Bipolar, Unemployed & Lost Vlog

I can’t help but reblog this for many reasons!

Watch this beautiful African American woman/mental health advocate Tempus who lives with bipolar disorder speak out!

Long ago “Oh Temp” (her alias until today!) published my “You’re Just Like Me” interview on her blog and she made me feel like my experience with bipolar mattered.

She’s eloquent, super-funny, honest – and she said some really nice things about me. I’d still reblog this even she said mean things about me. Follow her blog & Twitter today, please! ūüôā¬†

This is the kind of blogger who I believe in with all my heart, and who inspires me for the way in which she’s fully¬†“out” with bipolar disorder.

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

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I got the happy news today that I’ve been nominated for a “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”! ¬†

I want to thank Labeled Disabled for totally making my day in nominating me!!!

Here’s the link to her amazing blog:

http://breakdownchick.wordpress.com

 

The rules in accepting this award is as follows:

  • Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional:¬†Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you. ¬†(You better believe I will!)

Seven (-ish) Facts About Dyane

1) I’ve written six original songs, sing and play a little guitar. (A clip of me singing my song “The End of the Day” is here:¬†https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/the-end-of-the-day-click-link-to-open-up-my-song)

2) I was filmed live for a New Zealand T.V. news program when I visited the North Island. (I was at  a music industry party.)

3) I studied for my pilot’s license when I was 23 and flew a Piper Cub airplane above Santa Cruz County.

4) I’ve sat on two toilet which were each used by two famous people I greatly admire! ūüôā

5) I was an American Council on Exercise (A.C.E.) certified personal trainer.

6) I’ve met my all-time favorite author Madeleine L’Engle at her writing workshop – she said she liked my sonnet about dolphins!

7) I landed a publishing deal for a book in 2013, but I cancelled it due to bipolar relapse. ¬†(I’m gonna get another one!;)

 

AND THE NOMINEES ARE... (Sorry if I left anyone out – I’m doing this in a rush! ¬†I wish I could have listed 30 blogs! ¬†The list is a tad bipolar-heavy, but hey – what can I say? ¬†It’s my field of expertise, dont’cha know! ¬†These are all truly wonderful, u nique and inspiring blogs that touch on all kinds of topics.)

1) Moorestorms Support for the Bipolar Parent

2) Kitt O’Malley

3) A Bipolars Reality

4) A Way With Words

5) Fleetiris

6) Struggles of Bipolar Woman

7) Passionate Reason (The blog of L.E. Henderson)

8) Come Unglued

9) Musings From A Ragged Soul

10) Bipolar, Unemployed and Lost

11) The bipolar mama

12) Motherhood Unadorned

13) Inside A Bipolar Mind

14) The REVELATION of Being BIPOLAR

15) Thinking about life

I Love Kind, Smart Journalists!/ “Black Box” – To Bash or Not to Bash?

 

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Yesterday while on Facebook I spotted an International Bipolar Foundation post about the new ABC television series Black Box premiering tonight.

Here’s ABC’s¬†Black Box¬†overview:

“The twenty-first century is the era of the brain, and this show will be riding that wave on the cutting edge of medicine. The brain is the source of everything — from whom we love to how we act and feel. It is the ultimate mystery, which is why doctors call it the “black box.” Dr. Catherine Black and the staff of “The Cube” will constantly be challenged by cases never seen before on television. The patients have rare, highly visual, often hallucinogenic and startling conditions, which we will see through their eyes as Dr. Black diagnoses and treats them.”

Wikipedia’s description adds:

“Dr. Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly) is a famous neuroscientist who secretly has bipolar disorder; the only person who knows is her psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hartramph (Vanessa Redgrave), who was with Catherine after her first break and has been a maternal figure for Catherine since her mother, who also suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide.”

