Introducing DBSA Santa Cruz with a Board Full ‘O Chicks!

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Last week after I published my postpartum bipolar post, I was so happy that it was reblogged, retweeted, and received wonderful comments – thank you so much! That same day I got some more good news. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) confirmed that my DBSA Santa Cruz County Chapter application was accepted.

Years ago I founded a DBSA chapter but when I relapsed with bipolar depression, I wasn’t able to continue. My replacement wasn’t able to keep it going either, so it folded.

I renewed the chapter for a variety of reasons, but here are just a couple: I wanted to give the “Women with Mood Disorders” support group I facilitate more credibility in our community. When I promote our support group to the press it sounds more legitimate if we are affiliated with the DBSA. I wanted to utilize DBSA’s numerous Chapter Resources as well.

I live in a mountain valley comprised of four towns and we need more than just one free mood disorder support group – my group is the only one around. That’s unacceptable in a community of thousands, and my goal is to recruit other peer leaders to run more groups.

A DBSA Chapter needs a Board of Directors and I’m honored that the co-authors of the bestselling Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival Wendy K. Williamson (author of the bestselling Im Not Crazy Just Bipolarand Honora Rose are serving as Vice President and Secretary.

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We have my husband Craig S. Harwood, author of the award-winning Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, as Treasurer.

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Lucy is our mascot and as some of you know, she’s working on her first book

When Your Human Has Bipolar! to be published by Life Is Ruff Press.

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Meanwhile, I’ll be quiet on WordPress during the next few weeks. We’re returning to Tahoe to the internet-less Munchkin Cabin – the very spot where a bear cub came into the house, quiet as a mouse, while we were all home. (It was someone’s fault. Someone forgot to shut the front door and left a sack of garbage in the hallway – a big no no in bear country!)

I’ll miss my daily check-ins with your blogs.

Have a great few weeks and I’ll check in upon our return!

love,

Dyane

Alpine girlsAvi on John Muir Trail w:LucyEvening at Squaw

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 Growthwill be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2016. 

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The 3:18 A.M. Anxiety Woes

imagesToday’s blog post isn’t going to win any BlogHer awards because I’ve been a mess since the inhuman hour of 3:18 A.M.  I woke up early because one of the girls had a nightmare and the poor thing started screaming at the top of her lungs.  Instead of getting back to sleep as I usually do, I just sat there in the dark, ruminated on negative things and felt very anxious.

I had taken my usual dose of quetiapine (Seroquel) at bedtime.  This medication has been an enormous help to me in terms of sleeping through the night and helping keep depression at bay.  But I didn’t want to take an additional amount at 3:00 a.m. because it would make me too groggy come sunrise.  That was the time I needed to take care of my girls and drive them to school.  So today anxiety is on my mind.  

 I have a few interesting resources I’ll share here for those of us who suffer with anxiety.  Perhaps you could explore one or all of them and let me know what helps you!

It’s rare for a blog post’s title to make me laugh out loud, but blogger extraordinaire “Bipolar On Fire” managed to do just that with me last week.  While I perused my WordPress reader I spotted the title “Holy Shit Tapping Really Works!”.

I was intrigued.

I knew Bipolar On Fire would never make a claim for any modality to work unless she truly meant it.  Her passionate title made it clear that she was on to something that was, at the very least, helpful, and possibly significant in her healing.  I had to know more about this tapping business, and I read her post with bated breath.

After a job loss, she wrote,

“I have been tapping, saying “I am safe and secure.” And lo and behold, I HAVE been feeling quite safe and secure, not having the major meltdown like I would have in the past…

To say that this has been a transformative few days would be an understatement. Tapping is really helping me to change my life!  Shit that I’ve spent ten or twenty years talking about in Talk Therapy (with no change) is CHANGING!! I can’t tell you how good this feels!  It’s like a miracle! I encourage you to Google “Tapping”, or look it up on YouTube. Do it, and then let me know how it goes. It’s Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It’s real. Thank God, whatever or whoever that is. I am grateful.”

