Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life by Melody Moezzi © 2013 Penguin
Going off the fiction trail this time for a memoir about—you guessed it—a person with bipolar disorder. Healthy, intelligent, accomplished, and above all, passionate, Melody seems like a person who could change the world. Indeed, she is determined to change the world, convinced she can change the world, and pursues her goal so frenetically, you begin to see the cracks that explain the prologue which has Melody locked up in a mental health facility.
The story follows Iranian-heritaged Melody through college and into thirty-something adulthood, describing ups (a summer at Glacier National Park, writing and media success) and downs (pancreatic disease, upheaval in Iran) which are understandable. Yet, there are other ups (hula-hooping to elect Obama, house cleaning all-nighters) and downs (days in bed, conspiracy theories) which are not normal. Sometimes, you like Melody. She’s fun and energetic. Other times you can’t stand her. She’s an attention hog, and problems are always someone else’s fault. The highs and lows, good and bad, are simply laid out there, unapologetically and un-sugarcoated. Moezzi doesn’t delve into the whys of her bipolarism, she just shows what it is. So the book is far more story than educational tool. It’s crisply, actively written, which keeps it entertaining, and you do learn a few things along the way.
What I liked best is that she never pretended to have bi-polar licked. Even after she accepts the problem and its treatment, you see it lurking. To the last page, Melody thinks the dumb doctors should have diagnosed her sooner, overlooking how she made every effort to deceive them. In her mind, virtually all the mental health professionals she encountered treated her like shit, when the reader can see clearly it was the other way around. She’s frustrating, but quite real, and a very good writer.
H and H is an intriguing look at someone embracing, managing, and making the best of who she is. The bipolar life is alternately fun and frightening, but, in Melody’s case, never dull. Thanks for your honesty, Mel. Good luck with that unruly flower. And welcome to my bookshelf.