I Miss You Dad


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Dad

I dedicate these beautiful lyrics to my best friend on the other side, Richard David Leshin, who died January 6th, 2009.

p.s. Dad, I know you’re reading this. I’m gonna kick your ass when I see you again for leaving us way too soon. I’m sorry I missed your funeral, but I wanted to join you wherever you wound up going, you see?

I had to admit myself yet again, but you know that too, don’t you. That place had shit food by the way – no homemade pesto or grilled swordfish, or, God forbid, red wine.

The pain of losing you will never go away in my lifetime, but I can finally live with it now.  Your death almost destroyed me.  Bipolar depression almost destroyed me, but I made it.

I made it.

I love you.

your “little Dyane”

La Historia de un Sueño

 Sorry I came without calling first
This is not the time or place
But I had to tell you
That in heaven, it’s not too bad
Tomorrow you won’t remember
“It was only a dream,” you’ll tell yourself
And my reply will be in the form of a shooting star

Now you’d better get some rest
Let me tuck you in like I did years ago
Do you remember when I used to sing you to sleep?
They only let me come,
Enter your dreams to see you
It’s just, that on that sad night
I couldn’t tell you goodbye

And when it was time for me to go
To that land of peace
I just wanted to tell you goodbye,
Give you a kiss and see you one more time.
I promise you, you’ll be happy
So put on that beautiful smile

And like that, only like that
Do I want to remember you
Like that, like before,
Like that, looking forward
Like that,
You made my life better
Like that

And now I anoint you
Only you will continue our journey
Well, it’s getting late
I have to leave now
In a few seconds you’ll wake up.

This is a loose translation of the song “La Historia de un Sueño” by La Oreja de Van Gogh. I want to thank Michelle Mendoza Ward for sharing this song in her blog SuperMom Mentality; the post is:  http://theearthquakers.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/the-story-of-a-dream/

Dyane & Dad 002I was eight months pregnant with my first daughter Avonlea 

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Bipolar Books I Recommend – I Mean Books About Bipolar! ;) – Part One

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Today it’s truly raining cats and dogs and I’m using my Sunbox to cope with the gloomy weather.  Some of you are rain-lovers, I’m sure, but not this born-in-sunny-Los Angeles gal.  There is nothing quite like a rainy day that is so ideal for staying home to be warm and cozy, and of course read a good book.  Reading on a rainy day is my nirvana, well that, and being in Hawaii when I am not depressed!  For more about my Hawaii trip please read one of my favorite posts:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/hell-in-paradise-part-one/

Now, I am a voracious reader; even when I am depressed I devour books.  I have read all the “biggie” bipolar books.  I’m sure you have heard of some of these: Dr Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, Teri Cheney’s Manic and The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing up Bipolar, Marya Hornbacher’s Madness: A Bipolar Life and many more books.  I’m always on the lookout for more good books about living with bipolar, and I’ve noticed a surge in the overall amount of books published about this topic literally almost every single day.  I discovered this fact while I was using Amazon.com to conduct book searches for bipolar books.  Once I found the main bipolar category, I selected to sort it for “most recently published” books. (I’m making it sound harder than it is – this takes all of thirty seconds to do.)  This search is a pretty amazing feature and one can see which books will be published in the future – even a year or two from now.

I read some of these books post-bilateral electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) so I have a better recollection of what they cover.  Other books on my list are ones that I read years ago, and I don’t remember much about them except whether or not I really liked the book.  I wish I could recall all the juicy little details, but alas, that’s not meant to be. Most of these books are very reasonably priced for my Kindle, which I love.  An added bonus to having a Kindle is that you can sample the book for free before you purchase it, which is a fantastic option.  I’m sure that some of these books can be requested for purchase through your local library, or perhaps your library already has the book available to loan.

Haldol and Hyacinths by Melody Moezzi

Melody is an amazing writer and mental health advocate.  Her memoir is truly unique as she is an Iranian-Muslim-American with a spicy sense of humor.  I read her blog religiously on BP (Bipolar) Magazine’s website (www.bphope.com) and Moezzi’s book is absolutely fascinating.  I gave it a five star review on Amazon and here is what I wrote:

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Moezzi’s work.  I knew that Haldol and Hyacinths would not fail to disappoint me.  I was 100% right!  Moezzi’s sharp-as-nails writing takes you in from the very first page, and her brilliance shines through her narrative.  I could use every superlative I know to recommend this book, but in the interest of space here, I won’t.  All I can say is that if you have bipolar disorder or know someone who does, this book is a must-read.  And if you aren’t touched by this particular brand of mental illness, I say read it anyway, because the story ends in hope and it’s totally fascinating.  You will definitely learn things you did not know about, not just about bipolar disorder, but about Iranian Muslim culture, that I found made this bipolar memoir stand apart from the numerous bipolar memoirs available these days.  I honestly could not put it down once I started reading it, even though I was vacationing in gorgeous Kona, Hawaii and there were numerous activities beckoning to me – it was that good!”

