“Mommy, It’s Her Loss!”

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Well, my friends, it has happened again.

After a six-month-long Facebook hiatus, I returned to it to promote the HuffPost Women article. In order to reply to the comments, Huffington Post requires that people use Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook for less than a month.

Yesterday I got unfriended by someone I trusted. I was hesitant to blog about it, but I’m not revealing her identity.

Most significantly, one of my wonderful followers once stated, “This blog is your living room. Your space!” Damn straight, and I’m going to hang out in my living room today and lick my wounds, for I feel…..wounded.

Yet I won’t play the innocent. I made a business decision that I knew might upset this person, but at the end of the day, I had a solid rationale for what I did. I stand by it. I definitely wasn’t trying to be hurtful or sadistic. 

In no way did I expect her reaction to be over-the-top and even cruel. When I noticed she unfriended me, a line in my heart had been crossed.

Because of her unfriending, I never want any contact with her again.I blocked her on all social media. I felt safer after doing that, but it totally sucked.

Ahhhh, the beauty of Facebook.

“Friendships” can end in 10 seconds, no fuss, no muss.

Ugh.

At one point during our several-year-long virtual correspondence, she reached out to me the way a real friend does. Repeatedly.

I tried to help her. I tried to be a good friend in other ways too. Our hot & cold dynamic eventually confused the hell out of me.  

Before yesterday’s unfriending, when I informed this person I had been through some awful events quite recently, I was told she “didn’t have enough bandwidth” for me, essentially.

Yet I was there for her when she messaged me and said she was struggling.

Fuck it. And I doubt she’s reading this, because she never was interested in my blog, but if I’m wrong about that, here’s my message to her:

Stay.

Away.

From.

Me. 

I will never name her publicly, but this is my space. My blog.

My place to share my pain.

As my eight-year-old daughter saw me cry over this situation yesterday, she hugged me and said “Mommy, it’s her loss.”

And you know what?

My girl’s right.

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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Dreams, Toxic “Friends” & Facebook Freedom!

What DreamsWhat Dreams May Come

I love this image so!

The first time I saw the 1998 film What Dreams May Come I didn’t connect with it although it starred some actors I adored including Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr. Then, many years later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and my beloved father died.  Those two momentous events were responsible for my change of heart regarding this film. After I gave What Dreams May Come a second chance, I fell head-over-heels in love with the story (which concerns mental illness, death and the afterlife), the acting, and its magical, state-of-the-art “painterly” special effects which won an Academy Award.

It was directed by the acclaimed New Zealander Vincent Ward. Some of you know I have a New Zealand obsession, so I appreciated having him at the helm.

I’ve cried every time I’ve seen What Dreams May Come since my 2nd viewing, and despite its triggering subject matter (depression/mental hospitalization/suicide) the movie gives me hope!

I love the image of a joyful Annabella Sciorra shaking off a crimson cloth in Switzerland. The scene plays a special role in the film, and thinking of it evokes a sense of wild abandon in me…of freedom from life’s worries, i.e.

Freedom from stupid-ass Facebook rejections!

Last Friday I published my post about how I felt being unfriended on Facebook in a very unfriendly fashion. I felt SO good after receiving such great feedback from followers. (Thank you!!!) I let that Facebook incident go for the most part, and I only thought of it a little bit. I carried on. With two young girls, a husband, two hyper Houdini-hamsters, and Miss Lucy the Canine Wonder (and tapering off Seroquel – more on that in my next post) I had enough on my plate…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It’s not my favorite day – it feels like a contrived holiday, unlike the best holiday of the year: Halloween. 😉 Through a serendiptous series of events I found out I had been unfriended on Facebook AGAIN!  But instead of the Unfriender living thousands of miles away from me, this time I was unfriended by a neighbor living one mile away. I had always been kind to her, just as I had behaved with the fellow I wrote about last week.  

Long story short: my unfriendly neighbor has clinical depression, trauma, and some deep-seated personality disorders. Her unfriending me had much more to do with her issues than to do with who I was as a person, or with anything I had done. Despite my knowing all that, something in me snapped harder than it did last week.

Once again I thought,

F*CK THIS SH*T!!!!

One can’t get through life without rejection. We all know that. As much as I’ve loved using Facebook, yesterday it was clear it had become a channel for weird, toxic rejection. Two unfriendings in one week, even if they were not bosom buddies, was too much for this ultra-sensitive soul. Plus I have a book I need to focus on completing, which is all the more reason for me take a Facebook vacation. 

Last night I knew what I needed to do. I took a paltry thirty seconds and deactivated my Facebook account. It was a bittersweet moment, but it felt very empowering as well. I’m not sure how long this break will be, but I already feel more free! I have more time to write. It just feels healthy all around.

