The Stay-In-Bed Mom’s “Mommy and Me Book Club”picture books about overcoming mental illnesses, & a couple other tidbits…

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And now here’s part deux, once again reblogged from the super-awesome Stay-In-Bed-Mom!

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This week the intrepid Stay-In-Bed-Mom shares her selections for the “Mommy and Me” Book Club. The theme is related to the Mommy book Birth of a New Brain. In her post, you’ll find books about bipolar disorder, depression, childhood depression, and childhood trauma/PTSD.

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The club doesn’t solely focus on mental health; in fact, it has mainly featured fiction in previous posts. I love how Stay-In-Bed-Mom explains her unique book club. She writes,

“Here’s something I hope will make you smile. A favorite literature professor of mine once said, and I’m paraphrasing, people study literature “to one up someone at a cocktail party.” For all you stay-at-home moms and dads out there, the next time someone says, “what do you do all day?”, you can talk about all the great books you’re reading.

If you’re anything like me, reading is a big part of your identity. But lately, maybe you haven’t been able to read anything outside of laundry care instructions on your children’s clothing. Maybe you’ve been too tired, too busy, or feeling “a little blue”. I’m trying to reclaim reading, as it’s been a source of happiness in my life. Let’s ease back into reading or [fill in the blank with your favorite recreational activity].

For every “mommy book” read, I’ll suggest a “me book” for your children with a similar theme. It is my hope that this “mommy and me” book club is a fun activity for you and your children.

A wise person told me “more is caught than taught.” If your children see you reading, then they will read too. Model quiet time in your household where you read quietly or aloud. You may pick one book and read it together as a family, chapter by chapter. Or you may encourage each individual family member to pick out a book to read quietly and independently. The primary goal is for us to read to or with our children. The secondary goal? For you to have some stay in bed time!

Happy reading!”

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I highly recommend following Stay-In-Bed-Mom’s blog, her Facebook page , and Instagram @stayinbedmomblog, which only has a measly 10.3K followers – she clearly needs more of them, eh!? 😉

By the way, I turn 50, yes FIFTY, in exactly one month from today. I do have crow’s feet, the “11,” and some other “bipolar wrinkles” (yep, that’s what I call ’em!) and while they don’t show up in this selfie, believe me, they’re there, alive and kicking! Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 7.27.14 PM

In a beautiful coincidence, I share this birthdate with my beloved Scotch collie Lucy.

She’ll turn six!

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I have a feeling I’ll be moved to write something here as that day approaches…stay tuned.

And most importantly, I hope each of you reading this is doing well.

If you’re struggling like I’ve been struggling, I hope our struggles ease as the spring approaches! 🌻🌞 

I’m not a patient person by any means, but I liked this image/quote all the same: 

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Lots of XO (and patience) to you,

Dyane

Stay-in-Bed Mom

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my previous post on Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder for a book summary and “quotable quotes”.

As you’re reading Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder by Dyane Harwood in bed (or in your favorite armchair), feel free to share these picture books with your children.

For every “mommy book” read, I’ll suggest a “me book” for your children with a similar theme. It is my hope that this “Mommy and Me” book club is a fun activity for you and your children.

Picture Books About Overcoming Mental Illnesses; Bipolar Disorder

The Bipolar Bear Family1. The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder (2006) | Angela Holloway 

A young cub struggles to make sense of his mother’s behavior and her…

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Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Harwood (Mommy and Me Book Club)

 

Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing well.

Yes, my blog is still on hiatus, but I had to share the awesome blogger Stay-in-Bed Mom’s thoughtful, wonderful post about “Birth of a New Brain.”

I’m honored “Birth of a New Brain” made the cut for her blog’s “Worth Staying Up Late” to Read Category – hurrah! (Stay-in-Bed Mom knows her check is in the mail….I’m just kidding; really, I am!)

I loved reading the “Quotable Quotes” she selected from my book— I totally forgot I had written most of them, LOL!.

Be sure to check out Stay-in-Bed Mom’s “Mommy and Me” Book Club to find out what book she suggests (the “me book”) for your children that has a theme connected with”Birth of a New Brain. “

This extraordinary mom is also on Instagram & Facebook.

Reading this beautifully written, educational post was the best part of my day – thanks again, Stay-in-Bed Mom! And to all of you, lots of love and take care.

