Finding Light Amongst the Darkness


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Jonathan Van Ness, host of the hit series Gay of Thrones 

 

Last week I wrote about my friend who fell and suffered a concussion. Shortly after I published that post, he had two strokes. I just received word that he’s being taken off life support tonight, and I’m in complete shock. I’ve been close with this vibrant, loving, wonderful man for almost a decade. I’ve cared for his grandchildren and he frequently took care of my girls as well. To think of him gone is bizarre. It pisses me off. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met.

I was hoping a miracle would pull him through. I’ve witnessed a health miracle once before in my life. My Dad had a pulmonary embolism and according to his doctors, the blood clot should’ve killed him. When I went to visit my father at St. John’s Health Center, he was attached to various tubes and heavily sedated. I thought there was no way in hell he’d make it out of there alive. To my complete amazement, he pulled through that crisis and lived a couple more years.

So, ever since my friend’s fall, each day I’ve gotten out of bed fervently hoping for a similar miracle, yet filled with dread, wondering if I’d find out that he passed away.

Those of you who have read Birth of a New Brain for a while know that I ruminate on upsetting things more than most people. It has been essential to distract myself from my macabre thoughts with humor and fantasy whenever possible. It’s not so easy to do that, as simple as it sounds.

Have you ever heard of a show called Game of Thrones? 😉

Since its 2011 premiere, I was aware of the HBO series’ massive popularity. Even my favorite singer Neil Finn sings about the show in his catchy song Recluse on the Dizzy Heights album;  Finn’s reference piqued my interest more than anything else:

I make any excuse to stay home
But I can’t do that and I must come back
People that stay at home
Watching a Game of Thrones
And wondering what comes next
Well you can’t do that and you must come back

Recluse by Neil Finn

However, I never felt like taking the plunge to watch Game of Thrones until last week when I ordered the first Thrones disc via Netflix.  After ten minutes of Episode One, I was so grossed out that I screeched like an owl.  I wasn’t hooked, to say the least! I turned off my DVD player with a sigh. (Craig was hanging out with our girls in another room as Thrones ain’t exactly akin to The Wiggles!)

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However, the next day I was mysteriously compelled to watch the rest of the Thrones episode. Weird! I watched the second episode…I wanted more. Like it or not, I was under the Thrones spell. Being impatient for Netflix to bring me yet more Thrones, I thought I might find the third episode for free online, so I Google-searched. I couldn’t find anything that didn’t require payment until this winsome fellow lit up my screen, and, my life:

JONATHAN VAN NESS

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I love JVN…and his hair!

Jonathan is the host of Funny or Die’s super-hit show Gay of Thrones in which he briefly recaps Game of Thrones episodes in his inimitable way. As I watched his first recap I laughed out loud so hard that everyone in the house scurried over to my room to make sure I was okay. My laughing uproariously ’round here is extremely rare, you see. Lucy barked so much that you’d think someone was robbing the house.

Please note: If you think you might be offended by any of the following, please skip the next clip: graphic violence, foul language, marijuana references, Game of Thrones spoilers, poking fun at the gay hairdressing world (but by an authentically gay hairdresser) and many other things I’m sure I’m forgetting to include. I know I’ll lose some followers by sharing my brand of humor, but to be honest, I’ve always loved bawdy, clever comedy. My predilection for the profane is actually a large part of who I am…when it hasn’t been blasted away by bipolar depression.  I’ve kept this aspect of myself under wraps, more or less, until now.

I was hesitant to share this post, but I gotta be me!

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Jonathan’s recaps get better and more far out with each episode! He features hilarious clients/co-stars in his styling chair, some of whom actually appear on Game of Thrones. There’s even a brilliant Princess Bride-esque cameo by George R.R. Martin. Martin wrote the fantasy novels (A Song of Ice and Fire) that the Game of Thrones show is based upon.

Until the next Thrones season arrives, Jonathan is working on other projects apart from his full-time hair design. Today his new podcast Getting Curious will be launched on Maximum Fun about Sunni Shia relations.

