I want to thank my writing mentor Wendy K. Williamson for writing this wonderful review of my book! I only paid her five bucks to do it! 😉
If it wasn’t for Wendy, I don’t know if my book would have been “born!” I’m forever grateful to this intrepid writer for her encouragement, humor, and wisdom.Wendy’s belief that my writing was good enough to share with others truly kept me going.
Be sure to check out her two books I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar (an outstanding memoir that was ahead of its time) and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival (which I wish I had to read in 2007 when I was diagnosed); please follow her blog & Twitter too @bipolarwendy.
Wendy has some amazing blog posts – one of my favorites is her post called “Go Ahead Writer”:
Once again, Wendy, thank you. I’ll always be in your debt unless I win the California SuperLotto Plus jackpot – in that case, I’ll build a writer’s colony and name it the Wendy K. Williamson Center for the Literary Arts. It will have a cafe called “Diner Girl,” a bookstore heavily stocked with her books, and I’ll give you a million dollar stipend! How does that sound? (I wish I could do that!!)
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.
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:
“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 www.loseit.com and find us under Groups.
After my controversial electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) post was published on April Fool’s Day, it received quite a few scathing comments, so I felt some levity was needed today.
Although this post isn’t 100% hoot, nor is it politcally correct, I hope you’ll cut me a little slack for being opprobrious (your new vocabulary word for the day)!
Get ready to Kraken!
Last Thursday afternoon, life got weird.
A couple days after that weird cycle began, I read a fascinating post by blogger Andrea at Bipolar Phoenix Andrea – My Bipolar Life and How I Deal With It that our moon may have been partially responsible.
Andrea’s awesome post explained a lot about what took place during what I’ve come to call The Kraken Lady incident. (The Kraken is a legendary sea monster – for a complete description please visit here.)
Last Thursday afternoon, my life was going well. I received a beautiful gift from my Mom. She sent me a long, flowy green dress, and I tried it on. I usually wear super-grungy, hand-me-down clothes, so it was a novelty to wear something new and clean! In honor of wearing my dress, I put on some makeup and brushed my hair!
I finished getting ready to take Rilla to her ballet class and Avonlea joined us for the ride.
Before running out the door, I checked my email and spotted a message from the acclaimed psychiatrist/Huffington Post blogger Dr. Carly Snyder who shared my postpartum bipolar disorder post on her blog. Dr. Snyder’s email invited me to be a guest on her new radio show this spring.
WOW! I did a little happy dance. That didn’t happen every day!
I was feeling pretty good, something as many of you know I never take for granted.
Although I rarely bring Lucy with me when driving the girls to ballet because she barks in the car, she gave me that look – the look that said, “Mommy (yes, I’m her mom) please take me with you!”
High on my new dress smell, Dr. Snyder’s invite, and the warm feel of spring in the air, I decided to bring Lucy with us for the ten-minute drive up to Boulder Creek.
Little did we know that The Kraken Lady was about to do a major buzz kill!
When arrived at the church where ballet took place, I parked my old Suburu on the street alongside the church. Rilla hopped out of the car to join her best friend who was in her class. Her BFF’s dad would take Rilla home so that Avi and I didn’t have to wait an hour.
Before Avi, Lucy and I left, I got out of my car for a moment. I didn’t see anyone near us, neither human nor animal, so I opened the trunk door so Lucy could get out and briefly stretch her legs.
My sweet Scottish collie walked over to the sidewalk onto a patch of dirt. The corner where she stood was partially covered with a few straggly plants that looked like weeds. Lucy just hung out there – no pee, no poo, nothing. Happy as a clam.
A woman in her late fifties pulled up in a big, shiny white truck and stopped in front of my car.
She looked at me with disdain and said in a nasal tone, “Why is your dog in my flower bed?”
Within five seconds, I went from confident to a quivering, fearful little girl who was caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
I pulled Lucy’s leash so she was next to me and I began apologizing profusely along the lines of “I’m so sorry, I’ll never let it happen again…”and at first I meant it.
Avi sat in the car with all the windows rolled down, and she watched the proceedings with a “What the hell is that lady’s problem?” look on her face.