The International Bipolar Foundation post provides a link to a Washington Post/Associated Press article about Black Box written by the renowned AP national television columnist Frazier Moore.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/a-bipolar-doctor-probes-the-brain-on-black-box/2014/04/22/ed899e12-ca28-11e3-b81a-6fff56bc591e_story.html

Let me back up a bit. ¬†I first read about “Black Box” a couple weeks ago in a great blog called “Bipolar, Unemployed and Lost”. ¬†Here’s that post link:

http://insideabipolarhead.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/black-box/

After I viewed the official Black Box preview on YouTube, ¬†I checked out the show’s ABC website and decided I would watch Black Box when the time came.

Back to the Washington Post article. ¬†Frazier Moore wrote an intriguing Black Box¬†article, but the title he chose and the phrasing within his article inspired me to write him a brief email. ¬†His title, as you can infer from the Washington Post link above, ¬†starts with¬†“A Bipolar Doctor” and the phrase is¬†“She’s bipolar.”

Those of you who have followed my writing know I never gave a hoot about how the word “bipolar” was used until I was diagnosed with bipolar!

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Black Box series co-creator Amy Holden Jones commits the same wording sin; her remarks include¬†“bipolar people” and “someone who’s bipolar”. ¬†¬†

When I first read those four items, I felt the equivalent of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard – screeeeeeechhhhhh! ¬†Hey, we all have our “things” that set us off, and this phraseology issue is obviously one of mine. ¬†Maybe I hold such strong opinions about speech and bipolar because I’m the daughter of a speech pathologist/trained theater actress. ¬†Moreover, back in college, I took a “Speech for Teachers” course during my studies to become an English teacher. ¬†My professor gave me the top grade in the class. ¬†The main reason, however, why I feel the way I do is when I say “I’m bipolar” it sounds like that’s pretty much all I am, and nothing else.

I’ve written an essay about the wording of bipolar disorder, and if you want to subject yourself to my entire spiel (I suggest having a cup of coffee first) it has been published by the International Bipolar Foundation, Birth of a New Brain, and at Stigmama.com:

http://stigmama.com/2014/03/12/dyane-harwood-mother-first-bipolar-a-very-distant-second/

ANYWAY, I was in the mood to contact this influential journalist about my cause, so I placed my quivering fingers upon my keyboard and took off.  I tried my best not to come across as freaky-deaky, as I might have acted that way in the past with other people whose writing triggered me.

Here’s what I wrote:

"Dear Frazier,

I hope this finds you well.  I just read your article about the new
television show "Black Box" and I found it exceedingly well written and
interesting.  I would like to bring up a point for your consideration.

I am writer living with bipolar disorder; I was diagnosed at age
thirty-seven just eight weeks postpartum.   I grew up close to my father
who had what was then called "manic depression". (Manic depression is the
term that both Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of "An Unquiet Mind" and I
much prefer.)

I like to tell others that "I have bipolar" instead of saying "I'm
bipolar".  It sounds petty, I know, but more people with this mental
illness feel the same way as I do than you'd expect.  I'm finding that
it's the most respectful way to address people who live with this mood
disorder and so I wanted to share my thoughts with you.  I hope you 
take this email with a grain of salt.  If I didn't like your writing, 
I wouldn't bother taking the time to contact you! ūüôā

I wish you the very best!

Warmest regards,

Dyane Leshin-Harwood, B.A., C.P.T.  
Freelance Writer
Consumer Advisory Council Member, International Bipolar Foundation
Blogger, International Bipolar Foundation
Author of the upcoming book:
"Birth of a New Brain - Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder"


(Dear readers, I couldn't figure out how to change my font back to how it first was:0)
When I checked my email this morning, I was stunned to see a reply from Frazier Moore in 
my in-box.  His warm, diplomatic response, which I copied in part below, really made my 
day.  I honestly didn't expect him to write back, and I had let the whole matter go.

Moreover, Frazier included a brief section (which I've deleted out of respect for his 
privacy) that implied that he had been affected by someone with bipolar disorder in his 
extended circle. It was obvious to me that his own experience has given him 
empathy and compassion for those who suffer with mood disorders. 
I believe that all good journalists have both of these qualities, 
and I am pleased that Frazier Moore appears to be one of them!

Frazier wrote me:
"Thank you for your gracious note. 
I take your point and will aim to be more sensitive in writing about this subject in
the future (which could very well happen if "Black Box" is a hit).  

