Catamaran Saturday Part One – Wish You Were Here!


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Evidently Lucy had a puppy named “Joey” at Lake Tahoe while I’ve been down here at the glorious Catamaran Writers Conference.

I continued having fun, feeling excited, exhausted, anxious, scared, embarrassed and exhilarated yesterday at the Catamaran Writers Conference in Pebble Beach.

At least I woke up Saturday morning having slept much better than the previous night. That was a total miracle – 25 mg of Seroquel had something to do with it (a PRN) and I’m glad I had it with me. 

Upon waking up there was no lollygagging. At 7:00 a.m. I made my pilgrimage to the dining hall – that’s when they started serving Peet’s coffee. I didn’t put on a stitch of makeup, my hair looked like a bird’s nest, and I smelled like one who has sweated a great deal and really needs a shower. Keep in mind that at this conference I’m mingling with bestselling authors. But no matter – I let my vanity fall to the wayside and put on my favorite T-shirt perfect for this conference + jeans & flip flops:

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I plunked myself down at a table with two mugs of brew with a dash of almond milk. All for me. (The mugs here are pathetically lilliputian.) Another attendee joined me named Emily, a poet. She was one of the first people I chatted with on Day One at breakfast so she was a familiar face. After we ate, I noticed she was knitting a scarf with pretty, autumn-hued, multicolored scraps. When I commented on how cool it was and I inquired who she was making it for, she said, “I’ll make it for you!” I was floored. Here it is – sorry for the blurry photo: 

Photo on 8-15-15 at 7.23 AM

Meanwhile, my girls and their best friends were at Lake Tahoe and along with a bunch of joke texts about poo, they texted me a photo of what they call The Lip. They use The Lip when begging me and Craig for candy and toys. It actually doesn’t pull at my heartstrings at all – I’m tough to manipulate…unless they threaten to do a public temper tantrum, but The Lip makes me laugh:

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I need to go shower now, so I’ll be writing Part Two (which will describe the reading I gave last night at the Stevenson School’s Big Theater in front of conference attendees and instructors/authors) later on, but I’ll close with a couple things:

One of my most spectacular cases of diarrhea mouth/sycophantism took place with my new favorite author,  Jane Vandenburgh. Check out her Wiki bio. When I looked at it I was a little impressed. Maybe you don’t know who she is either, but one of her closest friends (who she affectionately refers to as Annie) is Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird etc. For those of you who don’t know “Annie” – well, she’s ginormously famous in the book world and Bird by Bird is one of the most renowned writing books ever. She wrote the introduction to Jane’s new book Architecture of the Novel – A Writer’s Handbook.

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So yes, while I haven’t read Jane’s books yet (despite her being my new favorite author) take a look at the cover of her book The Wrong Dog Dream – a true romance. She had me at the cover. I bought it at the book faire.51L8kGRDNVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Stay tuned on how I behaved in front of her when she signed this book for me. I’m glad it’s not on YouTube.

I can’t wait to tell you more about the day, but a shower/Peet’s coffee is more important right now. Excuse my typos – I’m not going to re-read this but just post it with all the boo boo’s intact. Forgive me.

Please know that I miss you & your reecnt posts, my beloved blogger pals. I still haven’t read any blogs you’ve written lately, very few tweets (right, V.?) and hardly any emails while here. This is shocking.

Your comments over the past few days have made me feel so good. A number of Catamaran attendees don’t blog, although in the p.r./marketing seminars the teachers are saying “You must have a platform for your book! You MUST blog! Blog, dammit, blog!”

I’ve shared with other attendees about how wonderful it is to have this blog because of YOU – your posts, your encouragement, the camaraderie between us all in the blogosphere. So thanks for reading, and I’ll “see” you soon. 

Wish you were here with me, maybe next year?

XOXO Dyane

Someone is having fun in Tahoe….

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Writing Envy Redux & My Dog Lucy Is Writing A Book!

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My hound Lucy looks twice as focused as this dog when she spots a fly!

 

 

I’ve written before about my writing envy

And while I’d love to rhapsodize how much brilliant writing inspires me to better my craftor exclaim how thrilled I was when my friend’s debut novel hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I won’t. 

