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. 

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My Favorite Birthday Gift: A Book Deal with Post Hill Press!

Post Hill

Dear Friends,

This post won’t focus upon errant hamsters, dancing cows, or much darker thoughts. I have great news to share, and I hope you’ll understand why I want to sing it from the mountaintops! 

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After a nine-year-long labor, in Fall, 2016 (as long as an asteroid doesn’t fall on me), I’ll finally be giving birth to…drum roll please!

 

          Birth of a New Brain – Healing with Postpartum Bipolar Disorder                           

Last month on my 45th birthday, I woke up groggy as usual and made a beeline for the coffee machine. I trudged over to my laptop and opened up my email.  While sipping my beloved Steve’s Smooth French brew, I spotted a message from Post Hill Press and braced myself for another patronizing rejection.  As I scanned the lines, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  They read my proposal and were interested in speaking with me! Yes, it was the same proposal that was rejected by a mean publisher which I whined about here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/lets-play-the-schadenfreude-game-a-writers-1st-rejection/)

Over the past month I received a contract, successfully negotiated a few amendments, signed and mailed the blessed document back to them. Now my goal is to produce a manuscript I’m proud of, and that’ll sell more than three copies.  (To people I don’t know!) 😉

The brilliant Dr. Walker Karraa has agreed to write the foreword. She’s the author of the highly acclaimed book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma, Healing and Growth (a #1 bestseller in the Amazon postpartum category) and founder of the wildly popular site Stigmama. http://stigmama.com./

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Now, many of the bloggers I read are absolutely amazing writers. (I bet you’re one of them!) There are numerous blogs containing writing that’s far superior to mine. So why did this deal happen if my writing isn’t National Book Critics Circle Award-worthy?  I’m stealing an answer from the talented author Kim Hooper. Hooper recently acquired a book deal with St. Martin’s Press for her book People Who Knew Me, and in her blog http://www.kimhooperwrites.com/she states,

“I still believe that getting a book deal is based less on talent than on luck and persistence.  I mean yes, you have to be a good writer.  But you have to keep trying, again and again and again.  And again.”

Kim’s right.

For years I’ve searched high and low for a book depicting PPBD, and to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing out there.  Like every author who’s passionate about her book, I believe my topics are worthwhile, interesting, and unique. That belief keeps me going when I wonder why the hell anyone would read my book.

Life hasn’t been all wine and roses since I got my happy news.  I’ve woken up many mornings at the grisly hour of 4:00 a.m. in a panic, wondering if I can pull any of this off.  I’ve been heartened by the encouragement of bloggers including Kitt O’Malley http://kittomalley.com/ Blahpolar Diaries https://bipolardyke.wordpress.com/ , Genevieve Desrochers/ Birth of a Bipolar Mother http://www.post-partum-bipolaire.me/, Anonymous, https://hidinginthespotlight.wordpress.com/, L.E. Henderson http://passionatereason.com/ and Laura Droege https://lauradroege.wordpress.com/.

All of your comments have bolstered my spirits when I’ve felt like giving up! Thank you!!! 

I’m also extraordinarily lucky to have a writing mentor in Wendy K. Williamson. https://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/ and 

http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/

I discovered Wendy years ago through one of my first Kindle purchases. I bought her bestselling memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar, never imagining that we’d correspond and become friends.

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Author Greg Archer (Grace Revealed) has also served as a magnificent mentor. The day Greg surprised me with a profile in the Huffington Post in which he praised my writing nearly made me keel over.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-archer/agents-of-change-5-inspir_b_5992870.html

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My husband Craig went through the publishing process for his award-winning book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West.  When it came to negotiating my contract, he helped me fully understand every item in the document.

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There’s a little more to my publishing journey that makes this “birthday gift” significant.

In 2013, I landed a book deal with another publisher. When I got my contract it was absolutely thrilling, of course! Unfortunately, a few days later I relapsed with bipolar depression. I was hospitalized three times within six weeks. When I was released from the unit the third time, I remained terribly depressed. I continued with the bilateral electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy I had requested as an inpatient.  ECT helped me out of suicidal ideation, but back then I couldn’t write a few sentences to save my life.  I had to back out of my contract.

I didn’t think I’d get a second chance at remotely feeling like writing a book, but maybe my Dad had a hand in this one. Finding a great psychiatrist and an effective combination of medication were essential.

 

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Richard Leshin, May 22, 1927 – January 6, 2009   How he loved reading!  

And Mom, you inspired me to read. Thank you for buying me wonderful books as soon as I could hold one up, and for always believing I was a writer. Xo

 

I’m excited to work with Post Hill Press, an independent, progressive publisher. www.posthillpress.com  The team I’m working with has experience at several “Big Six” publishers, and their list features 20 New York Times non-fiction and fiction bestsellers. Post Hill Press publishes books that I purchased long before I even wrote my proposal. (I took that as a good omen!)  

