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.