Insecurity Boo Hoo Bummers & the Book Cover Saga Continues…


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The dynamic duo!

 

Hello there!

I hope you’re doing well!

I’m writing this post on Wednesday at the close of a funky day. Rilla had a tummy bug – it was nothing serious – but I kept her home just to be on the safe side. She had a blast showing me the intricacies of her favorite computer game, National Geographic’s Animal Jam. 

This virtual world is COMPLEX.  Rilla has played “AJ” for three years, and my head spun while she demonstrated all the features. 

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When I took a break from the tutorial, I hopped on Twitter and spotted the tweet I’d had been dreading for several months. It was DBSA’s announcement of Demi Lovato’s Be Vocal Campaign’s Beyond Silence documentary. (Lovato executive-produced it.)

Last year I was nominated by someone at DBSA to be one of the three subjects in this film. After doing a 45-minute phone interview with the six-person panel, I wasn’t selected. (I wrote more about that here in “Sour Grapes, Rejection and Perspective.”)

The people profiled in Beyond Silence are remarkable – they’re movers and shakers. While their worthwhile causes deserve the massive amounts of attention they’re getting, I was bummed…

Demi Lovato has 41 MILLION Twitter followers. Her Facebook page (38 million likes) showed Beyond Silence had 150 thousand views only a few hours after the stream went live. Lovato plugged the documentary on today’s Ellen show, and she’s promoting it in all the major media outlets. Everyone loves Demi Lovato! (Well, except Kathy Griffin, but I won’t go there! 😉 

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You can guess where I’m going with this. 

If I had participated in Beyond Silence, the PMAD I live with, postpartum bipolar (PPBD), which has been minimized, ignored, you-name-it, would have gotten this fantastic exposure. And yes, if I was in the doc, that would’ve been the ideal, unicorn-rainbowy way to promote my PPBD book. I couldn’t buy better PR!

I knew I’d be triggered by the media campaign’s debut. Despite all my positive thinking, I cried about this shit. (Sorry, friends, my potty mouth is a deeply ingrained part of me – I find it hilarious that I hardly used any unsavory words in my book!)

Anyway….my precious Rilla made my day. She was a fantastic source of encouragement & comfort. I didn’t ask her to make me feel better; that’s not her job as a nine-year-old, but she knew the Lovato doc backstory and she understood what was going on.

She hugged me and said that I don’t need to be in Demi Lovato’s documentary because I’m “a wonderful mommy” and that I’m “successful with my book!”

How could I upset after hearing such a loving affirmation from my girl?

Well, I was still down. More than I thought I’d be. When I had been informed I wasn’t selected, I felt rejected, not to mention other nasty things. Those feelings got re-activated with this media campaign’s debut.

How am I dealing with this, aside from diving into a pint or two of ice cream? (Okay, okay, I ate a pint & 1/2 of Halo chocolate ice cream & mocha chocolate chip, but it’s low-cal, low-fat, & low-guilt!)

I’m keeping busy, and thank God the sun is finally out because we’ve been through gloomy weeks of terrible storms, flooding, landslides, and power outages where I live.

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A slide on the highway very close to our house

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The basketball courts down the road flooded by the San Lorenzo River, Ben Lomond CA

I’m looking to the future. 

I’m muting Twitter feed that will remind me of this campaign. DBSA tweets about the film several times a day and they will do that for at least a week, probably longer since they’re a sponsor.

I know someone who’s in the hospital right now with life-threatening depression. If I think about that, I feel guilty complaining about this trivial crap. But it’s my life, it’s my reality, and who knows, maybe someone will read this post and relate to my experience. You never know when it comes to the blogosphere, right? 

 

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Book Cover Update

Thanks so much for your comments about the book covers! Now you can all list “design consultants” on your resumes.

No matter what style you preferred, every comment helped me. That’s one of the reasons I love blogging – your comments make a difference in how I see things and you don’t bill me! (Please keep it that way!)

Yes, there a new cover that’s almost ready to share with you, but Post Hill Press is tweaking it. I’ll share it in next week’s post.