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So Far by Cristina Negron

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Here’s the five star Amazon review I wrote for this book:

“I love reading juicy memoirs – the more disturbing, the better, as long as the author includes some redemptive themes so the book is not a total soul-sucking experience!  Yesterday I finished reading So Far by Cristina Negron, a former Rodale editor married to Amby Burfoot, longtime editor of “Runner’s World” and a winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.  This book was published last fall.  Negron’s title appeared on my Kindle during a general search I selected for recently published bipolar-themed books.  I like to see what’s up-and-coming in the bipolar book world, and it never ceases to amaze me what people write and publish. The phrase “it takes all kinds” comes to mind…I was intrigued by this book as it was clear in its brief description that running plays a central theme in the story.  I used to be a long-distance runner in high school and I kept running in my 20’s.  I subscribed to Runner’s World and ran 10 kilometer races.  I’ve always believed that running consistently delayed the onset of my clinical depression and bipolar.  Negron’s book is well-written and very inspiring. While I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll mention briefly that she discusses her large Mexican-American family at length.  She reveals truly heartbreaking situations in connection with these relatives.

I found it refreshing that the topic of bipolar disorder did not dominate the story.  Yes, a bipolar disorder diagnosis played a pivotal role in her life and in the book.  However, Negron wove different elements throughout the narrative that gave her story depth.  Her writing style allowed the reader to have breaks, per se, from the highly sobering sections in a finely wrought fashion.  After I finished the last page, I knew that certain members of Negron’s family would stay with me, especially the ones who were extraordinarily brave.  Whenever I complete a book that has been the proverbial “can’t put down” type, I feel a void in releasing a world I have immersed myself in so intensely.  I felt that way with So Far.”

Moorestorms: A Guide For The Bipolar Parent by Rebecca Moore

After I bought Rebecca Moore’s book I discovered her insightful blog “Moorestorms” (www.moorestorms.wordpress.com)  I gave five stars to Ms. Moore’s moving book Moorestorms: A Guide For The Bipolar Parent.

“The book was a fast, moving read filled with tons of helpful information.  Reading Moorestorms was like sitting down with a good friend to learn about what it’s like to live with this illness, and how to live a better life in spite of its damage.  As Moore is the parent of seven children, she has learned an enormous deal about how to be the best parent she can be and shares this knowledge with her readers.  I wish I had this book a long time ago when my two kids were young, as it would have made me feel less alone with my struggles and it would have given me practical pointers as well.  The author bares her soul throughout the book. She never condescends to the reader like some “bipolar experts” do in their tomes. I highly recommend it.”

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Will I Ever Be The Same Again: Transforming the Face of ECT (Shock Therapy) by Carol Kivler

Carol and I have communicated via her blog for Esperanza the Anxiety and Depression Magazine website (www.hopetocope.com).  She is a wonderful, inspiring woman.  Long before I exchanged emails with her, I purchased her book about ECT and found it very useful.  I had ECT done for bipolar depression while Carol had it done for major depression.  Here is the Amazon.com description of her book:

Blessed with a loving family, a successful business as an executive coach and money in the bank, Carol Kivler was suddenly and unexpectedly brought to her knees by “The Beast” – clinical depression.  The story of her journey to recovery from medication-resistant depression is not only informative but inspires hope in others who suffer from this debilitating illness.  Because medication did not work for her, and despite serious reservations, Kivler eventually agreed to ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, or shock therapy).  The treatment not only gave her back the desire to live but the ability to thrive in her personal and professional life.  Electroconvulsive therapy became her “ladder out of the depression pit.”  In her opinion, the stigma associated with ECT deprives severely depressed individuals the right to potential recovery.  Consequently, the section of her book on “Demystifying ECT” provides accurate, up to date information about today’s modernized procedure, answers common questions such as “Does it hurt?” (No!) and discusses possible side effects (which Kivler found to be no worse than those from medication).

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Undercurrents by Dr. Martha Manning

I read this book long ago (before both of my rounds of ECT) and to this day I vividly remember it being so lyrical and convincing regarding ECT as saving her life.  I was so impressed with Dr. Manning that when I was hired to write my first professional article for a national magazine (the sadly defunct “Fit” Magazine; my 1997 article discussed the importance of exercise with women) I contacted Dr. Manning to interview her for my piece.  I also interviewed none other than Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison.  Dr. Jamison was a famous bestselling author and in the late 1990’s numerous writers clamored her for interviews.  I stood out because she and I attended the same high school, although we never met there as she is older than me.  I also had the honor of meeting her when she gave a fantastic talk at the Palisades Library – the lecture room was packed like sardines in a can, she was so popular.

Copied below is the primary description for Dr. Manning’s book that I found on the Amazon.com website.  I find it rather strange that the ECT that saves Dr. Manning’s life is not mentioned in the blurb.  I could be mistaken, but to me that is a subtle form of stigma towards mental illness and ECT.