Jonathan also collaborates with his friend and client Margaret Cho. You can listen to their podcast on Monsters of Talk hosted by Cho and Jim Short.

Jonathan’s YouTube channel show Gay of Everything premiered last week in which he discusses world events.

In a small-but-inspiring touch of synchronicity, Jonathan works at Sola  Salon Studios which is right near where my beloved Granny lived for many years.

I call that a Good Sign!

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Now that I’ve got that out of my system…(well, for now, anyway!)

Other not-quite-so-exciting news: last week I surprised myself by taking a cold-turkey break from Twitter. I didn’t think I could do it, but I did! Today is day #7, and I don’t miss it very much. I was becoming too wrapped up in Twitter-land, a la Facebook, which some of you will recall I quit because I got unfriended twice in one week.

I didn’t have anything super-negative happen on Twitter, thank God, but I read a few tweets from a postpartum organization I followed & supported & genuinely liked very much. I  was frankly shocked they tweeted them for I found those characters offensive and disappointing. I questioned the organization about it, but they patronized me. My reaction to these unethical, hypocritical tweets told me it was time to take a break.

Despite icky tweets, etc. that are inevitable when using social media, Twitter holds a special place in my heart. I would love to return there in January, but only if I can keep my Twitter use & reactions to a low roar. 😉

Plus Jonathan VanNess is on it, so that’s a big plus: @thegayofthrones

I send each of you a big hug and hopes that you have a holiday (or non-holiday) that surpasses your expectations! (In a most excellent way!)

love,

Dyane

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 2017.

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Resting

This will be a rather short post.

Instead of my typical 1500+ rambling word slush pile, I’m aiming for half of that. It’s good, I guess, because I’m sure you’re busy. Additionally I’ve read that it’s best to keep blog posts around 600 words to attract the most readers. While I’ve completely ignored that dictum, I have no delusions of this becoming a mega-popular blog. 

So…

Last Saturday morning I felt healthy as a horse.

Wait a minute. Why do we silly humans say that phrase?

“Healthy as a horse” comes from a time when health was equated with strength. Presumably, anyone who’s strong is healthy (unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger – hope I don’t offend any A.S. fans!) and in olden times a horse was an excellent example of a large, strong animal.

Therefore, one who hoped to be as “healthy” as a horse was; i.e. to be able to pull one’s own weight, endure rough conditions, and ride all day and night. 

As you know, horses were often used as idioms for other signs of strength or largeness. (You’ll note I’m leaving out a raunchy example.)

There are: 

“Eat like a horse” (which I do) and “Work like a horse” (which I don’t). 

Last Saturday morn it was a sunshiny day, and I was feeling fine and dandy and equine-ish. I had fun recording my vlog with Miss Lucy. Together we conjured up names for phantom Big Pharma meds. The post received some creative replies that were a hoot! You can read it here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/new-contest-your-suggestions-for-big-pharma-med-names/

But then, woe was me. That same evening I went from being healthy as a horse to sick as a…I don’t want to write “dog” because that has been overdone and my dog is very healthy, knock on wood, thank you very much! – how about sick as Donald Trump?!

I was befallen by my first creeping crud cold of the fall season. I usually get a cold each Halloween. (That’s a big bummer since Halloween is my favorite day of the year.) But I got my cold early and I’ve felt inhuman for the past three days.

I’m coming out of the snot/cough-fest now, but I’m wiped out.

Because of that, I’m resting. Ahhh yes.

I’m so grateful I’ve been able to rest.

Thank God Craig drove the kids to school the past two mornings to help me out. I call the elementary school parking lot the 10th Circle of Dante’s Inferno; it’s where the other parent drivers are off-the-hook rude/aggressive/mean/zombie-like. If you enter that zone, you need to be on it in terms of driving agility. 

Apart from my cold affecting me, guess who chose last Friday night to go off Seroquel again? (with her psychiatrist’s blessing, of course.) Me! Lucky me!

