Happy Birthday to Us!

Today, March 18th, my beautiful puppy Lucy turns one while I turn forty-five. I love the fact that we share a birthday!  

Being forty-five seems rather bizarre, because in a lot of ways I still feel like I’m fourteen.  

As my favorite American author Madeleine L’Engle said,

““The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

In case you missed it, here I am with Madeleine L’Engle at a writer’s conference at a Santa Barbara monastery.  This photo was taken when I was the tender age of 27, a decade before my postpartum bipolar one diagnosis.

Dy and L'Engle 2

 

So here I am having another birthday.  Just as I felt at age fourteen and all the other ages, I’m hoping that something unexpected and magical happens today.  But I just realized that something magical and unexpected did happen exactly one year ago that would affect my forty-fifth birthday and hopefully many more.

This special event occurred last year when Lucy was born on my forty-fourth birthday!  

Pisces girls unite!

looooovFurry SiblingsLucy’s brothersMom Layla & Dad

Lucy’s Mom and Dad 

 

My birthday will never feel complete since my Dad isn’t alive to wish me a happy day in his resonant voice, and play me the birthday song on his violin.  Since that can’t happen, I’ll sing a song by a couple of guys named Paul McCartney and John Lennon to Lucy today:

“I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can’t get more worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine”  

“Getting Better”, The Beatles

For those of you who’ve been kind enough to read this blog, you know that my past year has had its share of shit.  I suffered two “mini-relapses” due to sleep deprivation.  Some other challenging situations cropped up that I didn’t exactly handle with aplomb.  But I’m determined to make this next year better, and the year after that one even better.  

I’m making up for many chunks of lost time.  Time that stolen by my evil bipolar depression.  

I’m working hard to (I hate this phrase, but I’ll use it anyway) practice self-care. What’s my version of self-care? Part of my laundry list includes exercising the Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan way*, getting enough sleep, family time, taking meds religiously, and laughing at Alpura Dancing Cows. and anything else funny. (I loved watching Russell Brand’s Messiah Complex over the weekend!)  My new support group for women with mood disorders rocks.  And how could I forget mentioning Lucy?

Lucy.  She’s the hound of a lifetime. I’m so used to referring to her as a puppy, but she’s a dog now.  My children and I adore her, and the feeling seems mutual, but she worships alpha male Craig, so he can’t resist her charms either.  I thank God for this beast every day.  It’s not easy to take good, responsible care of a dog – my last two dogs Tara and Shera were with me for fifteen years to the end, when they both died in my arms… but she’s worth it.  I held Lucy when she was eight-weeks-old in a way similar to how I held my newborns. I gently cuddled her with reverence and a deep, pure love.  

While it might be nice to win the California SuperLotto Plus, land a book contract with a great publisher, or win a session with the kooky Long Island Medium, I have my family: Craig, my girls and my angel with paws, Miss Lucy.  

I wish you all an unexpected birthday gift that you’ll treasure the rest of your life; something awesome such as my furry girl.  

Have a great day, friends!

Dyane

 

 

 

 

* http://kuwaitmood.com/exercise-mood-part-iii-from-science-to-action/

Then and Now: Thank you MAOI’s & Lithium!

3 bunnies

 Sunday morning smiles

 

I’ve had a lazy, Indian Summer-soaked weekend.  As much as I love the springtime, this is my favorite season of the year, bar none. (Plus Halloween is my favorite day of the year!)  

This morning I reflected upon how different my “lazy weekend” was than my lazy weekends of a couple years ago…

In 2012 and part of 2013, “lazy” was my doing virtually nothing during the weekends.  I stayed in bed or on the couch much of the day, feeling depressed, lethargic and hopeless.  There were also my intermittent crying jags during which I unsuccessfully tried to hide from my children.

In contrast, my current “lazy weekend” included:  

Doing laundry, dishes, straightening up the uber-messy house, completing homework with Rilla, cleaning up poop (Lucy most likely ate chicken poo), working out twice, surfing the internet, & watching an illuminating documentary called “Fed Up”.  It’s a film that was suggested by the blogger Bipolar on Fire.  “Fed Up” is so freaky and mind-bending but I’m glad I watched it!

 

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There’s more: I read some of the works of two New Zealand authors: a memoir “All That Glitters” by the Auckland fashion designer/depression advocate Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, and the “The Nutters Club: Helping Nutters from the Inside Out” by Mike King, a comedian/host of the hit radio show “The Nutters Club” with psychiatrist David Codyre.

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At Avi’s request, we went on a family picnic at the park, and last but not least, I watched the season finale of the highly intellectual TLC reality show“Long Island Medium”!

I swear, each time I watch it I feel my I.Q. rise a few points! 😉

images

So what, Dyane?, you may be thinking.  

You might also wonder,

Frankly, I don’t care about your laundry list of tasks – they are kind of boring.  And you are not the intellectual you claim to be when you reveal you’re a fan of TLC reality shows like “Long Island Medium” – aren’t you a college graduate, or so you say? 

This all may be true, although the books and documentary film I mention are worth checking out, as well as Bipolar On Fire’s blog, which is one of my favorites.  Before I forget to mention it, her blog is:

http://bipolaronfire.com

I must also state that “Long Island Medium” is worth a look if you’re interested in psychic mediums and if you want to be entertained and inspired. 

But back to ultimate point of this post – I wouldn’t be doing ANYTHING unless I had my medications at the ready, namely my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) called Parnate, (generic name: tranylcypromine – say that ten times fast!) and lithium.  

I’ve written about these meds before, but I’m bringing them up again for any new readers and because I enjoy expressing how I continue to feel grateful for them.  

The combination of the MAOI & lithium made it possible for me to not merely get out of bed each day, but to function and experience joy again.

I had no idea that MAOI’s have been prescribed for treatment-resistant bipolar depression for literally decades (i.e. since the 1950’s I believe) until 2013, when my most recent psychiatrist brought them up.  I found it mind-boggling that no other doctor thought to even mention them as a possibility since I was a textbook case of being med-resistant (I tried well over 20 drugs ) plus two rounds of ECT.

Duh!

When my psychiatrist suggested I try an MAOI in the fall of 2013, I did a little research on my own. I located two studies done in the 1970’s that would make ANY person with treatment-resistant bipolar depression rob a pharmacy if she had to in order to give an MAOI combined with lithium a try. (If an MAOI is combined with lithium, the two study findings indicated that the lifting of the bipolar depression is much more likely to happen.)  

While I’m by no means “cured” of bipolar disorder, and I have a long way to go in terms of my recovery, you can see how I’m still light years ahead of where I used to be.  Anxiety, and depersonalization/derealization continue to haunt me on a regular basis.  I’m working on all of this stuff with my counselor and on my own, and this work (yes, it’s work) is a full-time job unto itself that unfortunately few people understand.

After an intense Mental Health/Bipolar Awareness week, I celebrate my pills, the teeny tablets I once demonized until I relapsed without their help.  I’m grateful to these remarkable medications for helping me get my life back, and giving me hope again.  I’m on a quest to inform others who have been medication-resistant like me about MAOI’s if they haven’t tried them yet. They don’t work for everyone by any means, but you never know unless you a) know about their existence in the first place and b) give them a try.

Have a good week, dear readers!

Dyane

 

 P.S. I have a small favor to ask each of you!   I’ve been honored with a nomination by the

bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson (“I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar”, & “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival”)

for the WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show” Blog Award.  I need your endorsements to win!  

Just visit the below link, select the purple tab that says “Endorse Dyane Leshin-Harwood”

and go from there – it takes only 15 seconds to endorse me.  Thank you so much!

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