‘Battles in the Mind’: Excerpts from Anna Chandy’s Personal Story
Deepika Padukone has penned an emotional foreword for Battles in the Mind, a book authored by Anna Chandy, her therapist and the chairperson of her Bangalore based mental health initiative The Live Love Laugh Foundation. The Bollywood star opened up about her battle with anxiety and depression two years ago and talks about trashing the stigma attached to mental health, at every opportunity she gets.
I feel privileged to write this foreword for Anna aunty’s book. This book is about Anna aunty’s life, a life that has encountered trauma, pain and difficulties. Yet, what emerges from it all is a person of immense grit, courage and resilience. She has, more recently, been my therapist, when I went through clinical depression two years ago. All these years, I’ve known her to be authentic, effective, focused yet empathic. In her, there’s a sensitivity and acceptance towards life that is very rare to come by. Anna Chandy is the chairperson of the Live Love Laugh Foundation, an organisation that we set up to create awareness about mental health in India. Many of us are, or aspire to be, on our own journeys of self-discovery. This book has something for all of us to connect with. More importantly, this book communicates energy, resilience and hope for people struggling with various kinds of mental health issues.Deepika Padukone, Actor & Founder of Live Love Laugh Foundation
Anna Chandy has twenty years of experience in developmental work, counselling, coaching and mentoring. She is the first Certified Training and Supervising Transactional Analyst from Asia accredited to the International Transactional Analysis Association, with a specialisation in counselling. Anna is also certified in Neuro Linguistic Programming and Art Therapy.
These excerpts from the chapter titled The World of Men lend an interesting insight into how her parents’ difficult marriage shaped Nandy’s understanding of love, something that might be relevant to a lot of young and old women.
My mother continued to dissolve in tears and histrionics while my father continued to retreat to his room. I felt sorry for Amma when I saw her cry, and heard her say that no one loved her. And I felt angry with Appa: why did he have to upset her so? At other times, I felt for my father. What must it have been like for him to live with someone so manipulative? Had he too felt that he didn’t belong in her family of aunts, cousins and the like? Was he lonely, living in this large house, relegated to the role of provider and not much else? Did he feel humiliated knowing that his in-laws, in fact, our entire community, talked about his failed marriage, his wronged wife, and his ungrateful daughters? The situation escalated to a point where it had to be brought to a conclusive end.
Battles in the Mind is Chandy’s personal story, sprinkled with anecdotes from her highest and lowest points in life. Through her narration, she also introduces ways to transition from pain to happiness.
Naturally, men came into my life. I was an attractive, bright young woman, and men were drawn to me. What made me even more attractive to them was my reputation for being ‘sweet’. So compliant was I that I would never challenge a man in any way. The fact that I was sexually available helped too. However, I was only attracted to one type of man: the kind who would abandon me—men, who were not interested in marriage; who would dump women as soon as they were tired of them. I was needy and clingy around such men, hanging off their arms, so agreeable that they were indeed bored of me in no time. And in a self-fulfilling prophecy, I was alone and abandoned once again. Each time this happened, I felt vindicated. Of course, they should leave me; everybody did, so why not them! The pattern of dating ‘bad boys’ and being deserted by them started when I was eighteen, and continued when I turned twenty-four. It was a circle I could not get out of. I had drawn it around myself, and with each failed relationship, I found it difficult to step out of it, as I found myself alone, crying.
Finally, I was a real wife! As strange as this may sound, I saw myself as a great wife not because of my husband, but because of my father. I now had a real chance to please him. Hence surfaced my need to become the ideal wife, daughter-in-law and woman-of-the-house. I became a Stepford wife, accommodating to the point of suppressing my own personality; cooking, cleaning, smiling, caring, buffing, polishing, dusting, shining, and serving to the point of insanity! Naturally, I had to! After all, I believed that if I revealed to my husband my true nature, he would reject me. Because I had learnt that no one wants a sour-faced girl around. A girl’s role is to please, to care for, and to keep an impeccable house. So I stayed agreeable and affable, never ruffling feathers nor challenging norms.
Battles in the Mind, published by Penguin Random House India, is now available in leading bookstores across the country.