Here’s an equation to express my current state:

Seroquel withdrawal + a nasty cold = you wouldn’t want to be near me today

Those of us who have bipolar know that things could be MUCH worse. That fact never escapes me. But having a cold, feeling drained, and not being able to take my nightly 15mg “golden handcuff” pill has made me one helluva  whiny baby. To cheer myself up, I’ve been watching some television programs that I want to share with you.

They are:

1) The entire four seasons of BBC’s Scott and Bailey series (This is episode one) This is a show created by women featuring two high-ranking female police detectives in jolly good Manchester, England. Scott and Bailey rocks. This kind of show isn’t usually my cup of tea, but it’s SO good in heaps of ways that I’m hooked! It can be gory, though, so be warned, but it’s not nearly as gross as the U.S. police dramas.

2) Ridiculous pranks that have made my girls laugh incredibly hard – these videos have also served to give us some “educational moments”, i.e., “Girls, don’t do that!” The link to some of that silliness is here

That’s it. I hope you enjoy listening to “Resting”, one of my favorite Tim Finn songs. The New Zealand-born Tim Finn co-founded Split Enz and sang in Crowded House with his brother Neil Finn. “Resting”, from Tim’s solo album Imaginary Kingdom, is a truly soothing song and I love it!

take care, take your vitamin C etc., and I’ll be back next week with a follow-up to the Hawaii post.

Dyane

p.s. On a totally unrelated note, after publishing 300 posts I discovered that if one lists more than 15 tags (including categories) on a post, then the tags won’t work on WordPress. Big whoops! Did all of you know that but me? Well, better late than never, right? Ever since I figured this out I’ve gotten a flurry of followers who were able to find me.

Dyane Leshin-Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press next year.

My Brother-in-Law Died Today

 

This Crowded House song, one of my all-time favorites, is for my brother-in-law of seventeen years. He died at his home earlier this morning, surrounded by his family. He was too young to go. He’ll never hold his first grandchild.

My husband is in shock, as are my children. And me. 

I dedicate the Crowded House song “How Will You Go”, one of my all-time favorite songs, to Don.

 

“How Will You Go”

written by Neil and Tim Finn, performed by Crowded House

Escape is on your mind again
Escape to a far away land
At times it seems there is no end
To long, hard nights of drinking
How will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in
I fell over on the couch again
But you know not all sleep is wasted
The dreams are alcohol inspired
I can’t find a better way to face itHow will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in

And you know I’ll be fine
Just don’t ask me how it’s going
Gimme time, gimme time
‘Cause I want you to see
‘Round the world, ’round the world
Is a tangled up necklace of pearls

How will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in

How will you go?
How will you go?
Drive through the wind and the rain
Cover it up
Cover it up
I’ll find you a shelter to sleep in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Dream It’s Over (My Postpartum Progress Update)

 

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The decision could have gone either way and frankly I was prepared for the worst:

To be ignored…

To be shunned…

To have my deepest concerns minimized…

Some of you who read My Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder Gets No Respect Part One and Part Two know that I contacted Postpartum Progress to ask if they’d include information about postpartum bipolar disorder (now termed “bipolar disorder with peripartum onset” in the DSM-5) on their ginormously popular website.

Postpartum Progress is one of the largest, most influential U.S. nonprofits that assists women living with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD’s) aside from Postpartum Support International. Both PP and PSI are amazing organizations which provide information, encouragement and networking for women living with postpartum mood disorders.

In 2014 Postpartum Progress published my article edited by Cristi Comes about postpartum bipolar disorder. After this article went live, postpartum bipolar disorder was included in a list of PMAD’s on Postpartum Progress’ fundraiser Climb Out of the Darkness page.  

However, postpartum bipolar disorder wasn’t mentioned on the most important website pages defining each PMAD. Some of these page titles include “PMAD’s We Think You Need to Know About”and “FAQ’s” – the very pages that anxious, possibly mentally ill moms scan when they’re in crisis. This information could help mothers  who might have this lesser-known disorder but not be aware of its symptoms.