At least now there’s one less way for me to be triggered by those who don’t want me in their lives. As my seven-year-old girl told me while we played SmashBall last night, “They’re missing out on a opportunity, Mommy! You’re wonderful! I love you!” 

I love that kid.

Here’s the trailer of  What Dreams May Come – I can’t resist including it here after my glowing plug!

People Pleaseology 101

images-1 On Saturday I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling tired and anxious.  I opened my blog on my laptop and published my short piece “Enough”.  After checking email, I tore myself away from the computer to make the girls some pancakes.

Later I returned to my blog to read a few wonderful comments about “Enough” that lifted my spirits.  “Hurrah!” I said softly, feeling my yucky outlook shift into something much brighter.

Then I checked Facebook.

I spotted a message from a mom I know named “Shannon”.  I hadn’t seen or communicated with Shannon in many months.  Forgive me for using Facebookeese here, but I was Facebook friends with Shannon in my former account.  I shut that Facebook account down over a year ago when I relapsed with bipolar depression.

Shannon lives near us and she’s a very nice person, but we’ve always been acquaintances, never close friends. Her message requested my Facebook friendship, and she asked me for some health advice regarding a family member.  Shannon added that she thought I had deliberately unfriended her and she wanted to know why I chose to do that.  She wrote that she thought we were “friends” and she was upset.

“Oh shit.” I thought.  I felt terrible that she felt bad, but in my codependent fashion I overly obsessed about it the whole day, giving energy to that issue instead of directing it to my children and myself.

Moreover, the truth of the matter was that I never unfriended Shannon.

After receiving her Facebook message that morning, I immediately wrote her an (overly detailed) explanatory email:

“Hi Shannon, I feel awful that I upset you.  I got sick last spring with a relapse of bipolar depression and I closed my Facebook account.  I was hospitalized for almost a month over the summer.  Months later I decided to open a new Facebook account and I felt it was best to connect with people I had active friendships with… I didn’t mean to hurt you in any way and I’m so sorry.  I appreciate your letting me know how you feel.  Below is some information I hope will help you.  Take care, Dyane”

I took the time to include detailed answers and I provided contact information to assist her.  I can’t just forget about Shannon because I know it’s only a matter of time until we run into one another in our small town.  She took over a day and a half to respond to my message, and wrote:

“Thank you for your email.  It helped.”

That was it.

No “Sorry you were so sick” or any kind of acknowledgement or brief empathic response.  While I realize she must be hurting because her family member is having problems, I feel that no matter what I did to her via Facebook, her curt reply didn’t cut it with me.

The bottom line is I’m mad.  It’s MY fault that I’m mad.  Why, oh why can’t I stop my pattern of feeling lousy when others are upset with me and I haven’t done anything egregiously wrong to them???

The irony of this scenario is that in my poem “Enough” I just published, I asserted:

“Enough of feeling obligated to you even though I don’t owe you anything” and:

“Enough of worrying if others like me – that went out with the 70’s” and:

“Now I’m strong enough to say…Enough”

I was feeling strong enough to say “enough”  when I wrote this poem on Friday, then BOOM!

The next day I’m quivering with my tail between my legs, feeling guilty and weak.

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I need to face the facts: Shannon is not a threat to me; she’s far from being dangerous, and if I run into her at the school, the Farmer’s Market or the library there will be no episodes of mommy rage.

I had hoped that her compassion would have kicked in at least a little when I explained how sick I was, and that she would understand my reasonable point of view about Facebook friendships.  Unfortunately she reacted, in my opinion, from not just a hurt place, but a cold one.  A phrase I often heard growing up came to mind: “I need this like I need a hole in the head”.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a people pleaser.  I realize that not everyone is going to like me and/or understand me and my decisions.  So I haven’t learned the people pleaser lesson yet, but with my awareness hopefully I can handle this type of situation better the next time it happens.

Also, last night something very strange happened that I will most definitely blog about in tomorrow’s post  “Almost”.  It was akin to a near-death-experience; not quite, but it was serious and frightening.  The incident made me realize that this stuff with Shannon is ridiculous and I will “let it go”.  (Please don’t kill me for using the Frozen phrase!)

I’ll be sure to discuss my exchange with Shannon with my therapist this week, who will most likely have a different, useful take on it.  I know this post reads more like a diary entry than a blog post, but I like to use this blog in a myriad of ways.  As always, I welcome your comments.  Thank you for reading!

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Unplug Sunday – To unplug or not to unplug? That is the question!

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My psychiatrist Dr. D., the best psychiatrist I’ve ever seen, has shared with me about healthy habits he incorporates into his life.  Some examples include: he meditates daily, he’s deeply committed to a faith, and he “unplugs” on Sundays.  He genuinely seems like a happy, mellow guy.  Dr. D. is onto something good, that’s for sure, and God knows I’d like to be more easygoing and grounded like him.

