Tahoe Editing, Mount Everest & Adam Ant

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Don’t hate Adam Ant because he’s still beautiful…at 56!

 

Happy New Year, my friends!

I’m still in Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe for a few more days, and we’ve had a very heavy snowfall. I must admit I prefer to visit here in August when the wildflowers are blooming and I can escape the confines of The Munchkin cabin to take long hikes, bears and all!

I’m wimpy when it comes to this kind of cold – perhaps it’s my Los Angeles upbringing. But this has been the perfect setting to hunker down and work on my editor’s feedback, which I’d like to discuss in next week’s post. It’s a workout, to say the least. My deadline is the end of this month and that’s a powerful motivator, as you can imagine. While here Craig and I have traded off taking the girls out so we can focus on our work; he has been very supportive when it comes to my “Other Man.” (I used to call his book his “Other Woman”!)

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I’ve taken some breaks to sit in front of the roaring fire and watch movies, and I want to share a favorite with you: the documentary Everest. It’s an amazing film, and while I’d NEVER attempt to hike Everest even if you paid me ten million dollars, it’s fascinating to watch these intrepid souls scale the highest mountain in the world.

wp-1483632264427.jpgEverest is poignant because the filmmakers chronicle the ascent of the son of the late Tenzing Norgay; Norgay was the first Nepalese man who completed the first Everest summit with Sir Edmund Hilary. Everest is narrated by the actor Liam Neeson, whose lilting Irish accent makes me, oh, I’ll admit it…swoon just a little bit!

I also love the soundtrack, which has beautifully arranged versions of some of my favorite George Harrison songs – his famous hits and the more obscure tunes, such as This Is Love from one of my all-time favorite Harrison solo albums Cloud 9.

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I brought along a Jack Bond documentary titled Adam AntThe Blueback Hussar, but I haven’t watched most of the film yet. I’ve admired Adam Ant for years; first during his 80s musical splash, and then when he went public with having bipolar disorder. He wrote the remarkable memoir Stand and Deliver and I had high hopes for this film, but I haven’t been able to get into The Blueback Hussar the way I expected I would.

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However, I’ll definitely finish it and see how it all pans out. And I won’t miss the special features that include a duet with Boy George – oh yes, please! 😉 Have any of you seen it???

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 Lucy was more enraptured watching Adam AntThe Blueback Hussar than I was!

There’s not much else to report – I’ve been pretty quiet on your blogs while we’ve been up here (we don’t have internet available at the cabin, and I hate using my cell for comments, don’t I, Marie?) but I’ll get noisier in your comment sections as the year rolls on.

Take care, have a great day, and I send you lots of love!

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

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Somewhere Over the Technicolor Rainbow

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Last Friday we headed for Alpine Valley, Lake Tahoe, a five-hour-long drive from our home. Minutes after this selfie was taken in our ancient Subaru Forester’s back seat, one of my daughters unloaded a “Technicolor rainbow” all over the place. I sat next to her. Suffice it to say, my smile wouldn’t be seen again for some time.

Suffice it to say, my smile wouldn’t be seen again for some time.

I was enormously relieved when she said she felt better, but during the rest of the trek, I was on the verge of doing the same thing. It was one of the most miserable journeys of my life, and when we pulled up to The Munchkin cabin, I nearly kissed the snowy ground in relief!

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We rent The Munchkin each year and if I won the lottery, I’d convince the owner to sell it to me. Seven years ago my husband Craig found this rental on Craigslist , appropriately enough. The cost was extremely reasonable for pricey Lake Tahoe, but we had no idea how nice this place was until we pulled up to the steep front staircase. Our mouths dropped at our good fortune.

Since then, Craig befriended the owner and she has dropped the rent for us, making this stay incredibly affordable, especially because Craig makes this a working vacation.   

The Munchkin is modest compared to the nouveau-riche McMansions that dot the street, the neighborhood…and virtually all of Lake Tahoe! Unfortunately, the older, quaint cabins are becoming a thing of the past. I prefer cozy to cavernous any day.

We’ve enjoyed The Munchkin during the summer and winter, and Lucy loves being here no matter what the season.

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 Don’t let Lucy’s pensive expression fool you – this dog has a complete blast romping around in the snow. 

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This is the view from the deck where I’ve written my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder almost every summer we’ve come here, except when my bipolar depression was so horrible I couldn’t do much of anything. 

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Right after I snapped this shot, the girls got into a vicious snowball fight – what else is snow good for?

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This giant Santa greeted me when I walked to the top of the street. This photo doesn’t do his size justice – trust me, he’s BIG!

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My older daughter loves to cook and bake on snowy days. Here she’s putting the finishing touches on lemon meringue cups. Unlike me, she isn’t a chocoholic, which is a blessing because if she made chocolate-anything, I’d eat the entire batch.