I’ve been reading such incredible books and blogs lately. When I looked at my Seroquel belly this morning, it was a rippling, verdant hue. 🙂 

During the years I was mired in bipolar depression, I couldn’t care less about others’ writing because I no longer felt human. I abandoned the freelance writing relationships I had nurtured, but what hurt the most was that my writing identity vanished.

When I had the great fortune to find a psychiatrist who suggested an “out-of-thebox” medication, my depression lifted. In late 2013 I resumed writing and began blogging. And I remembered someone I used to be friends with in junior high named Aimee Bender.  

We weren’t very close, but we shared a mutual love for books. On a whim, I sent a photograph of us to my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle. A couple months later, L’Engle mailed me a postcard with a picture of the Milky Way. (A fitting image to represent the author of A Wrinkle In Time.) L’Engle wrote few lines thanking me, and added, “I always enjoy seeing what my readers look like.” I treasure her postcard and keep it near my laptop.

Toward the end of junior high, Aimee and I lost touch. Thank God no drama was involved in our parting – we simply went our separate ways and I wished her well. 

In 2011 Aimee’s book The Girl in the Flammable Skirt was published, and it received rave reviews along with the Los Angeles Times best seller status. I bought it and while I found the book unique, it didn’t wasn’t my taste. I was envious of Aimee’s success, but it was a fleeting feeling. 

Recently I checked the internet to find out about Aimee’s most recent book. Her writing career is nothing short of amazing: a prolific output of books, heaps of awards, a book made into a film, a cult following, fancy teaching positions, healthy twins at age 43, a relatively good-sounding marriage, etc. The one thing she didn’t seem to have was a severe mental illness.  That’s the day I knew it was time to stop following her accomplishments! 

My literary envy is often triggered when I can’t put down a compelling book that’s so beautifully written it makes me wish I had written it. I finished such a memoir last night. As with any intense, engaging book I immerse myself in, I was sad to reach the last page. 

To Have Not is about the author’s life growing up poor in San Francisco. It was written by my upcoming Catamaran Writing Conference instructor Frances Lefkowtiz. To Have Not is an unforgettable, lyrically written memoir.

You could say that I’m a wee bit envious of the gifted Lefkowtiz. 

Gulp.

Despite the intimidation I’ll feel in the presence of this accomplished writer, I’d rather have a fantastic nonfiction instructor than a mediocre one.  More than anything, I’m incredibly grateful that I won the fellowship award to attend her class.

What helps me grapple with my nasty emerald bits is reading insightful posts by those who expose their writing jealousy. Today I found a refreshingly honest post about this very topic! Acclaimed author Robin Black reveals the not-so-nice parts of herself after her writer friends hit the literary lotto. Interestingly, Black discusses how bestselling authors possess cases of the envies just like the neophytes do. She includes original advice on how to handle waves of envy, and trust me, her post is definitely worth the read.

Happily, I didn’t get consumed with jealousy over Robin Black’s talent. Well, I wouldn’t mind having one or two of the achievements listed on her bio; they’re nothing major, really…I mean, being published in small rags like the New York Times Magazine and receiving several major grants is not that big a deal.  

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/green-eyed-writer-literary-envy

On a separate note, you might be wondering about my collie Lucy’s blossoming writing career. Well, being a goofball, I thought I’d touch upon another phenomenon that freaks me out: the fact that almost everyone I encounter is writing a book, even my beloved beast.

With her two furry paws bursting with creativity, Miss Lucy has already amassed 80,000 words about her life. 

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With the enormous amount of books being published annually, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of adding my book to the mix. Will Birth of a New Brain truly help anyone or is it primarily a quest to massage my ego? 

Although I believe these are totally normal thoughts, I must kick them to the curb.

I can reflect upon this gem of a mood booster: 

If books such as Reusing Old Graves, Why Cats Paint, Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (Arch Books – Quality Religious Books for Children), Make Your Own Sex Toys, The Bitch Who Forgot Birthdays, and the page turner Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns can be published, then my book has a place in our world!

I remind myself that my book will be a worthwhile read. I’m writing for a niche market, with absolutely no aspirations of having it become a bestseller. Madeleine L’Engle said, “You must write the book that wants to be written…” and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

So what if there are trillions of books out in the world?

It’s okay.

So what if  countless writers possess such off-the-hook talent that I feel odious by comparison?

It’s okay.

