I have been promising the wonderful author Dyane Harwood a review for her excellent memoir ‘Birth Of A New Brain’ for weeks now. Dyane and I started chatting on Twitter and she was kind enough to send me a copy of her book. The familiarity of Dyane’s experience hit home to me on so many levels having suffered from undiagnosed bipolar episodes soon after the birth of two of my four babies myself, in fact the book turned out to be so good that I hungrily devoured it in a single session!
These days most of us are familiar with the term ‘postpartum depression’, friends and families are told to keep an eye out for new mothers incase the ‘baby blues’ develops into something more sinister. But occasionally people are hit with the opposite end of the spectrum, the expected happy joyousness of having a new family member can propel unforgivingly into damaging postpartum hypomania, mania and even psychosis triggering a life long battle with mental illness.
“Birth Of A New Brain” is Dyane Harwood’s personal story of her diagnosis and adapting to life after developing ‘postpartum onset bipolar disorder’. Diagnosis for Dyane came about with a hypomanic episode that began just hours following the birth of her second daughter which morphed into full blown acute mania requiring psychiatric hospitalisation within six weeks.
As we read more details about Dyane’s life, as is often the case in people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hindsight shows the tell-tale signs of hypomania’s and depressions had been mild but present for a long time prior to her diagnosis. Growing up with a father who had suffered from Type 1 bipolar disorder had also left Dyane unfortunately predisposed to winning this particular genetic lottery.
From the euphoric highs to the devastating lows, Dyane’s story tugs at the heart strings and will leave you laughing in one paragraph and crying in the next. For those of us blessed with the same curse, we find ourselves relating oh so much as she eloquently details her experiences of her long journey to ‘get well’ which included everything from traditional medications to electro shock therapy.
Within this beautifully written book Dyane expertly guides her readers through the hellish world of trial and error that comes with treatment resistant depression, she divulges to her audience what really goes on behind the closed doors of the psych ward and shares with us the pressures of marriage and raising children while battling a mental illness.
I give ‘Birth Of A New Brain’ 5 out of 5 stars, it is a must read for those with bipolar disorder, those who love someone with bipolar disorder and those with an interest in mental health. Buy it HERE today!