Dyane 

Stay-in-Bed Mom

Thanks for joining my“Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my thoughts on the previous book, Where the Crawdads Sing. While you’re reading Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, don’t forget to share these picture books [coming soon!] with your children that relate in theme!

Title:Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

Author:Dyane Harwood

Page No.:272 pages

Publisher:Post Hill Press

Price: $15.19 (Amazon)

Genres:nonfiction; mental health

Summary:

When a new mother becomes manic overnight from a rare form of bipolar disorder, she stops at nothing to find the mental stability she needs to stay alive.

After the birth of her baby triggers a manic maelstrom, Dyane Harwood struggles to survive the bewildering highs and crippling lows of her brain’s turmoil. Birth of a…

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My new Q & A with the blogger/podcaster extraordinaire Mental Melissa!

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Hi everyone!

I hope you’re doing well. 

Although I’m still on hiatus, I couldn’t resist sharing a Q & A I did last week with Mental Melissa. I hope you’ll visit Melissa’s awesome, compelling, and honest blog so you can get to know her.

I love her Instagram tagline:

“Bipolar, Depression & Anxiety. Mama bear who is stumbling, thriving & surviving.”   (@mental_melisssa)

You can listen to Melissa’s podcast on ITunes or Spotify.

Here’s the link to our Q &A  below — take care & lots of love,

Dyane

https://www.mentalmelissa.com/blog/birth-of-a-new-brain-interview

 

p.s. I’m on Instagram—you can find me at @dyaneharwood

 

Recollections of the Macabre, the Furry and the Fat

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Alpine Meadows, home to the Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, is incredibly beautiful. We’ve been coming here for years to stay at the funky “Munchkin” cabin. Miraculously, the owner only charges us a third of what she could get, and Craig makes it a working vacation so we can afford it.

We trek up here in the winter and during other years we visit during the late summer. It has been amazing for this L.A. girl to observe terrain after it has transformed into the winter and summer.

Last time we went to the Munchkin it was wintertime. The owner and her friend were there to briefly greet us. I chatted with him and learned that he was veteran of the ski industry. He recounted several colorful stories about working at the various Tahoe ski resorts.

“I was here in 1982 when the Alpine Meadows avalanche happened,” he said somberly.

Uh, what avalanche?” I replied sheepishly. He suggested I read a book called A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief. I wrote the title down on a piece of paper, intending to download a sample on my Kindle when we returned to the world of WiFi, but I lost the paper and forgot all about it.

When we got to the Munchkin last weekend, I was excited to find a copy of A Wall of White: A True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche in the basement, of all places. I began reading it and so did Craig. (We took turns stealing it from one another.) Each of us finished it within two days! A Wall of White was a national bestseller, and I could see why it was a hit– the writing was top-notch, and it was a definite pageturner.

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Although I found the story fascinating (especially the explanations of different forms of snow, and how avalanches are created) I wish I never, ever read A Wall of White. It was such a morbid, vivid, disturbing account that literally happened just a few minutes from our cabin.

One of the avalanche victims was an eleven-year-old girl – my Avonlea’s age. She died because her self-centered, #$%^& father ignored not one, but two warnings not to hike up to Alpine Meadows during a ginormous snowstorm.

Last year before I read A Wall of White, I blithely drove up to the Alpine Meadow’s ski resort’s remodeled entrance area. I wanted to publish a blog post, and since the Munchkin doesn’t have internet, I could tap into Alpine’s free Wifi. While I sat there shivering in my car, skiers stomped and swarmed all around me. I bet most of them were completely oblivious about what had taken place there 33 years ago. 

Last Monday I needed to make an online bill payment, so I drove up to Alpine Meadows with a different mindset than I had last year. I couldn’t help but ponder about how people had hiked up the same road that I drove upon. They could never have imagined that they’d soon be smothered by tons of snow. Ugh. The thought creeped me out, but it also made me feel deeply grateful for being alive.

wp-1471306240991.jpgGrateful I have my furry muse Lucy

and grateful for my precious girls!

