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Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder Paperback – October 10, 2017
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"Dyane Harwood's Birth of a New Brain is a gripping account of the awful juxtaposition of childbirth and the onset of bipolar illness. Her book is an informative and important contribution to our understanding of this triggering of mental illness that happens more often than is generally recognized." (Kay Redfield Jamison, author of "An Unquiet Mind" and "Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire")
"With candid, explicit depictions of her compelling journey through postpartum bipolar disorder, Dyane skillfully brings the painful honesty necessary for growth in our field, as well as hope to those suffering. Birth of a New Brain is a rare resource that will benefit practitioners, their patients, and the public at large." (Shoshana S. Bennett Ph.D. Author, "Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression" & "Anxiety, Postpartum for Dummies, Clinical Psychologist for Perinatal Disorders")
"Dyane Harwood's new book Birth of a New Brain is a phenomenal gift to the mental illness community, especially for postpartum sufferers. Dyane's clever weave of gut-wrenching honesty entwined with intricate storytelling illuminates an under-profiled mental illness. Birth of a New Brain is an important addition to the world's mood disorder literature, and it will help those with perinatal and bipolar disorders of all kinds. Delve into Dyane's incredible story, one that untangles the baffling and under-reported illness of postpartum bipolar-disorder. Prepare to be moved. You won't regret it." (Wendy K. Williamson, Author, "I'm Not Crazy Just Bipolar" and "Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder")
"Bipolar illness is serious and widely misunderstood. When it emerges in the postpartum period, women and medical professionals are often blindsided due to the current lack of awareness. Birth of a New Brain is a brave and deeply personal account of how bipolar illness can impact a new mother. Her honest reveal of startling references such as mania, ECT, hospital wards, suicide and "tsunami obsessions" creates heartfelt transparency and highlights its stigma-busting potential. Postpartum women in distress will relate to Dyane Harwood's genuineness and be greateful for this book." (Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW, Author, "The Art of Holding: An Essential Intervention for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety," Founder, The Postpartum Stress Center)
"This is a story of when love alone can and cannot heal in bipolar disorder. It is a story of mental illness seen through the eyes of a daughter, a wife, and a mother. Birth of a New Brain was a privilege to read." (Dr. Greg de Moore, Author of Finding Sanity: John Cade, Lithium, and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, Australia)
"With artful prose and brutal honesty, Dyane Harwood depicts her struggle to have a stable, peaceful life as a wife and mother amidst the turmoil brought on by postpartum bipolar disorder in Birth of a New Brain. Despite many false starts, missteps, and even cruel and indifferent treatment at the hands of certain medical professionals she encountered, Harwood soldiered on and finally arrived at her own truth. The answers, for the most part, were inside her all along, and consisted of self-care habits, including healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and consistent exercise. Thoroughly researched with a wealth of resources for mothers and families, Birth of a New Brain is an invaluable resource and reference point for mothers grappling with shifts in mood after the birth of their children." (Matt Samet, Author, Death Grip: A Climber's Escape from Benzo Madness, Editor, Climbing Magazine)
"Dyane Harwood's book Birth of a New Brain is very timely. As the different lines of evidence are converging on a balanced and holistic approach in treating mood disorders, Dyane successfully weaves the latest research with personal insight to produce a very impactful roadmap for others towards recovery." (Mohammad Alsuwaidan, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Dip ABPN Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Kuwait University & University of Toronto, Head of Mental Health Unit, Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital, Board of Councilors, International Society for Bipolar Disorders)
"Birth of a New Brain is a candid portrayal of Dyane Harwood's lived experience of pospatrum bipolar disorder. In my 25 years of practice as a perinatal psychiatrist, I have not come across a book that left me so informed, moved and inspired. The mental health field owes her a debt of gratitude for all she has done to highlight the triggering role of childbirth in bipolar disorder. This is a must-read for mental health practitioners as well as sufferers of bipolar disorder." (Dr. Verinder Sharma, Professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada)
"Birth of a New Brain is essential reading not only for mental health care professionals, but for anyone who is suffering or knows someone who has been affected by bipolar disorder or a perinatal mood disorder. I admire Dyane for not only sharing her courageous journey, but also educating us about a subject that is not nearly discussed enough." (Lindsay Gerszt, Executive Producer of "When the Bough Breaks")
"With Birth of a New Brain, Dyane Harwood adds to the body of work on perinatal mood disorders by providing a thorough, moving account of her journey toward mental wellness after postpartum bipolar mania. Like many other women, because Harwood had no prior diagnosis of bipolar disorder and nobody caught the red flags in her mental history, she was unaware she risked a mental health crisis postpartum.
