Too Tired to Write…Here’s A Video Check-In!

My Catamaran Writers Conference creative nonfiction class. We were taught by Frances Lefkowitz, an extraordinary instructor/author. Her memoir To Have Not, about growing up poor in San Francisco, is amazing. I’ll be sharing some of my talented classmates’ websites with you next week.

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Dyane’s book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2016.

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I Can’t Forgive Those Who Abandoned Me During 7 Hospitalizations

 

TW/Trigger Warning: brief mention of suicide

Today’s post consists of my non-politically correct, extremely angry feelings which were stirred up last night. That’s when, sweaty from a 45-minute-long elliptical workout, I found out a family friend is being hospitalized for alcoholism-related illness. 

My hard-won endorphins didn’t assuage my rage or my trauma. 

I knew the compassionate, laudable thing to do would be to visit her, but after mulling it over during the wee hours of the morning, I realized I can’t do it.

Due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from multiple hospitalizations, I’m unable to enter a hospital unless it’s to visit an immediate family member or close friend.

I feel guilty about my inability to “get over” my hospital aversion. But it’s not simply an aversion. PTSD is real. My PTSD was even verified by a PTSD expert. I know in my heart that if this was my child who felt the way I do, I’d lovingly reassure her that she has the right to make her own choice about the hospital visit situation without any guilt.

The family friend I mention didn’t contact me during my seven hospitalizations, so why the hell am I feeling guilty? She has family support literally by her side in her hospital room- that’s a helluva a lot more than I did. So fuck it. Fuck my Jewish guilt that I’ve had festering since I was in utero. I’m sick of it.

Whenever I think of my hospitalizations, the same script plays in my head.

Here’s some of how it goes:

“To my relatives/friends who didn’t visit me, call/leave a message with the front desk staff, or send a card during my seven hospitalizations, I want nothing to do with you.

That’s right.

Nothing. Buh-bye.

Dyane”

For those who suggest, due to these non-politically correct thoughts I’m revealing, that I change my meds, step up the therapy, call my psychiatrist, start meditating, do yoga, CBT, DBT, chant, use medical marijuana, etc. to overcome such “unhealthy/abnormal” anger I have this to say:

It’s best that you stay out of my life. 

Unless you’ve been through my Hell – unless you almost hung yourself with your bathrobe belt with your baby and toddler in the house – unless you spent weeks and weeks and even more endless weeks of your life locked up with fellow crazies – just stay the fuck away from me, okay? 

You might be thinking,

Dyane, shouldn’t you be able to forgive all these people by now?  Shouldn’t you release your anger, especially if you’re “stable” and a “mental health advocate”?

You know, my honest answer is that I wish I could forgive these people, but I can’t.

Not yet.

Singin’ My Song “More Than Bipolar”

 

“More Than Bipolar” by Dyane Leshin-Harwood

I don’t know – why should I care? 

About all the times that life was unfair

It’s so different now, I need to let it all go

Or else I’m gonna blow

So don’t call me bipolar ’cause it’s not my name

Can’t you see I’m a person –  there is no shame

And we have stigma that’s to blame…

I’m more than bipolar 

I’m more than bipolar

It hurts sometimes

And I feel all alone

What can I do?

Don’t want to pick up the phone

Time to break a sweat, cause this mood’s not over yet

And all you need to know…

Don’t call me bipolar ’cause it’s not my name

Can’t you see I’m a person, there is no shame

And we have stigma that’s to blame

I’m more than bipolar

I’m more than bipolar

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be, fingers & toes crossed, published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016.

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Real Tweets

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Horseback fun in Alpine Meadows

 

I’ve been missing reading your blogs in Alpine Meadows, but it’s good to be forced to unplug every now and then. Although there is no Wi-Fi in our cabin, I brought along my MacBook and Avonlea figured out how to use the Mac’s iMovie app. I didn’t even know I had iMovie or what it is, so it’s very cool to have my ten-year-old show it to me. (And here I am, a former American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women intern!) Anyway, Avi and her sister had a blast making a bunch of trailers; see below for one wacky example.

I’ve been low-tech for the most part, taking long hikes with Lucy. We’ve been exploring trails overlooking the appropriately named Red Dog Ridge. I love hiking – I used to do it all the time in L.A. Hiking reminds me of the happiest times in my life in which the word “bipolar” wasn’t part of my lexicon. 

Watching Lucy sniff wildflowers and tree stumps, her tongue lolling out to the side in ecstasy, is one of the best parts of this trip. We haven’t run into any bears yet, but I’m on the lookout, and I know what to do if we have an ursine encounter. (Mom, do NOT worry!) Lucy’s ear-splitting barking will help frighten them away, and I’m to make very loud noises, and/or sing loudly. Craig said that if I belt out my beloved Crowded House catalogue, my shrill voice is guaranteed to drive away any bear.

