One might say that Maggie Robbins' novel Suzy Zeus Gets Organized is pure poetry. The story of a promiscuous, manic-depressive bombshell is smart and witty. It is also written in stanzas of six perfectly rhyming lines. Robbins, an art therapist and collage artist, wrote the semi-autobiographical poems over a period of 20 years, during which she conquered her own bipolar depression.
Who is Suzy?
I first wrote about her in college for a poetry reading. I wanted something different from what anyone else might have written. I would read first, then see who wanted to follow me after I talked about a girl breaking windows and her boyfriend peeing out of a window.
Do people who have been mentally ill make better therapists?
No, but you have more background. If you're trying to describe what mania is like and a therapist just says, "Yes, dear, here's your lithium, please take it," it's so alienating.
Do your patients provide material?
Not at all. I started private practice after I finished the book. I worry that if they read the book they might think it's them, but it's really not. It's only me.