It’s not easy being green, but at least I’m not alone…

* Lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate (an MAOI, which stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor)

 

 

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 Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

My Seroquel Spider Belly, Memoirstipation & Buh-Bye!

(TW – Seemingly superficial topics but please read this anyway!)

Happy Thursday, my friends!

It has been over a month since my last 25 mg Seroquel pill. I’ve been able to get to sleep without medication again, which is cause for celebration! I first started taking quetiapine, the generic version of Seroquel, in 2013 for for severe, agitated insomnia. It has been an enormous help, but it was time to taper off it because I wasn’t happy with my chronic daytime grogginess. I wanted to see if I could live and sleep comfortably without the med, and my pdoc gave me his blessing to go for it.

I think I’m getting the medication out of my system. Who knows for sure, but I don’t feel an icky withdrawal sensation anymore. I stopped belting out the Seroquel Blues song. The only Seroquel-related bummer that remains is this:
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Ever since I started taking Seroquel, my stomach took on a very high concentration of fat glorious adipose tissue. I’ve never had this style of weight gain happen before except when I was pregnant. There’s no way I’m growing a Frankenbaby, but I look about four months pregnant and that feels very disconcerting.

I’ve been ruminating about the villain Typhon Cutter from my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s book The Arm of the Starfish. L’Engle writes, “Typhon Cutter looked even more like a spider than Adam remembered. It seemed incredible that this obese mass with the stringy appendages could possibly be father to the beautiful girl at his side.”

While I’m not obese (at 5’6″, I’m 152 pounds of pure bipolar goodness) my metabolism has obviously been affected adversely by the powerful drug. 152 pounds would be perfectly acceptable except for this quadruple muffin top hanging out of my stretched-out jeans. Due to my twisted Los Angeles upbringing, I don’t breathe well because I have an awful habit of sucking in my stomach. 

The bottom line is that I feel gross and unhealthy despite my consistent Dr. Alsuwaidan-style * workouts. I’m a former A.C.E.-certified personal trainer and I know the most important thing I need to do aside from discuss this in therapy. I need to eat much healthier foods than what I’m currently inhaling. However, I haven’t hit that lovely rock-bottom point that motivates profound, lasting change.

My weight gain certainly hasn’t been all Seroquel’s fault. I have a fierce gelato addiction. There are so many damn delicious gelatos and a myriad of Willy Wonka-esque, enticing flavors available. (Bourbon caramel chocolate, anyone?Ahhh!) Check out https://ciaobellagelato.com)

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It’s just not right. But I’m working on this issue because I want more energy.

I’ve lost bipolar med weight before. I did it in a healthy way, mind you! No starving for this foodie chick. 60 pounds worth! The equivalent of a five-year-old child was lost from my frame, which is pretty freaky. But my weight problem wasn’t connected with Seroquel and I think the 10-15 pounds I’d like to lose now will be tougher due to whatever Seroquel did to my metabolism. So we shall see, and I’ll keep you posted.

In book writing news, it’s sucking heavily, my dears.  My publisher doesn’t read this blog, and even if someone there did read it, I’m not worried. At least I have my book’s 200 page “skeleton” written. (Thanks, Natalie Goldberg, for planting your Writing Down the Bones idea into my brain twenty nine years ago!) However, a humongous amount of work is still in order. 

Due to our family’s summer schedule and my malaise, I haven’t written much. I’ve been constipated in terms of writing. I’ve coined the silly term “memoirstipation” because as far as I know, no one else has coined it, so I’m claiming it now. Gotta clear out the pipes! At least my manuscript deadline is motivating me to complete this project. The main reason why I sent out the proposal was actually to be given a deadline and pressure! It’s a mixed blessing, especially when I wake up at 4:00 a.m. freaking out about it.

I have the Catamaran Writers Conference coming up in August as another way that will require me to get my act together. The feedback will be invaluable – I know that I’m going to get 99.9% criticism and that’s okay. I’ll bring a extra-large box of tissues. 😉

Perhaps as I lose a bit of the Seroquel belly, I’ll feel more fired up to write. 

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This is not end-of-the-world stuff, and yes, it’s a first-world problem, but nevertheless I’d like to say buh-bye to my Seroquel belly!

