Hey Pals, I know I said I would start doing book reviews in August, but, I couldn’t wait any longer to do the first of such reviews. Actually, I was surprised to be asked by this Author to review his book. He is thus my Guinea Pig or rather his book is, but fortunately it is in my genre of choice domain: well, creative Non-fiction in this case.
Synopsis of the book
Schizophrenia is challenging disorder often characterized by abnormal social behaviour and a significantly altered perception of reality. Its treatment largely depends on medications and psycho-social interventions but no single approach is widely considered effective for all patients. Through this book I offer my readers a glimpse into the multifaceted world of schizophrenia in the form of fictitious story line revolving around two characters Monty (the psychotic part) and Virginia (the non psychotic part). The boundary between the two is permeable. Monty conjures up ‘Gulabi’, following his abrupt separation from his long time partner, while Virginia, having suffered from a personal loss sets out to follow her lifelong aspiration to travel the world.
About the Author
Pankaj Suneja is a recent graduate of a Masters of Arts in Psychology. He had a psychotic episode in 2010/2011 and had to suspend his studies. When he got better thanks to medication and family support, he returned to the University in 2013 to finish his thesis. May be of course, his work was on the experience of of trying to understand the occurrence of a psychotic episode in as authentic a manner as possible. He hoped to do this by suspending his medication thinking meds would have interfered with his works. Well, if you read the book, you will realize how difficult that was.
My Take on this work
I am so much in awe at how brilliantly mental health patients can write. My understanding of the whole notion of mental health and ‘patients’, has forever been changed. This book, recounts through short and easy to follow fictitious stories, Monty’s and Virginia’s way of coping with what I will simply call Mental Illness. Although Pankaj thinks Virginia is the non psychotic character, I beg to differ on that because I see her manifesting some of those symptoms like not trusting people, instability in both physical and mental choices.
Monty, hallucinates and now has Gulabi, a firend and dare say lover who loves him unconditionally. The only problem is that Gulabi now threatens to hold him hostage forever by making a very difficult request. Monty really doesn’t think he can make that promise and that is another trigger. The book is a mere 75 pages and l read it in one afternoon. It indeed held my attention for both personal and literary reasons.
l give this work a 4/5. I mean, I could have given him a five if only he went the extra mile of making it lengthier and more complete. All I know as an ending is that Monty passed out. Maybe he could have explained why in more details and how if at all, he got help to move on thereafter. Virginia’s own narrative also stops as abruptly and this leaves a loop hole in my literary appreciation.
I however sincerely commend Pankaj for this work. When a patient and I stress a ‘Mental Patient’, takes the time to write his experiences as he/she lived it then, and how it played out mostly in the ‘brain’ where nobody could experience, we can only but conclude that all is not lost. Mental Illness is indeed not a death sentence and stigma only adds to brain damage.