Overcoming the demons of bipolarity

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Aparna Piramal Raje’s life looks successful. Hailing from a well-known business family, she is married, has two children, is a published author, a popular columnist with a leading daily and was the CEO of a leading furniture company.

However, only a few close friends and family members were aware that she struggled with a serious mental illness – bipolar disorder – for two decades. Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme shifts in moods and energy levels, leading to euphoric highs and damaging lows.

Some said children were out of the question; well here she is, the mother of two boys. Some said she couldn’t handle business life; well, here she’s interviewed over 100 CEOs and counting. Some said she wouldn’t be able to write a book on mental health; well, here she is, available wherever books are sold.

This is the story of how she learnt to come to terms with her condition.

Part memoir, part reportage and part self-help guide, ‘Chemical Khichdi – How I Hacked My Mental Health’ (Penguin), seeks to remove some of the stigma associated with a serious mental illness in an empathetic, accessible and candid way.

Its ‘seven therapies’ present a hopeful and helpful pathway for all those with a mental health condition, their loved ones and their mental health practitioners, with the message that they can live with a vulnerability and thrive.

Educated at Oxford and Harvard, Raje is the author of ‘Working Out of the Box: 40 Stories of Leading CEOs’. She is a regular columnist with the Mint.

She contributed to the UK’s Weekend Financial Times, a global publication, for several years in the past. Over the past decade, she has fostered an awareness of design, especially workplace design, in companies in India. Now, she aspires to leverage her first-hand experience of mental health to make a difference in this sector.

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