And speaking of buh-bye’s, I found a clip on YouTube that made me laugh. You might not think it’s as hilarious as I do since I was raised in L.A., but it’s fun to watch such an awkward spectacle. Stay with it for the Betty White/Bradley Cooper moment if nothing else. Keep in mind lots of Angelenos like to explain in boring, ludicrous detail the tedious routes they drive. Here’s a summary:

The Californians (Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Laraine Newman, Kenan Thompson, Betty White, Taylor Swift) reunite and get some surprising news about their pool boy Craig (Bradley Cooper – I’m not quite sure what he was on in this skit). Plus, David Spade (reprising his role as the original Buh-Bye Man) and Cecily Strong bring the sketch to an abrupt end.

THE CALIFORNIANS – SNL 40th SPECIAL “BUH-BYE”

I grew up in West L.A., and this is how people really talk there…and it’s true, lots of them primp in the mirror every two minutes. See you next week, lovies!

Dyane

* This is what I do every day & it totally helps my mood, no matter how chunky my belly is! 

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

I Love Having My Writing Rejected…

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Trigger Warning: Potty talk and scary photo

Not! 😉

I don’t like having my writing rejected!

My skin is getting a little bit thicker; it is, I swear. The encouragement I received after publishing my last rejection-themed post really helped give me an attitude adjustment. However, I still have room for improvement.

Case in point: Rejection #1

Yesterday I had a ridiculous hissy fit and it wasn’t pretty!

Two months ago I submitted a poem to our conservative mountain town’s annual poetry contest/public reading. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.  I used to work for another Friends of the Library organization, and I was also library clerk, so libraries hold a special place in my heart.  

Ellen Bass, one of our local big shot bestselling authors (The Courage to Heal), judged the entries. This year’s theme was “What Have You Lost?” My “Out in the Milkweed” entry delineates what I’ve lost due to bipolar disorder.  My poem reveals that I’m in recovery, so it’s optimistic. “Out in the Milkweed” doesn’t contain anything inappropriate (i.e. detailed accounts of suicide or cutting) for a public reading. It’s vanilla.

When I discovered last night that I was a big, ‘ol loser, I morphed into this:

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I spewed vitriol right, left and upside down as Craig watched me with raised eyebrows.

I made sure our kids were out of range as I ranted, “Ellen Bass is a fucking bitch! A snob!  I bet this rejection is about stigma towards those with mental illness!!!  A lot of people liked my poem! She could’ve accepted it, even as a “mercy yes” if she thought it was shitty! This small-minded, closeted community needs mental illness discussed in public and I could’ve done that!  I bet no one else contributed a poem about bipolar! I’ve lost all respect for Ellen Bass and the Friends of the Library! Assholes”

Then I sat in front of my laptop and wrote a bitter email to the contest sponsor and cc’d it to Ellen Bass.  I reproached them for their obvious stigma towards bipolar. After I wrote a couple paragraphs, ten-year-old Avi walked in the room and asked me what I was doing. I gave her a quick summary, and that awesome kid said matter-of-factly,

“Mom, c’mon, don’t send it!”

That’s all I needed to hear to shake off my rage, and I immediately deleted the email.  I knew if I sent it, my message about stigma wouldn’t be heard; they’d see it as a sour grapes/sore loser syndrome and lest I forget to add: a “crazy bipolar freak-out”. I’ve burned enough bridges around this town as it is so it’s good Avi was a sweet voice of reason.  

After I calmed down I looked at “Out in the Milkweed” again. Right after I wrote it months ago, I thought the piece was truly good. Upon reviewing it yesterday I knew it wasn’t my best work.   I actually felt embarrassed, since it was waaaaaaay too long and waaaaaay too wordy.  It would have been hard to read “Out in the Milkweed” to an audience based on its clunky sentence structures alone.  

What was the lesson I learned here? (Did I learn anything?) 

That it’s okay to be upset upon learning one’s writing is rejected, but I must limit the sulking time, I can’t fire off any emails written in fury, and I need to move on.  

 Rejection #2

I am proud to say I didn’t flip out upon receiving this rejection last Monday, but I was still really disappointed since it was for the Huffington Post.  Okay, so it’s not the New York Times. However, I don’t mean to sound obnoxious, but if my submission had been published, I know the information would help some readers as the Huffington Post has a large readership.  

