Cashing In On Postpartum Depression, Hypomania, Star Wars’ Maz & More

 

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Maz

This has been an eventful week….in both good ways, bad ways and odd ways!

GOOD: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Connection

On Monday I took my girls to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I saw the first Star Wars long ago when I was seven-years-old. It was released in May, 1977. I watched it at one of the best theaters in the world in Westwood, California.

I remember standing in a very long line on Wilshire Boulevard and I loved everything about film. Specifically, Harrison Ford. Even at age seven – it was innocent, I tell you! I thought Carrie Fisher was beautiful and cool – I wanted to be her. (Huh! Little did I know that thirty years later we’d share the same diagnosis – you know what that is!). Mark Hamill wasn’t half bad either – those pretty blue eyes, you know.

The night before I took my eight-year-old and ten-year-old to see the seventh episode of Star Wars, my mom emailed me this link to an article about Mrs. Rose Gilbert.

Mrs. Gilbert was one of my Palisades High School English teachers and known by everyone as “Mama G”. She also happened to be an influential teacher upon one of her students named J.J. Abrams.

You might recognize his name. He co-created little television shows including Lost, Alias and Felicity among others. Abrams also directed and co-wrote Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Abrams based the character of Maz on Mrs. Gilbert, which I found hilarious.

As I watched Maz’s scenes in Star Wars, I wouldn’t have guessed any major connection between her and Mama G. personality-wise; for me it was more in their facial expressions. 

I admired Mrs. Gilbert for her teaching style and reputation, but I didn’t have a special rapport with the her way I did with Mrs. Redclay, another English teacher at “Pali”.

Mrs. Gilbert announced her retirement at age 93, and she was the oldest full-time teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the entire country at that time. At that ripe age she taught three AP English classes in the same room she taught in for 51 years! She didn’t live long enough to see herself as Maz in Star Wars, but perhaps she knows about it wherever she is now.

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Maz/Mrs. Rose Gilbert

 

BAD: Hypomania

I’ll start off by emphasizing that what happened could have been much worse, and it was triggered by something very good. Last Thursday, a wonderful profile was published about me and my work in HuffPost Women.

My head & ego grew ten sizes bigger, but I’ll be honest with you – I loved the positive attention. I’ve been considered a loser for a long time by certain people due to my bipolar disorder, and it felt good to be recognized for my advocacy, running a free women with mood disorders support group, mentioned how helpful Postpartum Support International  is as a resource for moms, etc.

The article was written by parenting expert Dr. Laurie Hollman, and she’s great writer so that was icing on the cake! I was thrilled to get the word out about postpartum bipolar/bipolar, peripartum onset since it’s one of the least-known forms of bipolar disorder!

In case you missed my 500 tweets and my last post mentioning the article link begging you all to look at it, like it and comment, here’s the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-hollman-phd/a-successful-working-moth_b_8980628.html

Huffington Post is weird because as far as I can tell, one must use Facebook to “like”, share and comment about articles. Up to last weekend, I took a six-month-long Facebook break, and I was very proud about that. It was good for me because it felt healthy, and I got my social media fix from Twitter. 

Last weekend I borrowed my husband’s Facebook account to reply to a few comments. Understandably, he wanted me to quit using his account/identity, so I bit the bullet and reactivated my Facebook account. I returned to my wicked ways and reconnected with a bunch of Facebook friends.

I stayed in front of my screen far too long every day since I wanted to promote the HuffPost Women article while it was still relatively new. All the stimulation and excitement of having a wonderful article “out there” kicked my brain into hypomanic-overdrive. I wasn’t sleeping enough, and I was all over the place.

At least I recognized what was happening.

I had my PRN bottle of Seroquel/quetiapipne at the ready. Call it what you may – that stuff works to get you to sleep. For that, I’m grateful. But with any atypical antipsychotic, there are drawbacks. It’s not Mother Nature’s lavender, that’s for certain. For me it means that a relatively measly amount of 25mg/night causes next-day grogginess, which I can handle, and vivid, terrifying nightmares, which I can’t handle, especially when they involve my Scottish collie Lucy. I won’t go into it except to say that a sinkhole was involved and I still remember it and shudder. 

I was able to get enough sleep after using Seroquel two nights in a row and I’m cutting back on the internet time. The hypomania is going away. 

ODD: Postpartum Confessions

A few months ago I found out about a cool website called Postpartum Confession in which anyone could submit her postpartum story, with or without anonymity according to one’s preference.

I emailed an essay about my postpartum bipolar experience to them and it was posted. I was very happy about that, and the founder wrote me an email that made me feel great about sharing my particular experience. I didn’t read the website’s terms because it seemed very straightforward to me. I thought it was a public service in which women could read and share their postpartum secrets the way they felt most comfortable and respected.

Last night I did my nightly habit. I browsed two separate new book categories on my Kindle Fire: “bipolar” and “postpartum”. I do this because I like to know about upcoming new, interesting bipolar and postpartum-related books. I sorted “postpartum” using “publication date” and it showed me the most recent publication:  this. 

My Postpartum Confession story had been chosen to be included in a compilation of stories and sold for $7.99. Okay, I was flattered – don’t get me wrong – I was, but it was kind of weird.  I hadn’t been notified about this project. The website terms (see below for you wanna-be lawyers, or bona fide lawyers) didn’t state that our stories might possibly go into a book for sale.

I know that by submitting my story I was taking a chance no matter what the website terms said. What matters most is not money but sharing postpartum journeys and helping others women. Still, I find it sort of creepy. However, my husband Craig (an award-winning published author who is familiar with book contract-ese) agrees with me that it’s creepy!

That’s always a plus in this household.

Terms of Service:

You agree that the story you are submitting is true. If submitting photos, you have rights to the photos and are not violating any copyrights. You acknowledge that you are voluntarily submitting your story and/or photo, and grant Postpartum Confession permission to use your pictures and verbage without restriction. You expressly release Postpartum Confession or representatives or any institution transmitting, or exhibiting your picture from any claims arising from such use or distribution. You agree to be fully responsible for your own participation and hold Postpartum Confession or representatives harmless from any liability arising from the use of your materials. You grant Postpartum Confession permission to reuse and re-purpose your story and/or picture for promotional, publicity, or organizational purposes.

And on that gobbledy-gooky note, I bid you adieu. It’s time to pick up my kids at the elementary school parking lot, otherwise known as Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell. Please forgive my typos and other writing sins, as I’m obviously not editing this at all.

The horror, the horror!

Love you all, and see you next week!

Dyane

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.

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