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I took these mountain shots during one of my daily late afternoon hikes. In the summer I must watch out for bears, which makes for a rather unsettling hiking experience.

I’ve even had a bear encounter in The Munchkin (to read more about that, check out the post “Bears, Shrinks, and Mindfulness”) and I take bears very seriously! But now that it’s cold and the bears are fast asleep, I can put that worry to rest, well, for the most part. Thanks to the guide Bear Aware, I know what to do in case I come across a bear.

As far as my book’s editing is concerned, I haven’t made much progress yet. Due to a glitch, I had to sit tight and wait for my publisher to fix the file filled with copyedits and assorted questions. I received the file last night and I’ll begin working on it today. We don’t have internet at the Munchkin, so it’s off to the Crest Café this morning where I’ll download the file, gulp hard, pass out (just kidding) and put my nose to the grindstone.

I can’t write this post without mentioning the loss of Carrie Fisher, her mother Debbie Reynolds, and George Michael – they have all been on my mind. I still can’t believe they’re gone, and I’m glad there have been so many insightful blog posts and articles written about their lives.

Only two weeks ago I sent a letter to Carrie Fisher’s staff about her participating in a World Bipolar Day project. I never thought in a zillion years that she wouldn’t be here to ring in the new year. My heart goes out to her daughter Billie, her brother Todd, and the rest of her family and fans.

I wish you a Happy New Year, my friends! Please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

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“I’m Not A Mess” Redux with my daughter Marilla

Last night I had just finished working out when my precocious daughter Rilla walked into the room.  As I stood there exhausted, she said “Mommy, I have something special I want to show you!” I dragged myself upstairs to see what she was talking about.  I thought it would be her latest Minecraft creations.

It turns out that she recorded herself on PhotoBooth singing a ditty that I wrote a few months ago. It’s called “I’m Not A Mess”, and in it I admonish the media for portraying women with mental illnesses as messes.  Rilla’s rendition was so cute, but the words were hard to make out, so we created a duet. It contains a potty sentence which might offend some people. (I explained to Rilla not to use it until she’s eighteen.)

 

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Love him!

Below are some classic examples of women doing the “head-clutch” move portrayed by the media.  The amazing Stephen Fry is working with the Time to Change * to  publicize this issue.

Hope you like the song, and I’ll see you next Friday. Have a great weekend everyone!

love,

Dyane

 

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images-1 My personal favorite, even though she’s not clutching her nogginimages

 

* Here’s the link to the article about Time to Change and its groundbreaking campaign “launched to stop depression being illustrated with head-in-hands pictures.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/campaign-launched-to-stop-depression-being-illustrated-with-headinhands-pictures-10116855.html

“I’m Not A Mess” (Except When I’m A Mess)

 

 

“I’m Not A Mess” by Dyane

Trigger Warning:

A touch of profanity and silly, embarrassing neck movements 

 

Last Friday I was inspired by the writing of Dr. Walker Karraa, founder of Stigmama.com and author of the bestselling book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth.  

Dr. Karraa wrote about how the media only portrays women with postpartum mood disorders (PPMD’s) as sad. The reality is that I, along with most women with PPMD’s, use the full range of our emotions.  Many of us don’t walk around 24/7 with gloom and doom expressions.  I came up with my ditty “I’m Not a Mess”, and I felt pretty spunky when I recorded my tune.  Little did I know that I’d become a major mess over the weekend.

Valentine’s Day was beautiful and sunny, but I woke up out of sorts.  The previous night I read a Freshly Pressed post that deeply affected me: Asher’s “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” on My Beautiful Machine.   In a nutshell, I allowed Asher’s post title to trigger me.  I wrote a complaint to WordPress letting them know why I wasn’t thrilled with their selection.

Next, I wrote my own blog post about Asher’s post.  I broke my stringent rule of not waiting a minimum of twenty-four hours to review and publish any post.  Instead, as soon as I finished typing “Do YOU think bipolar is a gift?”, I pressed the blue “Publish” button.  Shazam! I had no idea what I was about to stir up.  

I received more comments about “Do YOU think bipolar is a gift?” than any of the other 257 posts I’ve written. (Speaking of comments, I apologize for not having responded to comments yet. I will! My apologies!)

If I could re-do Valentine’s weekend, I would have put my energy into doing something else than writing about Asher’s post.  It’s so easy to look back at such events and think, “Hmmmm – that wasn’t good for me, as much as I wanted to hop on my soapbox and pontificate!”   I should have given stinky Lucy a lavender and mint-scented bath instead, or hang out with the girls, or God forbid, work on my book. But nooooooooooo!