When Dr. D. told me about his unplugging habit, I almost gasped.  That was when I was still in love with Facebook.  I recently returned to using Facebook after a long hiatus, and I was having a blast with it. When I opened a Twitter account it added fuel to my plugged-in fire.  Don’t even get me started about emails – I’ve always been a bit overzealous with them long before Facebook got off the ground in 2004.

To top things off, I discovered that if I could find a good network  signal, my Kindle Fire could connect to the internet when I was out and about.  In using all these devices I wasn’t manic by any means, for I wasn’t up at all hours online or doing anything foolish.  I was simply online too much and I used Facebook and Twitter to procrastinate on exciting tasks I should have been doing, like researching my Medicare drug plan and starting traffic school. 🙂

Then I started my blog “Birth of a New Brain”.  Filling my hours with blogging and reading others’ blogs made the time while my girls were at school made the hours fly by.

But as I got more and more active with Facebook, and Twitter, I developed the “I might miss something really important if I’m not online every few minutes” syndrome.  A couple Facebook friends I admired seemed to have the same affliction as me.  They both mentioned to me that they were going to leave Facebook for while.  I realized that I was felt tempted to take an Facebook vacation of my own.

Early this morning, I realized that my joyful use of Facebook and Twitter and my love for blogging are becoming besmirched. (Besmirched is such a great word:”to soil, to detract from the honor or luster of”.)  In any case, I’ve become too obsessive in using Facebook, Twitter and blogging.  Both of my daughters tease me about being on the computer too much; they are absolutely right, and their observation makes me feel lower than a anaconda’s belly.

This morning I also panicked because the coming day had a complete lack of structured plans, and that unnerved me.  My Facebook/blog routine is firmly set in place each morning.  I wake up earlier than the rest of my family, take my meds, eat pomegranate Greek yogurt, and make my blessed coffee.  I prepare the girls’ lunches and pack snacks.  Then I sit in in front of my Sunbox for half an hour to Facebook/Tweet/email to my heart’s content.  The thought of giving this routine up for even one day a week freaks me out.  But maybe, just maybe, I’ll appreciate my social media all the more if I take a 24-hour-long hiatus each week.  I need to reassure myself that if something really important happens online, I’ll find out about it eventually and the sky won’t come falling down.

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In what could have only been divine timing and a good omen, this afternoon I came across a blog post by the writer Cristi Comes of the acclaimed blog “Motherhood Unadorned”.  Her article is titled “When Blogging and Social Media Overwhelms”, and it was exactly type of subject I wanted to read about.  I’m superstitious and a believer in signs and in my opinion, this was a bold sign from the universe that I needed to read her post immediately.

Cristi’s post was a fascinating, personal read.  Her social media experience was relevant to so many, and her post gave me hope for dealing with my online addictions in a healthier way.  I couldn’t figure out how to “reblog” her post, so I’m pasting the link for you below.  (Cristi’s blog is worth checking out for many other reasons as well; she’s also an editor at Postpartum Progress and an amazing mental health advocate!)

http://www.motherhoodunadorned.com/2012/08/15/bloggingandsocialmedia/

I’ll definitely report back about my quest to unplug on Sundays (or maybe another day of the week!) and I promise I won’t lie if there are slip-ups.  There’s a reason I call my Kindle my third child…it’s going to be tough to cut off my virtual stimulation, but I have a strong feeling unplugging will be worth it so I can focus on something else besides a screen.

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Triggered

fire angerYes, it’s Fireface.  I’m back and I’m bad!

Today was not one of my finest days.  It was a mess.  I had my two little girls unexpectedly home with me.  While I love them more than anything else, they were going stir-crazy the livelong day.  I almost wasn’t going to write as I was worn out, but I knew that if I made the feeblest of efforts at my computer, it would be worthwhile.  Here I am at the end of the day, and it feels good to have the luxury of solo time in front of my laptop.

After my four-day-long New Zealand blogging sojourn, I’m back to brainstorming topics to write about each day.  Sometimes that’s so easy for me to do, but today I had ye olde writer’s block.  However, something happened that suddenly fired me up to write and so I’m going to expound on the topic here.  If you are offended by foul language, please skip today’s blog.  Tomorrow I shall write from a more virtuous place, I promise.  I usually refrain from writing pottymouth-style, because, as you know my dear readers, whatever we write on the internet can come back to haunt us in all sorts of ways.  And speaking of the internet and feeling haunted by it…

I am a Facebooker.  I really do love using this form of social media.  I think that utilizing Facebook in moderation is a sign of good mental health.  Through Facebook I discovered an acclaimed research organization called CREST Bipolar Disorder.  CREST consists of cutting-edge researchers located worldwide, and I’m currently participating in a survey they are conducting on bipolar called Delphi.  The Delphi study focuses on exploring and sharing wellness strategies for bipolar disorder and that’s all very well and good.  I’m glad to be taking part in it; hopefully they won’t kick me out. (Read on.)