Of course Lucy didn’t make a peep. And this is a dog who barks like a freak!
I allowed this woman to go off at me for at least five minutes, which is a long, long time. She just wouldn’t stop. I tried to keep my cool, but finally I snapped, and interrupted her mono-sentence with,
“I’ve apologized to you, like twenty times! JESUS!”
At that, clearly satisfied that she upset me to that degree, she drove off in her $50,000 Toyota and pulled into a long driveway, out of sight.
I was shaking. Why on Earth did I allow this stranger to speak to me that way, and for so long? I was allowed to make one mistake. She was obviously not well. Of course I knew I needed to be compassionate to her odd mental state, but still, that’s no excuse for what she did to me.
I thought I had come further in my assertiveness than becoming a puddle of jelly.
The following day I had my standing session with my counselor. She used to take her daughter to ballet on the same street and she had an interaction with another resident. (What a neighborhood, eh?)
My therapist was walking her sweet black lab Luna at the opposite end of the street where I met The Kraken Lady. It was the first time she walked there and she reached a cul-de-sac. At that point, a woman came out and started yelling at the top of her lungs at my therapist about how she couldn’t be there.
My counselor, a stunning blonde German who’s six feet tall, took one look at this person and said in a loud, commanding voice,
“Hold it right there!”
The woman stopped her bellowing.
Then my therapist told her, “You can’t talk to me like that!”
The woman scurried off.
How I wish I said something like that, not just for myself, but as a role model for my girl.
The silver lining to this ridiculous fiasco is that Avi and I drove away thinking of wacky things I could have done in this situation. Avi loved our brainstorm, and while I’d never do any of the following, it felt good to let it out.
Most importantly, I learned my lesson: I’ll never again allow myself to be a verbal doormat to anyone. It’s so passé! When I’m tested again (my therapist said it’s a matter of when, not if!) I’ll let my inner Daenerys Targaryen out and fly!
Things I Wish I Had Done When The Kraken Lady Attacked
NUDITY: Perhaps I could have stopped her yell-fest if I had simply disrobed. Sudden bouts of nudity could potentially throw anyone off guard.
ROMANCE: Ask her out on a date. Licking my lips lasicviously, I could’ve said in a sultry tone, “You know, lady, you’re kind of cute. Wanna go out to Scopazzi’s after I drop off the rug rats and get to know each other?
THE SUPER IMMATURE METHOD: A few weeks ago I took the girls to Bookshop Santa Cruz as a special treat. After they picked up some bestsellers, we walked through the novelties section. They asked for this, and I caved and actually bought it.
I wish I had the container of fake poo with me during my tête-à-tête with The Kraken Lady. As she ranted, I could’ve opened the container, help myself to a bit of “poo” and rub it on my face, explaining “This is my afternoon beauty treatment – my dog Lucy has extraordinary poo and it makes my skin sily smooth! Want some?”
WHEN IN GRATEFUL DEAD COUNTRY….I could’ve started doing a trance dance like this….
THE AMERICAN IDOL AUDITION METHOD: I could’ve burst into song. Here’s a personal favorite:
HOLA! COMO ESTAS, SENORA KRAKEN? There’s my high school Spanish option – I could’ve spoken to her at length in Spanish, and pretend I had no idea what she was saying!
“Tu madre es una vaca!”
ZOO RADIO QUESTIONNAIRE: I could’ve asked her a bunch of absolutely unrelated questions, “Zoo Radio Style”- listen to this for a ridiculous giggle:
MIDSOMER MURDERS: Despite hating murder shows, I’ve become a big fan of the long-running British hit television show Midsomer Murders which first chronicles the investigations of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. I love the way he confidently flashes his police badge at unsuspecting yahoos.
Midsomer Murders inspired this complex idea:
Extensive prep is needed, but it could work. I’d have a very official-looking police “badge” created. In the Case of The Kraken Lady, I would’ve whipped out my badge, showed it to her and said I was investigating a murder near her home and explained that Lucy was my official police dog.
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?:
Shifting from side to side with a perplexed look, I could’ve explained that I had uncontrollable bowel syndrome and crouch down, yelling to Avi to please find me my bucket!
YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD DRUG DEALER HAS ARRIVED!:
Finally, I could’ve offered her two of my emergency Seroquel pills that I carry with me.
Extremely immature? Bad karma magnets?
But apart from healthier activities (therapy, exercise, etc.) I truly believe that sometimes you need to fantasize about doing things like this to let out repressed anger.
Catharsis = good
Actually doing unethical stuff = tempting…but bad. Very bad. 😉
Love to all of you, & I’ll be back next week!
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.
I loved the amazingly helpful feedback I got in the Shot Down By HuffPost!–What Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks post I published on Thursday.
Thanks to all of you for taking time to contribute such thoughtful replies!
Yesterday’s events turned out to be ironic in light of Thursday’s Huffington post rejection – it was so bizarre, in fact, that I couldn’t resist waiting until next Thursday to publish this post!
Yesterday, April Fool’s Day, I
Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head
After a cup of coffee, I sat down to check my email. I noticed a reply from an editor at The Mighty and my heart started to thump a bit faster. My cold palms became sweaty.
A couple weeks ago I submitted a post to The Mighty. It was about my postiive experience with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I knew that due to ECT’s major controversy there was a strong chance it would be rejected, but after doing The Mighty site search I found two posts that only briefly touched upon ECT. There was nothing like my detailed account.
It was worth a try.
Taking a deep breath, I opened up The Mighty email and read,
Thanks for sharing your story! I’m going to pass on publishing this, but I hope you’ll submit again! Let me know if you have any questions.
That inevitable sting of rejection hit my solar plexus. At least it didn’t hurt as much as the other rejections, but it still, in a word, sucked. But this time I wanted to do something different besides simply sulk. The editor offered to answer my questions, so I was going to go for it!. I wrote,
Then I did my best to shake off the ‘ol rejection heebie jeebies and get on with my day. I helped my kids get ready, took them to school, and survived driving among the excessively aggressive parent drivers brandishing coffee mugs as they raced around the school’s parking lot.
I returned home intending to work on my book; I wanted to forget all about The Mighty.
Later on I checked my email and noticed a message from The Huffington Post.
First words that came to my mind?
Ah, shit. Another rejection….great.
I opened it up. It wasn’t a rejection.
They published my ECT post! I submitted the ECT post to Huffington the same day I sent it to The Mighty, as both outlets allow writers to submit previously published posts and sometimes they share content.
I screamed with triumphant glee. Poor Lucy, wondering what the hell was going on, began barking loud enough to wake the dead.
I knew that this ECT article would receive very different feedback than my postpartum bipolar article, and I was right. But I went into this with my eyes open. I’ve been on both sides of the psych fence: I’ve been anti-psychiatry before I became pro-psychiatry.
So I was fully prepared for the anti-psychiatry brigade, the Dr. Peter Breggin groupies, and a bevy of anti-ECT readers to descend and write all kinds of negative comments.
It didn’t matter to me what their comments said.
The bottom line was that I needed to share my truth, my experience.
In grade school I memorized the the Bill of Rights, in which our First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
I treasure my freedom of speech more than ever and I worked hard to get this chance to use it.
So far I’ve only responded to certain comments. There are some seriously out-there comments that are a lost cause when it comes to my trying to explain anything.
I would love it if you could visit this article and see what I’m talking about.
One anti-ECT reader mentions that “bipolar was invented in 1995” and she asked me for a list of all my Dad’s doctors’ names. She also wrote other colorful comments – clearly this was the day’s excitement for her.
I shouldn’t be too glib – these are all human beings after all. I’m just grateful that I don’t need to be in the same room with those who oppose my point of view.
So that was my April Fool’s day – a rejection and acceptance of a hotly controversial subject close to my heart.
Without further adieu, here’s the link, and as long as you don’t tell me that bipolar was invented in 1995, and you’re respectful, I’m fine with your disagreeing with anything in the post!
I’ll see you ’round next Friday, if not sooner, because I had some other really weird, challenging things happen to me within the same twenty-four-hour period – these events brought out the Daenerys Targaryen in me!!!
I can’t wait to share with you what happened!
In the meantime, be well, dear bloggers!
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.
Today’s blog post contains a quiz!