I had a big problem with this omission and I couldn’t let it go – and believe me, I wanted to forget about it. The way I saw it was this: if you’re going to run a nonprofit for mothers with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, then you need to include every single PMAD in your information pages. It’s not enough to list PPBD in one paragraph and publish my article about it (which is buried among the hundreds of other articles) yet otherwise ignore its existence.

A couple days ago I decided to send a second email to Postpartum Progress as I had sent it almost a month ago but hadn’t heard back. Today I got great news in my email’s in-box from Postpartum Progress founder Katherine Stone. She apologized for not getting back to me sooner, explained they have an extremely small staff (which I knew) and wrote that if I write up something about bipolar disorder, peripartum onset, she’ll be glad to include it on the site. She also mentioned they’re redoing their “Warrior Mom” badges this fall (I explain this in my “Respect” posts) and she promises me there will be a badge for bipolar disorder, peripartum onset! 

(I like the sound of postpartum bipolar disorder better but I need to go with the DSM-5 terminology for Postpartum Progress. )

I was so happy to get Katherine’s email. I knew she was busy as their big Warrior Moms conference had just ended a few days before I sent my first email, and I wrote her that I understood that she or another staffer would need time to get back to me.

BUT…

I had to go with my gut and be a pain in the ass, hence email #2. 

Frankly, I might not have been so caught up with nagging Postpartum Progress to mention PPBD if I wasn’t constantly reminded that my perinatal mood and anxiety disorder doesn’t exist by almost everyone. It gets old real fast! I was pleased and stunned for a minute when I read BP Magazine editor Elizabeth Forbes’ article “Your Particular Slice of Bipolar” in the Summer 2015 issue – she included a “bipolar disorder, peripartum onset” definition. Oh joy!

Sure, I’m writing my book to educate people about postpartum bipolar, but we all know that almost everyone is writing a book these days, including my hound Lucy.

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As much as I’ll promote Birth of a New Brain (and at that point I’m probably going to lose my Seroquel belly from all the effort) it’s likely to get lost in the shuffle of the tribble-like profusion of books published every day. 

Those who can make the biggest impact to educate others about PPBD are established perinatal mental health nonprofits, doctors, hospitals etc. through the internet and other channels. After my book is published and promoted, I’d like to start a nonprofit for mothers with postpartum bipolar disorder.  I’ve worked for no less than three nonprofits and I know a thing or two about the good, the bad and the ugly. I’d really love to do this and we shall see!

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Moving on…(if you want a direct, concise “brevity is the soul of wit”-style post, this blog is not for you! 😉 I’ve noticed some women, including me, rarely get the assistance they deserve unless they get angry at the customer service representative or doctors or what have you. It’s bizarre.

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I’ve fired off emails that are sweet-as-pie and never get a response, but when I’ve sent emails with a subject title such as “I’m extremely disappointed”, “An unhappy fan”, or “I’m furious!” I got a speedy reply! It shouldn’t be like that, but it often is. So I’m glad I didn’t have to get angry (not “bipolar angry”, but simply angry) in this particular situation. I don’t like playing that game one bit. 

I’ve saved the end of this post for my Crowded House Don’t Dream It’s Over speech. If there’s something important to you that you want to do (but you keep putting it off) PLEASE don’t give up. Maybe you’ve attempted this difficult task a few times to no avail. I’m giving you permission this very moment to go easy on yourself about the whole matter, but give whatever it is one more chance. I want you to have your Postpartum Progress moment! Take to heart the words of the great Neil Finn:

“Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win”

 

Thanks for reading, my friends – have a great ‘n groovy weekend!

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Artwork by blogger extraordinaire Blahpolar Diaries – I actually thought this was a coffee mug at first! Can I blame the meds?

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, fingers and eyes crossed, published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016

Mundane, Mysterious and Bloody Acts of Writing

Photo on 2014-09-10 at 11.34 #2Lucy the Canine Muse says hello while I’m writing at my desk

 

Today I reviewed the introduction and chapter one of my book, which I wrote several years ago.

I was totally appalled with certain sections that I used to think were rock-solid.  