Yesterday I became very enthused when I read on CREST’s Facebook page about EXACTLY what I am writing about: postpartum mania. Here’s the blurb they posted:

“The perinatal period is a time of increased risk for all women to experience mental health problems; those with a history of mental illness are at particularly high risk. This study looks into postpartum mania, about which relatively little is known. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00737-013-0408-1#page-1

I bookmarked the link’s study and I plan to contact the principals involved when I reach that point for my book’s research.  In my excitement I commented underneath the CREST post,  “I was diagnosed with postpartum mania/postpartum bipolar and I even experienced hypergraphia. (compulsive writing) I’m writing a book about PPBD titled: “Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar”…Thank you for sharing this valuable link – my goal is to help other mothers who have experienced postpartum mania etc. feel less alone and to give them resources as well. My book includes interviews with experts in the postpartum mental health field.”

I was the only person who commented in response to CREST’s post.  I added one more brief question – I just couldn’t help myself!

CREST.Bipolar Disorder – could you refer me to any experts on postpartum bipolar? I am participating in your Delphi survey. I’d be grateful to hear from you.”

These CREST folks love to post lots of items on their Facebook page, but after examining it, I noticed barely anyone even “likes” any of the posts or contributes any comments.  I didn’t receive a response to my question by their staff yet, which is disappointing, but I had a feeling not to get my hopes up.  I forgot about that issue for the time being, and I moved on with my day.

Later I checked my Facebook newsfeed and I spotted that CREST was sponsoring a webinar today on the positives of bipolar.

They posted “46% of survey participants w/ #bipolar would not ‘push a button’ to rid themselves of condition.”

Now, I’m grossly ignorant of what a hashtag represents; all I know is that “#” is connected with Twitter, yes?  No one “liked” that post or commented.  Quelle surprise!  Anyway, that’s all besides the point…

I allowed myself to be mega-triggered reading that post.  My heart started to beat faster, blood rushed to my face, I started holding my breath and I was MAD.  Steam should have been blowing out of my ears, cartoon-style!  I started typing furiously in response to the “button” statement, but I erased it as soon as I completed it.  Here’s the gist of what I wrote:

That’s great if you have bipolar and that you wouldn’t want to change your diagnosis even if you could.  I could actually begin to stomach that concept personally if I didn’t have children.  But I did have a baby, and right after I had that baby, bipolar kicked in. It not only f*cked me up beyond what any human being should endure, it affected my baby and my two-year-old and my husband adversely to the 1000th degree. Bipolar literally robbed me of months away from my family when I was stuck in loony bins.  Bipolar also stole me away from them when I was a foot away from their loving faces.  The fact that I was suicidal more times than I could count adds to the fact that if there was a “button” I could press to undo bipolar in my life, well, hell yeah, I’d press that button so hard it would break into bits.

Anyone who says “Oh, I wouldn’t change having bipolar because then I wouldn’t be the person I am!” strikes me as being selfish.  Do you think maybe, just maybe your kids and partner and your dog might feel differently there?  Or your other family members and friends and law enforcement personnel?  Don’t you think your kids would rather not have had their mom carted away in handcuffs if they had that choice?  I just don’t get it.

It’s okay to say “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t want to have bipolar”.  I think that those of us with this mental illness would still be pretty damn awesome even if we weren’t “touched with fire” or whatever the f*ck you want to call it.

GOD.

I guess it’s a good thing I did not participate in the CREST webinar.  My misguided rage would have engulfed me.  I probably would have started to speak in tongues and grown two heads.

The bottom line is that I was a groovy person before bipolar kicked in.  I was a “contender” for all kinds of cool things.  And now that I have the Scarlet B on my chest, I am still a groovy person.  I am still a contender, and I’m going to fulfill some of my dreams that were deferred due to bipolar.

If I had participated in that webinar today, I might have asked them, “Well then, if bipolar is such an awesome benefit, would you want your child to have it?”

Really.

Would you want your child to hate life, to want to die?  To loathe every single moment of every single day?  To be so fatigued from med side effects that she couldn’t stand up?

Would you want your sweet baby to feel so desperate that she’d try all kinds of drugs with soul-sucking side effects and then finally have her brain zapped numerous times, all just to survive?

Probably not, eh?

I don’t think so.

Blessed with bipolar?  I think not!  I am blessed with Dyane, and bipolar (give me manic depression any day, but that’s a topic for another blog) is going to start to take more of a backseat in my self-identity.

I’m still going to blog about bipolar, and I’m still writing my book about it, and I’ll be working with the International Bipolar Foundation’s Consumer Advisory Board.  But, I’m going to make an effort to develop the non-bipolar-related elements in my life and I’ll write about those as well.   I’ll keep you posted.

And, as always, thanks for reading!