To watch the Nick Ortner YouTube video suggested by Bipolar On Fire visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfZBHWSbrsg

I watched this long clip and I tried the personable, easy-on-the-eyes Nick’s brief tapping demo he gave to two thousand people.  His demo doesn’t come up until towards the end, so you may want to jump ahead to that.  I want to try it again,as I didn’t give it a fair chance and I admit I’m more curious.  I  may explore one or two of his other YouTube demos.  I also plan to check out the EFT founder Gary Craig’s free EFT tutorial at the following website:  http://www.emofree.com/

To read more of Bipolar On Fire’s tapping post please visit:

http://bipolaronfire.com/2014/05/07/holy-shit-tapping-really-works/

Meanwhile, bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson has written two great books: “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar” and co-authored the recently published “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide To Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder”.  Wendy and I connected through the blogosphere in which she read my blog post about how I suffered with anxiety.

In case you want to check it out, that post is:  https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/anxiety-woes/

Wendy’s graciously wrote a comment on “Anxiety Woes” which gave me effective-sounding advice that I need to follow!!!!  Wendy wrote,

“Check this out. It’s the free meditation series.

https://chopracentermeditation.com/
A couple tips, otherwise I find I don’t get good results. You’ll find what works for you, but these have worked well for me…
1. I do it right when I wake up.
2. I listen/do the meditation with headphones from my phone. (try it for the 22 day program. Click on the email link and plug your headphones in to your phone.)
3. I do it pre-coffee/tea in the morning.
4. I also make sure I don’t do too much. (ie: feed the cats, make the bed, etc.) I’ve noticed, for me, it doesn’t work as well.
5. If the cats are bouncing around I’ll go back in to the bedroom. Finding a quiet place is key. The minute I hear television or the cat jumps on my lap, concentration is broken and I’m no longer in meditation mode.
6. Also, I write about what came to me during the meditation right afterwards so I don’t forget. Sometimes I’ll go back a few days later and re-read it. It’s so cool.

As for another anxiety buster, I often write in the morning (and/or meditate) and it gets out my anxieties.I find my day runs smoother when I spend 10 or 15 minutes in the beginning of the day getting out what I have woken up with in my head. It’s all fear…”

You can follow Wendy’s blog at: http://wendykwilliamson.wordpress.com/

The Two Bipolar Chicks website: http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another wonderful free resource that has helped me over the past couple years. Meagan Barnes founded the Facebook page and group called “Women Conquering Anxiety”.  She is an amazing mental health advocate. Meagan knows a thing or two about anxiety and she has completely transformed her life for the better.  Just this past year Meagan graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and she coaches clients, specializing in anxiety.  You can download her free “10 Ways to Feel Better Today” brochure off her website http://anxietyangel.com.  Her Facebook page is:

https://www.facebook.com/AnxietyAngel

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Thanks for reading and please feel more than welcome to comment about anything that helps you reduce your anxiety, especially the “wee hours of the morning” type that I hate with a passion!!  

take care, Dyane

 

 

Making Sense of It

If you shed a tear when the nightmare breaks
Just remember dreams go in opposites
You’re holding on
Yes, you’re holding on to make sense of it
You realize you’re not the only one
Who’s trying to make some sense of it”

Split Enz, “Make Sense of It”, Time and Tide

Yesterday I wrote about stigma towards mental illness in regard to my relationship with my Mom.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t have as much fun writing about that painful topic as I did when I blogged about adorable Boo the Pomeranian and Gywneth Paltrow’s $300 pillows.  But the topic of parental stigma has festered in my brain for some time, and after I finished writing the stigma piece, I found that writing about it helped me feel better.

Two nights ago I had a phone conversation with my Mom.  We discussed the postpartum bipolar book that I’m writing.  At first she said I was “obsessed” about my topic.  Her choice of words really hurt me, but in retrospect I think she was oblivious that her saying “obsessed” would upset me so much.  Mom has such a deep-seated stigma towards mental illness that it can’t help but affect her perspective, and I’m at the very beginning of coming to terms with that.  It’s highly unlikely that she’ll magically change her views – she’s almost eighty-years-old, and while I hate sounding like a pessimist, I just don’t see it happening.  So the change needs to be on my end.