Before I pitched them, I received awesome editing help and feedback from a seasoned HuffPo blogger/mentor. After receiving her notes, I spent a considerable amount of time improving the piece. I trust her with all my heart, and she wrote that my piece was good and worthy of publication.  She’s not one to offer praise unless it’s warranted, so when I sent the final pitch and the article, I was feelin’ pretty damn spicy.  I thought I had a chance.

Then I heard nada.

Last October I was profiled in the Huffington Post.  Greg Archer, a regular contributor, included me as an “Inspiring Agent of Change”.*  Archer gave me a ginormous compliment  in noting that my writing had a “smooth creative style…by sharing her vulnerabilities and truths on living with bipolar disorder, she captures attention and wonderfully lures readers into wanting to know more about the illness…this is one to watch.”  As cool an honor as that is, the Huff editors just weren’t into my pitch/article.

Boo hooooooooo!  They are meeeeanannnn monsters!

At least I didn’t become Linda Blair, or eat all the chocolate gelato in the freezer.  I knew that the HuffPo editors probably thought my topic wasn’t broad enough and/or they thought my writing wasn’t that great.  Who knows?  

I remind myself that Madeleine L’Engle recceived 26 rejections for A Wrinkle In Time. While I’m sure as hell not Madeleine L’Engle-caliber, I know I have some worthwhile writing to share. Gotta just carry on and keep the f-bombs to a low roar.  Maybe next time I shoot for the stars and pitch The New York Times.  

I have nothing to lose except my temper.

 

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

Writing with Distractions Without Screaming Like a Banshee

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Name that banshee!

It’s pretty quiet in these parts, and I’m overjoyed to tell you there are no rodent adventures to report.  I haven’t spotted any errant hamsters in the middle of the night, nor have rats taken up residence in my new Schwinn elliptical…yet.  

The past week has been Spring Break for my daughters, which means I lost the luxury of quiet chunks of writing time. So I did my best to pretend that I was one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle. (Ha!  I wish I had .01% of her talent, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Dy & Madeleine #1

Yep, here we are in 1997 – Madeleine L’Engle, me and my double chins!

 

No, what I mean by pretending to be Madeleine L’Engle is that during her many interviews she remarked that she could write almost anywhere, with any distractions.  As a child L’Engle was sent to boarding school in Switzerland where she barely had any privacy, even in the bathroom (!). She learned to ignore distractions while writing in her journals, and she further strengthened her concentration skills as a Broadway actress. L’Engle wrote prolifically backstage, on trains, in hotel lobbies…you name it!  

To write, I need quiet or mellow background music. I recently started listening to classical guitar and like it very much. I also tune into the Snatam Kaur channel on Pandora, but that’s risky as that style of music has the potential to put me to sleep. 

I’m also lucky that Lucy the Writing Muse often sits next to me and places her warm, furry flank on my right foot – it’s the sweetest thing. However, sometimes Lucy is viciously flatulent, but that’s the only downside to her company. 

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We live in a very small house so when my girls are here, I can barely think straight.  They are lively.  Yes, I have some old, crappy headphones. I don’t like wearing them when the kids are around when an argument breaks out or God forbid someone gets hurt.

Right this moment I’m trying my best to drown out “The Littlest Pet Shop” television show that’s blaring ten feet away.  The uber-peppy, high-pitched theme song will surely haunt me the rest of the day.

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I’ve managed to write more of my book “Birth of a Brain” each day despite the distractions.  It’s trippy and difficult work, as I’m chronicling a few of my hospitalizations and that includes some suicide-related material.  I’m not going into a ton of gory details – there are plenty of books that have done that already.  Those books definitely have their place, and I commend any author who re-visits her darkest experiences and writes about it.   I just am not drawn to writing that kind of book.

The advantage to sifting through my thick folders of hospital records, doctor reports, medication notes, etc. is that I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to have “made it”.  I don’t mean to sound smug – I can’t say with absolute certainty that I won’t ever relapse again and darken a unit door. Despite my working my ass off at clean livin’, the fact remains there’s no cure yet. I can work as hard as I can, but fate and my brain might have other plans in store for me.