It’s called “Guess Why The Huffington Post Rejected My Submission?”
I’ll tell you some possible answers in advance; I guess that’s cheating, but I’ll make an exception.
I thought the editor passed due to:
a) It should be divided into two posts
b) It rambles
c) The essential oils section
d) Shitty writing
Hell, I don’t know the exact reason why it was rejected. Bloggers aren’t told why their submissions don’t make the cut.
Yesterday when I received The Huffington Post notification email, silly me – I thought my post was published! My heart soared with anticipation, but when I double-clicked the email it read:
Dear Dyane Leshin-Harwood,
We appreciate you taking the time to submit your most recent post. Unfortunately, we are going to pass on it for publication at this time, and will look forward to your next submission.
Thank you very much
Very Mean Huffington Post blog team
I felt anything but hunky dory.
After the high of my first post being published without a hitch, I was bummed. 😦 Rejection is never, never fun – unless you’re a masochist.
I thought that my Setbacks post, at the very least, contained helpful information. Moreover, I was excited that I could take the opportunity to promote two of my fave bloggers: Blahpolar and Kitt O’Malley.
I’ll try again, guys!
But in the meantime….please, a little feedback from you, my friends. I can take it! And I know I need feedback! I’d like my next submission to be a “yes”!
Submission: What Can Help A Mom with Bipolar During Setbacks
After I finally found effective medications for bipolar disorder and became stable, I knew that my stability would eventually be challenged by an awful situation such as illness or the death of a loved one. I fervently hoped that fate would forget to throw a trial my way, but those hopes were in vain.
Last month I was hit with a dilemma that sent me reeling, jeopardizing my hard-won stability. I received the bad news when my girls stood by me. I held my emotions in with all my might so as not to alarm them.
At first I considered my ability to contain myself in front of my kids to be tremendous progress.
From the point I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2007, whenever I became upset, my typical reaction was to express rage. I often got angry around my children instead of taking a time-out. I never laid a hand on my girls, but my behavior was reprehensible. I was a total rageaholic.
I’ll regret the times when I lost my temper in front of my little ones until the day I die.
Fast forward to last month.
After I received the news, my attempt to keep my rage under wraps was just a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem. My anger needed to be released, and when my daughters were gone for the day, I erupted. I didn’t hurt anyone, including myself, but I “went there” to a place I loathe with every fiber of my being.
I raged until I became a monster version of myself. It took me two days for my emotional hangover to dissipate. I was mortified about how I acted. I thought I was doing so much better! My psychiatrist had recently said how well he thought I was doing. My therapist made similar remarks during many of our sessions.
After my setback I felt like a phony imposter. I didn’t contact my psychiatrist because it wasn’t a crisis per se. I thought that meeting with my therapist would be most helpful. (I could’ve called her for an emergency phone session, but I waited for our appointment because I was certain that I wouldn’t “go there” again so soon.)
I knew my therapist would help me process what happened so that I’d react in a healthier way the next time rage descended upon me. We’ve only just begun to work on this issue, and I’ll give an update about what I learn in an upcoming post.
NOTE FROM DYANE – THIS IS WHERE I THINK I SHOULD’VE SPLIT THIS POST INTO PART ONE AND PART TWO.
Aside from therapy, there are people, activities and tools that have helped me during this time. When you face your next challenge, I encourage you to utilize one or more of these options:
1) I connected with an understanding friend and our talk helped me a great deal.
2) I worked out on my elliptical each day for half an hour or I walked outside and got fresh air at the local high school track. Activating my endorphins may have prevented me from spiraling into depression after my setback. I follow the guidelines of the acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan who has studied exercise for mood stability.
Me with my “furry antidepressant”
3) I hung out with my dog Lucy and I hugged her a lot. (She seems to like hugs!)
4) I read a few of my favorite blogs every day. These eloquent writers often mention their own setbacks and how they react to them. Even when the bloggers’ subject matter is disturbing, I’m inspired by courageous bloggers such as Blahpolar and Kitt O’Malley.
5) I read memoirs. I welcome getting lost in the minutiae of another person’s fascinating life. I’m currently reading Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life in Music by Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart.
