Siddy Shivdasani has been a journalist on national red-top newspapers for the last 26 years. A father of one, he was diagnosed with bipolar I after being sectioned for the first time, in 2008.

For him he sees his talent as a writer being largely rooted in his mental health issues. He's recently published a book titled 'Melting Pothead, Stories of an Anglo-Indian raised on Brixton’s Frontline.' 

By his own admission it's not an autobiography, it’s the stories of a journalist’s life, forever embedded in conflict situations. Bipolar is covered directly in the first and last chapters. But references to it pop up throughout and the whole book is in the context of having a severe mental illness, especially how he sees the world, in and out of psychotic episodes.

Below is an outline of the contents. To read more about the book and Siddy you can visit his website here. 

Part I: The Frontline 

  1. Sectioned 

‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society’

The lead up to the first time I was sectioned, being locked up and the immediate aftermath. 

  1. Fair cop 

‘Bloodclaat, rasclaat, bumbaclaat’

Early memories, including a David and Goliath encounter with a fascist teacher. 

  1. Extra gear 

‘Black people don’t bruise’

Understanding the significance of living on The Frontline, and smoking dope for first time. 

  1. The Pimlico Strangler

‘He was looking at me funny’

My many battles with a violent and physically-powerful classmate. 

  1. Muggers’ Mile

‘Can you tell the manager?’

Surviving on the streets of Brixton as a young man at a crossroads.

  1. Eastern eye

‘We used terrorism to establish our state’

How an amazing experience farming on a kibbutz in Israel turned my life around.

Part II: Media

  1. GOTCHA 

‘You’re a one-man subculture’

Starting out on the rocky road to becoming a journalist.

  1. It was like Beirut

‘I have the power to kill you’

My career goes up a level in the war-torn Middle East. 

  1. Slaughter of the innocents 

A few Arabs die, there’s no harm in that

Becoming aware of a sickening war crime in a Lebanese village, with a fresh claim. 

10a. No

‘I’ve shat better headlines out me arse’

Somehow finding myself at the heart of the Murdoch Empire in my mid-20s.

10b. GOOD SH*T! 

‘That kinda pisses on my idea’

Some highlights of my work on British national newspapers.

Part III: Influences 

  1. Small axe 

‘He kissed the noose so that we may be free’

The story of my ultimate hero, who was a revolutionary man of principle.

  1. Drive-by of thoughts 

‘I ain’t dying over no fuckin’ record’

How and why political rap culture is wrongly underestimated. 

  1. Soul power 

‘Boom bloody boom’

The role that soul music has played in shaping me as a person. 

  1. Getting physical 

‘We know you’re a convicted rapist

The politics of sport and its stars who’ve inspired, intrigued and exhilarated me. 

Part IV: Identity

  1. Brown pride 

‘He lived life on his own terms’ 

My take on Indian subcontinent Asians, particularly my late, drug-smuggler dad. 

  1. The silent majority

‘That's white progress’

Growing up in a native English family and how that has framed my racial perspectives.

  1. Wedding cake 

‘Mixed race people don’t belong to either race’

My ethnicity struggles and how I have tried to resolve inner and outer conflict. 

Part V: Obey

  1. War of ideas

‘We’re the Greeks and they’re the Romans’

How divide-and-rule tactics pit the poor against each other, to the benefit of the ruling elites.

  1. Rise of the clones

Keep people afraid and they’ll consume’

Illustrating why I believe the West is facing an existential crisis.

  1. Back to Brixton 

‘They said you controlled me’

The lead up to the last time I was sectioned, locked up and the following years.

You may also like to read the piece he wrote for the Metro for World Bipolar Day back in 2019 here. 

Related content: Our top books on bipolar can be found here.