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Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  925 ratings  ·  140 reviews
With candor and humor, a manic-depressive Iranian-American Muslim woman chronicles her experiences with both clinical and cultural bipolarity. 

Melody Moezzi was born to Persian parents at the height of the Islamic Revolution and raised amid a vibrant, loving, and gossipy Iranian diaspora in the American heartland.  When at eighteen, she began battling a severe physical ill
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Avery (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Melody Moezzi
May 30, 2013 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm not rating this book because I wrote it. I just wanted to pop in to thank my readers. I hope y'all enjoy the book, and if you're reading it as part of a book club, do let me know. I've been known to Skype with book clubs from time to time :). ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. I was looking forward to reading a story by an Iranian American woman, who, after surviving a life-threatening illness, was plunged into the depths (and highs) of bipolar disorder. I took to heart that this description would be true: "Refusing to be ashamed, Moezzi became an outspoken advocate, determined to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and reclaim her life along the way." That was a mistake.

Melody and I would never be friends in real life. Altho
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I am having a hard time knowing how to rate and review this book. On the one hand, I thought it was a refreshingly honest memoir of one person's experience with bipolar disorder. Melody Moezzi is an accomplished writer, willing to be honest (even when it makes her look bad) and forthcoming about her experiences. While her experience is unique, any person with bipolar, or who loves someone who is bipolar, is likely to recognize a lot of aspects of Melody's story. And heaven knows, we need a lot m ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychopathology
This is the bipolar memoir I've been looking for. This is the book I would recommend to all my friends--to everyone actually, whether plagued by mental illness or not. This book might not have the poetic prose of Jamison's An Unquiet mind, but it does have what the former lacked: honesty. By writing this book, Melody exposed herself to the world, sharing both the good and the bad, and subsequently encouraging others to come out with their problems. Mental illness isn't shameful; it's more common ...more
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the first two pages, Melody warns: "Insomuch as the structure of this book parallels that of my own mind, it boasts about as much order and linearity as a hallucination." And like that, I was hooked. How better to convey the bipolar shuttling between mania and, for lack of a better word, what most of us take for granted as "normal"? The writing is most riveting in the author's depiction of the buildup to, the aftermath of, and especially the stark, harrowing experience of a manic episode. If ...more
Book Riot Community
The subtitle of Moezzi’s memoir is “A bipolar life” which tends to suggest what the major focus of the book will be about, and so it was with some surprise when I discovered that “bipolar” had an awful lot less to do with the story than “a life” did. This might sound like a complaint, but it isn’t remotely. Melody Moezzi is an amazing writer, sharp and witty and very funny, describing life as a young Iranian woman raised by her family in the American midwest, balancing those two sides of her wor ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I won this from a goodreads giveaway, best book I have won! I want to be best friends with this author. Awesome book, highly recommend.
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
As a fan of memoirs in general, especially those with mental illness at their core, I thought this book started out strong. However, in the end I must admit that the overall tone of it left me feeling a bit put off-almost as if the author secretly believed the reader should feel priviledged to have been exposed to her thoughts. Additionally,there were several instances throughout the text where she comes across as a bit rascist, or perhaps,a bit superior to those around her who come from a diffe ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is, from start to finish, extraordinary. Moezzi wraps an extremely revealing and personal memoir in witty phrasing and shockingly candid (and always entertaining) narration. She shares the most intimate details of her journey as a renowned writer and activist subjected to a series of shocking medical misdiagnoses and ultimately a label (bipolar) that she herself didn't at the time yet understand.