After hours of reflection during this Spring Break, I still can’t believe that I was never taken outdoors by hospital staff even for a few minutes – yes, that was my experience.  After my last hospitalization, a year or two later I called the unit to ask them why I was kept inside all the time. The woman answered, “You had to get a doctor’s note to go outside.” I was never informed of that policy as an inpatient. I don’t know – it was just fucked up.  Don’t get me started about what the coffee situation was like.

So yeah, I have anxieties, aches and pains, I have “bipolar wrinkles” and white hair. I have belly fat that bugs me despite my working out every day.  But in the writing of my book and in sharing this post with you, I feel a lot better.  Writing can serve as an attitude adjustment, because I’ve been reminded that holy shit, my situation could be a LOT worse!  

On a related note (bear with me – please) aside from Madeleine L’Engle, one of my other favorite bestselling authors is SARK.  The San Francisco-based author and artist has over 2 million books in print, and she has a free “Inspiration Line”.  

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SARK has run this line for over 15 years and I’ve been calling it since it began.  (1-415-546-EPIC)  She changes the message every few months when she feels inspired.  SARK talks for a few minutes and then you can hang up or leave her a message.  Lately she has been VERY inspired as she’s getting married for the first time in her life and she turned 60 last year.  Never say never.

SARK has often closed her inspiration messages with the line “My gift to you is….” She’d come up with all kinds of creative, fanciful “gifts” of ways her callers could appreciate beautiful moments in life in a non-throw-uppy way.  (Yes, that’s a word.)

I explain all that because I want to give you a gift, too.  I can’t come up with anything truly SARK-like, as much as I wish I could. Moreover, I don’t have money I can throw your way, but I want to give you the gift of appreciating something today that you might be taking for granted.   

It doesn’t have to be deep – it can be the kind of soda you’re drinking.  It can be the warm socks you’re wearing.  The purring of your cat.  The CD you’re listening to, or the fact that your internet is working.  

It can be deep too. 

What am I appreciating today? The sunny weather. I love it.  When I suffered with bipolar depression for years at a time, I obsessed about the phrase “The tyranny of a beautiful day”.  I felt like such a failure for hating the gorgeous, sunny days because all I wanted to do was to hide in the darkness beneath my blankets – I wanted to fall asleep forever so I could escape the pain.

Now I want to get dressed and go out into that sunshine.  Today.

I don’t take today for granted, and I never will again.

Love to you all,

Dyane

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/

Anger

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Yep, gonna lose some followers.  I wish them well, and I completely understand if my foul mouth isn’t their cup of tea.  To be honest, “fuck this shit” is a phrase I have said many times, and cursing is a big part of who I am.  I swear like a sailor when the kids aren’t around; well most of the time I make sure they aren’t around.  Unsavory language has gotten me through numerous dicey moments, and it has prevented me from exhibiting dangerous road rage. There have even been impressive studies conducted showing the benefits of swearing! (I’m too lazy to cite them, however, but I believe it!;)

Some of you will be familiar with the famous poem “Children Learn What They Live“.  I grew up with a poster of that poem on the wall in our house.  Over the years I’ve found that Children Learn What They Live  is truer than true.  Both my parents cursed openly, and they were my primary teachers when it came to cussology.  

Last year I listened to a cassette tape that recorded my father playing his violin.  My Dad was a brilliant violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic/Fulbright Award Winner/Juilliard graduate.  While listening to the beginning of the tape I heard him tune up before playing a magnificent composition.  Imagine my reaction when I heard him muttering “Testing, 123, fuck you! Testing, 123, fuck you!” just before launching into a complex masterpiece on his Stradivarius.  Talk about a contrast from one sound to another!

Dad would have definitely liked the profane image of the serene guy flipping the bird gracing the top of this post.  The photo certainly made me laugh.  It felt good to chuckle, and I hope you giggle a bit over it too.  Life is serious enough as it is, and it’s healthy to make light of certain things now and then.

And now, moving right along, I’d like to write a bit about ANGER.

If you’re familiar with my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of my posts have been fueled by my intense anger. I was brought up by a rage-a-holic and an alcoholic.  Ever since I was a baby, I was around physical violence (which I observed; I was not physically abused, thank God.) and I grew up with verbal abuse.  