Ironically, Asher and I wound up getting in touch with one another after I published my post. He took the high road instead of becoming defensive. I thought he had every right to be huffy, so I was pleasantly surprised by his positive attitude. We both agreed on how much we love the blogosphere, and it was nice to interact with a blogger who could take my criticism with a grain of salt and a cup of compassion.  Asher was willing to re-examine different perceptions of bipolar as gift, as evil incarnate, or somewhere in between…  (You all know how I feel about that! 😉  I was grateful to him.

Moving on….

Then, Saturday evening I became The Devil.  

Valentine’s Day is always weird for me.  For years I’ve pretended that I’m low-maintenance and claimed that I don’t need a mushy card, flowers, high-end chocolate, a nice dinner, and so on. But that has been a blatant lie, and like a volcano, I’ve kept my bubbling, lava-like anger inside of me until I finally burst. 

I didn’t communicate with my husband about my expectations – my first big mistake.  When Valentine’s Day came round, my husband gave me a card, but that was it.  When Craig and I turned in for the night, I made a caustic remark that irritated him more than I thought it would.  He became an ice cube and fell asleep instantly.

Meanwhile, yours truly fumed. I even started crying – it was unusual for me to cry over a rebuff like that, but I felt so hurt and disappointed.  I wanted our evening to be special, or at least have some affection, but there was no hug or kiss goodnight.  Nada.

I couldn’t sleep.

That became a BIG problem.

I took an extra 25 mg of my Seroquel.  I read a book. Still, no sleep in sight.

I fumed some more.  Then I did something extremely rare.  I woke up Craig from his enviable deep sleep.  I told him that I couldn’t sleep.  He didn’t hear my snorts and sniffles; instead he rolled over and he went back to sleep within seconds.

I woke him up again.  The same pattern took place.

I barely slept the rest of the night, and my history has shown that’s disastrous.  Even one night’s lack of sleep messes me up big-time!  The following day I was a zombie and despite another beautiful, sunny day, I stayed in bed. I was exhausted, I was still bottled up with anger  and what was worse was that I felt depressed.  That scared the sh*t out of me, as I hadn’t felt that down in a long time.

I tried taking a nap, but it wasn’t happening.  The only thing that brought me comfort aside from Lucy licking away my tears was watching the sixth season of “Nurse Jackie”.

In the afternoon Craig inadvertently made some noise as I tried in vain to nap. I got out of the bed and met him in the hallway, unable to look him in the eye.

Our girls were at a playdate, and so I let loose like Mt. Vesuvius.  I slammed the door several times, screaming all the while like a banshee about every wrong he ever did me for the past seventeen years of our relationship, and I screeched other things that should only be thought about, but never said out loud in anger.  

I told him that he should have woken up when he heard  me say that I couldn’t sleep, and he should have helped me somehow.  

Ever since my bipolar one kicked in (which, aside from a genetic predisposition to bipolar, was mainly caused by no sleep due to labor), without proper sleep, I become the biggest mess of all time.

My tantrum was so awful that afterwards my throat was bloody.  That evening I took extra Seroquel PRN per my psychiatrist. (Coincidentally PRN stands for the Latin phrase pro re nata, which means “as the situation demands.”) I’m allowed to use Seroquel PRN when faced with acute insomnia.  Thank God I slept through the night.

Craig and I made peace the next morning, and I explained to him that in the future,  if I ever wake him up and indicate I can’t sleep, it’s imperative that I need his assistance.  I should have taken extra Seroquel at the first sign that my insomnia was much worse than usual, but rage and sorrow clouded my judgement.  If Craig had urged me to take the medicine, I could have nipped the cycle in the bud.

This is no rocket science-like realization, but it took our having that kind of argument to realize that as someone with bipolar one, we can’t screw up even one night of my sleep if we can help it.  And yes, it needs to be a “we”.  

The best valentine I could ask for from my husband, bar none, is mental health support. When it’s obvious that I’m emotionally disturbed at bedtime (a precarious time because if I’m upset, I don’t sleep…) I need him to pay close attention, even if he’s tired and/or mad at me.  I need him to check in with me, and suggest I take extra medication if I haven’t done so already.

We learned a sober lesson from this Valentine’s Day.  Next year I’ll remember to ask for what I want instead of repress my feelings. I don’t expect a diamond ring or roses, but I do expect communication, kindness and proactiveness from my partner.

 

Literally right after I finished writing this post, I spotted an International Bipolar Foundation Facebook announcement of a new app called “Aware” creating awareness for people living with bipolar disorder.  Check out what it does below…

http://www.meganharley.com/#!aware/c1u5g

 

Aware is a wristband worn at night. It is unique in the sense that it is specifically aimed at people living with bipolar disorder, providing a way to measure, monitor and manage their sleep to ultimately become aware before a possible relapse as sleep acts as a prominent bio-marker in people with bipolar disorder.

 ‘Aware’ is about exactly what the title suggests, creating awareness for people living with bipolar disorder with sleep being a prominent bio-marker in terms of managing the disorder ” After many intense interviews and observations it was apparent that sleep has a major effect on bipolar disorder relapses and eventual hospitalization.

