Possible spoilers ahead.
Two years ago, my big brother gave me cash as a gift for Raksha Bandhan – a ‘Jaa Simran Jaa’ moment for me. The number of books that I could own! I quickly got down to business and added 6 books to my Amazon shopping cart. But I was still few tens of rupees short of the whole amount. In the suggestions popped up this book by Preeti Shenoy. I wrinkled my nose at the uninventive, cheesy title, but added it anyway. I wanted a light, easy-to-read book after some of the classics that I’d added.
I got around to reading Life Is What You Make It recently. And boy, was I proven wrong about the light and easy-to-read part. Yes, the language is easy, but the subject is so heavy that I could feel my shoulders slump in response. It didn’t take me long to thank the stars (a little dramatic, yes, but it is what it is) that I decided to buy this book.
At first glance, it seems like a teen romance – something that gives them the impetus to plod on through the challenging years. But it is not. Sure, the encouragement is there, but not in the way we envisioned it to be. The phrase “appearances are deceptive” quickly jumped to mind as I was halfway through the story.
Ankita Sharma has everything going for her. Her love life is giving her more than she expected – confusions included. Her student life is going strong and she’s flying on the wings of success. This propels her into a frenzy, organizing everything she can and controlling every minute detail. And then everything comes crashing down. She loses the spirit, the fight to go on. Her previous control over life seems to be slipping. Unable to handle the loss of control, she retreats into a shell – one from which she cannot bear to emerge.
Ankita is first diagnosed with severe depression, something that might seem normal. But over the course of time, she realizes it is not just depression. There is something else that is pulling her down. Taken to the right doctors, she is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And thus begins her journey back towards the light.
The stigma against mental illnesses in this time and age needs to be erased, but somehow, we are only slightly closer, despite the growing awareness. Mental illness is not something one can control. The one who suffers would obviously choose NOT to have it. So statements like “It’s all in your head” and “Try to mingle more” are not helping. That is the whole point! It is in the head, but you’re missing the main point: It cannot be controlled!
In Life Is What You Make It, Preeti Shenoy handles this topic admirably and I am happy that she wrote about bipolar disorder. Not many people can boast of being able to understand what exactly goes on the mind of someone with bipolar disorder. Preeti proves with this book that she is one of the bunch that can actually empathize!
The only complaint I have with the book is the way she says Life Is What You Make It. It comes back to the same point again – that of the disorder being uncontrollable most times. If you are in the darkness and decide something after being overwhelmed by it, there is nothing you can do afterward. Yes, pushing in the positive direction is important, but what of the time when you simply cannot, when you do not have the energy, the power to do so?
Despite this little disagreement, I agree – or rather, am happy with – the book that I read and would definitely recommend it for those who want to take a look at what goes on in the mind of one suffering from bipolar disorder!
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Picture Credit: goodreads.com!