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.

The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part Two

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After I published part one of “The Road of Disturbing Memories” I received great feedback from some of you.  Best of all, I didn’t feel so alone with the depersonalization/derealization that I’ve suffered since taking Geodon in 2012.

My theory is that the atypical antipsychotic Geodon actually triggered these two conditions in my brain, but I know it’s just that: a theory.  Then again, I haven’t done any research, so who knows? But I sense there must be some kind of connection between these terrifying states of mind and Geodon, for I never experienced either feeling before taking this medication.  The disorders struck  just days after I swallowed my first Geodon pill.  That just seems like too strong of a coincidence.

All that aside, I still suffer with depersonalization and derealization.  In some ways the “Two Damn D’s” freak me out more than even bipolar depression, and that’s saying a lot!  

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As a book lover I sought books that addressed these bizarre mental states.  Most importantly, I wanted to read experts’ opinions about effective ways to deal with them.  The first book I bought was supposed to be the most comprehensive book available on the topic:  Overcoming Depersonalization Disorder – a mindfulness & acceptance guide to conquering feelings of numbness and reality.  It was written by Fugen Neziroglu, PH.D., and Katharine Donnell, MA.  

In it the authors discuss ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and MCBT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) skills for coping with numbness, mind and body disconnection, and the bewildering feeling of living in an unreal world.

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As soon as I received my copy in January, 2012, I dove into it, but unfortunately I didn’t e complete the whole book.  I didn’t even try any of the techniques.

Ugh.

I did the same exact thing with another highly acclaimed book: Feeling Unreal – Depersonalization and the Loss of Self by Daphne Simon and Jeffrey Abugel.

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Double ugh.

Reading only the first part of a self-help book has been my “tried & failed” approach to reading 99.9% of the self-books I’ve ever read over the years.  When I first get a self-help book I feel hopeful at the possibility of feeling better.  Then I become overwhelmed by the information and exercises, and I start shutting down.

Although I’ve been very disciplined in other areas of my life, I haven’t been able to possess enough discipline when it came to following self-help books exercises.  Additionally, I didn’t set up an accountability factor (i.e. alerting my therapist and psychiatrist of my bibliotherapy plan) to do any of the exercises.  As a result, I set aside my books and gave up.  One became covered in dust on my bookshelf – the other was ignored in my Kindle.   

I’ve mentioned the “The Two Damn D’s” to both my therapist Tara and my psychiatrist in passing, but then I minimized what was going on with that to focus solely on my bipolar depression.  So even though it has been over two years since I’ve suffered with the “Two Damn D’s”,  it’s still early days for my dealing with them.  I know that I can’t keep shoving these perturbing states to the wayside; they’ll only fester.  

Just for the neck of it, today I searched WordPress blogs using the keywords “depersonalization” and “derealization”.  Imagine my excitement when I found a blog post titled  “Finding the peace of mind – or how to beat depersonalization and anxiety – this is my way of doing it”!

I quickly scrolled down my Kindle screen to find that the blogger of “The Borderline Personality Bliss and Mess” (great title) wrote that taking long drives would throw off her depersonalization.  My heart sank.  Driving was the exact activity that made my depersonalization and derealization much worse.

How different we all are!

http://borderlinepersonalitybliss.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/finding-the-peace-of-mind-or-how-to-beat-depersonalization-and-anxiety-this-is-my-way-of-doing-it/

It’s sooooo tempting to just not address with “The Two Damn D’s” and keep them on the back burner.  I already have my hands full with dealing with bipolar disorder every day as well as taking care of my children.  But I can’t ignore these lame-ass sensations.  I still have my “The Two Damn D’s” books; in fact one sits by my laptop, reminding me that I have to do something, anything about depersonalization and derealization.  

As I’ve only mentioned this problem briefly to my psychiatrist, I think I need to make it our primary topic of discussion at our next session.  I have a feeling he knows about ACT, DBT, and all the “T” therapies out there, since his forte is therapy!  (He almost became a psychotherapist instead of a psychiatrist; I believe this explains why he is such a compassionate doctor.)

Unless I spontaneously, miraculously heal, (hey, never say never!!!) I’ll write a “Part Three” later this summer.  My psychiatrist always has cool insights and practical suggestions, and  I’d like to share them with you.

Have a great 4th of July and I’ll see you next week!

Dyane

p.s. as always, I’m open to your suggestions and I love your comments.  Please comment away to your heart’s content!

 

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