Stigma aside, sometimes I feel like scrapping my book project.  There are days when I feel like I’m too immersed in the bipolar world, but I can’t help feeling obsessed so interested in it!   Despite having a father with bipolar and then being diagnosed with it myself, I still haven’t completely made sense of bipolar disorder in my life.  Writing about it helps me to crystalize my feelings, and in doing so I feel empowered instead of apathetic.

I want to reach other mothers who have lived through my kind of experience.  At first I wasn’t sure if there were any other moms who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder soon after childbirth. But I’ve been coming across these brave women here and there.  Some of them have graciously agreed to be profiled in my book.  When it comes down to the nitty gritty, I’m writing the book I would have wanted to read after I was diagnosed, and I’ve been told by some mothers that there is a need for it.  That’s all the validation I need!

A chunk of my book focuses upon my decision to try living without bipolar medication.  The section chronicles my carefully researched and planned year-long tapering process off bipolar medications, and what happened to me as a result of that decision. (A hint: it was a disaster.)  If my cautionary tale helps even one mother avoid suicide, then I have no problem being “obsessed” with bipolar!  (I don’t wish to sound histrionic, but I almost lost my life to suicide as a result of being med-free and using natural supplements/modalities.)

These days, as a research tool, I check Amazon.com regularly for new releases specifically about bipolar.  There are at least one or two new books published every week.  Some of these books will be great to use as references for my book,  i.e. Perinatal Psychiatry by Carmine Pariente et al, Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose, and  Preventing Bipolar Relapse by Dr. Ruth C. White. While other books won’t necessarily help me, they have brought a smile to my face, such as the racy cover of Deborah Kaminski’s Bipolar and Me.  I never know what new listings I’ll discover in the bipolar literary genre.

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 Gotta love it

 

Sometimes our re-commitment to a project emerges from unforeseen sources.

I’ve been in need of a little fire underneath my kettle about completing my book.  Lo and behold, I got fired up yesterday when a new bipolar-themed book appeared on my Kindle titled Med Free Bipolar: Thrive Naturally using the Med Free Method by Aspen Morrow.  Out of curiosity, I bought Med Free Bipolar, which is free and published by the independent publisher Pottenger Press.  So far I’ve read the book’s description, the first chapter, and the Recommended Products section, in which I tried one of the suggested products, Q96, that didn’t work for me.

The Amazon description page reads,

The primary goal of Med Free Bipolar is to show that treating bipolar effectively through natural means is not only possible, but highly likely.”

I don’t know how someone in good conscience could promise such a thing, especially in writing.

In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the the book, Morrow writes, “If you are not sure if the Med Free Method bipolar edition is right for you, take the quiz…” and a link to Morrow’s blog is provided.  The quiz is detailed in an attempt to screen out people who should not try the Med Free method, yet Ms. Morrow still implies that most people with bipolar can live “med free”, which I find to be contradictory and unethical.

This is obviously a sore subject for me.  I’m not stating that all people with bipolar disorder must depend upon bipolar medication in order to live stable, healthy, fulfilling lives.  According to my research over the past two years, a small percentage of people with bipolar can live well without medication.  I’m just not one of them!

Unless I consulted a medical school graduate/bipolar disorder expert who had supervised many patients who proved they could live well without meds long-term, I would never trust following anyone’s “method”, no matter what they write is possible.

No way, no how.

Queston Dr

The blessing in disguise is by my reading a bit of Med Free Bipolar , my resolve has been strengthened to finish writing Birth of a New Brain.  Nothing will stop me from sharing my postpartum bipolar experience, as well as including other mothers’ experiences, with the world where our stories belong.

I don’t work for Big Pharma – I’ll state that for the record.  I didn’t want to have to take meds and of course I’d rather not now.  But my meds have saved me .  Anyone who reads my book who’s on the fence about living without bipolar meds will have second and third thoughts, which is one of my goals in writing the book.  I’ll also be able to sleep well at night knowing that I’m not giving people false hope and/or putting them in danger.

I know that Ms. Morrow has the best of intentions in helping others, and I’m sure she has played a part in some powerful success stories that will be discussed in her book.  But I stand by what I wrote here.  My goal is to be as authentic, ethical and inspiring in my writing as I possibly can.  If my book can help moms make more sense of how to live well with postpartum bipolar disorder, and how to do that safely, then one of my biggest dreams will come true.

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