I wondered things such as, “What on EARTH was I thinking?”, “Why-oh-why didn’t I see those errors? I have an English degree, dammit!”,  and “Whhaaaaaaat?

Writing is so strange.  If I write a few paragraphs and wait just one day, I always find ways to improve them.  Always.  At the very least I find egregious, embarrassing typos and/or syntax bugaboos.  More often than not I find entire sections that need to be changed or cut.

It’s perplexing, and it raises my blood pressure, but I also find this phenomenon fascinating.

When is a piece of writing done?  The pattern that I describe shows that writing is never truly complete, and that it can always be smoother, wittier, more profound, and even 100% grammatically correct.  The same concept could be applied to any creative pursuit, of course.  

I guess it’s about acceptance of the imperfect, and about setting limits with one’s examination (navel gazing?) of one’s writing.  That sounds simple enough, right?

Oooooh, it’s not simple!  Not for this silly procrastinating perfectionist!

I’ve also been daydreaming about other aspects of writing, i.e. what inspires us to write,  and “the flow” of creativity that descends upon us when we least expect it.

The other day I listened to an interview with Neil Finn, who is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of Crowded House.  Neil was being interviewed about Crowded House’s album “Time On Earth”.  That album holds special meaning for me because some of its songs are about the suicide of Neil’s best friend, a gifted musician named Paul Hester, Crowded House’s drummer.  I met Paul in New Zealand when I flew there to basically stalk Crowded House, and he was charming, kind and funny with me, since I was a nervous wreck.  He reportedly suffered with bipolar disorder.   I write more about Paul and Neil here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/paul-hester-neil-finn/

Neil’s interview closed with his observations of the songwriting process.  He mused,

 “Tapping into the divine inspiration – I have no idea and I never will,  I don’t think…it always seems like it’s harder every time, but it probably isn’t.  It’s probably the same.  The contradiction being in the whole process is that when it happens it’s effortless, and getting to the point of where it’s effortless is an internal struggle, so I don’t know…I don’t understand it.”

http://neilfinn.com/videos/crowded-house/page/11/

As Neil discussed his songwriting I realized that his thoughts about “divine inspiration” applies to writing a book as well as a song.   My ears pricked up when he mentioned “internal struggle”.  I’m not feeling like anything is effortless this morning, nor do I feel graced with divine inspiration, although there’s plenty of internal struggle going on!  (Note to Wendy K. Williamson, bestselling author of I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar, if you’re reading this, I promise not to whine too much in future posts. Well, maybe.)

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Recently the writer Jeff Smith of Higher Trust Marketing shared a Ernest Hemingway quote with me that gave me pause:

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I’m no Hemingway, and I never will be (or aim to be) for that matter!  What I do want is for my writing to be consistently good, insightful, and ultimately helpful to others.  Do I really need to “bleed” in order to do that?  

I hope not.  

I’ve suffered enough, like all of you reading this.  No bleeding, please.  

As some you know, my goal is to finish the draft by my birthday!  At this point the only birthday present I want for the rest of my birthdays is to finish the damn draft! 😉  I’ll keep you posted.

Have a GOOD weekend, dear readers!!!

XOXO
Dyane

 

Paul Hester, January 8, 1959-March 26, 2005

*Content Warning*

Please note that this post contains potentially triggering details about the tragic subject of suicide.  This is the first post I’ve written in over 100 posts of this nature. While I felt hesitant to share these details, the topic is a part of who I am.  Thank you for reading if you choose to do so, and, as always, take care.

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“Don’t stand around, like friends at a funeral…eyes to the ground.  It could have been you.”

Crowded House, “Never Be The Same

March 26th has never been the same for me since 2005, when Paul Hester, one of my favorite musicians in the band Crowded House, committed suicide.  I don’t have it in me to write very much or very well for that matter.  Paul’s suicide is forever etched in my memory, and whenever I remember how he died my heart sinks, for his death hits way too close to home.

The band Crowded House (one of my all-time favorite rock groups) was fortunate to have Paul Hester as the original drummer.  It is very possible that Paul suffered with bipolar disorder although he never confirmed it to the press.  Members of his inner circle knew that he suffered with depression for years, and he was known for his extreme mood swings.  On stage he was a bright light full of humor, and his fans adored him for his ebullient personality.

