The Mighty: Live Q&A with Melody Moezzi

From The Mighty:

Melody Moezzi is a writer, speaker, activist, attorney, award-winning author, and an Adversity 2 Advocacy (A2A) Advocate. She is speaking and answering questions today about her experiences living with bipolar disorder and as a dedicated mental health advocate who has spent years combating the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

Muslim-American Mental Health Advocate Melody Moezzi is Putting Up a Fierce Fight ( Interview by Linea Johnson)

In 2013, I was attending a conference by the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance in Miami to receive their Life Unlimited Award for my work in mental health as an advocate and author. I had been in the advocacy world for about six years, and the book I’d co-written with my mother about my struggle with bipolar and her struggle to help me had been out for a year at that point. In other words, I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities as an advocate at that point, but of course, I knew I still had much to learn. But after years of speaking, I was struggling to find female advocates that were my age and on the circuit in the same way I was. Though I was constantly speaking to large audiences, a part of me felt alone in my advocacy. And then I met Melody Moezzi.

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LIVING WELL by Melody Moezzi for ASHA International

For me, wellness is about being able to fulfill your purpose in life. It’s not about the absence of illness or disability-certainly not in my case, as part of my purpose is to fight the stigma and discrimination surrounding illness and disability. To be well in my book is to be doing that which you are meant to be doing-not based on the judgments of yourself or the expectations of others, but based on the unique design and demands of your own singular soul. For me, that means creating art and pursuing justice-and doing it all, as much as possible, through love. In order to live well-that is, to be able to do that which I am meant to be doing-I need to take care of my body, mind and soul. This means eating largely real food with ingredients I can pronounce and exercising (which I admit I’m not that great at, but I try). It also means taking medication, attending weekly therapy, engaging in daily prayers, and spending quality time with the people I love most. Ultimately though, I don’t think that we always need to be well in order to live well. A lot of living well-especially for those of us living with mental health conditions-is about learning how to manage when we’re not necessarily feeling our best. As I see it, to be well is to experience the full range of human emotion and experience with grace and curiosity-to wonder what each experience and emotion has to teach us instead of immediately judging ourselves and the events in our lives as necessarily good or bad. Often, the same experiences that I felt were the worst things to ever happen to me (a pancreatic tumor and bipolar disorder, for example) at the time turned out to be the best things to ever happen to me, because they helped me the most along my journey to finding and following my true purpose in life.

Melody Moezzi, an Iranian-American writer, activist, attorney and award-winning author.

To learn more about Melody’s journey to wellness, please read her memoir, Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life.

To hear Melody’s message of hope, please watch the video below.

BookRiot: A Nonfiction Reading List in Honor of Carrie Fisher (List by Katie MacBride)

There were too many painful losses to count in 2016, and the death of Carrie Fisher was among the most painful for me. I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars movies–-I never got around to it as a kid and now it’s just fun to watch people’s horrified reactions when I tell them I’ve never seen the iconic films. I read her memoir, Wishful Drinking, the year I got sober. I related to Fisher on many levels–-as a recovering alcoholic, as a person who has learned not to be ashamed of her depression, as someone who is really and truly obsessed with her dog, and as a woman who has always found humor in the blunt, the sarcastic, and the inappropriate. So inspired not just by Wishful Drinking but her entire life, here are 10 non-fiction books I think the Great Carrie Fisher, Our Misfit Queen, would appreciate.

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Bipolar [bp] Magazine: Maria Bamford Turns Bipolar into Funny Business

I’ve been a loyal fan of comic Maria Bamford’s ever since watching her ingeniously frank and vulnerable web series The Maria Bamford Show. In it, she highlights her personal struggles with depression and anxiety while acting as herself and a panoply of other characters—including members of her quirky Midwestern family, who feature prominently in much of her comedy.

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Think Piece: Interview by Adam Wahlberg

Melody Moezzi was born in Chicago but considers herself equally Iranian as American. Her parents emigrated to the United States after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And while Moezzi was raised here and has made a life here, earning a law degree and building a career as an author and social commentator, her heart and thoughts are never far from Persia. This is evident when you read her beautiful memoir Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life. What makes her book so original and valuable is how she examines cultural thinking about mental illness in both parts of the world. As she writes about her Iranian heritage, “My people don’t do psychotherapy. It just isn’t our style.” But it’s her style now. The story of how she got there is remarkable. We spoke with Moezzi recently about her book, her life now, and how the past keeps revisiting us, in big ways and small, whether we want it to or not.

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Hyphen: Fighting Back (Interview by Abigail Licad)

In the last decade, memoirs about personal experience with mental illness have proliferated and evolved as a new genre. While many of these memoirs have been self-published, a chosen few have been baked by major publishing houses and made widely available. However, these are largely written by upper middle-class white women. At press time, Melody Moezzi's Haldol and Hyacinths (Avery, 2014) is the only memoir about surviving bipolar disorder written by a woman of color and released by a major publishing house.

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Live Through This: Interview with Melody Moezzi (Interview by Dese'Rae L. Stage)

Melody Moezzi is a 34 year old Iranian-American lawyer, writer, and human rights advocate in Raleigh, NC. She lives with bipolar disorder and attempted suicide when she was 25. She maintains a weekly blog for Bipolar Magazine and has written for the New York Times and CNN, among others. Her memoir, Haldol and Hyacinths, was published in August. It’s an amazing story of bipolarity in culture and mind. Melody was one of the first people to believe in Live Through This and agreed to share her story back when I had nothing but an idea. She ended up being the 50th person I interviewed.

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BookRiot: A Useful List of Books about Depression... (List by Josh Hanagarne)

And at last, something lively and irreverent.

From the Amazon page: With candor and humor, a manic-depressive Iranian-American Muslim woman chronicles her experiences with both clinical and cultural bipolarity.

As a friend of Melody’s, I can say that this description is insufficient.

She’s even more complicated than that blurb makes it sound like she is, and there’s no way to convey how intelligent she is outside of actually conversing with her. But this book is a great start.

The Boston Globe: Haldol and Hyacinths Review (Review by Kate Tuttle)

 Mental illness is serious business — “bipolar disorder is a legitimate and lethal illness that has nearly killed me on several occasions,” author Melody Moezzi writes. Yet the dominant tone in Moezzi’s memoir of battling the disease, including manic episodes that took her over that “fine line between eccentric exuberance and madness,” is an infectious, freewheeling humor. The whipsmart but whimsical daughter of Iranian immigrant doctors, Moezzi details a series of maladies that befell her even before mania set in: First among them was the cultural dislocation of “enduring the seventh grade as the staggeringly skinny, flat-chested brown girl in Ohio, with a budding unibrow and a faint mustache.”

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The Huffington Post: A Better Way to Remember Robin Williams

While many have speculated that Robin Williams struggled with bipolar disorder, the Oscar-winning actor and comedian who lost his life to suicide on Monday never publicly stated as much. In fact, he outright refuted it in a characteristically quick-witted interview with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 2006. In response to being “branded” a manic-depressive after volunteering to be on the cover of an issue ofNewsweek about medication, Mr. Williams said, “‘Um, that’s clinical. I’m not that.’ Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”

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