At least I didn’t go with these top contenders:

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If you’ve ever been “close but no cigar“**  in a situation where you really wanted that “cigar,” I’d love to read about it!!! **Click the green “close but no cigar” phrase to read about how this phrase came to be.

 

 “Close But No Cigar” is one of my favorite Thomas Dolby songs on the stunning album Astronauts and Heretics 

Take care, and thanks for being the best followers in the universe! If I get rich, I’ll have you bill me for blogospheric-therapy services rendered, I promise!

Lots of love,

Dyane

 

 

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Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!

When Parents & Executive Directors Suck: A Mama Bear Speaks Out!

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I promised to write about what triggered me last week, and here it is.

I apologize if you find this post boring, especially since I quote email exchanges to explain what happened. But I wanted to keep my promise! 

Most importantly, I wanted to read your comments to see if you have any insights you wish to share. (Be gentle, dear readers – I’m still a bit sensitive from this bullmerde!) 

I know this is a minor problem compared to what many of us with bipolar suffer with, but even ridiculous, stupid crap has the power to cause a setback in my mental health.

Blogging about these kinds of things helps me.

However, please believe me – I never forget how lucky I am to be living in a different reality, warts and all.

Finally, I’m sorry this post is too long (although if you’re a regular reader you’re probably not that surprised!) My in-house editor Lucy went to the beach today.

Lucy Soul

In any case, you have my blessing to skim it and/or skip this post! 😉 

The people involved:

My daughter

Yours truly

My daughter’s former friend

Former Friend’s Mom 

Former Friend’s Mom’s Buddy: The Theater Employee 

The Theatre’s Executive Director

Last week I emailed a message to the Executive Director at my daughter’s summer theater program.

My email was clearly marked “CONFIDENTIAL” and (this is also important to note) contained no specific names.

Dear Executive Director,

Unfortunately I have disappointing news.  My daughter will no longer be continuing with the play. We’ve given a tremendous amount of thought to this decision, and we’re sorry to let you down; my daughter most of all.

Her experience hasn’t been the one I hoped she’d have; this is
absolutely not your organization’s fault.  She hasn’t taken to singing and dancing the way we hoped she would. She isn’t enjoying the experience, which would be reason enough for her to discontinue.

However, she signed up for your program after being strongly encouraged by a (now former) school friend. This child was also her best friend who “dumped” my daughter from their friendship literally just before this production began. 

Over the past two years my husband and I found our daughter’s former friend to not only be verbally abusive to our child, but alarmingly destructive to our property whenever she visited our home.

DYANE’S NOTE: I want to give you just a little idea about my child’s former friend’s behvaior. I was home when the following things happened, but at first I wasn’t watching every moment of their playdates. In a flash this kid ripped off all the heads off my daughter’s dolls and she threw them over our deck into the forest. WEIRD! She used a white-out pen to mark up my husband’s work computer monitor and desk. (If she did that to my laptop, I  would have had her wealthy parents buy me a new computer.) She also damaged my daughter’s Santa Barbara Mission model that my child worked on for hours with her Dad – she did it when my daughter was briefly out of the room.

Of course we alerted this child’s parents about her behavior. My husband spoke directly with the child and asked her to please stop the behavior, etc. Her parents gave us empty promises and put far more energy into attending Bay Area 60’s revival rock concerts than helping their kid get the psychological support she desperately needed. I’m leaving out MANY other details about this child’s behavior, but you get the gist of it….so, back to my email to the Executive Director:

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As you can imagine, it has become increasingly difficult for my daughter to be around this child at rehearsals, and between this situation and her
primary reason for leaving, I absolutely cannot in good conscience have her continue with the program.

Thank you,

Dyane Harwood

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Now, here’s what happened after I sent my confidential email to the Executive Director. I know this might be confusing, but please stay with me – it’ll make sense! 

Dear Executive Director,

I am so upset while writing this to you that I’m shaking.

Today after I emailed you, someone from your staff had the audacity to read my CONFIDENTIAL EMAIL and contact my daughter’s former friend’s mother – my email DID NOT EVEN NAME ANYONE. Your staffer communicated erroneous information to this woman as well.

