Black Hairy Tongue, Earthquake Fun & Facing a Fear


My yucky brown tongue & Avi’s healthy pink tongue

Avast, me hearties…yuckier photo ahead!

Greetings, my friends!

It has been an interesting week.

I learned something new, and you’re about to learn it too! Did you know that after one takes antibiotics (in my case, for walking pneumonia) it’s possible to get a case of Black Hairy Tongue? The answer is a resounding yes!

What on earth is Black Hairy Tongue, exactly?

WebMD explains, “The name black hairy tongue may sound scary, but the condition is harmless. Black hairy tongue is caused by bacteria or fungi in the mouth, which make the tongue appear black and hairy. It’s easily remedied by good old-fashioned oral hygiene.” (For more info. visit this WebMD link)

Thank the stars, not all cases are black-colored tongues; I got lucky with a coffee-colored brown one. I could’ve sported this look:


I freely admit my case could’ve been much worse. The above shot is TAME compared to what else lurks out there. My advice: Don’t do a Google image search for “black hairy tongue”, ever. Yowza!

I’m grateful that my black hairy tongue isn’t black nor hairy! When my doctor looked at it she told me that I just need to wait it out for a month. It’s not contagious. There are no medications to take, but it’s a good idea to scrape my tongue after brushing my teeth daily. No problemo.

My yucky tongue experience brought me back to my childhood. I watched the following jingle a zillion times. It’s sung by the actor/singer Scatman Crothers who warns about a different kind of yuck mouth, but it’s so catchy and convincing that I wanted to share it.

Local Earthquake News:

We had a early morning jolt last weekend that freaked me out. At 3.6 on the Richter scale, it was nothing compared to the Loma Prieta quake I lived through back in 1989. (It registered a fearsome, deadly 6.9.) My entire family slept through the 3.6, except for Miss Lucy and yours truly.

There’s something about feeling this particular force of nature that cuts to the core. You’re out of control in a BIG way. It’s unnerving, to say the least. Hearing our house creak and shift wasn’t the way I preferred to spend the crack of dawn. But once again, this is another situation that could’ve been much worse. I was relieved a bigger quake didn’t follow the 3.6!


The epicenter was less than 20 miles away from Chez Harwood

Facing My Festival Fears:

My first “grown-up” job was producing annual large-scale festivals in Silicon Valley for four years. After I left that position, I took a looooooong break from attending any festival, even the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival. I thought I went to enough festivals to last several lifetimes.

Last week I was unexpectedly gifted with tickets to the Redwood Mountain Faire, a local, family-friendly festival that attracts great musicians. It would’ve been rude not to go, so I forced myself. I planned to say hi to my generous friend on their staff, and dash away shortly after that.

Rilla said she’d join me, and I thought she’d also want to leave soon after our arrival. But as fate would have it, she ran into some of her friends, and she begged me to stay all day! (We compromised at four & 1/2 hours.)

The event was well-produced, it was in a beautiful setting, and I had to admit it was fun, especially since I didn’t need to work and deal with angry food vendors, etc. While taking a breather in the shade I chatted with some cool, friendly locals; it turned out they were the parents and grandparents of Rilla’s ballet classmate. The grandma, who used to live on our street decades ago, told me about some fascinating musical history that took place across from our house. (I was flabbergasted, but that’s for another post!) My social anxiety took a backseat for a change.


A festival isn’t a festival without a shaved ice booth!


Rilla caught me in a particularly relaxed moment

Ketogenic Update: I’m still very curious about ketosis because of its purported  beneficial effects upon bipolar symptoms. I sampled a few books about ketogenic nutrition on my Kindle, and Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric C. Westman impressed me the most. I couldn’t resist splurging on it, and I’ll let you know what I think about it soon!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. I appreciate your reading this blog so much! I’ll touch base late next week, and in the meantime, please take good care of yourselves. Happy Summer!

