Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life

Avery / Penguin, 2013.

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

"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