After that breach took place, my husband and I received numerous texts
from the former friend’s distraught mother. As a result, my daughter and I have been extremely upset.

The person at your organization behaved unethically, to say the very least; for him to interfere in such a way and not pay me the courtesy of a simple phone call FIRST is beyond me.

I can’t wrap my head around this gross breach of confidentiality,
disrespect….and frankly disturbing, meddling behavior.

I am deeply sickened  over what happened today. I have a severe, chronic
medical condition for which I’ve been hospitalized seven times since my girl
was born. She has been through HELL because of this. She has been
through things that no child should endure. I’m so furious over this
bizarre incident that I can barely think straight.

I never in a million years would expect something so heinous and
slanderous from your organization.

Dyane

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My Response from the Executive Director

Executive Director here,

I am so sorry for what has transpired and I would like the opportunity to discuss it with you either in person or by telephone. Unfortunately the staff member who noticed your email to me guessed which child you were referring to and overreacted with well meaning intentions, though apparently the request for confidentiality was missed. We sincerely apologize for what followed. Please know that the impulse was not malicious, just impulsive.
OF THAT, DYANE MUTTERS, “YEAH, AND SERIAL KILLERS ARE JUST IMPULSIVE TOO. WHAT THE HELL, LADY???! PLUS HE NEVER APOLOGIZED TO ME!” 
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I would like to discuss this further if possible. I take this very seriously and am so sorry that this situation has escalated to this degree. Please let me know a good time to contact you or when we can meet.
Sincerely,
 
Executive Director
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I replied (please excuse the messed-up font!):
Thank you for your email...
After working at three nonprofits (Friends of 
Santa Cruz Libraries, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, 
College ofBotanical Healing Arts) I learned how 501(c)3 staff, both paid and volunteer, are not exempt from ethical business practices.

I would've been fired for doing what the person who read my email 
did.

At this point, while I thank you for the invitation to speak via phone or in person, email is the best way for me to communicate.

I'd like for our family to receive a full refund.

Too much damage has been done to myself; I've suffered a health setback because of the person's well-meaning intentions, and damage 
has been done to my sensitive girl as well.

From the Executive Director:

Thanks for responding, of course we will give you a refund…Again, I am so sorry for the pain this has caused you and and your family. I do regret not being able to reprimand our staff member accordingly, but I too want your family to be able to move on. This staff member has a personal relationship to your daughter’s former friend, and I can not promise the issue would end if I discuss the repercussions that occurred as a result of his unprofessionalism.
 
As you can see, this is a dilemma  for me.
(DYANE THINKS, “CRY ME A F*CKING RIVER! IF THIS HAPPENED TO YOUR KID, YOU’D GO BATSHIT TOO!)
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I believe that learning from this act of poor judgment and irresponsibility would be such a useful lesson.
(FROM DY: WE NEEDED A LESSON LIKE THIS LIKE WE NEEDED A HOLE IN OUR HEADS!)
As much as I love our small and close community, sometimes the closeness leads to unsafe, unclear boundaries. Again, I welcome further discussion, but understand your wish to put this behind you.
 
Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely, Executive Director
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Okay, so that’s the exchange. 

 

Here’s What I Might Have Done If I Was Manic When This Happened:

  1. Tracked the “well-meaning” person down in public so I could yell at him and make a real scene worthy of his production. I inherited a bit of my mom’s acting talent; she won awards for her acting and worked as a television & stage actress in Los Angeles! I starred in my sixth grade play which was produced by a professional L.A. theater company. I won my audition by having to get angry – it was a modern-day “Taming of the Shrew” and I was Kate. I won’t lie to you – I was VERY good at doing that, long before I was diagnosed! 😉

Suffice to say that I could put on a show and then some for our little, podunk town and our “well-intentioned” meddler!

2) Picketed the production performances and call the local papers and television stations!

3) Threaten legal action complete with a letter from my “mental health advocate”

4) Leave post-its with relevant sayings where he’ll find them, i.e. his car window:

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What I’d Still Like to Do

Unknown-1Write this person a letter and let him know the damage he caused, because I think he is clueless. I’d add that when I run into him at the market which we frequent, he best be ready to meet Dyane “Mama Bear” Harwood!