I met Paul when I traveled by myself to Australia in 1994; we spoke after a Crowded House concert.  I saw firsthand that the international fame he experienced with Crowded House had not changed him into an egotistical monster.  He seemed like a regular guy, a quality that endeared him to his fans because they could sense he was authentic and vulnerable.

In 2005, Paul took his dogs for a walk and hung himself on a tree in a Australian park.  He left behind his two little girls.  He was forty-six-years old.

Months after Paul’s death, my bipolar depression brought me to an all-time low.  My psychiatrist prescribed a medication called Elavil (amitriptyline), a tricyclic antidepressant.  I took one pill.  Just a few hours later I felt indescribably awful.  Words can’t express how bad that time was, for I wanted to take my own life.  Never before had I wanted to hang myself.  However, I eyed my thick, green, bathrobe belt and I felt compelled to wrap it around my neck and jump off our second story deck railing.

Thank God Craig was home.  Thank God.  I went up to him and asked him to drive me to the hospital.  Weeks later, I couldn’t help but wonder why I fixated on asphyxiation when in all the years before the day I took that Elavil pill I knew I would NEVER do that.  Never in that particular way.

The only explanation I could come up with was that Elavil caused a reaction in my brain that drew me to that form of suicide because my musical hero took that route.  In any case, there is a reason for the “black box” featured on all antidepressant brochures warning of possible increased chance of suicide.  While the warning states that it applies to young people, I believe it can apply to a person of any age.

On this day I think of the two daughters Paul left behind.  I have two daughters I almost left behind as well.  I cannot imagine the agony that the Hester daughters have suffered.  I have thought of them over the years since Paul’s death, wishing them as much healing as is possible when one loses a parent to suicide.

March 26 reminds me of how grateful I feel that I didn’t go the same way as Paul.  I can only hope that he’s in a place where he has forgotten his torture.  Paul Hester lives on in this world through his musical legacy.  His family and fans will always remember his warmth, humor and compassion. The cliche is fitting here: gone but not forgotten.

We love you Paul.

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Nick Seymour, Paul Hester, and Neil Finn of Crowded House

Blithe Friday: A Platonic Groupie Adventure

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Recently I’ve declared that I’ll write more about non-bipolar-themed tidbits.  I thought today would be the day that I enact my edict, but I’m not in the mood.  (Oh, we writers with bipolar are so mercurial!)  I am in the mood to write about something a little bit funny, a little bit rock n’ roll.

Please bear with me.

It helps me to remember the funny moments in between the dark ones.  Yes, there were some rather ridiculous happenings that took place during the hypomanic and manic times. Several of these incidents are firmly etched in my brain, and thank goodness ECT didn’t erase them.  Interestingly, they are connected with musicians.

I should state for the record that I am a groupie, although I don’t fit the exact definition in that I don’t aim to sleep with musicians .  I’m a very selective, innocent groupie of semi-obscure rock musicians who hail from New Zealand .  Aside from the Beatles, the band that has had the most influence upon me is of Kiwi origin, and it came into my life when I was thirteen.  A junior high school friend, a gifted musician herself, gave me a cassette tape marked “SPLIT ENZ”.

I listened to this tape incessantly on my tape player and on my Walkman.  (Remember those?) The music was odd but melodic, and the songs dug into my brain and stayed there. The band was co-founded by two best friends, New-Zealand born and bred Tim Finn and Phil Judd.  Tim’s younger brother Neil Finn (who would go on to form the internationally successful band Crowded House) also joined Split Enz.  Crowded House, a mix of Kiwi and Aussie members, became one of my favorite bands too.  I felt that I should be an honorary member of the Finn family.

The only time I had the opportunity to meet the Finn Brothers was was two weeks after the birth of my first child.  The Finns had recorded a beautiful album called “Everyone Is Here” and they were playing in San Francisco.  I had not yet been diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder; that wouldn’t happen until almost two years later.  I hemmed and hawed about whether I would attend the concert.  I had a two-week-old baby who I had been with almost every moment since she was born.  But I knew this would most likely be my only chance to see the Finn Brothers perform and to meet them.

