My Name is Dyane, and I’m a Puppyholic

I probably shouldn’t jest about a term that ends in “holic”, so I hope I don’t offend anyone.  

If you’re taken aback, please pardon me.  I’m under Lucy’s spell.  

Here’s item #1 to support my claim, the video “Dy & Lucy”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB8cXH8xeko

I actually had the audacity (and/or foolishness) of posting that video on my Facebook page.  You know you’re in puppy love when you don’t care too much that you’re posting a video clip in which you rolled out of bed, you haven’t brushed your hair, you didn’t put on a stitch of makeup, and hmmm, when was that last shower?  Plus you look a little bit…crazed. (As much as I loathe the word “crazy”, I do look a bit wacked out in my glazed eyes.)  

But it’s all good, you see?

Because it’s all about Lucy!

At the ripe age of forty-four, I forgot all about the experience of puppy bliss.  (I also forgot about the house training, but nothing’s perfect!)  The last time I cared for a puppy was twenty-four years ago, in which Tara (Lucy’s great aunt) came into my life.  

Tara’s mother, a Sheltie/wolf mix, had to have a Cesarian section, and I witnessed my puppy being born.  Tara almost didn’t make it.  I viewed her birth through a window at the animal hospital, and the veterinarian repeatedly lifted Tara up and down to clear out her lungs.  I remember feeling such a rush of joy when I was told she would live.  Tara was a fabulous dog in all sorts of ways, and when she died in my arms a few years ago I already struggled with bipolar depression.  When she left me, I sank even deeper in despair.

The fact that Tara lives on through our Lucy moves me.  It feels right.  We put off having a dog for years due to the severity of my mental illness.  Now that I’ve been stable for a while, it’s an opportune time to embark on this journey.  

It’s nice to focus on such a loving, trusting and joyful small creature.  

Being in the garden today with Lucy is the antithesis to being stuck in a mental hospital with nothing except strangers, pills, and misery.  I can’t help but make the comparison between those two experiences – the thought arrives without warning.  I imagine my feeling is related to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); I’m not sure if those intrusive thoughts will ever disappear.  

What matters more than the trauma of hospitalization is that I made it through those suicidal periods.  While I wasn’t magically healed after my last hospital discharge, over time I got much better.  I’m back to trusting my own brain again.  I’m grateful that as I type this last paragraph, I spot little Lucy edging up to me with the beauty of her affection, and I can scoop her up and savor her warmth with every fiber of my being.

Amazing cuteAmazing cute two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The End of the Day” – Singing My Song About Bipolar Disorder

Aside

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For the past twenty years I’ve been a closet songwriter.  During my first year attending the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), I was a regular at open mike night and I belonged to UCSC’s Concert Choir.  Our final concert was an exotic piece sung in the Esperanto language with an Indonesian gamelan orchestra.  I loved all kinds of music, and I still do!

I wrote the song “The End of the Day” when I was in solitary confinement for four hours in the hospital’s mental health unit.  That unforgettable censure took place during my first hospitalization.  Why was I put in solitary?  You’ll have to buy the book! 😉  Anyway, it was October, 2007, just a couple months after my second daughter was born.  I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder during my stay at the unit.

In solitary I practiced my song at the top of my lungs.  To my surprise, the unpadded room actually had excellent acoustics!  I remember one of my fellow patients could hear me through the wall and he yelled “Great job!” Another patient shouted something not quite as complementary, but I didn’t care –  I was manic, so I was immune to his criticism.  I sang most of the Beatles catalogue, as well as every Crowded House song I knew.  I couldn’t believe that I remembered all the words, as I usually didn’t have a good memory.  Mania activated a part of my brain that recollected lyrics.

In the accompanying PhotoBooth clip which I recorded last year, I introduce my song and then sing part of it.  I apologize because I’m off-key for half of it, and I’m nervous. Please forgive me.  I recorded “The End of the Day” when I was doing my grand experiment of tapering off my bipolar medication.  It was difficult for me to watch this clip today and revisit that time.  When I sang the song back then, it seemed like I had a shot at living med-free.  I was acting fairly stable.  I had no idea that going off my meds would backfire in the worst possible way.  I wound up relapsing so severely that not only was I hospitalized three times during the subsequent summer, I asked for bilateral electroshock. (ECT)  It was a long, long road back to recovery and took almost half a year.  I’ll be writing more about what influenced me to make the decision to taper off meds soon.

For now, I’m going to keep popping my pink & white pills, be with my family and friends, exercise, be grateful, and write.  I’m going to work on cutting down on sugar, which is unfortunately still my nemesis. At the end of the day, that’s all I can do!

The End of the Day

by Dyane Harwood

I have an illness in my head, I have an illness in my head

And it seems…I go to extremes

And everyone wants me to do it, everyone wants me to do what they say

Although I have my own way….

I don’t know, but I do care

At the end of the day

You can call me crazy and I’ll agree

At the end of the day

I know I’ll be okay

I have two little girls, I have two little girls

I miss them more than words can ever say

It has been five long days, it has been five long days

since I was with them all day…and night, yeah

I don’t know, but I do care

At the end of the day

You can call me crazy and I’ll agree

At the end of the day

I know I’ll be okay

You know I do see how this frustrates you

But I ask you, have you ever been in my shoes?

Have you ever had bipolar too?

‘Cause I do, and now I know what to do…