Lots of love, Dyane


p.s. You can still join our Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group on the website/app Lose It! Group member Bradley of Insights From A Bipolar Bear has helped me with his encouragement! I’ve lost 25 pounds of “Serouqel weight” since I began using Lose It!, and let me tell ya, it feels good to carry around less poundage.

If you join us, Bradley & I will encourage you. Why not try it out? I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at and find us under Groups

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

Vlog Ramble & The Ketogenic Diet’s Bipolar Buzz

Once in a blue moon I record a vlog.







After watching mental health advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley’s insightful vlogs yesterday I was fired up to get in front of Photo Booth and yap away.

With my canine muse Lucy by my side, I report on how I haven’t reverted to my daily pint of gelato, and I share my weight loss progress with you. (Hint: I’ve lost the equivalent weight of this massive walleye caught in Washington’s Columbia River!)


Other points I touch upon:

• The ketogenic diet, which purportedly alleviates bipolar disorder symptoms. I ask for your take on this low-carbohydrate/high-protein style of eating.

These two brief articles about ketogenic diets and bipolar disorder are the most credible ones I’ve read so far, but I’m sure there are better ones out there.’s Ketogenic Diet Fights Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Aids Weight Loss

Healthline’s Can A Ketogenic Diet Help Treat Bipolar Disorder?

And there’s more!

You get to watch me say “um” way too many times, lisp, and struggle to turn off Photo Booth.

I hope you find it worthwhile listening to my chatter. 

Thanks so much for stopping by, and take good care of yourselves!




p.s. Weight Loss Memoir of the Week:

Frances Kuffel’s Eating Ice Cream With My Dog: A True Story of Food, Friendship, and Losing Weight…Again


“A wake-up call to anyone who believes that weight management is a quick and easy feat. It’s not. And Frances Kuffel’s greatest gift is a blast of hopeful reality for any brave reader ready to take herself on and honestly face her own food and weight demons.”
-Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery Health Channel, and author of Fight Fat After Forty

I’ve only read the first few pages, but I’m intrigued. While yes, she hooked me in with the dog on the cover, I’ve read Kuffel’s acclaimed book Passing for Thin years ago, and it was good.


p.p.s. Join my Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group on the website/app Lose It! Award-winning blogger Bradley of Insights From A Bipolar Bear is my fellow group member. Bradley’s encouragement has helped me so much!  If you join us, we’ll encourage you. I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at and find us under Groups.


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


My PMAD (Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder) Gets No Respect! Part One



Happy Thursday, my friends!

In the wake of the recent Marianne Williamson “just pray and meditate and love postpartum depression away” sh*tstorm, I’d like to share this post with you again. When I published it seven months ago, I tagged it incorrectly and it didn’t reach many people.

I want this information out there…more now than ever before. Yesterday I was rebuffed by a Very Important Bipolar Advocate who doesn’t think my (arguably) least-known form of bipolar disorder and least-known perinatal mood and anxiety disorder matters.

It matters. 

If you reblog this, you’ll get paid! (in good karma! 😉


Since 2013 I’ve abstained from writing this post because I worried it wouldn’t apply or appeal to most of you, even if you have bipolar disorder.

I finally decided to spill the beans.


Because it feels good, it’s free, and most importantly, there’s the chance this information may be relevant to a reader, maybe even you!

Postpartum bipolar disorder is often ignored or misunderstood by the postpartum and bipolar communities. It helps to know what postpartum bipolar disorder is, exactly, as different definitions are floating around the world.

So here goes – PPBD 101, if you will! 😉

My mood disorder postpartum bipolar disorder (PPBD) is also sometimes referred to as bipolar, peripartum onset in the DSM-5. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association and widely used by psychiatrists to classify mental disorders.) While I’m currently seeking a more recent statistic, in 2008 it was found in the United States that 29 out of 1000 women were affected by postpartum bipolar disorder.*

Here’s what PPBD is not:

PPBD is NOT postpartum depression (PPD or PND) or antenatal (during pregnancy) depression.