Thanks for reading, thanks for inspiring me through your blogs, and thanks for your “likes” and comments, all of which have motivated me to keep submitting my book proposal again and again and again.

(and again!)

 Dyane

 

Please “like” the Post Hill Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/PostHillPress

Follow Post Hill Press on Twitter:

@PostHillPress

A Shameless Plea for Your Support! (Not $!) & Much More…

 

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Throughout my life I’ve been great at promoting others who I believe in with all my heart, whether it be their books, their causes, their blogs, their music, their food…whatever! 😉

But when it comes to tooting my OWN horn, it’s another story.  However, today I’m in the mood to toot away because Wendy W. Williamson, author of the bestselling memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and co-author with Honora Rose of the acclaimed Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder, has nominated me for a WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show” Blog Award.  

I normally post on Friday, but I’m so excited about this news that I’m firing off this post right now!!!

A WHAT-GO?  you might ask?

A WEGO!

Here’s more to know about WEGO:  WEGO empowers health activists to help others.  WEGO Health is a different kind of social network, built from the ground up for the community leaders, bloggers and tweeters who are actively involved in health online. WEGO Health is a platform for committed health advocates to foster new relationships, gain access to helpful resources, and to grow their communities.

To endorse me takes under thirty seconds.  After you endorse me, you’re prompted to share the nice act you just did (and to ask for endorsements on my behalf) via your Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc.

To endorse me (and to nominate/check out other worthy candidates – check out the misc. categories on the Wego site!) please visit:

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/4811

Wendy wrote an incredible nomination blurb that I might wind up having tattooed on my face…although it’s long, so my derriere would be a more fitting location –  here it is in all its glory – my head swells up every time I read it:

Dyane’s site is the best out there. I love that she tells it like it is and supports her fellow followers. A gifted writer, she clearly conveys through humor and honesty what is happening in her world and the world around us. Dyane taps in to our feelings beautifully, saving us from emotional isolation. Activist, champion, Dyane is both and more.”

You may be wondering what does a WEGO winner actually get.  Well, they each get $50,000 and a lifetime supply of chocolate!  No, just kidding.  

Here’s what WEGO has to say on the matter:

“Winners will be publically announced during our ceremonies in March, 2015 and each winner will receive special Health Activist Awards business cards signifying them as the winner of this year’s program, a donation to their Health Activist, a feature on WEGO Health’s blog and social channels, special access to WEGO Health opportunities throughout the year – including chances to speak at or attend conferences.”

(This would be awesome because I haven’t had a business card in a decade! 😉 No, really, an association with WEGO would allow me to reach more women with postpartum bipolar disorder and beyond….it would be fantastic!)

So I’m a happy camper this morning.  Once again, I’m amazed by what happens when we connect with others through the internet who inspire us. When I first read Wendy’s engrossing memoir I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar, I found myself unable to put it down and I finished it the same day. I never imagined that I’d be in touch with this author, let alone be gifted with a wonderful friendship and writing mentorship with her.  

The same thing happened to me in terms of inspiration when I contacted Jennifer Marshall of the Bipolar Mom Life blog.  She’s also a 2013 WEGO Health Activist finalist and creator of the groundbreaking “This Is My Brave” Show.  There are so many positive things I could write about Jenn & her mental health advocacy that it would take a glowing blog post to begin doing her justice, and that’s just what I did – I wrote one.  See here for my post about Jenn:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/the-blog-that-ignited-my-writing-spark-bipolar-mom-life-and-the-this-is-my-brave-show/-

Jennifer and “This Is My Brave” co-executive producer Anne Marie Ames are bringing the show to other cities in 2015, & you might want to participate.  

The show’s concept can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=186WMMJI-xQ

The entire “This Is My Brave” premiere show is on YouTube and it features my friends Elaina J. Martin (“Being Beautifully Bipolar” blog on Psych Central & http://www.blog.elainaj.com/) and Meagan Barnes (http://www.anxietyangel.com/) :

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uag3WVfRMZE

So I’d like to dedicate this post to four extraordinary women who have made a huge, positive difference in my life over the past year:

MY FRIEND WENDY K. WILLIAMSON, WRITER EXTRAORDINAIRE

MY FRIEND DR. WALKER KARRAA, FOUNDER OF STIGMAMA.COM, AND AUTHOR OF TRANSFORMED BY POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: WOMEN’S STORIES OF TRAUMA AND GROWTH TO BE PUBLISHED BY PRAECLARUS PRESS THIS FALL, 2014 

http://www.drwalkerkarraa.com/

MY FRIEND, THE BLOGGER KITT O’MALLEY  

http://kittomalley.com/

AND MY FRIEND JENNIFER MARSHALL, ANOTHER WRITER EXTRAORDINAIRE, FOR HELPING IGNITE MY WRITING SPARK THAT WAS LATENT FOR YEARS THANKS TO BIPOLAR DEPRESSION!  

http://bipolarmomlife.com/

and a special thanks goes to Cristi Comes, creator of the “Motherhood Unadorned” blog (http://www.motherhoodunadorned.com/)and founder of the Mental Health Blogging Network. Cristi’s encouragement, advocacy, and networking have been invaluable to me.

