Book Review & Thoughts On Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Harwood
Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Harwood follows her harrowing journey of living with mental illness – something she thought would never happen to her. But, honestly, who does? Dyane takes you on an amazing adventure as she shares her whole life with her readers. She walks you through her less than perfect childhood. You are right there with her as she discusses what it was like to grow up with a father who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.Dyane vividly explains her first brush with hypomania, well before she ever received her diagnoses. She entails her many heartbreaks before finding the love of her life, her husband Craig. After they got married, Dyane finds out that she is pregnant and the birth of her first daughter, Avonlea, goes off without a hitch. Fast forward to the birth of Dyane’s second daughter, Marilla, and the life that she created and knew so well gets thrown into shambles as her own bipolar disorder was activated. She was diagnosed with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, known as PPBD – Postpartum Bipolar Disorder.
Dyane’s memoir shows what it is like to have the calm before the storm. You can honestly feel deeply for her and everything that she has been through. It is so easy to get drawn into her story and feel what she must have felt as she watched herself – and her life – get torn apart by her PPBD. Her loss is so real, and it’s hard not to relate if you, yourself, have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Even if you haven’t, her story is still relatable.Dyane was known as a medication resistant patient. She has tried as many as, if not more, than 20 different pharmaceutical medications that left her and her doctors feeling frustrated and hopeless. She was hospitalized roughly seven times in different Behavioral Health Units. Nothing seemed to work for her. It was a whole lot of trial, and a whole lot of error until Dyane and her mental health care team came up with a plan that would finally work for her. Throughout Birth of a New Brain, Dyane shares her manic highs and her depressive lows. After the loss of her father, Dyane had become suicidal and knew immediately that she needed to be hospitalized again. Enter ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments. Dyane affirms that ECT saved her life. Her bipolar depression was no longer as difficult and challenging to live with. It is almost like a dark cloud had been lifted from her head and she was able to see and think with some clarity again. Dyane had gone through certain times in her life where she believed that tapering off of her medications would be good for her. The thing is, both times she tried ended up as an epic fail. After she realized that medication was needed in order for her to find some stability within the chaos of her mind, an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) was added into the picture along with her daily doses of Lithium. Dyane was soon the most stable she had been in years, and her story soon has a happier ending.
Personally, I was infatuated with Birth of a New Brain. I didn’t want to put this book down. I can relate to a lot of what Dyane went through. Minus the fact that I don’t have children. In my honest opinion, I give this book a 5 out of 5-star rating and I highly recommend this book to everyone. It shows you that even when we are going through our darkest times, there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.
You can check out a fun Q&A session that I had the pleasure of doing with Dyane by Clicking Here
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.