Bipolar

"Lucy Newlyn's account of her bipolar disorder isn't a 'misery memoir', ready to clog railway station bookshop shelves with easy answers and monetisably manipulative content. Instead, her narrative hard-cuts reliable reportage into hallucinatory sections of paranoid delusion, pin sharp diary entries, hard won poetry, and sober reflective analysis. Newlyn doesn't flinch as she explores the relationship between bipolar disorder and exactly the kind of mindset that has made her a poet and a writer."
—Stewart Lee

Diary of a Bipolar Explorer

Lucy Newlyn

In 2002 Lucy Newlyn found herself incarcerated in a mental hospital in Leeds. She had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act as a danger to herself and others during a psychotic episode after several nights without sleep. The psychosis was triggered by nearly three years of grieving for a dead sister, followed by a vigil at her father’s deathbed during which she hallucinated that his hospital ward was a trench in the First World War.

The episode uncovered psychiatric problems, which led in due course to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder (manic depression). This condition, which involves extreme mood swings, is classified as a disability and requires medication; but it is also a source of creativity, giving access to some unusual dimensions of human experience.

In her fifteen-year diary, Lucy Newlyn discloses recurring episodes of mania, depression, hallucination and paranoid delusion. Describing her struggles with family life and the workplace, she de-mystifies bipolarity and critiques an environment which still, even in the twenty-first century, is suspicious of mental illness. Above all, she celebrates the discovery that writing poetry enables a cathartic engagement with her own condition.

Diary of a Bipolar Explorer is not a self-help manual but a candid confessional memoir which offers no easy solutions. It involves a mixture of observation and reflection, interspersing poetry with prose. Written accessibly, it will appeal to anyone interested in mental illness, creative process and the life of the mind.

Lucy Newlyn , a retired Professor at Oxford University, is Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where she taught English for thirty-two years. She has published widely on English Romanticism (including four books with Oxford University Press) and is the author of two collections of poetry, Ginnel (Carcanet, 2005) and Earth’s Almanac (Enitharmon, 2015). She is currently assembling a new poetry collection, and working on an edition of Edward Thomas’s prose for OUP. She lives in Oxford and Cornwall. The author’s royalties for this book will be donated to MIND.

£9.99 paperback

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232 pp
February 2018
ISBN: 9781909930636