According to a recent survey, more than 90% of patients with chronic mental illness live with their families. Managing day-to-day activities and the behavioral changes of the patients can be extremely stressful for a caregiver. It increases manifold if the patient is a loved one. Seeing them turn into someone unrecognizable is heartbreaking.
“If you want to have enough to give to others, you will need to take care of yourself first. A tree that refuses water and sunlight for itself can’t bear fruit for others.” – Emily Maroutian
The mental and physiological well-being of a caregiver is extremely important. Books have a two-fold therapeutic effect on caregivers. They not only help cope with stress but also help provide an insight into the experiences of others dealing with a similar situation.
This quarter, I recommended must-read mental health memoirs and personal narratives and shared a spotlight on Committed: A Memoir of Madness in the Family by Paolina Milana. As a final part of the #CauseAChatter mini-series on Mental Health Talks, I share book recommendations for family caregivers. Insightful narratives that provide family caregivers comfort and help them feel included.
An important content warning – the books can be triggering.
Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
“Love is never enough. Madness is enough. It is complete, sufficient unto itself. You can only stand outside it as a woman might stand outside a prison in which her lover is locked up. From time to time, a well-loved face will peer out and love floods back. A scrap of cloth flutters and it becomes a sign and a code and a message and all that you want it to be. Then it vanishes and you are outside the dark tower again.”
Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto is one of the most popular books on mental health by an Indian author. It is a semi-biographical debut novel about Em, the author’s mother, who struggles with mania and suicidal tendencies. And about the Big Hoom, the author’s father, who struggles to keep this family together.
What sets it apart is that the author does not stereotype the illness. It is as much about the effect of the mental illness on the family as it is about his mother’s struggles. A difficult read but definitely worth it. The book is available on Kindle Unlimited. Do pick it up if you haven’t already.
A Book of Light: When a Loved One Has a Different Mind
by Jerry Pinto (Editor)
Jerry Pinto’s debut novel, Em and the Big Hoom, touched thousands of readers. Many shared their similar experiences and agreed to share them with the world. Thirteen of these sometimes harrowing but always empowering stories were compiled in A Book of Light: When a Loved One Has a Different Mind.
A collection of first-hand accounts about families, love, grief, loss, anger, and most importantly, the fragility yet the strength of the human mind. Stories that focus on caregivers and the impact on families. A hidden gem, one that stays with you long after you finish reading it. Highly recommended.
Sepia Leaves by Amandeep Sandhu
With growing awareness around mental health, more and more people are able to empathize with and understand the plight of caregivers. But it was not so back in the 1970s, in a small town of Rourkela, Orissa.
Sepia Leaves by Amandeep Sandhu is a semi-fictionalized account of a young boy, Appu, who struggles to deal with his mother’s schizophrenia and its aftermath on a dysfunctional family. A child who does not understand the illness and has to grow up too soon. A book that is also a stark account of the socio-political history of the country at the time. This one too is available on Kindle Unlimited.
I would love to know your recommendations of books by Indian authors on mental health? Do share about them in the comments below.Mental Health & India – Essential Reads for Family Caregivers #CauseAChatter #MentalHealthTalks #BookChatter @blogchatter #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
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