Bi-Polar Recovery


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By Suzan Arisoy

ISBN: 978-1-84747-719-4

Published: 2008
Pages: 76
Key Themes: poetry, prose, bi-polar manic-depression, medication, recovery


Suzan Arisoy has had Bi-polar Disorder for twenty years. Over the course of those years, she wrote some poems that she feels describe the essence of her experience from ‘the inside out’.

They are published here, with some writing about each one. Suzan wanted to explain the poems, and where she was at, at the time of writing them.

Suzan hopes her poetry will not only resonate with people who have experienced something similar – but may help other, especially health professionals to understand what it feels like to live with Bi-polar Disorder.

She said, ‘If what I have written helps just one person in any way – then I have made a difference. These poems mean a lot to me as they represent the blood, sweat and tears of twenty years. If that blood and sweat, and those tears help someone else in their distress then it hasn’t all been for nothing. I believe that the mot positive thing to come out of this illness would be to transform the pain into a light that shines the way for someone in need – or that sheds some light on a difficult subject and changes someone’s perception.’

About the Author

Suzan Arisoy, was born in Clapton and brought up in Tottenham and later Bethnal Green.

She had her first experience of Bi-polar Disorder when she was twenty – although she wasn’t diagnosed until she was thirty-two and in a psychiatric unit.

Suzan, who is now 40, currently lives in Woodford Green, Essex with Andrew, her partner of sixteen years, her two sons Ashiq and Jordan, aged 19 and 11 respectively – and their two cats Misty and Simba.

Book Extract


I grew up on the mean streets of South Tottenham, only the streets were not that mean in those days. I was always out of the house and never in till dark. Walking home from my friend’s house I remember looking up at the moon, its pale shimmering somehow friendly face was company for me. I owned those streets around our house.

There, the stretch of pavement outside the school with its smooth square paving slabs, hints of furry green moss poking through the cracks between. I learned how to play hopscotch there, drawn with miniscule bits of chalk, or more usually a piece of jagged slate. I flew over those numbers countless times, picking up my pebble – exhilarated and free.

There outside my friend’s house, I learned how to ride her bike on that stretch of pavement. I’m wobbly at first, front wheel shuddering, then more confident until I was sailing, even managing a shaky wave to my mate.

That wall there, the one with the jagged bits of glass like filed down teeth. Well it didn’t keep us out. We got through the railings instead. Inside were the grounds of the hospital, particularly enticing in autumn when the leaves were newly minted. Wet and slippery or crunchy and curly, we didn’t care. I would wade through on my quest for conkers, a feeling of great delight when I found a gleaming one that was just emerging from its spiky case. I never did anything with the conkers. It was enough to emerge – tousled and muddy, squeezing through the railings clutching my carrier bag of spoils.

And along those kerbs when it rained, and the spilt petrol mingled with the water eddying in the gutter, I saw my first rainbow. A pocket sized rainbow for a city child.

And my first memory is walking down this road, our road, with my mum as she pushes a smart navy pram. I am happy to be outside, these streets are already familiar. As she pushes the pram I notice that rainwater has puddled on the pram cover. I want to tell her but she is distracted and somehow I know she is unhappy. I’m torn between enjoying the delicious experience of being outside, glancing over the walls I’m able to, and wondering what’s behind the ones I can’t. Torn between this and concern for the water that looks like a pool of tears, lying unshed on the prams cover.

I was the only child of the four of us with whom my mum did not experience a psychotic breakdown. Yet I am the one most like her, in that we have both suffered mental illness severe enough for us to be hospitalised. We are the diagnosed ones in our family – my mother’s diagnosis has changed over the years, mine has always been Bi-polar disorder.

My mother suffered terribly after the births of my older sister, only brother and little sister. My older sister and I can remember the most about what it was like having a ‘Mental Mother.’ Mostly it was about feeling an uneasy sense of shame. There was one time when I was around six years old that still fills me with horror. My mum called me into the kitchen, her eyes were glowing like she had a fever and I remember feeling a sinking sort of dread.

“The neighbour beckoned to me over the fence, she said you can have a bath in her house.”

I was young but I knew enough to know that the neighbour had said no such thing. My mum hated not having a bath in our house and I could see she was really excited that one of us was going to have the opportunity of a nice hot soak instead of the usual wash-downs that we normally had.

“Come on Sue, get your stuff ready!”

“But mum, are you sure she said?”

“Of course, why would I say so otherwise?

As I got my navy knickers and a washed out grey vest together my older sister asked me what was going on.

“Mummy’s taking me for a bath at the neighbours; she said they said it was alright.”

“You know she’s just imagining it don’t you?”

“I don’t know what to do – I want a bath but…”

“I don’t reckon she’ll let you get out of this one Sue I’m glad it’s you going and not me.”

It was dark outside and I remember thinking as we approached the house, which was three doors away, she wouldn’t have been able to see anyone beckoning her from three whole gardens away in the dark. My stomach turned over and my heart started hammering in my chest. We got to the door and my mum knocked on it confidently. By now my heart was doing triple back flips and my throat had nearly closed up.

The lady who opened the door had blonde hair and a puzzled face. She glanced at her watch and I realized it must be quite late. My mum was smiling.

“We’ve come for Sue’s bath.”

I realize now that the woman must have known mum was ill from local gossip, which explains why she didn’t argue or deny that she’d called us over, but the look of pity on her face pierced my six year old self and lodged itself like a bullet to the brain. I never wanted to see that look again.

“Yes of course, come in, come in” She ushered us in to her lovely warm house.

“Sue’s come for her bath” She told her husband who was in the front room watching telly. And so I had my bath, but I couldn’t seem to wash away the image of the lady’s face; I couldn’t seem to wash away the shame at the pity I felt for my mum either.

These feelings coalesced as I grew up and I began to harbour a deep-seated fear of mental illness and of going mad myself. It became like a kind of phobia. I remember seeing a bus with ‘Claybury’ on it, (this was the name of the hospital my mum had been in) and feeling hot and panicky inside. I would never drink too much for fear of going out of control.

Half my life-time ago, when I was twenty I suffered my first bi-polar breakdown. Writing this is my way of putting to rest the last twenty years and settling the score.

1 review for Bi-Polar Recovery

  1. Jenny Gray (verified owner)

    All mental health professionals should read this book as part of their training as it gives a clear and accurate depiction of the effect of mental illness on an individual. A must read!

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