6) I eat some high quality, snobbylicious organic milk chocolate – I know dark is healthier, but so be it.
7) I use high quality essential oils. Lavender and orange essential oils are two of my favorites; they’re calming and mood elevating, respectively. I worked at the College of the Botanical Healing Arts, an essential oil practitioner college where I studied the efficacy of essential oils for mood. I was taught by one of the world’s essential oil experts, college founder Elizabeth Jones.
To learn how to use essential oils safely, the website altMD is a great resource. I recommend referring to altMD for what I call “The Big Three”: depression, anxiety and insomnia. To learn how to use essential oils safely for depression visit here, for anxiety visit here, and for insomnia visit here.
8) Music. Any music that soothes you, play it…immerse yourself in it. I love listening to music in my car since my family doesn’t share my love for 1980’s rock; I’m sure you have your favorite spot.
80’s Music Forever!
9) Connecting with my girls and husband. Hanging out. Listening to them. Being present with them.
There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that a setback feels like an emotional tsunami. But you will recover from unexpected stumbling blocks. Make sure you have emergency action plans established with the key professionals in your life such as a psychiatrist and/or therapist. Create your own list of activities that make you feel good, healthy and safe.
In her memoir An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison wrote,
We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadness of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this – through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.
To achieve mental stability with bipolar disorder is precious, so do all you can to protect it.
I wish you strength in building your internal sea wall, and resiliency for the times that sadness and overwhelming forces take hold.
Perhaps if I wrote about something related to the subject of this scintillating article I would’ve had success, but no matter.
Now that I’m able to take risks again, I can’t let one “NO” stop me, especially after my The Huffington Post Rejection Saga! If you’re considering taking a risk, I invite you to comment – I’ll cheer you on, free of charge!
In any case, I think my skin has gotten a little bit thicker from this rejection, and that’s good, right?
My new look!
See you next week, and please, take good care of yourselves!
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.
The adage “You can’t believe everything you read” is more true than ever in the internet age. And the saying takes on a whole new meaning when it hits too close to home.
While researching articles about people’s experiences with electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy, I found two posts written by an author — I’ll call her Madame Spuriosa — that alluded to the medication that changed my life: my MAOI.
Her posts contained misleading and/or blatantly inaccurate information about this class of medication. If you’re unfamiliar with MAOI’s and read Madame’s posts, you’d be dissuaded to try this potentially life-changing medication for treatment-resistant bipolar depression.
The experience reminded me how important it is to do your own research about medications and not blindly accept a blog, The Huffington Post or a doctor’s opinion about anything. I was stunned by what the author’s physician said about MAOI’s…I’ll get to that soon.
Simply researching a reputable site can make a profoundly helpful difference.
My doctor and I often use Mayo Clinic and Wikipedia can be very helpful, but of course it’s wise to check several sources & not just reply upon one.
Consider calling your pharmacist if you like him/her (I’ve read some horror stories about pharmacists who could pass for Satan!). Quiz her about your meds during a slow time – don’t call at 5:20 p.m. when there’s a line ten customers deep. Many pharmacists know a great deal, and they like to share their knowledge as long as they don’t have a ton of customers. If you go this route, just ask her if she’s not super-busy when she comes to the phone.
Back to the MAOI Saga….
Months ago I was contacted by a blog reader who, after reading about my experience with MAOI’s, decided to try one because she was resistant to numerous bipolar meds.
Here she shares how much an MAOI helped improve her quality of life:
“I stopped by your blog while trying to find something that worked for my depression, after failing 6 or so meds and wasting 10 years of my life with this unsettling emptiness. I learned about MAOI’s from browsing through your personal struggles. 2 months later on Parnate I think I’m beginning to feel… just fine. I like it. Thank you.”
When I read that comment, I knew my blogging wasn’t some useless hobby, as I’ve been told. It’s one thing to blog about silly things, which I often enjoy doing – it makes me happy, but it’s entirely another matter to be told your post has helped someone you’ve never met.
Here’s another example of MAOI bashing by Dr. Julie Holland, author of Weekends At Bellevue and Moody Bitches.
