Sadness Behind the Smile

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I’m at my daughter’s beautiful middle school library. This corner overlooks the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods where I go “forest bathing”, a.k.a. shinrin-yoku, with Lucy. (Check out this cool article about the Japanese health tradition.) 

 

Like many of you, I’m grieving over the suicide of Ulla, which I wrote about last week. I think about her often. I even talk to her in the car when I’m alone – it’s a bit crazy, I know, but hell, maybe she’s listening…whilst rolling her eyes. 

I found out that her beloved dog Solo has been in a friend’s temporary care. A permanent home is being sought. You can visit Ulla’s final blog post for more information in the comments section: https://theblahpolar.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/dont-what-shut-up/

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Solo

 

My Memoir Manuscript Update

My Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder ms is due to the publisher in 15 days. I know it’s only the beginning of a long editorial process, but I feel like I’m running mile 25 of a 26.2 marathon and I’m so close, yet so far away from the finish line.

I’ve been writing this memoir, on and off, since 2007, so it has felt like forever, and that’s a mighty long time. 

Speaking of Prince, you know I’ll be buying this memoir when it’s published even if it may seem a bit opportunistic in terms of its timing since Prince’s death is still recent.

I keep track of upcoming memoirs by searching on Amazon and through subscribing to the excellent blog Memoir Notes by author Lynette Davis. Like Lynette, I love reading good memoirs – I always have.

Anyway, I’m getting excited to move forward in publishing process, but I remain nervous as hell. I was instructed by Post Hill Press a few weeks ago to complete a metadata form. Have you heard of those? I was clueless, so I’ve been taking a crash course in what I call metadata madness.

My particular metadata form requires all kinds of info. such as:

a short book description, back cover text, a one sentence description of my book, search phrase lists, BISAC categories, marketing plan ideas, cover ideas, social media platform details, endorsements and blurbs, comparative titles, and my nemesis: the plot synopsis… I’m dizzy just from reading that!!!

Some of these items are parts of a standard book proposal, but my proposal didn’t include all of them. I wasn’t asked to submit this info. until now. There’s more to the form, but you get the idea…meanwhile, I might dress up as a metadata form for Halloween. Here it is in all its glory:

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Happy Halloween – let me give you a headache instead of candy!

I’m still not caught up with some of your blogs, but I promise to catch up soon because I’m missing out, you know? 😉

I’ll be back next Friday with the latest excitement in this neck of the banana slug-filled redwoods. (My alma mater’s mascot is the banana slug. No offense to banana slug aficionados, but I’d prefer the mountain lion, another local legend, or a dolphin!)

imagesAt least this slug reads…

I wish you a good weekend!

love to you all,

Dyane

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p.s. Lose It! – We’re Losers and We Like It! Update

Bradley, blogger extraordinaire (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I continue to encourage one another regarding our weight loss quest/exercising/healthy eating on Lose It!’s website. We’re struggling these days, but we’re not giving up, ya hear that Bradley? If you’d like to join us you can sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group” & say hello.

 

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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Losing Ulla

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Ulla’s dog Solo

 

Ulla. Where do I begin?

When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship.

Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s hard to relate to the idea. But I was frustrated all the same because it was a genuine friendship.

How I hate writing that word “was”.

Ulla was a better friend to me than most of the friends I’ve ever had; hell, she was there for me during some of my toughest times far more than some of my relatives.

Oh Ulla.

She supported my writing, and — this was big– she helped me grieve my father’s death. She truly understood what it was like to lose a parent since she had been through it too.

She sent me e-books. She made me laugh through her original, feisty, always-brilliant blog posts. I looked forward to her provocative, witty, informative linkdumps – check out one example here

Even when she was way down, Ulla would check in with me out of the blue to see how I was doing.

We loved going off about crazy Scientology – Jeez, they gave us SO MUCH to make fun of – we couldn’t help it!!!!

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Thetan looks like a lady

 

Best of all, Ulla sent me pictures of Solo, her sweet hound.

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We tossed around the idea of her making a meme of my Lucy, and she gave me this fabulous image:

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I feel guilty that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) didn’t help her out of the evil treatment-resistant bipolar depression. When Ulla began asking me about my ECT experiences, I shared how the treatments helped me.

I was suicidal after my father died, and once again after I relapsed after  tapering off meds. (Word to the wise: just don’t do it!) Anyway, I had ECT each of those times, and it brought me out of those horrendous states.

While I didn’t feel happy after the rounds of ECT, I stopped thinking that I had to kill myself all the time.

She tried ECT. It didn’t work. Should I have encouraged her the way I did? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about it. If I go down that route, I feel worse. Ulla would probably tell me to shut the f*ck up and remind me that she wasn’t a puppet – ever the meticulous researcher, she made an informed choice.

When I found out the news about Ulla, even the lithium coursing through my bloodstream couldn’t prevent tears from falling down my face. (The salt usually does keep my tears at bay; it’s a very odd feeling. But that’s one shitty, unhealthy side effect this drama queen could do without. We need to be able to cry sometimes.)

Upon seeing their mom’s twisted-up face shiny with rare tears, my daughters wrapped their arms around me. A concerned Lucy circled around us and barked as if ten ambulances were speeding past our front door. 

Ulla.

Platitudes come to my mind:

“She’s in a better place.” “She’s at peace.” “She’s with her mom now.”

I’ll be honest with you – I want to believe those cliches are true. I want to believe Ulla’s okay, and that she’s no longer suffering. And here’s the final kicker:

I want to meet her…and thank her…. in person in “Some Fantastic Place” (a beautiful Squeeze song written about their friend who died) because I’ll never get the chance to do that here.

On Saturday, September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day) Jill of My Spanglish Familia and Yvette of Yve’s Corner have organized an online vigil at this link at Ulla’s blog Blahpolar, the blog I’ve mentioned numerous times as being my #1 favorite.

Yve and Jill invite us to: Bring…your fondest memories, your favourite posts, some ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘candles’, and let’s honour her struggle and mourn her loss together.”

I’ll be there.

 

 

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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