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Shreevatsa Nevatia

Shreevatsa Nevatia

Shreevatsa Nevatia

Your book talks about bipolar disorder. Weren’t you anxious about revealing to the audience about you suffering from bipolar disorder?

Honestly many authors say that if they would have stopped and pondered what would people think, they would have never completed the book, and the same goes for me. The book How to Travel Light is about me and my life; I have tried to narrate the incidents as honestly as I could reincarnate them. Anxious, I don’t think so, but this definitely has been a catharsis for me and it has done so much good that it took away the anxiety of people’s reaction towards it.

Tell us about your mania.

There are many symptoms of mania, starting with insomnia. When I had my bout, my inclination towards films, music, love, life, books would amplify. My language would turn from playful and nimble to didactic. My demands would become unreasonable and I wouldn’t feel a bit of guilt while pushing my family and friends over the edge in order to fulfil them. I would enter my bubble and would adopt seclusion. But thankfully my family and friends never gave up on me, not even once.

What did you go through once you started medication? What has beneficial for you in the long run in order to tackle the bouts?

I started with drugs like Lithium and Depakote regularly. But they have ill effects as well. One cannot hold a cup or saucer and your hands start trembling. You always feel drained out along with putting on weight. I was taken back to my older time and nostalgia would hinder my medication and at times also make me abandon it. Initially I would think about my older self when I was at a much better place but soon I realised it was something unachievable. Once I started entrusting my psychiatrist did it help me cope up. My shrink would hear me out and suggest the medication accordingly. It took a long time in order to design my prescription, based on hit and trail method. Now I am at a much better position, courtesy to the Lithium I swallow regularly along with practicing patience.

What has been your family’s take on this book?

I would like to narrate an anecdote. After finishing my book, I asked my mother to read my work. I said, “Ma, I worry that someone is going to ask you why I wrote all this.” Her response was, “I’ll say that you wrote it to become better.” I pursued, ” Was it necessary to publish it?”. “You are publishing it so that other people can read it and feel better”, was her reply. My parents, friends, doctors, everyone has already seen me in my worst, so I think they were really happy to see me doing something I loved. I am grateful to them for being so supportive and motivating.

You are a fighter, what has been the hardest hurdle to surpass?

The hardest part has been waking up in hospitals and mental health institutions. The decision to send their son away has been the hardest part for my parents. Every time I realised my confinement, I regretted my bouts of mania. I numerous times have said that wasn’t me. My dear ones have seen me being eaten away by my illness, so I sometimes wish I could wipe off those memories.

Anything you would like to say to shatter the dogma attached to bipolar disorder?

Firstly, there is no cure for bipolar, but courtesy to the advancement in the field of medication, the disease is under control. Therapy is a patient tool, you may not see instant result, but gradually it helps individual suffering from bipolar to get a better hold of themselves. The one thing the people suffering require is tremendous and boundless love and patient from their near and dear ones.


About the author:
Shreevatsa Nevatia is the editor of National Geographic Traveller, has worked for Hindustan Times and Outlook and written for Open and The Hindu’s BLInk.