Dr. Julie Holland’s Moody Bitches is described as “A groundbreaking guide for women of all ages that shows women’s inherent moodiness is a strength, not a weakness”
Here’s an excerpt of my Moody Bitches review:
I enjoyed Dr. Holland’s first book Weekends At Bellevue and I wanted to like this one! I’m pro-medication and pro-psychiatry. I want to promote female psychiatrists whenever I can. Unfortunately I can’t do that with Dr. Holland.
In Moody Bitches Dr. Holland wrote that she was against prescribing MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) without providing ANY convincing reasons behind her statement; once I read that, she lost me as a fan.
An MAOI (Parnate/tranylcypromine) has been a life-changing medication for my treatment-resistant bipolar depression, especially after I combined it with lithium.
Thanks to my psychiatrist (who thought out of the box and went with this “old-school” med combo of the MAOI and lithium) I have a good life. Before my MAOI was added to my lithium, I had no purpose for seven long, horrific years, ever since my bipolar disorder, peripartum onset was triggered in 2007.
(I wrote about how my life changed for the better…)
None of these amazing blessings would’ve taken place if not for my MAOI. So all I can emphasize in this review is that I no longer recommend this doctor’s books to anyone, and I lost every bit of respect for her professional acumen since she dissed MAOI’s.
The following excerpts are from Madame Spuriosa’s posts. I bolded the lines in red that troubled me.
I went for a psychopharmacological consultation and was given three options: MAOI (another class of medication), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I was terrified of ECT and I did not want to deal with the dietary restrictions with the MAOI.
When I read that blurb, this is what came to mind:
I don’t want to deal with a lot of things, like unsightly leg hair, gassiness, not being rich, and road ragers on meth, but if I have to give up some foods and booze in order to no longer be severely depressed, then I’ll gladly deal with those dietary restrictions, no problemo!
Madame’s other post states:
My doctor was calm and cool while he presented my options. The first was to try a different class of medication, pretty much the only medication I had not yet tried…there were dietary issues, such as certain cheeses and chocolate that cannot be consumed. I looked at my doctor with a straight face and told him there was no way I could cut out chocolate. Luckily, he smiled and offered me a second option. (Dyane’s note: Madame opted for ECT rather than try an MAOI.)
When I read that section, I was flabbergasted!!!
You get the idea.
No medication fits everyone – believe me, I know that, and I certainly don’t mean to give anyone false hope about MAOI’s.
But the truth is that lithium and MAOI’s work, and not only do they work, but they work for treatment-resistant bipolar depression remarkably well. Studies done in the ancient 1970’s (the decade I was born) found that MAOI’s seem to work best when combined with lithium.
What I want to emphasize is that MAOI’s dietary restrictions are totally, completely do-able, and they’ll actually make you a healthier person. There are many different lists in circulation of MAOI dietary do’s and don’ts.
While some of those lists mention cutting out or reducing chocolate, I’m here to say that you CAN have chocolate, a.k.a. the most important food in the world. I’m living proof that it’s perfectly safe to eat chocolate and take an MAOI because I’m fairly sure I’m composed of about 90% chocolate.
This is me.
My friends, if you’ve read this far please give yourself an “A+” for being a great blog follower and a kind reader. I appreciate you so much!
You probably can guess that along with postpartum bipolar disorder, I’m going to keep mentioning the existence MAOI’s until the cows come home to…chew their cud, I guess.
Maybe I’ll write a song about it.
End of sermon.
Well, for now. 😉
Unless it’s from the Weekly World News of course!
Have a good Thursday!
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.
Suellene Petersen, Editor-in-Chief of the Press Banner
Suellene joined the Press Banner staff last year and I’ve become a fan. One obvious reason is because Suellene liked my recent Letter to the Editor I sent her last week. (My letter appears at the end of this post.) I also love seeing a woman in this job because female newspaper editors are rare.
I’m excited that Suellene will help me promote our mountain community’s only free support group for women with mood disorders. She’ll feature an article about the “Women with Mood Disorders” support group sometime during May, Mental Health Month.
And now, on to the nitty gritty:
Over the years when I’ve become particularly defrosted about an issue, I’ve taken the opportunity to write a Letter to the Editor to a local paper. I don’t usually write these missives when I’m placid. (The exception is when I’m writing a thank-you letter; those are always fun and easy to write.)
