Warrior: The Bipolar Battle, a self-published memoir by K. S. Ram, details his plight with mental illness and quest for healing. Though the premise itself is intriguing, it’s a rather burdensome read.
The beginning pages introduce us to Ram’s debilitating symptoms. He struggles with social anxiety and extreme manic and depressive episodes — then is diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. He develops a dependency on alcohol as well.
Meanwhile, his arranged marriage crumbles, resulting in bitter divorce proceedings.
Though Ram experiments with a heavy regimen of medication to alleviate his bipolar disorder, he writes, he ultimately decides to relocate from the United States to an ashram in India. He wants to find a natural way to attain stability. And after his stay in India, he travels throughout Asia, seeking peace.
While Ram essentially embarks on a spiritual path, he recognizes the need for balance, too, when it comes to the idea of detachment. After all, he’s human. Eventually, he writes, he clashes with his mentor, Gabriel — particularly when Ram wants to pursue a woman he cares deeply about.
“I live right here on this plane,” Ram writes. “What do I get to gain from this path that I’m on if I have to lose the one I love?”
As John Amodeo writes for Psychology Today, “Our task is not to transcend our humanity in a misguided effort to ease our pain or polish some favorable self-image.” Instead, Amodeo believes, “Emotional and spiritual maturity rests upon the wisdom and ability to welcome our vulnerable feelings and engage with them wisely.” And, he posits, we can create a climate for love and intimacy when we notice and embrace vulnerability and risk.
For Ram, his very human journey ultimately comes together. He explores questions pertaining to god and life’s meaning and his place in the world, and learns about energy, the mind, and emotional well-being. In Thailand, he begins to purge past emotions and detox from the copious amounts of medicine lodged in his body.
Finally, his experiences in China complete the puzzle. Ram realizes the value in simply living — in the present, in day-to-day life, through reaping joy from small pleasures. He begins to understand that maybe it’s not so much techniques, per se, but an overall outlook that will help. Life will always embody bits of good and bits of stress, he realizes, whether one suffers from a bipolar diagnosis or not. Either way, one needs strong coping skills.
“People ask me, what is enlightenment, what is spiritual realization and what is the meaning of life,” Ram writes. “I don’t have an answer.”
Indeed. Although Ram comes to see that enlightenment, gods, and spiritual journeys “are just concepts” and what matters is to “be strong,” his writing in Warrior is not cohesive. His journey may have worked for him personally, but his thoughts for us tend to be sporadic and give way to odd tangents, making the book difficult to follow.
Still, he may leave some readers with a feeling of hope. “We who live with mental illness were given something labeled as horrible and incurable,” Ram writes. “I tell you with every breath of truth in me, our condition can be managed.”
Warrior: The Bipolar Battle
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 2015
Paperback, 304 pages