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Yesterday we took the gondola headed to the top of Squaw Valley; I was proudly Xanax-free! We didn’t know a thunderstorm was coming our way! This is a shot I took on the way back down, just before the staff closed the gondola for the day:

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I promised last week to write about some adventures. The truth is that this has been atame week. I guess I could make something up, since I can be devious, but to quote the great Annie Lennox, “Would I lie to you, honey?”

Since I don’t have a current adventure to share, I’d like to tell you about the bear sighting I had at the Munchkin four years ago.

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I had just gotten out of the shower and walked into the dining nook. I glanced at the picture window that had a beautiful view of a steep, woodsy hill behind the cabin. Craig was upstairs, and the girls were watching television in the living room next to the nook.

As usual, I was out of it I was extremely depressed, lethargic, and medicated with meds that weren’t working except to give me zombifying side effects. Despite the fact I was in such a gorgeous setting with my family, I couldn’t appreciate anything.

When I looked out that window, I realized it was a different view than what I was accustomed to.

There was a small bear looking at me.

Oh. My. God.

“BEEEEEAAAAAAAR!!!!” I screamed without thinking. (The little book titled Bear Aware has a bunch of information on what to do and not to do when you see a bear. Unfortunately I hadn’t read Bear Aware before I had that ursine moment, so I was clueless.)

The bear looked at me. He/she probably thought something along the lines of’

”You are such a silly human! I could take you out with one of my farts!”

The girls and Craig came running into the room just in the nick of time to catch the incredible sight. With the four of us watching, the bear scampered up the hill to its mom, who was our of sight. (Craig figured out it was definitely a cub due to its size.)

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I know that some of you might think, “So you saw a bear, no big deal!” But please take my word for it when I tell you those ten minutes were a big deal. The rest of that afternoon I felt less zombie-like. Looking into that cub’s eyes permeated the stupefying effects of my meds. I can understand why bears are sacred totem animals.

The most unbelievable part of this adventure was that the cub had not only been outside of the Munchkin cabin. The bold bear had climbed up three steep flights of outdoor wooden stairs, walked through our front door (which was accidentally cracked open…all I can say about that was it wasn’t me) and went into the basement to grab a bag of garbage. The bear headed back down the stairs with its spoils in tow. This happened while we were all in the house, oblivious to our guest! The cunning cub had been silent as the dead, and was only fifteen feet away from the girls while I showered and Craig was upstairs. The bear could have easily explored the rest of the house…

Lesson learned: lock your door in bear country! 😉

 Lose It! Update 

The Lose It! quest continues with my blogging buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

The two of us have struggled lately with overeating, but we remain committed to our goals! We know it’s normal to have setbacks – it’s recovering from them that matters. Speakng of Lose It!, I’d like to share my “before and after “shots taken at The Munchkin.

This is my favorite writing spot – the balcony overlooking the back of Squaw Valley:

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2013: 170#  

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Yesterday: 125# 

It has felt so goog to be able to walk up the Munchkin’s three flights of stairs without the extra adipose tissue. Hauling the extra weight used to make me huff and puff and almost hyperventilate. Plus my knees were not happy about it either, especially my knee which had ACL reconstruction after I had a basketball injury.   

Birth of a New Brain memoir update

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Almost every morning during this trip, Lucy has woken me up at 5:00 a.m. I’ve fed her & taken her outside to do her thing. (That hasn’t been so bad since I’ve gotten a great view of the stars, something I don’t get at home since the redwoods block the sky.)

Next I made fresh blood, I mean coffee. I headed out to the deck to work on editing the final chapters and appendices/resource section. The manuscript is due October 1st, and I’m nervous as hell, but excited. I feel like I’m at the end of a ten-year-long pregnancy, and a looooong labor looms ahead. (Yes, I’ve worked on this draft since 2007 after Rilla was born.) There are no epidurals for the publishing process – what a bummer! 

I’ll keep you posted on what happens this fall – the good and the bad! (Hopefully more of the former than the later.) I’ll be back next Friday, and I wish you a great week and perhaps a (positive, fun) adventure of your own!

love,

Dyane

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

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Hell in Paradise-Part 1/Sorry to Confuse!

Hope this brief video of me and Lucy makes sense! I’m sorry that yesterday’s 300th post was confusing. I created my WordPress blog in 2008. I only wrote three posts and then I became too depressed to write. I didn’t blog again until 2011. Once again, I wrote a couple posts and took yet another depression-related hiatus. 