We often associate bipolar disorder (pre-existing or postpartum onset/diagnosis) with postpartum psychosis may have an underlying bipolar disorder, not all of those with bipolar have psychosis, and not all those with psychosis have bipolar." (Teresa Twomey, JD, Author of Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness, Postpartum Support International State Coordinator, CT, and TEDxBushnell Park Presenter "What is Postpartum Psychosis?")
About the Author
Dyane Harwood holds a B.A. in English and American Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A freelance writer for two decades, she has interviewed bestselling authors including Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain, and SARK. In 2007, Harwood was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder (bipolar, peripartum onset).
Harwood has been profiled in The Huffington Post about her postpartum mental health advocacy. PsychCentral honored Harwood as a Mental Health Hero, and the International Bipolar Foundation featured her as a “Story of Hope and Recovery.” Harwood has written about postpartum bipolar disorder for The Mighty, Anchor Magazine, Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Progress, and the Stigma Fighters Anthology. She founded a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and facilitated free support groups for women for nine years. Harwood lives in Ben Lomond, California, with her two daughters, husband, and Scotch collie.
Dr. Carol Henshaw was a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of Keele, UK, a consultant psychiatrist at the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Perinatal Section. Dr. Henshaw is a former president of the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health, a scientific society devoted to mental illness related to childbearing. She has published numerous articles on perinatal depression. Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry, Perinatal Mental Health: The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) Manual, and Screening for Perinatal Depression.
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Top customer reviews
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I loved so many things about this book. The details of how her bipolar disorder manifested after the birth of her second child were as fascinating as they were heart-wrenching.
Despite the serious content, I enjoyed the easy-to-read and almost conversational writing style which added to the difficulty I had in putting the book down. I also enjoyed the beautiful and sometimes painful descriptions of growing up in the Pacific Palisades, with the normal struggles and confusions of adolescence complicated by having a parent with a mental illness that was not adequately treated.
Also, there was so much in this story I identified with. How I wish I had been able to read this book when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I especially related to the difficulties of finding the right drug treatment combination. It is so easy for people to say of people with bipolar disorder, “Well if they would just take their medicine, they would be fine.” It is not always that simple. Like me, Dyane started out taking olanzapine and as with me, it did nothing at all to alleviate her depression. Like me, she felt horrible on the drug. I was so frustrated when the people around me pronounced me “well” because I was no longer talking fast or saying strange things, yet the drug acted as a lid on my mood that seemed to be keeping me depressed to the point I barely recognized myself. Dyane does such an excellent job of capturing that desperation to be free of the “lid” that is sometimes hard for non-bipolar sufferers to understand. I believe my depression would have been less lonely if I had been able to read "Birth of a New Brain" during one of the most painful and confusing periods of my life.
I could go on but I do not want to give too much away. Let me just say that this is a moving, beautifully written memoir that is likely to inspire any reader, with or without bipolar disorder. In terms of the writing, her voice, her imagery, and her command of the narrative are pitch perfect, and I would recommend this book to anyone.
With her friendly approachable writing style, her strong spirit shines throughout her memoir, even when describing the devastation of bipolar disorder. Her story shows how important it is to not give up. She had to undergo hospitalizations, ECT, and multiple medication trials to find what worked for her.
Dyane explains both the traumatic symptoms she experienced and technical psychiatric information clearly and accurately. She managed to inform and inspire me. Her book is well-researched and includes useful and informative resources throughout and in her appendices. She even includes me as a resource (I’m totally flattered).
I identify with Dyane’s experience as a mother diagnosed with bipolar disorder postpartum, for I too began hypomanic ramping when breastfeeding my son. Honestly, I began ramping during my pregnancy -- which led to workaholism, overactivity, and then bed rest -- but I wasn’t diagnosed until he was a toddler. My diagnosis of dysthymia (chronic depression), which I had since I was eighteen, changed to bipolar type II. Both Dyane and I had our worlds turned upside down by the onset of our illnesses. As I write, I’m almost brought to tears remembering that time.
Shortly after I began blogging in late 2013, I met Dyane Harwood through her personal blog — Birth of a New Brain: A Writer Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder (Bipolar, Peripartum Onset), which you can find at proudlybipolar.wordpress.com. Meeting Dyane online made living with bipolar disorder easier. Her support and friendship has been instrumental in my personal mental health recovery.
Dyane's book about how she overcame tremendous odds to wrestle the rare bipolar disorder she has struck me as courageous and honest. She never strays from looking bipolar head on. This is an unflinching narrative about her journey through a maze of therapists, therapies, unwanted conditions, interpersonal conflicts, and much, much more.
Since Dyane and I live very close to each other, I was also intrigued by all the local sights and places she visited. I can understand how "Forest Bathing" could help to sooth the soul, and appreciated her take on being outside among the trees.
Above all, I appreciated Dyane's honesty in bringing to light her postpartum depression.
Great book, and highly recommended!
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