My modus operandi is to write when I’m seething. My blood pressure soars as I pound away at my innocent keyboard, but writing serves as a beautiful catharsis. I always feel better after I’m done.
So is writing a Letter to the Editor free therapy?
I’m sharing some of my favorite letters with you.
One time when I was very peeved I wrote to the acclaimed editor-in-chief/author Greg Archer. Ironically, my hissy fit led to a fantastic friendship and writing mentorship that thrives to this day!
I encourage you to write your own Letter to the Editor. Who knows what might happen? If your letter gets published, I’ll share it in a future blog post!
I’ll start with a shiny, happy letter that was written when I was depressed:
Good Times, February 2011, “Nice ‘Peer’”
Thank you, Gretchen Wegrich, for your excellent article “Peer to Peer” about Mental Health Client Action Network’s incredible array of community services for those suffering with mood disorders (GT 2/11). At age 37, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Last year I founded the Santa Cruz County Chapter of the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Alliance) which offers free, confidential peer support groups for those living with bipolar disorder and/or depression. The way I see it, the more high-quality, safe peer support groups, the better! For more information about DBSA Santa Cruz please visit DBSA’s website, http://www.dbsalliance.org.
Dyane Leshin-Harwood, Santa Cruz
There’s the “I’m Trying to Gain Points with My Husband By Promoting His Book” category:
Good Times, June 2013, “Good Flight”
Thank you so much for writing this fine piece on Craig Harwood’s book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West. It’s cool to know that we had an aviation pioneer in our very own neck of the woods.
Dyane Leshin-Harwood | Santa Cruz
Backstory is needed for the next letter, which was written in 2013:
In 2013, I was in the process of tapering off my bipolar meds. I landed a book deal about living without medication, with a foreword by Dr. Liz Miller. This brilliant woman was featured in Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and she was the first female neurosurgeon in the U.K. Dr. Miller had bipolar disorder, and she lived an entire decade without medications, remaining stable. She was working as a general physician when I connected with her, and doing well. My book deal was with a different publisher than my current one. When I relapsed, I had to back out of my contract with the publisher, and I was hospitalized three times within two months.
There were only two positives to that experience. 1) I fully accepted medication into my life and stopped demonizing it, and 2) This letter led to my finding a kindred spirit friend.
The following letter was written during a fit of manic pique.
Good Times, February 2013, There Are ‘Silver Linings’
For years I have enjoyed Greg Archer’s articles; moreover, I loved his book Shut Up, Skinny Bitches! but I respectfully disagree with his movie review of Silver Linings Playbook. I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2007 just six weeks postpartum. I almost lost my life to this mental illness numerous times, but I am now in remission. (I’ll be explaining how I became well holistically in my book to be published in 2014.) My L.A. Philharmonic violinist father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I witnessed firsthand how bipolar could destroy a family.
Mr. Archer states that actor Bradley Cooper “lacks believability” and is “grating on the nerves.” I felt that Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of a man with bipolar disorder was accurate and heartfelt. I loved this movie; and it made me become a Robert DeNiro fan as well. I hope it wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards! To cope with this stigmatizing mood disorder, I founded the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) of Santa Cruz County, which offers free, peer-run support groups for those suffering from bipolar and/or depression and DBSA also serves as a resource to family members and friends. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dyane Leshin-Harwood, Ben Lomond
Then there’s the Bermuda Triangle region of my brain that doesn’t remember reading the Malibu Times, nor writing a letter to them that follows the Malibu Times article excerpt below!
“Fit to serve, Peak says,” by Knowles Adkisson , Associate Editor of the Malibu Times, July 26, 2012
Last week, Malibu City Councilmember Skylar Peak confirmed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by a doctor at UCLA in early May. Peak attributed the diagnosis to stress caused by personal issues involving his family. Peak said he is currently taking lithium, a common medication used to treat bipolar disorder. Peak said he has no plans to step down or take a leave of absence from the City Council.