I returned to blogging in December, 2013. Three time’s truly the charm…I was able to stick with it! Yesterday’s 300th post was a revised version of my very 1st blog post that I published in December, 2013. Today’s post is a revision of post #2. I’ll be publishing a couple more revised posts to complete the story. If you understand this, you get an A+! 😉 Thanks so much for reading and for your comments – I hope that you have a great day! Dyane

Hell in Paradise – Part One: Tsunamis of the Heart and Land

Our November, 2013 family trip to Kona, Hawaii was significant for several reasons.  The first reason was that we had to postpone the trip three times due to my summer hospitalizations for a bipolar depression relapse. The relapse occurred while I was tapering off lithium. I became manic and then went in the opposite direction, down to the very bottom of hopelessness.  

The second reason was that my mother-in-law had passed away a few months prior to our trip. We wanted to bring her ashes to Kona. She worked in the Kona area for over a decade, and it held a special place in her heart.

A week before we took off for Hawaii, my Parnate “miracle” had stopped working, and my bipolar depression returned. I couldn’t help but note the irony of the situation: here I was, about to visit one of the most magnificent places on Earth, and I was depressed yet again.

Once we settled in our rental in Holualoa, Kona I did some internet research. I found that some people took larger doses of Parnate than I was taking – up to twice as much.  I was able to get ahold of Dr. D. while we were there. 

(A sidenote: Holualoa means “long sled run” and is a fitting description of where we stayed.  We were located in the Kona coffee region and our rental was a stunning coffee farm high above the coast.)

Anyway, I asked Dr. D. if I could raise the Parnate up 10 mg for a total of 40 mg a day.  He gave me his go-ahead.  It turned out the dosage made me feel much worse.  I had terrible form of agitated insomnia.  

The eighteen wild turkeys who roamed the coffee plantation were noisy each night. While their gobbling sounds were cute during the day, they kept me awake and were anything but charming at night.  There were also plenty of tropical birds who loved to chirp the night away.

Meanwhile, my depression wasn’t going anywhere.  I returned to 30 mg of Parnate/day.

I knew I should’ve felt grateful for being in Hawaii. The fact that I felt so bad did nothing to assuage my guilt.   My brain synapses, which had been working so well at the beginning of the month, were stuck in a morass once again.  

I couldn’t think of anything to say to anyone during the long car trips we took around the island.  I couldn’t escape with a good book, which to me was pure torture.  

When I started taking Parnate I stopped drinking alcohol cold-turkey, as alcohol is a deadly mix with this MAOI medication, so I couldn’t turn to margaritas to relax.  (And that was a very good thing that I couldn’t drink my blues away!) 

Although I went for a thirty-minute walk amongst the coffee trees each morning, I ate tons of unhealthy treats such as chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and Kona coffee ice cream. During some fleeting moments, I was able to appreciate the grandeur of the island. I noticed my girls’ joyful laughter when they went boogie boarding, but still…I wanted a do-over!

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This photo of our girls was taken on Hilo’s beach on the Big Island.  We visited Hilo twice during our trip. Due to its history of deadly tsunamis, Hilo was particularly significant to me.

Ever since I was a little girl growing up in Los Angeles, I was very aware of the existence of tsunamis.  I asked my father if a tsunami could ever reach our home that was perched on the edge of the deep Las Pulgas Canyon near the ocean. He told me repeatedly that we would be safe, but deep down I didn’t believe him.

I had recurring tsunami dreams despite my Dad’s reassurance.  When I was older, I pored over books about tsunami history and I watched documentaries about these terrifying “harbor waves” (Tsunami means harbor wave in Japanese). I was so fascinated and obsessed by this topic that sometimes I wondered whether I died in a tsunami in a past life!

When I moved to Santa Cruz and experienced the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I was so terrified that I forgot about all my tsunami lore and  did the worst thing possible in a tsunami zone – I sprinted to West Cliff Drive which overlooked the ocean. This scenic road (which is shown during the opening credits of the film The Lost Boys) was two blocks away from my apartment. I ran out of the building as soon as the first tremor ended.  I felt drawn to the sea instead of safer, higher ground.

