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Book Review: A Young Woman’s Brave and Lonely Battle With Mental Health Will be a Source of Inspiration for Many

Book Title: It’s All in Your Head, M

Author: Manjiri Indurkar

Published by: Tranquebar/Westland Publications

Non Fiction: Memoir, Mental Health

Book summary:

It wasn’t until Manjiri Indurkar was in her twenties and living away from home that she began to suspect that all wasn’t well with her. Growing up in Jabalpur with a loving and supportive family, her childhood had been perfect. Why then was her body telling her otherwise? Confronted with the vagaries of her health, Manjiri came to a realisation—her body could contain its secrets no longer. It was time to let go.

To make sense of the present, she needs to address the violence of the past, but it is not easy to do while balancing a life and career in an alien city with a demanding relationship. Even as Manjiri grapples with the trauma and abuse she faced as a child, she tries to lead a regular, healthy life. Written with visceral honesty and unapologetic candour, It’s All In Your Head, M chronicles the confidences a female body learns to keep. As much a coming-of-age story as it is an exploration of the author’s struggles with mental health, this reflective memoir speaks to all survivors of abuse, offering up a tale of strength and resilience and the ultimate potion of self-care: love and acceptance.

About the author:

Manjiri Indurkar one of the founders of the Bookshelf Writing Workshop. Her works have appeared in places like the Indian Quarterly, Cha: Asian Literary Journal, Scroll, Indian Express, Poetry at Sangam, Arre, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Himal, Skin Stories, Indian Cultural Forum, and elsewhere.

My Review:

This is definitely more than a memoir of the author’s life – of finding that her physical health was being impacted drastically by her childhood trauma and subsequently, her struggle with her mental health and what it entailed for her in her battle of trying to cope on an everyday basis. The writing reaches out to you and pins you down, in fact just so much that the reader in me read it like fiction while continuously being aware that the author has lived all of the emotions and experiences that seeped off the pages. Indurkar keeps her tone of writing simple and matter of fact, not seeking validation or sympathy from readers. She keeps the tone of the narrative as an expression of her struggles and how she has been able to keep it going: no frills, no drama.

The author’s story of personal traumas is not made out in self martyr mode: one sees that in the way she writes about the women in her family across generations who have carried repressed past hurts and who in turn have affected her by their decisions and stances. This feeling of empathy for people who have contributed to the author’s own trauma is one you cannot help but stop and admire. And no, this memoir is not just about dredging all the hurts and wrongs for there are all things that affirm life – real life friendships, literary succour and how words and books can lead to discoveries, the safe haven of escapism that Bollywood and TV series can be, and the delight of community that is so unique to small towns.

There are sections that will leave you totally unprepared for what lies in store for the tone of writing is very conversational. That I believe is a good thing too for I am waiting already for the author to write her next book. There is a lot packed in this memoir: body shaming, child sexual abuse and notions of safety and protection within and by the family, the lack of understanding and safe spaces for people with mental health issues to be heard and understood, including professional therapists crossing boundaries. But at no point does the author come across as lecturing or ranting aloud to make her point. There is somehow, an intimate bond that Indurkar forges with the reader with her poems embellishing the narrative.

It is a book that will affect readers in so many ways but mostly, it has hope to offer to many people who are bearing the weight of fighting lonely battles for a sense of meaning, and the validation of knowing that there are people out there who have undergone the same tough battles. This is a book that needs to be read and discussed at length.

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