Btw, I would be interested in what you think about the show if you happen to watch. 

Best, 
Frazier" 


 

On the International Bipolar Foundation Facebook page, there were many 
heated comments in regard to the Black Box announcement - 
it was interesting to read the replies.  To date,
the majority of the comments were negative in regard to the show and 
Black Box hasn't even aired yet.  

(To read these replies, visit the following link and scroll down to the Black Box post 
from 4/22/14)
https://www.facebook.com/InternationalBipolarFoundation

After my exchange occurred with Frazier I felt emboldened to keep speaking up about 
what matters to me as far as bipolar disorder (or anything else) is concerned.  
If each of us addresses the bipolar disorder-related 
issues that are important to us with others, then a 
positive sea change could actually occur.

I will definitely let you and Frazier know my thoughts about this show!

Our Brains Are Tougher Than We Think

imgres-1imgres Yesterday I struggled with writer’s block. ¬†I really wanted to have the satisfaction of writing something ¬†meaningful, though, so I sat down and fumbled in front of my computer. ¬†Facebook was calling my name, but I told it to…please use your imagination!

I decided to free write. ¬†Free writing is a prewriting¬†technique in which you write continuously for a set period of time without getting fixated with spelling, grammar, or topics. ¬†Free writing is supposed to produce raw, often unusable material, but it also helps writers overcome blocks, apathy and self-criticism. ¬†It was just was I needed to do, and it actually worked! ¬†It worked a little too well, as what you’re about to read is overly long. ¬†I should have broken this down into two parts, but please read away if you dare!

The subject that came to me was about something that was within myself all along, literally.  Yes, my very own brain!  I started typing in a frenzy, but then I had to schlep away to do errands and pick up my girls at school.

After I left the house, I noticed something cool happening throughout my day. ¬†I encountered not one, not two, but three concrete, intriguing pieces of brain-related information (and a fourth just plain-old-weird “coincidence” for want of a better word). ¬†Perhaps I was ultra-sensitive to noticing anything brain-themed, but these happenstances seemed too uncanny. ¬†I considered them to be good omens that I was writing about the right topic.

Before I discuss what happened yesterday, I can’t even think about brains anymore without mentioning my most harrowing brain experience, namely my rounds of ECT, ¬†or electroconvulsive therapy.

As some of you faithful readers know from my previous blog post, I’ve had two separate rounds of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

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

The first ECT series I had was after my Dad died. ¬†I became suicidal (he was one of my best friends) and I admitted myself into the hospital. ¬†I asked for ECT because I had been medication-resistant up to that point – it wasn’t forced upon me. ¬†I had unilateral (on one side of the head) ECT. ¬†Several years later, when I relapsed after tapering off my bipolar meds, I had bilateral ECT on both sides of my head. ¬†I was told by my psychiatrist that I would have short-term memory loss only, but I felt totally skeptical. ¬†I was gravely worried that I would have permanent memory loss.

I remembered one time when I was an inpatient at the hospital where I had ECT there was a patient I called “J. Lo” in my unit. ¬†She dressed every day in full makeup and had “Dragon Lady” nails. ¬†J. Lo told me the day before I had ECT that she couldn’t remember her wedding or the births of her children after her ECT, and of course that completely freaked me out. ¬†However,¬†since I was desperate, I went ahead with the ECT anyway.

The good news is that I am one of the luckier ones; ECT helped me function and ultimately do much, much better after suffering during through those suicidal depressions.  After my bilateral ECT, which affects more of the brain, I experienced a few somewhat alarming memory loss experiences.  However, nothing was life-threatening and I even found some humor about the situations which took the sting out of the memory struggles.

One example is when I picked up my girls at school, I ran into some parents in the hallway. Although their faces seemed really familiar,¬†I couldn’t remember their names, which I had known¬†pre-ECT. ¬†I felt embarrassed, unnerved, and even rude at not remembering their names, but my tendency for that to happen reduced greatly over the past few months. My psychiatrist who administered all my ECT told me that my short-term memory loss would come back by the end of six months following my treatment. ¬†While I have no empirical evidence to prove this assertion, I can feel it in my bones that it’s true in my case. ¬†My brain feels stronger, I can retrieve my memories easily, and my intuition tells me that our brains are WAY more resilient than we give them credit for!