Her exploration of what it means to be bipolar- to both the patient and those who love the
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am a librarian at a juvenile detention facility. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. The following review is from a student:

"Really good book, very down to earth. I connected with the author a lot and I couldn't put the book down! Should read!!"
Dena Behi
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A well written roller coaster. It's rare to read a book where you feel like you are really inside the author's mind. I really appreciated Melody's honest telling and am looking forward to reading what she's got for us next! ...more
Candace H-H
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
“If you survive cancer, most people call you a hero and inspiration, and they tell you so. If you survive a mental illness, most people consider you a feeble-minded degenerate and an embarrassment and they wouldn’t dare tell you so.” An astonishingly honest account of living as a Iranian American Muslim woman with bipolar disorder. Some reviewers comment that she can be unlikeable, but I commend the author for not sanitizing her thoughts and judgements, especially in regards to her periods of ma ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I had to Google both words in the title of this book. In case you don't know what they are, haldol is an antipsychotic medication, and hyacinth is some kind of a flower. Quite a name for a book.

This is the third memoir on bipolar disorder that I can remember reading, the other two being: An Unquiet Mind, and Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. I think bipolar writers write during their manic (or at least hypomanic) phase, which makes sense. Who wants to (or can) write a book in th
Jan 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life by Melody Moezzi is a hardcover library book I began reading on January 17th, 2014. Being as I battle depression and anxiety in my daily life right now as well have a keen interest on the mental health battles of others and psychology in general, I anticipated that this would be a self-involving read.

I'm going to coin a phrase for Ms Moezzi's style of writing that I don't believe I've used on anyone prior - she writes with a liberal sprinkling of fine-grain g
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-written memoir about what it's like to be in a psychiatric institution and to live with bipolar disorder. She has an amazing support system, which unfortunately, many people with severe mental illness lack. She is Iranian-American, and it's nice to see her perspective -- so many memoirs about mental illness are written by white women. It's good to see other experiences and begin to understand how the experience of mental illness can differ based on ethnicity, whether it's based on cultura ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic, 2015
**Memoir is hard to rate/review because memory is so slippery even when there isn't mental illness involved. And because as readers we bring certain expectations and think it needs to fit a certain mould, but really it's so dependent on the individual author's sensibilities, personality and way of looking at/interacting with the world. So while I might've connected heavily with memoirs that really plumbed the depths of a writer's heart/soul/emotions or described events in more visceral detail, I ...more
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Perhaps it's the bane of the delusional to come off sounding condescending. That certainly was the case with An Unquiet Mind, and certain aspects of that memoir are mirrored here. Again, this is certainly apropos of the disease. But I have to wonder why so much of the account didn't ring true for me. Sure everyone's disease and experiences are different, but I found her tone to be flip and her self-deprecation forced. For example, her suicide attempt seemed (don't sue me) insincere and not well ...more
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this memoir, especially the humor she used to face and cope with a very difficult illness. I can imagine how difficult it must have been to write about yourself and your multiple mental breakdowns, so humor seems entirely appropriate to me. The memoir is not a linear one but is still pretty easy to understand. As a child of immigrant parents (but as someone who does not have bipolar disorder), there was plenty to relate to for me. Oddly enough, the writer and I went to the same school ...more
Bonnie Irwin
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs-bios
Moezzi deftly weaves her bipolar and bicultural experiences into a well-paced narrative. When she describes her manic episodes, we find ourselves reading faster, as though we are experiencing a little of what her brain went through. Along the way, we get to meet her supportive, intelligent, and often-worried spouse Matt and her Iranian-American family of doctors, each trying to see her through her ups and downs. Moezzi is now an advocate for those with mental illness, and her experiences show th ...more
Gina Pettitt
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm glad I judged a book by it's cover in this instance, my eye was caught. All that was needed was for me to have read on the inside jacket that whilst Melody Moezzi was surrounded by family during a hospital stay that was due to a physical illness ~ there was an obverse sense of absenteeism when she was hospitalised, due to a continuing battle with mental illness. I was sold on a somewhat associative level so decided I had to have this book. There is no more qualified person to write and infor ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the best mental health memoir I've ever read, and I've read a lot of them. It is sharp and witty, it is accurate and does not hold back, and it is, most of all, more than JUST a mental health memoir. It shows the perspective of an Iranian-American woman, which gives it a cultural competency piece missing from most contemporary memoirs. It talks about the research and the symptomology of bipolar disorder in a conversational, easy-to-digest fashion, mixing Moezzi's experience with the illn ...more
I was planning to give this book 5 stars based on bipolar solidarity, but it turns out it earned 5 all on its own. There are a lot of mental health memoirs out there, but Moezzi stands out with her beautiful prose, humor, and frank self-assessments. I liked that she addressed not just psychological bipolarity, but also the cultural bipolarity she has experienced as an Iranian-American. If you want a glimpse into mania and depression or life as an American Muslim or life as an immigrant, (or all ...more
Andrea Norr
May 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
I hated this book. I wanted to finish it bough, because I don't think it's fair to review a book I haven't completed. The author comes across as a spoiled, flippant, entitled and obnoxious bitch. Her husband sounds like an absolute Saint for putting up with her. She spends a lot of time tooting her own horn about how smart she is, yet she has the emotional depth of a puddle. There was nothing I liked about this book except that it only took me a day to read it. I enjoy books about mental illness ...more
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. It was a powerful and insightful ride to be taken through the bi-polar life! Although this book is written about a deep and serious topic, the writer herself is quick witted, humorous, and honest throughout making it a very enjoyable read. This is the first book I have read by Melody Moezzi and clearly she has a natural knack for writing in general. I will be soon pursuing her other titles! Thanks for the opportunity to read this book!
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This memoir is raw and inspiring. Through her story, Melody gives us hope to overcome anything that may come our way and to never quit believing in yourself. Definitely a good read!
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
a candid memoir that took both genuine courage & manic separation from reality to write & share without fear of what others might think.
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
The author did a wonderful job of communicating the way it feels for her to be bipolar. I admired her zeal for life, her desire to right wrongs and her fierce loyalty to her family and friends.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had difficulty determining if the narrative was written to sound pretentious and spoiled (as the author describes herself) to reflect the author's personality or if it was exaggerated to illustrate the characteristic of her illness.

I found this memoir to be eye opening in terms of sharing how terrifying a manic episode and psychotic breakdown can be. The search for diagnosis and proper treatment is difficult and costly, mentally and emotionally. And I'm sure acceptance of the diagnosis can be
Sharayah Preman
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
First off, I want to say how much I respect the author for writing this book. As someone who was also “locked up” in a psychiatric setting for suicide ideation, among other things, this book hit close to home. I’ve lived similar experiences with staff indifferences and psychosis.
But I did have some issues with this book. Mainly, that the author’s attempts at connecting passages fell short more often than not. When she tried connect a personal experience with a psychological statistic or histori
Meredith Inglis
Sep 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: garbage, 2020-books
Disclaimer- I suffer with bipolar 1 disorder and have been hospitalized at a state hospital against my will. I have seen and suffered trauma I would not wish on anyone.

With that being said...

I DNF’ed at page 113. To be fair, I highlighted so many things in this book before this point. It resonated with me. She was speaking in the bipolar language I understand.


It got pretentious. We get you are a really smart Iranian who speaks down on other races and religions. Oh no. How dare she be inter
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Mansfield Public ...: Haldol and Hyacinths Review by Sharon Wapen 1 4 Aug 13, 2013 12:08PM  

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Melody Moezzi is an Iranian-American Muslim author, attorney, activist, and visiting professor of creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Kirkus calls her latest book, The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life, “a heartening narrative of family, transformation, and courage” that “could shatter a variety of prejudices and stereotypes. ...more

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“Telling someone who is manic that she's manic is like telling a dictator that he's a dick. Neither is going to admit it, and both are willing to torture you to prove their points.” 40 likes
“Insomuch as the structure of this book parallels that of my own mind, it boasts about as much order and linearity as a hallucination.” 3 likes
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