I’ve written about him in this blog before.  I considered him to be one of my best friends, and he also had bipolar one disorder.  The link to my post about Dad is here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/dad/

I’ve always been into birthdays, and today I can’t help but feel down about the fact that Dad isn’t here with us to celebrate another one.  However, I’ve been comforting myself with the thought that he’d get a big kick out of what happened this morning.

I had my monthly check-in appointment with the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had: Dr. D.  Apart from being the most helpful pdoc I’ve seen over a span of two decades, Dr. D. is also the first dog-friendly psychiatrist I’ve consulted.  With all due respect, from now on I shall refer to him here as “Dr. Dog”.  (Ruff, ruff!)

A few weeks ago, when I emailed Dr. Dog about a med refill, I mentioned that the glorious puppy Lucy had joined our family.  I didn’t know if he liked dogs, but I attached a photo of her anyway since she was so damn cute.  Dr. Dog wrote back remarking on Lucy’s sweet face, and he said it would be perfectly fine to bring her to my next appointment at his-dog-friendly office complex.  I thought that was the coolest thing, and I knew that having Lucy with me would lessen my anxiety.  I was a little stressed about her going potty in his office, but I didn’t let that stop me from bringing her along.

To prevent a puppy accident from occurring, I packed doggy pads, spray cleaner, a roll of paper towels, a couple baggies, a dog toy, and a little container of water!  I’m sure I left something out.  (Just kidding!)  Honest-to-God, I felt like a mom with her a newborn going on an errand, carrying a plethora of baby objects in tow. While Lucy’s accoutrements were much easier to pack compared to infant gear (and infant), I found the task challenging all the same.

When Lucy met Dr. Dog, they hit it off right away.  I was the uber-proud mama of a fur baby!  Dr. Dog told me he was impressed my bringing my array of clean-up items, etc.  It turns out that he used to have a Sheltie who passed away few years ago.  (Lucy is part Sheltie, so of course I took that as a good sign.)

We reviewed my blood test paperwork, and then I brought up the two topics on my mind: my high anxiety, and my sugar & caffeine addictions.  Dr. Dog also considers my sugar and caffeine problems as bona fide addictions. He’s a longtime addiction psychiatrist and he knows what he’s talking about! I’ve become so discouraged with my lack of progress in these two areas in my life.  Diet and anxiety are strongly connected, and I’m perpetuating a self-sabotaging cycle in which the more sugar and caffeine I ingest, the worse my anxiety becomes.  Dr. Dog said he felt a “sadness” for me because these issues continue to bring me down and prevent me from being my best, happiest self.  I don’t foresee any quick fixes here, and I’m working on them with my therapists.  (My human therapist and my puppy therapist.  I’m joking once again – I smelled Lucy’s furry little head a few minutes ago, and I’m high on puppy.  It truly smelled amazing and not “wt doggy” yet. )

At the close of our appointment Dr. Dog remarked that I was doing “very well” despite my self-confessed challenges, which was music to my ears.  He said I could bring Lucy to my next appointment – more music to my ears indeed.  It was lovely to have her at my side in his office today, as she definitely helped me ratchet down my angst.  Lucy was so good and mellow, and she didn’t even go potty on his carpet! 🙂

Along with the bipolar gene, I inherited a great love for hounds from my father.  My Dad adored dogs and he filled our home with his beloved Irish Setters.  (Note to you dog experts out there – I believe that Irish Setters are much smarter than they get credit for!)  It was fitting that today on my Dad’s birthday I saw my psychiatrist with Lucy  by my side.  I know he’d completely approve of the arrangement and perhaps he even had an otherworldly hand in making it happen.  Who knows?

In any case, it’s fun to write about my joyful, vivacious puppy  today instead of dwelling upon Dad’s pain, suffering and death like I had initially planned to expound on.  I’ve “been there, done that” numerous times. This past week I wrote an essay about grieving my Dad for the upcoming issue of “Anchor” magazine.  I didn’t choose the topic; the upcoming issue’s theme is grief.  That assignment drained me, and I feel like I’ve met a “grief theme writing quota” that should last me quite a while.

I hope that my Dad is having fun in the Afterlife; perhaps he’s with his Irish Setters.  I see him in my mind’s eye playing the Tchaikovsky pieces he loved on his favorite Guadagnini violin.  His audience consists in part of Tanya and Amber, his mild-mannered setters.  Dad would understand my decision to blog mostly about Lucy instead of about him and my grieving his loss, especially since he couldn’t stand to talk about death in any way, shape or form!

I miss him.

 

 

 

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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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