The phrase “mind over matter” means when¬†something that seems impossible can be overcome if it’s thought out. ¬†I think that concept could¬†be literally applied to our brains. ¬†I know this will sound a little “out there”, but maybe our thoughts really can heal ourselves, starting with our brain first. ¬†Life is crazy enough – why not?

I live in Santa Cruz, a town famous for its New Age culture, and for all I know there’s a “Resilient Brain” workshop or “Brain Healing Bonanza” weekend nearby at Esalen. ¬†There are lots of books about the brain that examine both traditional and alternative healing techniques. ¬†I’ve also noticed books written by patients with brain injuries or mysterious madnesses who achieve full healing after their traumatic illnesses. ¬†I haven’t read any of them yet, but I bet that some of these books are entirely possible in their far-out-sounding premises.

Something amazing I never expected to happen was how these days I feel heartened at¬†really feeling that my brain is recovering from being zapped, and it’s stronger. ¬†I wonder if our brains get bigger when they are healthier? ¬†Hmmmm – do any of you know? I digress!

I turn forty-four in six days and while I doubt that my brain’s growing older is a plus, I believe that my healthy habits and attitude are restoring my brain. ¬†Some of these habits are: working out, using my Sunbox, having a few people love me unconditionally (and who I love back!) and getting daily doses of nature. ¬†Writing helps too, as does music I enjoy. ¬†Miracle of miracles, I even starting doing a smidgen of guided meditation with my counselor! ¬†In other words,¬†I’m doing many things to keep stable and productive. ¬†(I won’t get into my sugar, fat and chocolate consumption subject now, but you don’t expect me to be perfect, right?)

And now for those brainy coincidences that occurred yesterday. ¬†I received an email message from my friend Amy who runs a yummy gluten-free food business “Gluten-Free For All”. ¬†She wrote me about a psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist/neuroscientist’s podcast. ¬† The headline caught my eye: “How Gluten & Gut Health Impact Your Brain with Dr. Charles Parker”.

http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/2014/03/10/gluten-gut-impact-brain-charles-parker-gfs-podcast-036/

When I visited the link, I noticed a very handy outline of the key points that Dr. Charles Parker makes in his thirty-minute podcast. ¬†I haven’t had a chance to watch the podcast yet, but the outline notes that¬†Dr. Parker discusses how psych medications interfere with the immune system, brain neurotransmitters and gut regulation, as well as exacerbate gluten-sensitivity issues. ¬†Amy has shared with me how much going gluten-free has improved her life dramatically in all sorts of ways, but I haven’t made that plunge yet. ¬†I will watch this podcast later when I work out and hear what Dr. Parker has to say. ¬†I’m curious!

The next brainy thing that I noticed yesterday was posted on one of my favorite blogs “Bipolar, Unemployed and Lost”. ¬†(http://insideabipolarhead.wordpress.com/) ¬†The blogger known as “Oh Temp” informed us that this is “Brain Awareness Week”. ¬†I love how Oh Temp writes in Monday’s blog post:

“This week kicks off¬†NATIONAL BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK and for a whole week I will be posting a random fact on the human brain. Since a lot of our brains hold our STUPID mental illness, I wanted to share great facts about the good and interesting things about the brain!! Enjoy this week, and enjoy your brain (just a little‚Ķ)”

The following link leads you to a two-minute YouTube video “The Human Brain – 10 Fascinating Facts” that Oh Temp posted on the blog. ¬†If you’ve been feeling insecure about your brain’s ability and potential, take two minutes to watch this inspiring video! ¬†You will learn facts you definitely didn’t ¬†know in less time that it takes to brush your teeth.

Soon after I wrote about the “mind over matter” concept above, I took a Facebook surf break. ¬†I encountered this link below, which discusses ten compelling reasons why “mind over matter” may not be a crock of merde. ¬†Some of them I was familiar with, i.e. the placebo effect, but there were others that I hadn’t never heard about before. ¬†I encourage those of you who are especially jaded about the power of positive thinking, etc. to take a peek at this link. ¬†It might very well change your mind literally and figuratively about the power of our brains to change themselves on their own.

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/03/08/10-scientific-studies-that-prove-consciousness-can-alter-our-physical-material-world/

Finally, yesterday in the late afternoon I was driving our windy highway 9 to my house, listening to 95.5 BOB FM. ¬†Peter Gabriel’s song “Shock the Monkey” came on the air, which I haven’t heard or thought of in a SUPER-long time. ¬†I was an 80’s teenager during Gabriel’s height of fame, and I heard that song a bazillion times and I could barely stand watching his disturbing video with the scared-looking monkey. ¬†I’ll be blunt with you – I had no idea what the lyrics meant, as I’ve always been terrible with lyrics. ¬†But the word that struck out for me was hearing “shock” sung repeatedly, reminding me of my ECT a.k.a.”shock” treatments. ¬†Impressionable me, I took that as another strange coincidence since I was writing about ECT and brains that day. ¬†I know that’s a biggggg stretch, but it seemed a bit weird. ¬†It turns out that Gabriel has said “Shock the Monkey” is a love song and about jealousy! It has nothing to do with ECT! ¬†I had no idea. ¬†Go figure! ¬†I still took it as a hippie dippie sign of some sort, silly me.

If you want to watch it, go to this link:

If you are like me in the that you take a lot of heavy-duty bipolar medications, you may sometimes wonder how these meds truly affect our brains. ¬†I am just hoping that our chemically “different” brains can not just handle the drugs that give us the gift of stability, but that our brains can get better, not worse, for a good long while. ¬†Let me know what you think and thanks so much for reading this novella. ¬†I got carried away – my brain couldn’t help it! ūüėČ

Back to My Book Today & “You’re Just Like Me: Dyane”

Today is the day!  

After I drop my girls off at school, if I make it back home alive (it’s always a risk driving in the school’s parking lot from hell!) I’m planting myself in my freshly organized office. ¬†It’s once again time to work on my book ¬†Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. ¬†I’ll be praying that I won’t relapse before this project is completed. ¬†(I relapsed last year, and I cancelled my long-awaited book contract because of that setback…ugh.)

In short, I’m scared.

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I have a hundred pages that I wrote well over a year ago. ¬†I plan to sit my ass down and review them, but since a lot of that material was written when I was hypomanic or manic, I doubt much of it will be salvageable. ¬†At least it’s a starting point.

Since I don’t have much time today to work on my usual, overly long blog post, I thought I’d share a recent Q&A from the popular blog “Bipolar, Unemployed and Lost – The Real Thoughts of a Bipolar Mind”. ¬†It’s about, ahem, me.

Check it out, and take a look at Oh Temp’s other compelling posts – you may even want to participate in this Q&A yourself. ¬†“You’re Just Like Me” is a weekly feature. ¬†You just need to¬†email your answers to the questions you see in my submission to bipolarunemployedlost@gmail.com. Oh Temp writes in the blog, “We will feature your Q&A! ¬†I‚Äôd love to hear your experience and motivation to fight this horrible disease.”

http://insideabipolarhead.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/youre-just-like-me-dyane/

I’ll be posting here later this week, and I hope you will check back.

Thanks for visiting my blog – it really means a great deal to me that you’re reading this, and now I’m getting all verklempt but really, I feel honored to have my diatribes read by someone besides me! ¬†ūüėČ

Take care.

Dyane

p.s. If you are a mom living with mental illness, please visit the brand-new blog/Facebook page “Stigmama”. ¬†This resource has been created by Dr. Walker Karraa, a perinatal mental health advocate, author and researcher. ¬†To learn about her work visit http://www.walkerkarraa.com.

Stigmama is a “community blog dedicated to women’s experiences of stigma regarding mental illness and motherhood.”

Stigmama is seeking blog submissions and you can find contact info. at the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stigmamacom/436581233140467