What no one detected at that time was that my latent bipolar disorder had started to emerge, only to recede a few weeks later.  It was triggered due to hormones, genetics, and my losing a full night’s sleep when I went into labor.  I became hypomanic and I had the hallmark signs: increased energy, little sleep, pressurized speech, and other uncharacteristic behaviors.

I finally decided I’d attend the show.  A friend kindly volunteered to accompany me, and she drove us for ninety minutes in the pouring rain.  As soon as we left, I felt massive remorse at leaving my precious cutie.  I was breastfeeding her and I brought along my pump.  I had an agitated feeling of just wanting to get the evening over with and instead of happy anticipation.

The musicians gave the concertgoers their money’s worth and more.  It was a wonderful show, even though Neil Finn told us had a cold.  Trouper that he was, the show went on.  In true freaky fan fashion I brought cards and thoughtful gifts for each Finn.  They both were avid surfers and I brought them each a coffee table-style book about the famous surf break Mavericks.  The gifts and cards were how I expressed my appreciation for the countless hours of their music that I had enjoyed for the past twenty-four years.

After the show I found out where the fans would gather.  There was a designated roped walkway reaching approximately thirty feet from the venue directly to the tour van.  We fans lined up on either side of the ropes for a glimpse of them.  I clutched my cards and gifts and I felt nervous.  Most of all, I missed my baby – I wanted to get the hell home to her – forget these guys after all!  But I needed closure to my pilgrimage.

First sick Neil came out.  I didn’t want to interact with him because I didn’t want to breathe his germs and pass them onto my newborn.  I leaned back and handed him the goodies.  Being the consummate professional that he was, he charmingly thanked me.  It took all  of twenty seconds.

Then it was Tim’s turn to come out.  Tim strode by us and it was clear that he didn’t want to converse with anyone.  I was pissed.  He wasn’t sick!  At least on the outside!  And I had left my baby and come all this way to simply hand him a gift!  This is when my mania kicked in…

I somehow got over the rope and sprinted after him, yelling “GIFT FOR TIM FINN, GIFT FOR TIM FINN!!!” – I just wanted to shove it at him and leave.  My breasts were actually leaking through my shirt at that point, and I wasn’t a happy camper.  Then I heard him mutter, “You’re too much, you’re too much!” (At least he didn’t yell it at me.)  I shoved the gift at him as he jumped into the van, fleeing what I’m sure he thought was a psycho fan.

As we drove back home, I felt let down from these less-than-stellar moments with my musical heroes.  I felt ashamed about what happened with Tim.  Years after this all happened, I realized that Tim nailed it when he remarked I was too much; I was too much, and “too much” is exactly what you could say of manic behavior.  I felt seen by him!

While he has never admitted in public to having bipolar disorder, I’ve wondered if he has it, for some of his songs (His autobiographical “Haul Away”) alluded to his “nervous breakdown” and his “Cruel Black Crow” song depicted his depression.  He has shared in interviews that he suffers from panic attacks.  Mental illness runs in his family – his aunt committed suicide.  New Zealanders are known for being reserved, but her death became public knowledge in the haunting Crowded House song “Hole in the River”.

Tim has been around bipolar disorder for much of his life.  His former best friend Phil Judd was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Tim’s bandmate and close friend Paul Hester committed suicide due to bipolar disorder as well.  It’s so common for musicians to suffer with bipolar disorder.  I know this for a fact from growing up with my own musician father who had bipolar; quite a few of his orchestra colleagues had it as well.

Well, this isn’t the goofy, lighthearted post I meant it to be, but I am glad I wrote it all the same.  I do look back at that moment when I ran after Tim Finn yelling “GIFT FOR TIM FINN!” as pretty funny.  You could say my behavior was as “Bold As Brass”, a classic Split Enz song penned by none other but the great Tim Finn.