PPBD is NOT postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. 

PPBD is NOT postpartum anxiety, postpartum panic, or postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder/PTSD. 

PPBD is NOT postpartum psychosis (PPP).  

It’s important to note that postpartum psychosis and postpartum bipolar disorder often manifest together, but postpartum bipolar disorder is NOT always accompanied by postpartum psychosis. 

To reiterate, the two severe mental illnesses PPP and PPBD are NOT always one and the same!


Unfortunately medical professionals, websites, and articles are misinforming the public about the correct definitions of PPP and PPBD.  

Most of the time PPBD is omitted from lists of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD’s).

This bums me out, especially when these omissions occur on high-traffic websites, which I’ll discuss in Part Two as there’s a twist involved.

Here’s an example of the kinds of errors I encounter:

In order for me to be notified of the latest perinatal mental health research, I created a Google alert for the phrase “postpartum bipolar”. Once in a blue moon I’m alerted about women with PPBD who are profiled in the media, such as this article that popped up last month about an awesome mom named Sarah Hutchison. 

Sarah Hutchinson is someone who fits the PPBD diagnosis bill, and it turns out I know her from my Facebook days.

As cool as journalist Karen Longwell’s “Sarah Hutchison Finds a New Path” article is, the piece contains subtle-yet-erroneous information. Sarah was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2008. Longwell states, “On Mother’s Day, 2010, she was hospitalized and doctors determined she had bipolar disorder, but it was no longer a postpartum illness.”  


Longwell was off the mark. Once a mother is diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder, she has bipolar disorder. The “postpartum” qualifier simply explains when the bipolar disorder was triggered.  

A 2013 CTVNews article that got PPBD right was titled “Baby Pinks? Postpartum Euphoria Can Be As Dangerous as Baby Blues“. It contains an interview with a Toronto-based psychotherapist specializing in postpartum mental health named Maya Hammer.

Regarding postpartum hypomania and mania Hammer remarked, “In many women, the condition eventually clears up. But for others, it’s the beginning of a long battle with postpartum bipolar disorder.” 

“Long battle” is an excellent way to put it. 

I’ve suffered with PPBD since 2007 and until there’s a cure, my battle shall continue. I was so glad to find this article, and I wish there were more mainstream articles published with such accurate information.

I was faced with a more significant error a few weeks ago.

I spoke with a local psychiatrist who told me that he considered postpartum bipolar disorder and postpartum psychosis to be the same.  While postpartum psychosis often presents with manic symptoms, which is what makes this all confusing, it’s not always associated with postpartum bipolar.

In other words, I had postpartum mania, but I wasn’t psychotic. The stack of my hospital records delineating my diagnostic codes and symptoms and behaviors backs that up.

Make any sense? I know it’s confusing.

Despite my nine years of PPBD research, after my exchange with the physician, I grew paranoid about my knowledge, so I consulted a doctor and nurse who have studied perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in depth. I couldn’t believe my luck – within just an hour of my contacting these brilliant, busy women, they emailed me substantive, definitive research material supporting that PPP and PPBD can most definitely be two separate conditions.  

In the DSM-5 there is a peripartum onset specifier with bipolar disorder (pp. 152-153 DSM 5). I was emailed a scan of the DSM-5 pages so I could see it for myself. There is no mention of psychosis in the section which includes peripartum onset of bipolar disorder

After my friends came to my rescue, I felt confident enough to email the doctor. I haven’t received a reply yet.

The fact that even perinatal psychiatrists experts aren’t clear about what postpartum bipolar disorder entails is a major reason why I’m writing my book. Part Two of this blog post will further examine about why any of this really matters.

I’ll explain the Postpartum Progress conundrum and throw in an ode to my high school English teacher – it’s all connected. 

Part Two will be published next Thursday – thanks for reading!!