 This then led to the influential design ‘Aware’ which is a wristband worn at night, enabling a method to measure,monitor and manage their sleep to become aware of a possible relapse and aim to prevent it from happening.

 

 

 

 

Goin’ Back Up after The Dreads Arrive

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This morning I’m writing old-school style, with a pen and a college-ruled notebook.  It’s foreign to write this way, which feels bittersweet.  I’ve become so used to using my laptop for writing that I haven’t used a pen in ages.   I’ve only touched a pen or pencil to jot down birthday card greetings, return addresses on bills (alas, I don’t have those nifty address labels!) and grocery lists.

I’m not handwriting today for its romantic element.  To my intense frustration, I’ve been blocked from using our shared computers, but I don’t feel up to making a fuss over it.  I want this morning to be as calm as possible because I woke up in a big ‘ol funk.  At 5:00 a.m. the precocious Lucy, now a thirteen-week-old bundle of energy, woke me up, raring to go on a puppy ultra-marathon.  My husband Craig also rose early and he made enough noise in leaving our room that I couldn’t get back to sleep.  

While hiding my head in my pillow, a heavy-duty case of what I call The Dreads fell upon me.

The Dreads are a first-cousin of depression and, like The Black Dog, consist of mental and physical fatigue, plus a looming dread of the day to come.  As I sat there in bed I was too wiped out to get up to start the day.  Ironically, when I’ve been hit with The Dreads,  once I’ve gotten out of bed and had my first cup of coffee, The Dreads slowly but surely vanish like a vampire caught in daylight.  That’s the difference between depression and The Dreads – a couple hours. But they still suck.

When I finally crawled out of bed at 7:00 a.m., I remembered I had cut down my Seroquel the night before.  I went from 100mg to 50 mg.  As I hadn’t had The Dreads hit me this intensely for a while, I wondered if there could be any connection between the medication drop and my distressing mental state.   

Of course it could just be a coincidence or my paranoia about how this med reduction affected me, or it could be both things!  But just in case it really is the Seroquel reduction, I’m going to resume my 100mg of Seroquel tonight and remain at that amount for the rest of the summer.

I’ve already found out that ever since my kids got out of school, our days have been too unstructured for my mental well-being.  I think I need a more regular daily schedule in order for me to feel confident about changing my medication dosage.  In any case, I can definitely live with my Seroquel-related grogginess for the next two months.  

My friend Becca Moore, the author and founder of the new website the Bipolar Parenting Project, wrote a great post on routine in her Psych Central Bipolar Parenting column.  Here’s the link:  

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar-parenting/2014/06/routines-and-structure/

Maybe if I improve other habits that mess up my energy level, such as my sugar-infused diet, that could help with the grogginess.  Also, if I attempt to go to sleep and wake up at regular times like I did when the girls were in school, that would help with kicking The Dreads’ butt and with my grogginess too.

When the girls’ school closed for summer break, I stopped using my Sunbox therapeutic bright light every morning, which I did for a minimum of a half hour.  I didn’t think the light was making a significant difference in terms of keeping the nasty Dreads away, but maybe it has helped me more than I thought.  I’m going to make a point of using my Sunbox on a daily basis once again.  It’s really easy to do this as I can write, surf the net or read in front of it.  And, of course, eat while using it.  (Hopefully not too much double chocolate Talenti gelato!!)

On the brighter side, it helps me to notice that I’ve improved on my “all or nothing thinking” that I’ve done for so long.  In the past, I would have felt that I failed my one-day-long Seroquel taper.  I would have thought horrible things such as “You f*cking loser!” and “You’ll never be able to lower your Seroquel!”  Now, I think differently, and my self-flagellation is thankfully gone.  I’m able to think about all of this more rationally, and I’ll look to the fall as a better time to try again.  That’s pretty cool!

I can’t expect every day to be sunshine and rainbows.  (Can I?)  Well, I know a couple people who actually do feel strongly that way, and I admire them for their attitude, but I’m not there yet.  

In the meantime, I’m going to carry on with my self-care routine the rest of this afternoon. That consists of working out, paying attention to my kids and husband, and trying my best not to eat too much ice cream.  (It’s sooooo good this time of year, though.)

I’ll take Lucy for a stroll on our “Death Road” in which I pray she doesn’t have diarrhea like she did yesterday.  (Oh yes, I practice the fine art of T.M.I.)  I’m so glad The Dreads disappeared because after suffering with bipolar depression, any glimpse of those awful feelings is scary as hell.  

I’ll be around here in Blogville this Friday, and I’ll let you know how my Seroquel increase goes.

Wishing you sunshine, rainbows, gelato ( if you like it) and most importantly, not a whisper of The Dreads EVER! :))

xoxox

Dyane

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