If there *had* been a tsunami, I would have been toast! 

While in Hilo the first time, we visited one of its main beaches.  Most of the Hilo beaches are nowhere as gorgeous as the beaches on the other side of the Big Island, but their warm water temperatures are awesome.

I felt so down that I didn’t even put on my brand-new, shimmery blue Speedo suit. I plopped down on the sand while my girls and husband frolicked in the water. It struck me that I was sitting in the very spot where the devastating 1946 and 1960 tsunamis had blasted in. I became morbid, thinking that maybe it would be okay to die in tsunami after all, since I had lost hope that my depression would lift.

I continued ruminating how people must have died in the very place where I was sitting.  I’ve known for years that Hilo was the home of the Pacific Tsunami Museum, but I never thought I would have the opportunity to visit it.  The first time we went to Hilo I was so apathetic and depressed that I told my husband we didn’t have to check out the museum.  He was surprised, to say the least, as he was well-acquainted with my tsunami obsession. He had plenty of times to hear about it during our fifteen-year-long relationship.

When we returned to Hilo a second time, it seemed ridiculous not to visit the Tsunami Museum, so off we went.  I didn’t think our girls would be interested in the subject. Moreover, I was concerned the Pacific Tsunami Museum might be too scary for them, but fortunately they were up for the visit.

A spirited retired docent who had been an elementary school principal spent time with the girls.  She showed them kid-friendly exhibits about the science of earthquakes and waves. I shuffled around the rest of the museum, scared to make eye contact with anyone, wishing a wave would swallow me up then and there.  

Update 9/23/15: Now that I’m doing well, I hope and pray that there won’t be any tsunamis in our area anytime soon! There was a tsunami in our harbor in 2011, but luckily I was high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, safe and sound.

How did I get better? I promise to reveal more in the next installment.

To be continued…

Dyane Leshin-Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of the acclaimed Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press next year.  

Singin’ My Song “More Than Bipolar”

 

“More Than Bipolar” by Dyane Leshin-Harwood

I don’t know – why should I care? 

About all the times that life was unfair

It’s so different now, I need to let it all go

Or else I’m gonna blow

So don’t call me bipolar ’cause it’s not my name

Can’t you see I’m a person –  there is no shame

And we have stigma that’s to blame…

I’m more than bipolar 

I’m more than bipolar

It hurts sometimes

And I feel all alone

What can I do?

Don’t want to pick up the phone

Time to break a sweat, cause this mood’s not over yet

And all you need to know…

Don’t call me bipolar ’cause it’s not my name

Can’t you see I’m a person, there is no shame

And we have stigma that’s to blame

I’m more than bipolar

I’m more than bipolar

 

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 & toes crossed, published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016.

Still in the Closet About Depression? by Plucky You

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Hi my friends, & happy Friday!

I’m reblogging Still in the Closet About Depression because Plucky You is an awesome blog containing OUTSTANDING posts! The blogger, a professional writer/editor, is incredibly talented. This plucky one’s articles have been published in some absolutely amazing places that I’d like to share, but I need to get permission first! 😉

Please tell your friends to follow Plucky You and take a look at the Plucky Books section; it’s one of my favorite mood disorder-related compilations. 

I have no idea what I’ll be blogging about next week except for the fact it won’t be about postpartum bipolar disorder and it will be short, i.e. under 600 words. I promise. (Famous last words!)

No, really, between the PPBD posts and my book, I need a little break from bipolarland. (We all do!)

Have a fantabulous weekend & I’ll e-see you next Thursday.
Xo,
Dyane

PLUCKY YOU

Here’s an interesting question. How many people do you know—include yourself in this—who are out about their mental illness with friends, family, and coworkers? I’m just guessing that the majority of people can check either the first and/or the second on that list, but very rarely the third. It’s hard to imagine freely offering this information to your boss or manager at work, unless of course you work for yourself, as I do. But we all have different comfort levels with our personal information.

I admire people who can just be up front about their mental health, like fellow writer Dyanne Harwood whose blog Birth of A New Brain covers the day-to-day struggles of life as a mom with a perinatal mood disorder closely related to bipolar depression. She is doing herself, and everyone who lives with a mental health diagnosis, a favor by standing up to the big scary monster of shame that threatens us with revenge…

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