In the evenings we’ve been watching a BBC series called From Lark Rise to Candleford. For you Downton Abbey addicts it has the fantastic actor Brendon Coyle, a.k.a. Downton Abbey’s John Bates.

I haven’t been writing as much as I hoped I would, but I’ll be honest with you – I’d rather hike than write! Plus I’ll be doing some heavy-duty writing soon enough. Want to join me? There’s still room in my Catamaran Writing Conference Nonfiction workshop with Frances Lefkowitz. Lefkowitz is the author of an incredible memoir  * entitled To Have Not and the founder of the Community Memoir Project. She has taught memoir courses alongside luminaries including the high holy Cheryl Strayed. The registration deadline has been extended to August 1. Visit www.catamaranliteraryreader.com for details.

I look forward to catching up with your lives next week when I plug back in to my daily dose of reading devouring your blogs.

Have a great weekend!

Dyane

 * That’s for you, L.E. Henderson, author of the five-star A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom: One Author’s Journey Through Writer’s Block and Beyond.

This prolific writer lives with bipolar and has been a tremendous inspiration. I do declare…“titled” is so pedestrian!

 

Introducing DBSA Santa Cruz with a Board Full ‘O Chicks!

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Last week after I published my postpartum bipolar post, I was so happy that it was reblogged, retweeted, and received wonderful comments – thank you so much! That same day I got some more good news. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) confirmed that my DBSA Santa Cruz County Chapter application was accepted.

Years ago I founded a DBSA chapter but when I relapsed with bipolar depression, I wasn’t able to continue. My replacement wasn’t able to keep it going either, so it folded.

I renewed the chapter for a variety of reasons, but here are just a couple: I wanted to give the “Women with Mood Disorders” support group I facilitate more credibility in our community. When I promote our support group to the press it sounds more legitimate if we are affiliated with the DBSA. I wanted to utilize DBSA’s numerous Chapter Resources as well.

I live in a mountain valley comprised of four towns and we need more than just one free mood disorder support group – my group is the only one around. That’s unacceptable in a community of thousands, and my goal is to recruit other peer leaders to run more groups.

A DBSA Chapter needs a Board of Directors and I’m honored that the co-authors of the bestselling Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival Wendy K. Williamson (author of the bestselling Im Not Crazy Just Bipolarand Honora Rose are serving as Vice President and Secretary.

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We have my husband Craig S. Harwood, author of the award-winning Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, as Treasurer.

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Lucy is our mascot and as some of you know, she’s working on her first book

When Your Human Has Bipolar! to be published by Life Is Ruff Press.

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Meanwhile, I’ll be quiet on WordPress during the next few weeks. We’re returning to Tahoe to the internet-less Munchkin Cabin – the very spot where a bear cub came into the house, quiet as a mouse, while we were all home. (It was someone’s fault. Someone forgot to shut the front door and left a sack of garbage in the hallway – a big no no in bear country!)

I’ll miss my daily check-ins with your blogs.

Have a great few weeks and I’ll check in upon our return!

love,

Dyane

Alpine girlsAvi on John Muir Trail w:LucyEvening at Squaw

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 Growthwill be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!

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My hound Lucy looks twice as focused as this dog when she spots a fly!

 

 

I’ve written before about my writing envy

And while I’d love to rhapsodize how much brilliant writing inspires me to better my craftor exclaim how thrilled I was when my friend’s debut novel hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I won’t. 

I’ve been reading such incredible books and blogs lately. When I looked at my Seroquel belly this morning, it was a rippling, verdant hue. 🙂 

During the years I was mired in bipolar depression, I couldn’t care less about others’ writing because I no longer felt human. I abandoned the freelance writing relationships I had nurtured, but what hurt the most was that my writing identity vanished.

When I had the great fortune to find a psychiatrist who suggested an “out-of-thebox” medication, my depression lifted. In late 2013 I resumed writing and began blogging. And I remembered someone I used to be friends with in junior high named Aimee Bender.  

We weren’t very close, but we shared a mutual love for books. On a whim, I sent a photograph of us to my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle. A couple months later, L’Engle mailed me a postcard with a picture of the Milky Way. (A fitting image to represent the author of A Wrinkle In Time.) L’Engle wrote few lines thanking me, and added, “I always enjoy seeing what my readers look like.” I treasure her postcard and keep it near my laptop.

Toward the end of junior high, Aimee and I lost touch. Thank God no drama was involved in our parting – we simply went our separate ways and I wished her well. 

In 2011 Aimee’s book The Girl in the Flammable Skirt was published, and it received rave reviews along with the Los Angeles Times best seller status. I bought it and while I found the book unique, it didn’t wasn’t my taste. I was envious of Aimee’s success, but it was a fleeting feeling. 

Recently I checked the internet to find out about Aimee’s most recent book. Her writing career is nothing short of amazing: a prolific output of books, heaps of awards, a book made into a film, a cult following, fancy teaching positions, healthy twins at age 43, a relatively good-sounding marriage, etc. The one thing she didn’t seem to have was a severe mental illness.  That’s the day I knew it was time to stop following her accomplishments! 

