Author: Shabri Prasad Singh
Publisher: Bloomsbury Prime
In India, only if you are a celebrity do you speak of mental illness. Kuldeep Yadav was in the news recently, not for his cricketing abilities but for contemplating suicide. Deepika Padukone shocked us when the leading diva of Hindi cinema spoke of her fight with depression. Even today most Shah Rukh Khan’s fans do not follow the fact that after a nearly debilitating shoulder injury, he too suffered from the blues.
So, few of us have the guts to seek help from mental health practitioners when the need arises. An even fewer number will want to go public with struggles of this nature, and absolutely none will want to record it for the world to see and read. In such a milieu, what a refreshing change is author Shabri Prasad Singh. Struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is tough enough, but to publish a book about her experience is raw courage at its best. She brings the focus on a less discussed but very troubling mental illness, and deserves due credit for that.
Shabri has lived with BPD for years without a hint as to why she had to go through the symptoms that she did, and the fact that she could seek help for it. On learning to finally manage disorder and life, she has reached out to people with her life story in a fictional avatar. So, Borderline is a tough book to write and definitely not one to read if you are seeking a light read.
The book puts you in the back seat of Amrita Srivastava’s life starting with her family background, way before she was born. Much like the author’s name Shabri, Amrita is completely devoted to her father, and loves her mother and elder sister too. With the entry of an ‘uncle’ Rana in their life, her mother seeks divorce, and the news hits both Amrita and her father like a gale. The mother she had so admired is now an object of derision, as she further ties herself to her father. Matters are intensified when her father arranges for her to shift abroad to study, like her sister who shines in this new environment.
Amrita has a hard time in America, feeling a growing void within and delving into intoxicants and sex compulsively. But it gets worse on her vacation to India, when her father drops dead barely hours after they meet. The loss of her anchor sets her firmly on a downward spiral journey. She seeks love repeatedly and obsessively in men and situations that spell doom right from the start, in a bid to find a replacement for her father, with the endings always spectacularly miserable.
Following that, monetary dependence on her mother and step-father, with whom relationship is rocky at best, and betrayal by friends and you know a disaster is waiting to happen. So it does. Amrita attempts suicide and is rescued by a friend, then forced to seek therapy with Dr. Sanjay Chugh. Finally, life looks at her with mercy but just about. Three-fourth way into the book, and two years into therapy, the protagonist Amrita finds out that she has BPD. And thus life begins anew.
Shabri is successful in giving us a bird’s eye view of the minds of people who are living with borderline personality disorder. Anyone who lives with personality or mood disorders (and their family and friends), will completely relate to this hard-hitting, matter-of-fact tome.
She sets the tone of matters at the beginning of each chapter with a poem. Hard-hitting though the book may be but it also ends on a positive note, and so shall we.
Borderline & Beautiful, that’s what we are,
We learn we cry but in the end we can win the fight,
The mayhem can stop to grow,
The acceptance can become a wonderful new shore. (Excerpt from the book Borderline)