Last but not least, I must thank LUCY THE CANINE MUSE – I can’t leave my furry girl out because she sits on my foot while I write, and she makes me so happy!   Lucy does not have a blog or website at this time, but watch out – she never ceases to amaze me with her puppy brilliance.

LOVE TO YOU ALL,

Dyane

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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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mundane, Mysterious and Bloody Acts of Writing

Photo on 2014-09-10 at 11.34 #2Lucy the Canine Muse says hello while I’m writing at my desk

 

Today I reviewed the introduction and chapter one of my book, which I wrote several years ago.

I was totally appalled with certain sections that I used to think were rock-solid.  

I wondered things such as, “What on EARTH was I thinking?”, “Why-oh-why didn’t I see those errors? I have an English degree, dammit!”,  and “Whhaaaaaaat?

Writing is so strange.  If I write a few paragraphs and wait just one day, I always find ways to improve them.  Always.  At the very least I find egregious, embarrassing typos and/or syntax bugaboos.  More often than not I find entire sections that need to be changed or cut.

It’s perplexing, and it raises my blood pressure, but I also find this phenomenon fascinating.

When is a piece of writing done?  The pattern that I describe shows that writing is never truly complete, and that it can always be smoother, wittier, more profound, and even 100% grammatically correct.  The same concept could be applied to any creative pursuit, of course.  

I guess it’s about acceptance of the imperfect, and about setting limits with one’s examination (navel gazing?) of one’s writing.  That sounds simple enough, right?

Oooooh, it’s not simple!  Not for this silly procrastinating perfectionist!

I’ve also been daydreaming about other aspects of writing, i.e. what inspires us to write,  and “the flow” of creativity that descends upon us when we least expect it.

The other day I listened to an interview with Neil Finn, who is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of Crowded House.  Neil was being interviewed about Crowded House’s album “Time On Earth”.  That album holds special meaning for me because some of its songs are about the suicide of Neil’s best friend, a gifted musician named Paul Hester, Crowded House’s drummer.  I met Paul in New Zealand when I flew there to basically stalk Crowded House, and he was charming, kind and funny with me, since I was a nervous wreck.  He reportedly suffered with bipolar disorder.   I write more about Paul and Neil here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/paul-hester-neil-finn/

Neil’s interview closed with his observations of the songwriting process.  He mused,

 “Tapping into the divine inspiration – I have no idea and I never will,  I don’t think…it always seems like it’s harder every time, but it probably isn’t.  It’s probably the same.  The contradiction being in the whole process is that when it happens it’s effortless, and getting to the point of where it’s effortless is an internal struggle, so I don’t know…I don’t understand it.”

http://neilfinn.com/videos/crowded-house/page/11/

As Neil discussed his songwriting I realized that his thoughts about “divine inspiration” applies to writing a book as well as a song.   My ears pricked up when he mentioned “internal struggle”.  I’m not feeling like anything is effortless this morning, nor do I feel graced with divine inspiration, although there’s plenty of internal struggle going on!  (Note to Wendy K. Williamson, bestselling author of I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar, if you’re reading this, I promise not to whine too much in future posts. Well, maybe.)

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Recently the writer Jeff Smith of Higher Trust Marketing shared a Ernest Hemingway quote with me that gave me pause:

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I’m no Hemingway, and I never will be (or aim to be) for that matter!  What I do want is for my writing to be consistently good, insightful, and ultimately helpful to others.  Do I really need to “bleed” in order to do that?  

I hope not.  

I’ve suffered enough, like all of you reading this.  No bleeding, please.  

As some you know, my goal is to finish the draft by my birthday!  At this point the only birthday present I want for the rest of my birthdays is to finish the damn draft! 😉  I’ll keep you posted.

Have a GOOD weekend, dear readers!!!

XOXO
Dyane

 

The 3:18 A.M. Anxiety Woes

imagesToday’s blog post isn’t going to win any BlogHer awards because I’ve been a mess since the inhuman hour of 3:18 A.M.  I woke up early because one of the girls had a nightmare and the poor thing started screaming at the top of her lungs.  Instead of getting back to sleep as I usually do, I just sat there in the dark, ruminated on negative things and felt very anxious.