My literary envy is often triggered when I can’t put down a compelling book that’s so beautifully written it makes me wish I had written it. I finished such a memoir last night. As with any intense, engaging book I immerse myself in, I was sad to reach the last page. 

To Have Not is about the author’s life growing up poor in San Francisco. It was written by my upcoming Catamaran Writing Conference instructor Frances Lefkowtiz. To Have Not is an unforgettable, lyrically written memoir.

You could say that I’m a wee bit envious of the gifted Lefkowtiz. 

Gulp.

Despite the intimidation I’ll feel in the presence of this accomplished writer, I’d rather have a fantastic nonfiction instructor than a mediocre one.  More than anything, I’m incredibly grateful that I won the fellowship award to attend her class.

What helps me grapple with my nasty emerald bits is reading insightful posts by those who expose their writing jealousy. Today I found a refreshingly honest post about this very topic! Acclaimed author Robin Black reveals the not-so-nice parts of herself after her writer friends hit the literary lotto. Interestingly, Black discusses how bestselling authors possess cases of the envies just like the neophytes do. She includes original advice on how to handle waves of envy, and trust me, her post is definitely worth the read.

Happily, I didn’t get consumed with jealousy over Robin Black’s talent. Well, I wouldn’t mind having one or two of the achievements listed on her bio; they’re nothing major, really…I mean, being published in small rags like the New York Times Magazine and receiving several major grants is not that big a deal.  

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/green-eyed-writer-literary-envy

On a separate note, you might be wondering about my collie Lucy’s blossoming writing career. Well, being a goofball, I thought I’d touch upon another phenomenon that freaks me out: the fact that almost everyone I encounter is writing a book, even my beloved beast.

With her two furry paws bursting with creativity, Miss Lucy has already amassed 80,000 words about her life. 

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With the enormous amount of books being published annually, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of adding my book to the mix. Will Birth of a New Brain truly help anyone or is it primarily a quest to massage my ego? 

Although I believe these are totally normal thoughts, I must kick them to the curb.

I can reflect upon this gem of a mood booster: 

If books such as Reusing Old Graves, Why Cats Paint, Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (Arch Books – Quality Religious Books for Children), Make Your Own Sex Toys, The Bitch Who Forgot Birthdays, and the page turner Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns can be published, then my book has a place in our world!

I remind myself that my book will be a worthwhile read. I’m writing for a niche market, with absolutely no aspirations of having it become a bestseller. Madeleine L’Engle said, “You must write the book that wants to be written…” and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

So what if there are trillions of books out in the world?

It’s okay.

So what if  countless writers possess such off-the-hook talent that I feel odious by comparison?

It’s okay.

It’s not easy being green, but at least I’m not alone…

* Lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate (an MAOI, which stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor)

 

 

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 Fall, 2016. 

The Post of My Heart: “The Found Girl” on The Lithium Chronicles

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Dear Friends,

It has been a hell of a week.  Last Friday I was high (it was natural! No inhaling took place. 😉 from sharing my good news about my book deal with Post Hill Press.  I’ll be honest with you – despite hoping to get a few solid hours of writing done, I did diddly squat.

That same day, Nicole Lyons, the feisty founder of wildly popular The Lithium Chronicles Facebook community, kicked off her Mental Health Warrior month by publishing my post “The Found Girl” on her blog. I was honored, to say the least.

I selected “The Found Girl” because out of the 275 posts I’ve published, it’s one of my very favorites. I had problems trying to reblog it, so I’m posting the link:  

http://thelithiumchronicles.org/2015/04/30/mental-health-warrior-dyane-leshin-harwood/

I usually ramble for another 818 words, but today I’m giving you a break. I hope you’re all doing well, dear bloggers. 

love, Dyane

p.s. As some of you know, I enjoy promoting sites/resources I believe in, so I’m sharing some of my favorites here.  Please help me spread the word about ’em & I’ll be forever in your debt!!

Visit The Lithium Chronicles Facebook Community 

https://www.facebook.com/TheLithiumChronicles?fref=ts 

 To check out Post Hill Press visit www.posthillpress.com

Post Hill

Dr. Walker Karraa, who’s writing the foreword to Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, created a wonderful site called Stigmama. http://stigmama.com/ I’ve been a Regular Contributor to Stigmama for almost a year. I encourage you to visit Stigmama and consider contributing your own writing to this cutting-edge site – it has over 19,000 likes on Facebook!

Dr. Karraa’s new book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth has been the #1 Amazon bestseller in the Postpartum category! Please buy a copy for anyone you know who has been affected by postpartum depression – it’s a truly remarkable, unique, and most important, inspiring book.  To purchase a copy please go to:

 http://www.amazon.com/Transformed-Postpartum-Depression-Womens-Stories-ebook/dp/B00STTT334/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431040608&sr=1-1&keywords=Transformed+by+Postpartum

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