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The best news of all is that my daughter is doing well. She’s taking this in stride, and her father and I are supporting her 100%. She feels loved and reassured that we’ll be there for her when she returns to school and sees this former friend. We will be involved parents; we won’t care more about seeing freakin’ Bob Dylan than helping our kid navigate a bully – yes, a passive/aggressive bully!

My problem, which I’m discussing with my counselor today, is how I’ll feel when I run into the former friend’s parents and the kid.

I want nothing to do with them.

Yes, I realize that none of these people work for Satan (as far as I know – there ARE some weirdos up here!!!), but I consider them toxic to my mental health.

Lucky for them, I’m TERRIBLE with confrontation, unless I’m manic! They aren’t going to get a happy ending out of this from me – I don’t want to “hug it out” granola-style with them, or smoke a doobie together, or go to Dance Church ! (That’s how they allegedly roll….)

The mom (who texted me that she and I could discuss what happened while hiking together in my happy redwoods place – um, NO WAY!) is quite aware I need space from her.

I texted her I need space, and she wrote back she’d honor my request. So that’s good, yes? 

All I can say at the end of the day is this:

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Big, big thanks for reading if you made it this far…

See you next week!

love,

Dyane Mama Bear

 

 

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

 

Waterfalls of the Freaky Kind

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Last night as I readied myself for bed, all seemed calm in the Harwood household.  Craig & I tucked our daughter Avonlea into the top of our girls’ bunk bed.  It had been a long day, and I shuffled slowly away, zombie-like, while Craig & Lucy, our seven-month-old puppy, lingered behind.  

Craig leaned down to pick a shirt off the floor.

Suddenly I heard a retching sound.  I looked across the room at Avonlea and saw a waterfall emanating from her mouth onto Craig’s back AND all over Lucy’s luxuriant fur.

It was a Linda Blair-esque moment.  

After my initial shock and repulsion, I took my poor girl’s gush in stride.  I cleaned up the mess right away without even griping.  For the record, being around vomit makes me want to do the same, but I kept my dinner down where it belonged.  We all lucked out because there was no repeat hurling the rest of the night.

Lucy reeked, however.  Her thick fur is multi-layered, so she soaked up the fluid like a highly absorbent sponge.  Unfortunately I was far too tired to stick her in the tub for a quick wash.  (There is no “quick wash” with a super-energetic puppy!)

Between the lithium, the MAOI Parnate, and the Seroquel that I take nightly (topped off with the beginnings of a nasty cold) I was more than ready to collapse into bed.

Today I’m taking Avonlea to our pediatrician.  Apart from the waterfall incident, we suspect she could possibly have strep throat.  Poor stinky Lucy will require a thorough bath and since I’m sick, I’ll have to work extra-hard to summon the energy to just do it.

 

Dy & Avi

 Avonlea in healthier times and her exhausted Mom

Due to my hateful cough,I’m at the gruesome hour of 4:00 a.m. this morning.  I had a burst of coffee-induced energy, but now I’m fading fast, so this will not be a 1742 word post like the last one.  

Please believe me when I tell you that I knew in my heart that my last post was WAY too long.  I could have (and should have) cut it in half.  (Thanks, Mom, for pointing that out to me during our last phone conversation!)  My excuse for that egregious error is that while writing the post on the cusp of my cold, I ran out of writerly steam and I didn’t edit the way I normally would.  

I ask for your forgiveness and I’ll try not to do it again. 😉

THANKS, by the way, for your wonderful replies to my last post “The Queen of Mediocrity” – I appreciated your supportive & insightful comments more than you know!

have a great weekend,

Dyane

p.s. This weekend I’m getting my Halloween costume ready.  I’m going to be a RED PEN at Avonlea’s suggestion!  She astutely observed my overzealous nature when correcting her homework and she thought I’d be a great red pen!  What will you be?

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It’s not too late!  Please endorse Dyane for the WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show” Blog Award

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/4811