Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life
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 illness, her community stepped up, filling her hospital rooms with roses, lilies, and hyacinths.
But when she attempted suicide and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there were no flowers. Despite several stays in psychiatric hospitals, bombarded with tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, and antipsychotics, she was encouraged to keep her illness a secret—by both her family and an increasingly callous and indifferent medical establishment. Refusing to be ashamed, Moezzi became an outspoken advocate, determined to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and reclaim her life along the way.
Both an irreverent memoir and a rousing call to action, Haldol and Hyacinths is the moving story of a woman who refused to become torn across cultural and social lines. Moezzi reports from the front lines of the no-man’s land between sickness and sanity, and the Midwest and the Middle East. A powerful, funny, and poignant narrative told through a unique and fascinating cultural lens, Haldol and Hyacinths is a tribute to the healing power of hope, humor, and acceptance.
I often speak in classrooms and at book clubs via Skype or in person. I'm also happy to help educators building curricula around my books. Contact me for details and check out a curriculum resource here: Haldol and Hyacinths Reading Group / Curriculum Guide (PDF)
Praise for Haldol and Hyacinths
"[Moezzi's] vivid descriptions of being pulled against her will in a swirl of impulsivity, hallucinations, and paranoia are riveting... A poetic portrait of life on the lines of sanity and a mind on the edge of cultures." — Publishers Weekly
"A bold, courageous book by a woman who transforms mental illness into an occasion for activism." — Kirkus
"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 world and cultures in a pre- and post-9/11 world." — Peter Damien, BookRiot
"[W]hipsmart but whimsical…Moezzi's fierce honesty and comic self deprecation bind together winningly." — Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe
"A captivating autobiographical account of [Moezzi's] struggle with bipolar disorder." — Brian Mossop, Scientific American MIND
“[A] defiantly frank memoir.” — Parade Magazine
"Iranian-American story with a feminist bipolar twist." — Tyler Cowen, New York Times Magazine "One-Sentence Book Review"
"Blistering, brash and irreverant... [Moezzi's] courageous postcard from the edge can't come too soon." — Gina Webb, The Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Intelligent, accurate, entertaining, culturally relevant, and a little sassy... Haldol and Hyacinths is highly recommended, and beyond its story value will prove a useful and educational tool." — Christopher M. Doran, New York Journal of Books
"Moezzi is brutally honest...[and] bitingly funny in her narrative." — Cliff Bellamy, The Herald-Sun
"[A] must-read autobiography... informative and uplifting." — Atiya Hasan, Brown Girl Magazine
"At times moving, usettling, and funny, Moezzi's brash, barely filtered memoir is a fascinating glimpse into a tumultuous mind." — Teresa Weaver, Atlanta Magazine
“Melody Moezzi pulls no punches. A big brain and a big heart inform this courageous and often hilarious memoir which crosses cultures and breaks stigmas—there is, quite simply, nothing like it. Nothing as smart, nothing as frank, nothing as informative.” — Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls
"Haldol and Hyacinths is Melody Moezzi's brilliant chronicle of her battle with bipolar disorder . . . a compulsively readable account of one woman's descent into the hell of this insidious illness and a courageous testament of her coping with this tragedy. Moezzi is the newest and perhaps the most important voice in this genre. Those suffering with mental illness and their family members and friends should read this book as soon as possible. Moezzi's story will save lives." — Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy
“A dazzling flower with poisonous thorns, Melody Moezzi’s memoir describes formidable, twin conflicting identities. Bipolar, she wrestles frenzied, Hula-Hooping highs and psychotic, suicidal lows. Iranian American, she finds Muslims scarce in the Bible Belt where she grew up, and learns that in Iran, there isn’t even a word for ‘bipolar.’ Her struggle to keep these forces in balance is an immense task, and she tells her story with confidence and a fabulously wry sense of humor.” — Ellen Forney, author of Marbles
“Haldol and Hyacinths is like the brawling, big-hearted, and hilarious little sister of Darkness Visible and The Noonday Demon. But Melody Moezzi is no imitator and she doesn't write in anyone's shadow. She stands alone and speaks her brilliant, fierce, inimitable mind, and we're better for it.” — Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian
"With beautiful grace, sardonic humor and sharp intellect, Melody Moezzi casts a light where there is usually darkness. Haldol and Hyacinths may be a book about an American Muslim woman, but it speaks to the struggle of all people to find peace and calm in their lives and in their families. Melody is a modern day Sylvia Plath—with a happier ending." — Asra Nomani, author of Standing Alone
War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims
War on Error brings together the stories of twelve young people, all vastly different but all American, and all Muslim. Their approaches to religion couldn’t be more diverse: from a rapper of Korean and Egyptian descent to a bisexual Sudanese American to a converted white woman from Colorado living in Cairo and wearing the hijab. These individuals, whether they were born to the religion or came to it on their own, have made their own decisions about how observant they’ll be, whether or not to fast, how often to pray, and what to wear.
Though each story is unique, each is also seen through the searching eyes of Melody Moezzi, herself an American Muslim of Iranian descent. She finds that the people she interviews are horrified that, in a post-9/11 world, they have seen their religion come to be represented, in the minds of many Americans, by terrorism. These thoughtful and articulate individuals represent the truth about the faith and its adherents who are drawn to the logic, compassion, and tolerance they find in Muslim teachings.
Moezzi, ever comfortable with contradiction and nuance, is a likable narrator whose underlying assumption that “faith is greater than dogma” is strengthened as she learns more about her religion and faces her own biases and blind spots. This fresh new voice, combined with the perceptions and experiences of her fellow American Muslims, make for a read that is both illuminating and enjoyable.
Praise for War on Error
“Engaging and well written.” — Publishers Weekly
“Spirited and smart and full of surprises.” — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Moezzi writes clearly, passionately, and sincerely, giving the fair-minded reader a sorely needed introduction to American Muslims that defies the scripted questions with unscripted answers.” — The Nation
“Moezzi’s goal in this book is to remove ‘Islam’ from the nameless, faceless, Evil Empire association that the religion has become to so many Americans… She succeeds admirably.” — Georgia Writers Association
“Melody Moezzi’s book is a compelling exploration of the under-represented lives of American Muslims. Written with warmth and grace, these essays humanize a community that is frequently misunderstood at a time when we can ill afford misunderstanding.” — Ausma Khan, Editor-in-Chief, Muslim Girl Magazine
“I am fascinated by Moezzi’s interviews…They will change forever the way most readers understand Islam.” — KLIATT Magazine (starred review)
“These voices should be heard and these stories must be told.” — Suzanne Blum, coauthor of Translating Culture: A Rhetoric for Ethnographic Writing in the Composition Classroom