“This is the memoir of an ordinary woman—a mother, a daughter, a psychologist, a wife—who tells the tale of her spiraling descent into a severe, debilitating depression. Undercurrents pioneers a new literature about women and depression that offers a vision of action instead of victimhood, hope instead of despair.”

I believe a much better description is the review by the Library Journal:

As psychotherapist Manning began her slow descent into depression, she recognized the signposts along the way: a sense that she was losing control of her life, perpetual fogginess in her head, social withdrawal and subsequent isolation, and a painful alienation from all that gave her life pleasure and meaning-except her daughter. She recounts how medications were tried and discarded, psychotherapy proved fruitless, and her mind became overwhelmed with thoughts of death as a way out of her ceaseless torment. The one last hope was electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the thought of which left her feeling frightened and totally helpless. Nevertheless, ECT alleviated her despair and began her recovery. Told in journal form, the events so sensitively and insightfully depicted here reveal how tenuous one’s connection to physical and mental well-being can be. Recommended for general readers.

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I am so grateful to Dr. Manning for her book, as it made me feel better about getting ECT when my time came.  I still had huge reservations, of course, but I was desperate.  (I also cover this issue in a prior blog post:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/are-you-shocked-that-i-got-shocked/

Tomorrow I will share Part Two of my favorite books with you…and mention a few I will be purchasing in the coming year that look really cool, unique and helpful.  Take care and if you are staying home due to inclement weather like I am, happy reading!

The Tyranny of a Beautiful Day – Attempting “Normalcy” in the Sunshine

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Today I hunted around on the internet because I wanted to give credit to whoever came up with the brilliant saying “the tyranny of a beautiful day.” I couldn’t find the original source;  in any case, this sentence has always rung true to me.  I pondered that line during the many months I woke up depressed, looked out the window, and saw brilliant rays of sunlight shining down.  I preferred gloomy rain to mimic the way I felt.  Today is technically a beautiful day in the Santa Cruz Mountains – it’s sunny, clear and sixty degrees.  But we are long overdue for rain, and the drought conditions are causing tremendous alarm in our community.

I am stressed out about the drought, but I am even more concerned about something that will sound ludicrous: my daughter’s birthday party.  I’m hesitant to even cover this subject in today’s post, but I feel compelled to “write it out”, which reminds me of what the author L.M. Montgomery described so eloquently in her book “Emily’s Quest”:

“For writing, to Emily Byrd Starr, was not primarily a matter of worldly lucre or laurel crown. It was something she had to do. A thing–an idea–whether of beauty or ugliness, tortured her until it was “written out.” Humorous and dramatic by instinct, the comedy and tragedy of life enthralled her and demanded expression through her pen. A world of lost but immortal dreams, lying just beyond the drop-curtain of the real, called to her for embodiment and interpretation–called with a voice she could not–dared not–disobey.”

I have loved Montgomery’s Emily trilogy for years in part because her books depict the evolution of a young female writer.  Even though many people consider these books to fit in the children’s genre , they still appeal to me at age forty three.

So, back to the party.  I haven’t given a children’s party for the past six months ever since I got out of the hospital.  We have a lot of people coming to the party, including formerly estranged family members and what I call “fair weather” friends.  I have three close friends whose presence would comfort me, but I would rather be with them one-on-one .  Thank God my husband will be there.  To be fair, every person attending is genuinely nice – it’s not like Satan will be there.   And in an ironic twist, my therapist will join us in a non-therapist role, as her daughter is friends with mine.  My therapist and I agreed I wouldn’t identify her to others and I’ll be keeping my distance from her so it’s not awkward.  In our session yesterday I shared with her how I was worried about this gathering because I believed I needed to act “normal”.  She chucked and replied, “Who is normal, anyway?”  She has a good point.

Even so, I  feel like I have to put on the dreaded “normal face” in order to make it through the afternoon.  How I hate feeling like I need to put on an act.  In the past when I went to events I drank alcohol to feel at ease, but now I can’t have a drop due to the MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) Parnate that I take for bipolar.   If I drink, I can die, so a margarita is no go.  I don’t smoke either since my beloved grandmother died of lung cancer due to smoking.

I’ve never felt comfortable in social situations, before and after being diagnosed with bipolar.  I wish that I looked forward to the milestones in my kids’ lives.  I wish I was able to enjoy parties instead of regarding them like root canal work.  For me, it’s a hundred times harder being the host instead of a simple guest.  What I meant to write is that it’s harder being the “host with bipolar” than a simple host.  Oh well.  Whine whine whine.  I should be fretting about problems that truly matter, i.e. what I wrote about in yesterday’s post.  I thought I’d be dealing better with my social anxiety and my shame in having bipolar by now.  There are no easy answers to this deep-seated problem.  It’s going to take a lot more work.

While I am hesitant to press the little “publish” button I’m going to do it.  Maybe you can relate to this and let me know what helps you in these situations.  I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading.