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Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar

After being a fan of the International Bipolar Foundation blogging community, it is an honor to share my perspectives about living with bipolar disorder with you. I wish to help you feel less alone in living with this mood disorder, and to emulate the I.B.F.’s mission to “erase stigma through education.” 

I grew up close to my violinist father who had bipolar one disorder. Dad promised me that I would “never get it”.  Interestingly, many of his fellow colleagues in his orchestra (one of the world’s top orchestras) had bipolar as well.   

At age sixteen I visited my Dad at his psychiatric unit, bringing his million-dollar Stradivarius violin as he requested.  I got my hand slapped for that one, but I didn’t care, as I felt terrible that he was deeply depressed.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be hospitalized for the same illness over two decades later.

Six weeks after the birth of my daughter, I became manic due to a combination of extreme sleep deprivation, genetic predisposition, and hormones. My husband persuaded me to check myself into the local hospital. At first I resisted going there as my manic state made me feel invincible; moreover, I didn’t want to leave my adorable newborn. I thought that I would somehow magically convince the staff that I didn’t need their services, but I was placed on a 5150 hold.

When I called my father from the unit’s pay phone to tell him I was diagnosed with bipolar, he cried, as he felt responsible.  When he died in 2009, I became suicidal and I was hospitalized for the second time. I missed his funeral and felt so despondent that I asked for ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments.

Over the years since that time, I tried over twenty different medications to no avail. I was burned out.  I researched those with bipolar who lived medication-free and I consulted a famous expert.  I decided to do a slow taper off meds. At first it seemed like I was doing better, but then I became manic.  You can guess the rest.  I was hospitalized and felt suicidal.  Then I tried a new medication combination.  This “cocktail” lifted my depression and I got my life back.  Now I accept taking medication and incorporating holistic modalities.  After feeling inhuman for so long, I feel hopeful. I look forward to sharing my journey with you. 

While I have lots of ideas for this blog, I am curious…what topics would you like to read about?

Comments

Dyane, you are an inspiration to many! I applaud your efforts and hope you will continue the mission to "erase stigma through education."

I like reading about your current life, your children, your writing, how you maintain daily balance.

Best to you always,

Merry

Dyane, you are a strong voice in the fight against stigma and I'm so glad we met via the interwebs. So proud of you for sharing your story to help others!! I'd love for you to write more about being a mom with bipolar disorder and how it affects your parenting, if it does at all.

Thank you Merry & Jenn for your wonderful comments! Oh yes, I definitely want to write about being a mom with bipolar & how it most definitely affects my parenting! Great suggestion, Jenn! Your unique website's blog (http://www.bipolarmomlife.com/) and your extraordinary upcoming production "This Is My Brave" recognizing those who are brave enough to share their lives to eradicate stigma (http://thisismybrave.com/) inspire me each and every day! :)) I'm super-stoked to have discovered you and your innovative work.

I always love your story, it is so inspirational to me, your friend, Cat...!!!

Commenting as requested - smooch.

Tough question; moving target. Good article.

I miss seeing you! I have been backsliding....always an up and down, haha... You are so amazing.

You are amazing and I'm sorry that blog post ended so quickly! I wanted to keep reading!!

Thank you for your courage in advocating for yourself and others with mental illness. I will never stop hoping for a cure.

I am not sure if you have researched this or not. You have gone through a period of reducing, and I believe being without drugs after you were on them for a while. I would like to hear what you have heard in terms of why to take drugs, and why not to take them.

I tend to fall toward the end of not taking drugs, but I am currently taking drugs, and tapering myself. I expect it will probably take over a year to taper off fully the neuroleptic that I am currently on.

I am also using orthomolecular medicine to help with the process. That I am doing with the guidance of a doctor who specializes in treating people through orthomolecular medicine. Good luck.

Dyane is an inspiration to me. I was also diagnosed with Bipolar, 2 years after the birth of my son. It is so necessary to have people (especially mothers) talk about the devastation of this illness and also provide light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who have been through the emotional wringer.
I look forward to reading her blog everyday!

Your message is very moving. I makes me realize just how fortunate I am and how many there are out there that need to know that survival is possible and there are others that want to help. My prayers are with you.

Dyane,

Thomas Edison is acclaimed to have said, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Well, you my dear are a success in every way. You are an inspiration and I am so glad to know you.

Sincerely,
Blaine

Oh... I'm so glad you wrote this, and that I am reading it through the ibpf. I also got diagnosed BP2 after the birth of my first daughter who I <3 so much... still haven't found stability in meds and Dr's and It's been difficult not knowing other moms in my position. I Will be following your blog :)

Thanks so much for your heartfelt comments - they all made my day, especially hearing from Christy Luvsra. Christy, thank you so much for sharing what happened to you - don't give up hope on finding stability! Please come visit me at my Wordpress blog if you can; the address is www.http://proudlybipolar.wordpress.com/ and some of the older posts address the circuitous paths I took after being diagnosed with postpartum bipolar, as will future posts. take care! Hang in there! wamrest regards, Dyane

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