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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Two Bipolar Chicks

I’m writing this on a dreary Sunday morning as the sounds of Nickelodeon’s “The Fairly OddParents” blare in the background.  (At least it’s not SpongeBob. I must be grateful.)  When you have young children, and there’s the opportunity for the family to sleep late on a weekend, you can bet the kids will wake up WAY earlier than they ever do on a school day.  6:00 A.m.?  Sure, why not! Call it Murphy’s law!

This will be a short but sweet post to spread the word about a new blog written by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose titled “Two Bipolar Chicks” on Blogger.  The blog is associated with their recently published book “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living With Bipolar Bipolar”.  

Unfortunately I’m even more unfamiliar with the workings of Blogger than I am with WordPress.  As Blogger won’t allow me to reblog over to WordPress, here’s the direct link:

http://twobipolarchicks.blogspot.com/2014/09/greetings-from-two-bipolar-chicks.html?spref=fb

 

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This book is cool for many reasons, but especially because it’s up-to-date, hip, funny.  The authors, who both have bipolar, offer varied suggestions for self-care including bright light therapy, & a short section on essential oils.  (Please see my last post for more misc. info. about using essential oils for anxiety & bipolar *in addition* to meds:  https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/the-bipolar-blogger-network-why-i-smell-like-salsa/)

I also loved Wendy’s first memoir, the bestselling “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar”.

 

Wendy has been one of my key writing mentors.  She has given me such useful advice that I suggested she should turn it into her next book.  She runs a successful writer’s group where she constantly learns from other writers of all levels.  Nice!

The Two Bipolar Chicks make good use of Twitter, tweeting about different topics relevant to those of us affected by b.p., as well as tweeting about garden variety topics that often make me laugh.

Here’s the Twitter address:  @2BipolarChicks

So that’s it…short but sweet as promised!

And speaking of sweet, be well, my sweet friends, & see you Friday!

Dyane 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bipolar Blogger Network & Why I Smell Like Salsa!

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T.G.I.F.!!!

I’ve had a weird week, but I’m relieved there hasn’t ben any serious drama in my neck of the woods.

Hurrah! 

A few days ago I got some good news: I was accepted into the Bipolar Blogger Network.  I’ve known about the BBN for over a year, and while I wanted to apply for membership, I kept procrastinating.  (It wound up taking me less than two minutes to email them!)

I’d already been following a third of the BBN bloggers, and I’m sure that the other two thirds listed are worthy blogs to follow.  I encourage you to peek at their website to check out the assortment of bloggers.  If you’re interested in joining, please contact them, as they’re constantly on the lookout for blogs to add to the network.  

Here’s a brief explanation about the Bipolar Blogger Network’s philosophy:

“The Bipolar Blogger Network is the brainchild of a couple of friends bemused by the lack of networking options for those with various flavours of bipolar.  We intend for this place to be a hub for all who have an experience to share. If you have any questions, queries, comments, or a desire to join the network, feel free to drop us a line!  We are always happy to add new bloggers to the network; in joining, you make us all stronger together by sharing your slant on life with bipolar.  (http://www.bipolarbloggernetwork.com/)

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Meanwhile, a few weeks ago I found a blog called “The Oil Experiment” focusing upon the blogger’s experience in using essential oils for health concerns.  Blogger Michelle Rocker addresses specific essential oils that she uses on her children who have autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.  Michelle uses essential oils for anxiety among other maladies.   

Even though I love essential oils, when I first read Michelle’s blog post about bipolar, her son and essential oils, I was miffed.  My first thought was,

How stupid and unethical for someone to suggest essential oils as a treatment for bipolar disorder!!! 

Over ten years ago I worked at the College for Botanical Healing Arts (www.cobha.org) which offers extensive training in their essential oil practitioner program.  In 1998, COBHA’s practitioner program required the student to complete 440 hours of vigorous classroom studies plus an internship and exam.  It wasn’t a hippy dippy curriculum to say the least.  The directors are world-renowned experts in the field of essential oils, and the other teachers had tons of experience and credibility.  From my time there as an office manager, I learned a bit about the basic therapeutic use of essential oils.  

I only took a few of COBHA’s courses, including Level One, their introductory course.  I don’t recall learning about essential oils being used for bipolar disorder in the late 1990’s.  However, I hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar yet, so bipolar wasn’t on my radar like it is now.  That said, my father had bipolar disorder and he was alive back then, so I would’ve paid close attention if we were taught anything about “e.o.’s” that could benefit his mood disorder.  

After reading more of Michelle’s blog regarding her children who have bipolar, ADHD, and Aspergers (and who she claims have benefitted greatly from using essential oils under their close M.D. supervision) I was curious about using the oils for anxiety.  I didn’t want to try using any essential oils for bipolar, however, as my lithium & my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) are working well, thank God.  I don’t want to mess with them at all!  

 I purchased two essential oils from a friend.  I know these two e.o.’s (wild orange and cilantro) are safe for me to use in tandem with my MAOI.  (Those who take MAOI medication have food and alcohol restrictions.) I’ve used orange essential oil for years, and I’ve eaten cilantro for years.  I’m not allergic to either oranges or cilantro, and they aren’t contraindicated for consumption if taking an MAOI.  

I followed Michelle’s lead in putting a few drops of cilantro underneath each big toe (she places it on her toes due to the fact she dislikes the smell of cilantro and it’s also a reflexology point) and I put the orange on my wrists as she suggested.

I smelled VERY strongly of cilantro – this stuff is POTENT.  Luckily I like the smell of cilantro, but even so, it’s a little much for me.  I don’t mind smelling like salsa if my anxiety level drops!  It could be a worse smell, right?  I absolutely love the smell of orange – I’ve adored orange – and I think that its smell cheers me up rather than lowers my anxiety level.  Michelle implies in her anxiety blog post that cilantro is supposed to be the heavy-duty essential oil for anxiety.  (The link is posted below.)

So, what’s the verdict?  

I think cilantro essential oil helps in a subtle way, but I’ve only tried it a few times.  I’ll keep using it, perhaps in different spots than underneath my toe, and I’ll see if I notice a difference in my anxiety level.

During my next meeting with my psychiatrist I’ll ask his opinion about using essential oils for mood disorders. (I’ll make it clear that I’d use the e.o.’s in tandem with my meds, not in place of them!) I didn’t feel the need to ask him about orange or cilantro oils due to the fact these e.o.’s are food-derived and safe to combine with my MAOI.  I’ve been using orange essential oil for many years with no problems.  But I would want to ask my pdoc about the more obscure essential oils that aren’t food-derived, i.e. vetiver, melissa, frankincense etc.

Here’s Michelle’s post about using the essential oils for anxiety

http://oilexperiment.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/cilantro-essential-oil-anxiety/

Do you use essential oils? If yes, why & which ones do you use?  Do they help you?

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend everyone!
Dyane 🙂