Why I Chase Comedians and Other Bipolar Tales is written with self-observational humour and a comical self-deprecating irony. Frankie Owens takes the reader inside the turbulent mind of someone afflicted by hypermania. He deals with the extremities of the bipolar condition — highs, lows, in-betweens — allowing readers to understand its overwhelming nature.
Written in the style of his acclaimed Little Book of Prison, this new work follows a relapse when the author (founder of the Read and Grow Society and by now a respected, law-abiding exponent of Criminology and Literacy) found himself back in prison following a manic episode.
The book shows how he struggled with booming ideas, breathtaking feats of imagination, coming down to Earth and dealing with the wreckage. It contrasts the out-and-out ability of this well-respected expert in criminology and literacy with bizarre behaviour as he serves time a second time around and rebuilds his life once more. Why I Chase Comedians is a rare journey into the bipolar mind which ‘opens-up’ on mental health. A raw, challenging, humorous account.
‘This great, accessible book takes us on a journey revealing the reality of being bipolar, and its interfaces with incarceration’– Dr Paul Norman, University of Portsmouth.
‘Frankie Owens is an excellent person to give insight into the turmoil associated with mental illness. Never have I had a stranger call as his GP than when he was found raging in a boating pond on the South Coast of England without much clothing on (which he mentions in Chapter 2), so from there things could only get worse. As always Frankie turns these episodes to good use and is always looking at ways of helping other sufferers and families caught in the network of mental illness.’– Dr Colin Turner GP.
‘Frankie Owens never fails to deliver a no-punches-pulled account of mental health and his time spent at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Students soak up his stories, told with characteristic raw honesty and humour.’– Dr Tim Turner, Assistant Professor, School of Psychological, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Coventry University.
‘Our students were captivated by his experiences and his passion for Read and Grow, the community literacy programme that he started.’– Martina Feilzer, Professor Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Bangor.
‘Being bipolar and manic is like living on the edge. Your adrenaline increases, your endorphins are released faster (and in bigger quantities), your muscles feel stronger, your cardio is better and best of all your brain is higher functioning. It is as if you are naturally high because of your condition. You start to access more information from your brain’s memory banks and your state is semi-hypnotic. Your senses of smell and touch are heightened, you can hear from greater distances and music and literature become joyful experiences as if they’d been written just for you. Who wouldn’t want to feel like that?’
‘I had an epiphany last night. It came to me in a dream. That with every moment of adversity there is an opportunity. So, I have come to a huge life decision today, something I’ve run away from for years, more like decades, but finally I will do it. It will take dedication and focus but I’m going to get over this and finally I’m going to learn Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. Prison’s the perfect environment with its slippery floors and prison socks and I have the raw ability.’
Table of Contents
‘Wait for Me Funny Man!’; Welcome to My Bipolar World; See You in Court (or by Video Link); Medication … That’s What You Need; Keep your Heart on the Inside; The First Ice Age of the Human Spirit; Another Day in Paradise Lost; Freedom of the Bipolar Mind; Where There’s Life There’s Drugs; Illiteracy: The Inescapable Truth; Mad Men in a Mad Cage in a Mad, Mad World; Mystics, Fools, Writers and Mythical Beings; A Tale of the (Most) Unexpected.
About the author
Frankie Owens III is a prison/mental health/bipolar survivor. After becoming an advisor/lecturer to criminologists and reform groups, in 2020 he hit the headlines due to a hyper-manic episode (described in the book). He is the author of The Little Book of Prison (2012) (a finalist for the People’s Book Prize) and has written for the Guardian and Huffington Post. He is the founder of the Read and Grow Society that teaches disadvantaged people to read and develop their literacy skills.