When asked if he is currently mentally fit to serve on the City Council, Peak responded, “My answer is absolutely, 100 percent, there’s no question.”Currently, Peak said he is taking 1200 milligrams of lithium per day. Peak said he had never taken prescription medications before he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in early May. Since his diagnosis, he said he has had two separate voluntary one-week stays as part of his treatment at a treatment center in Sedona, Arizona, called the Alternative to Meds Center. In late May, Peak left for a two-week surfing trip to Indonesia, which caused him to miss the May 29 meeting of the City Council.
Malibu Times Editor’s note: The following is a comment from malibutimes.com in response to the article “Fit to serve, Peak says,” July 26, 2012
Malibu Times, August 2012, “Stop the Stigma”
Bravo to Skylar Peak! I commend you so much for being “out” about having bipolar disorder and for asserting that you are mentally fit to serve on the council.
I, too, have bipolar disorder. I am a University of California college graduate, and I’ve been married for over a decade with two remarkable little girls. I founded the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) Chapter of Santa Cruz County, which offers free, peer-run support groups to those with mood disorders.
I’m sure a good part of the Los Angeles population has bipolar disorder and they don’t have the ability to be open about their disorder for many compelling reasons, sadly, mainly due to the social stigma. Many people with bipolar are known to be unusually talented but they are shunned.
Like Skylar, I take lithium. I take 900 mg a day, and I fall within the therapeutic range as far as blood levels go (I used to take 1200). I just wanted to take a little less as long as my blood levels were safe.
If you have bipolar disorder or know someone who does, and you need support, please contact NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and/or DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance).
Be proud of who you are. People with bipolar disorder are no different than those with cancer or diabetes. Stop the stigma!
Dyane Leshin-Harwood, Santa Cruz
And continuing with the anti-stigma campaign in my hometown:
This Letter to the Editor addressed the use of the word “crazy” in response to another resident’s Letter to the Editor. I was very gung-ho when I wrote my two cents; I’ve softened my stance since then, but I stand by what I wrote:
Press Banner, May 10, 2012 “Avoid stigmatizing mental illness”
I agreed with every word of Claudio Sebastian Nobile’s letter to the editor (“Reading stunt sets bad example,” Letters, May 4) until the last sentence, in which Nobile stated “…be more like an adult, not like a crazy person.” I take issue with the word “crazy,” as it perpetuates the stigma of mental illness. A better way to express himself might have been “not like a person with poor judgment.” As the mother of two young girls, I’m teaching them that it is not OK to use the word “crazy,” as it is derogatory. I hope Mr. Nobile, a fellow parent, will act as a good role model to his girls when it comes to using appropriate language and helping our world break the stigma of mood disorders.
Dyane Leshin-Harwood, Ben Lomond
I was happy that the Press Banner chose to publish my letter. I received two comments on their website in response to my letter. One comment was positive, and the other one, submitted by “Crazy Guy” was ignorant and rude. He wrote:
“So now were not supposed to use the word “crazy” too? Add that to the list of forbidden words along with midget, colored, negro, fat,..and all the rest. I’m telling you, the politically correct need to publish a book on the correct words to use every year and which ones we’re not supposed to use.”
“Crazy Guy” indicated a lack of empathy (ya think???) and I felt he demonstrated that he was passive/aggressive by selecting his name to be “Crazy Guy” in the first place. I wrote one final response:
“I know we can’t micromanage all our words – that would be ridiculous. But once mental illness affects you or your family, your life is different. Your viewpoints change. If you have kids – that makes a difference too. I understand where you are coming from, but your anger ruins the effectiveness of your message.”
“Crazy Guy” never responded to me. Quelle surprise!
I realize that the word “crazy” is deeply embedded in our vernacular, and each of us has only so much energy to devote to changing our language habits as well as others’ speech. But if we all chip away a little bit here, and a little there, a sea change can occur.
I’ve taught my daughters that it’s not acceptable for them to use the word “crazy”. I know I’m many things in this life, but crazy is not one of them. It’s just the name of a catchy Seal song (and the classic Patsy Cline song) nothing more, nothing less.
Finally, here’s the slow-the-bleep-down-when-you drive section:
San Lorenzo Valley/Scotts Valley Press Banner, October, 2011
I’m now on Instagram! You can follow me here: birthofanewbrain
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth), will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.