I had taken my usual dose of quetiapine (Seroquel) at bedtime.  This medication has been an enormous help to me in terms of sleeping through the night and helping keep depression at bay.  But I didn’t want to take an additional amount at 3:00 a.m. because it would make me too groggy come sunrise.  That was the time I needed to take care of my girls and drive them to school.  So today anxiety is on my mind.  

 I have a few interesting resources I’ll share here for those of us who suffer with anxiety.  Perhaps you could explore one or all of them and let me know what helps you!

It’s rare for a blog post’s title to make me laugh out loud, but blogger extraordinaire “Bipolar On Fire” managed to do just that with me last week.  While I perused my WordPress reader I spotted the title “Holy Shit Tapping Really Works!”.

I was intrigued.

I knew Bipolar On Fire would never make a claim for any modality to work unless she truly meant it.  Her passionate title made it clear that she was on to something that was, at the very least, helpful, and possibly significant in her healing.  I had to know more about this tapping business, and I read her post with bated breath.

After a job loss, she wrote,

“I have been tapping, saying “I am safe and secure.” And lo and behold, I HAVE been feeling quite safe and secure, not having the major meltdown like I would have in the past…

To say that this has been a transformative few days would be an understatement. Tapping is really helping me to change my life!  Shit that I’ve spent ten or twenty years talking about in Talk Therapy (with no change) is CHANGING!! I can’t tell you how good this feels!  It’s like a miracle! I encourage you to Google “Tapping”, or look it up on YouTube. Do it, and then let me know how it goes. It’s Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It’s real. Thank God, whatever or whoever that is. I am grateful.”

To watch the Nick Ortner YouTube video suggested by Bipolar On Fire visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfZBHWSbrsg

I watched this long clip and I tried the personable, easy-on-the-eyes Nick’s brief tapping demo he gave to two thousand people.  His demo doesn’t come up until towards the end, so you may want to jump ahead to that.  I want to try it again,as I didn’t give it a fair chance and I admit I’m more curious.  I  may explore one or two of his other YouTube demos.  I also plan to check out the EFT founder Gary Craig’s free EFT tutorial at the following website:  http://www.emofree.com/

To read more of Bipolar On Fire’s tapping post please visit:

http://bipolaronfire.com/2014/05/07/holy-shit-tapping-really-works/

Meanwhile, bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson has written two great books: “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar” and co-authored the recently published “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide To Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder”.  Wendy and I connected through the blogosphere in which she read my blog post about how I suffered with anxiety.

In case you want to check it out, that post is:  https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/anxiety-woes/

Wendy’s graciously wrote a comment on “Anxiety Woes” which gave me effective-sounding advice that I need to follow!!!!  Wendy wrote,

“Check this out. It’s the free meditation series.

https://chopracentermeditation.com/
A couple tips, otherwise I find I don’t get good results. You’ll find what works for you, but these have worked well for me…
1. I do it right when I wake up.
2. I listen/do the meditation with headphones from my phone. (try it for the 22 day program. Click on the email link and plug your headphones in to your phone.)
3. I do it pre-coffee/tea in the morning.
4. I also make sure I don’t do too much. (ie: feed the cats, make the bed, etc.) I’ve noticed, for me, it doesn’t work as well.
5. If the cats are bouncing around I’ll go back in to the bedroom. Finding a quiet place is key. The minute I hear television or the cat jumps on my lap, concentration is broken and I’m no longer in meditation mode.
6. Also, I write about what came to me during the meditation right afterwards so I don’t forget. Sometimes I’ll go back a few days later and re-read it. It’s so cool.

As for another anxiety buster, I often write in the morning (and/or meditate) and it gets out my anxieties.I find my day runs smoother when I spend 10 or 15 minutes in the beginning of the day getting out what I have woken up with in my head. It’s all fear…”

You can follow Wendy’s blog at: http://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/

The Two Bipolar Chicks website: http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another wonderful free resource that has helped me over the past couple years. Meagan Barnes founded the Facebook page and group called “Women Conquering Anxiety”.  She is an amazing mental health advocate. Meagan knows a thing or two about anxiety and she has completely transformed her life for the better.  Just this past year Meagan graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and she coaches clients, specializing in anxiety.  You can download her free “10 Ways to Feel Better Today” brochure off her website http://anxietyangel.com.  Her Facebook page is:

https://www.facebook.com/AnxietyAngel

AnxietyAngel

Thanks for reading and please feel more than welcome to comment about anything that helps you reduce your anxiety, especially the “wee hours of the morning” type that I hate with a passion!!  

take care, Dyane