Have an awesome 4th of July!

take care,



Thanks to my mentor Dr. Walker Karraa and the extraordinary mental health advocate/mom Ann Preston Roselle of Bipolar and Me  for medical research assistance. 

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. 

*Vesga-López O, Blanco C, Keyes K, Olfson M, Grant BF, Hasin DS

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care – gimme some!

imgresI’ve always loved the very sound of the famous Shakespearean line from Macbeth:

“Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.”

Although I have a degree in English literature and I read Macbeth, that was over twenty years ago, so I’ve forgotten most of the play, but not that line.  “No Fear” and “” explained the full meaning of the words very well:

“Here Shakespeare means that sleep ‘knits up’ or secures what has become confused or tangled in our lives. (something that is raveled is tangled confused or knotted) Sleep brings loose ends together. It lets things settle down and smooths out what was giving us problems before we went to sleep.”

Oh wow, I’d kill for sleep like that.  My sleep has been much better since I started taking Seroquel at bedtime, but I often have what I call “Seroquel dreams” which are bizarre, slightly disturbing dreams.

I’m writing this post on my forty-fourth birthday.  I hoped that I’d wake up this morning after a decent’s night sleep, without too many freaky Seroquel dreams.  I was crossing fingers and toes that I’d leap out of bed refreshed and ready to start the day with a nice, sparkly attitude.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and as a result I’m a bit of a zombie.

Our two little girls like to take turns hopping into our bed at ungodly hours.  Time and time again, we lecture them about this, and explain how important it is for Mommy and Daddy to get enough sleep.  They promise us they’ll stop their interruptions, but their promises are made in vain.  We can’t lock them out of our room because our room is connected to theirs and there is no lock.  (Even if we had a lock, it wouldn’t solve the problem.)  When we insist that one or the other girl returns to her own bed, ear-splitting cries ensue and all in all, it’s not a pretty scenario.

It’s not a hopeless situation.  I know they will stop when they turn eighteen.

Meanwhile, besides the girls’ nighttime unpleasantries , my digestive system had unpleasantries of its own.  I had an upset tummy right before bedtime.  Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I mussed up our bed at 2:00 a.m. Yes, me, not either of my children.

T.M.I.  Sorry.  Please forgive me.  (Can I blame my oversharing on my lack of sleep?)

Waking up at 2:00 a.m. scares me, because I know if I don’t go back to sleep, a bipolar mood swing could be triggered.  Like many people with bipolar disorder, I am incredibly sensitive to sleep loss.  I remember back in the early 1980’s my Dad, who also had bipolar, was prescribed sleep deprivation by his U.C.L.A. psychiatrist.  The doctors advised him to use sleep deprivation to lift his depression.  I don’t recall if sleep deprivation worked for Dad, but I know it would be absolutely disastrous for me.

Sleep deprivation actually triggered my bipolar mania.  In 2007, after I went into labor at 9:00 p.m., I didn’t sleep, and I became hypomanic.  Ultimately I became full-blown manic.  I experienced hypergraphia as well.  (Hypergraphia is compulsive writing triggered by changes in brain chemistry.  I’ve blogged about hypergraphia here:

So, at 2:00 a.m. after cleaning up my mess, I was wide awake and I didn’t foresee sleep in my future anytime soon.  After hemming and hawing, I decided to take another 100 mg dose of Seroquel.  I thought that the extra amount would do the trick, although I was hesitant to pop the pill because I didn’t want to be super-groggy the next day.

It didn’t work.

I believe my insomnia culprit was a seemingly innocent cup of extra-strong Columbian coffee that I had a few hours after breakfast.  I grind our coffee beans daily, and yesterday I used a lot more than usual.  Not the smartest move.  I used the usual amount today and I’m hoping tonight is better on all counts.  I think I’ll sleep better as long as I don’t eat all of my velvety chocolate birthday cake and get high on sugar!

Thanks for reading, and please comment about what helps you sleep.

Sweet dreams!