Publishing her first Arabic novel in 2018, Saudi author, Ghada Aboud’s debut book is entitled “Bipolar”. Aboud’s reasoning for writing about the psychological disorder is mainly about how it has been “romanticized” and associated with talent.
Talking to a regional publication, she explains, “Teenagers are being sold this image: It kind of makes it attractive to become depressed, miserable, sad and self-destructive when it actually is the most harmful, sad, horrible thing that can ever happen to you because people who are actually suffering are not talking. People who are really suffering with all the pressure that’s happening and with all the judgments, labeling and media campaigns, the social pressure, the financial pressure. The numbers are multiplying: 300 million people around the world are suffering from depression and manic depression.”
The Saudi writer uses areas of Jeddah to as metaphors for the illness at the start of the book, stating, “When rain comes, people in the north have better streets, better houses, they’re okay. They see it, but their houses are not ruined by the rain and their streets did not flood. Unlike the people who live in the south of Jeddah, who have a very bad infrastructure. They can’t withstand it. This is a metaphor for the mental illness. We all go through difficult circumstances, but people shouldn’t be blamed.”
“For example, if I told you I went through a traumatic love experience, and you would be able to get through it, those are your circumstances. But not my circumstances, because I have circumstances, my infrastructure, my upbringing as a child, as a teenager, made these outer circumstances, when it hit me, it destroyed me. Why are you blaming me?”
The narrative of the book, “Bipolar”, is focused on a therapist who is diagnosed with the disorder.
“It’s very easy to sit back and lecture people,” Aboud told Arab News. “It’s very rare that we can help ourselves and get ourselves out of our own circumstances.”
The main message of the novel is that, “We are all bipolar somehow. It’s only normal to go through these extreme ups and extreme downs. So we have to accept our differences and our contradictions and our downfalls and our victories, and accept life as it is and accept others.”