It makes sense that I too became a rager, and I was verbally abusive to people I loved, although I’ve come a long way in that area.  I’ve rarely been physically violent; the only time I can remember hitting someone happened when I was manic.  I’m surprised I haven’t been more violent considering all the fights I witnessed.  No wonder I have an anxiety problem! 

Anyway, despite some people thinking I’m “so nice”, I’m a very angry person and my anger grew much worse after I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder in 2007.  Writing about my anger helps me.  

The addition of my Lucy puppy has been so good for me – she helps me to diffuse my anger in her magical canine way.  She mellows me out.  My daily workouts on my elliptical, in which I sweat so much I create a giant “butterfly” pattern of sweat on my ratty tank tops, levels out my anger too, but exercise is a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem.  

I’ve examined  my anger with my therapist Tara, but to quote Karen Carpenter, “We’ve only just begun!”  I need to discuss anger more with Tara because it continues to be a dominant part of my personality and I hate it!  (That’s a kind of oxymoron, I know!)

I realize that anger is a normal and healthy part of one’s makeup.  I can’t expect to eradicate anger from my brain.  I just need to bring this rage down a few notches…most likely even more than a few.

When I was young I learned that anger can be a positive trait in one of my all-time favorite books: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.  The protagonist Meg Murry is one very angry teenager.  Her scientist father has mysteriously disappeared and there is “talk” in her village about him.  She’s unattractive compared to her stunner of a genius mom.  To add to the mix, Meg’s little brother won’t talk in school and he’s bullied by a bunch of his classmates.  

While on a search to find her father in another galaxy, Meg is instructed by three pivotal characters to use her anger as a “gift” when she faces the evil IT on the planet of Camazotz. Interestingly, Meg utilizes her anger in a unique, powerful way to overcome evil. 

I wish I could be more Meg-like when it comes to anger management!

What am I so angry about? you may be wondering at this point.  I have a hell of a lot to be grateful for, starting with you, my faithful reader.  I have my health, my family, a roof over my head, ice cream in the freezer.  (A lot of ice cream!)  Since I have all these fantastic blessings, why all the damn anger?

It’s a good question.  

When a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she sometimes feels anger at God for “giving” her the illness, and/or anger at a parent for passing along the genetic predisposition.  I went through a phase in which I was angry at God, but I no longer feel that way.  I believe the reason I relinquished that particular anger is because I’ve reached the beginnings of my recovery over the past year. 

But despite my blessings, the anger still festers.  

It’s based on the fact that most of my family members and friends totally bailed out on me when I relapsed with bipolar depression exactly one year ago.  There’s a lot more to it than that single sentence, of course.  But that’s the gist of it.

In July, 2013, I was hospitalized forty minutes away from home for almost three weeks.  I had slowly, methodically tapered off my bipolar medications for over twelve months prior to my relapse.  At first I was manic, and then I became depressed/suicidal, hence my admission to the hospital’s mental unit.  It was euphemistically named the “Garden Pavilion”.  (Ha!  There was no garden to be seen there – not even a single nice plant or window overlooking a garden!)

In that hospital, I was forgotten.

The thing is…I needed visitors at that hellhole more than anything.  I was the only patient who didn’t have visitors apart from my husband and children.  My sibling, who lives just minutes away from me, didn’t visit me.  My mother didn’t visit me.  My husband’s family didn’t visit me.  My closest friends didn’t visit me.  I didn’t receive any cards, plants, flowers, chocolate, books, phone calls you-name-it.  

I can’t tell you how much this unit sucked. To top things off, I was never taken out into daylight the entire time I was there.  That in itself is enough to make any sane person a little batshit crazy.

Now, some in my circle will totally disagree with me about my perspective about what happened last summer.  In part, I blame our society for its lack of mental health education for people staying the hell away from me.  But I remain baffled about what took place last July.  If I had cancer you can bet your ass I would have had visitors.  

So you can see I’m still really pissed off – my counselor believes I have PTSD from that ordeal – she doesn’t use that term lightly, and I totally agree with her on that point!

The first word that comes to my mind in this moment is “forgiveness”.  

I have to let it go (dammit, “Frozen” ruined that phrase for me!) and forgive my family and friends, but it’s reallllllly hard to let that all go.  I am hoping that time serves as a panacea to this dilemma.

If you were in a loony bin for three weeks and no one visited you or called/sent you a card except your partner, how would you feel?

 

 

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