Harjeet Dhillon is a 33-year-old who lived in London, England before moved to Canada after marriage. It didn’t go as planned, life got in the way and after the storms have subsided, Harjeet did what she always secretly wanted to do- write a book. It turned out to be a cathartic experience and her first book, “autumn love” was published late April. In a way this book is a product of pain and loneliness. She’s separated now, lives with her parents in Grimsby and works as an administrative assistant for the province of Ontario. Here are excerpts of an interview she gave to Can-India.
Is your first novel partly autobiographical. What inspired you to write it?
My first novel is partly autobiographical due to the fact that the main character moves from UK to Canada. Also, that she is raised to believe that marriage is the way of life. Other than that there are no similarities. I was inspired to write it because I felt extremely lonely and neglected in my marriage and it was a good outlet for me. It helped me to live in a romance that I envisioned for myself.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I am 33 years young and have dreamed to be an author since I was about 8. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in March of 2010 at the age of 28. I enjoy reading, writing, dancing, watching television and am a bit of a movie buff. I enjoy cooking and fine dining. I am considered as a social butterfly and find it easy to make friends wherever I go but on the inside I am really quite shy. I use my sense of humour to break awkward silences but sometimes it goes unappreciated due to the nature of my humour. I moved from UK to Canada in October 2001 at the age of 20 and it took me a while to settle down here. I was married in July 2003 to a man I met here but was also born in UK and we separated in December 2009.
Your turning point was being diagnosed with bi-polar. Among South Asians, it is taboo to discuss it. What did it do to you and how are you now coping?
After initially being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I was hospitalised for 2 months. This was a huge struggle for me as I was not only abused by my husband (who refused to bring my children to visit me) but I was abused by the hospital staff because I was using my time trying to fight the diagnosis. I did have a Hearing to fight the diagnosis and unfortunately lost, but since then I have come to terms with my diagnosis. I just don’t think that I need medications. I do take my medication on a regular basis and go to a sleep at a regular hour.
As someone who has gone through so much pain and have endured a broken marriage, what advice would you give second-generation South Asian women contemplating marriage?
Don’t bottle up your emotions. The more you don’t talk about it the more you believe that what you’re going through is normal. It is better to talk about and get advice to help you deal with a marital problem than assuming everything will be okay. I bottled up my pain until the very end and I had a breakdown which turned into bipolar. This is not uncommon from what I hear so it is good to talk with close friends about any problems you may be having.
Do you plan to write another book on your life story?
I do plan on writing many more books. Hopefully two more at least. While I would love to write my own life story I think I would find it harder to write about reality than fiction. I will likely write fiction and incorporate some of my own experiences so the reader can’t tell what’s real and what’s fiction.