A Life Interrupted

Reviews:

 

“Honest, compelling and at times unnerving, Life Interrupted keeps you both interested and entertained. Sumi did an incredible job of sharing the raw truth about growing up as a bullied individual while tying in the OCD connection. It is an easy to read book which can clearly be understood by anyone who works with individuals living with OCD.  I have a clearer idea of what these children live with on a day in and day out basis now that I have read Sumi’s book.  I once had a very narrow view of OCD. That view has been expanded. The book has given me insight on how to work better with Youth in Crisis.

Sumi’s explanation of the life challenges he went through growing up being bullied doesn’t make a person feel sorry for him, but proud of him. I’ve worked individually with Sumi to bring his story to the Minnesota School System. He is opening the gateway for the suffering to stop. Thousands of conversations are now being started by children who have been bullied. They may never have had the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about being bullied if they had not read his book or heard him speak.

My recommendation is to read A Life Interrupted, share it and talk about it.“

Denise Colby, Youth Counselor, Minneapolis, MN


 

“In this raw, emotional book, Sumi Mukherjee details his life with OCD, anxiety and depression.  The impact of living with these illnesses, which in fact were triggered by the extreme bullying that he endured for many years, affected every aspect of his life.  Sumi’s honest account of his struggles is heartbreaking, but as he gets older his inner strength shines through and he learns to cope and fight for a successful happy life as an adult.  He shares his experiences with therapy, medications and an OCD treatment program.  He also emphasizes how important the continued love and support of his parents has been throughout his life.  He has an optimism that is encouraging to all.  This is a powerful story that lets people know they are not alone in their struggles.”

- By Wendy Chase, a parent

 


 

There are many books now available on obsessive compulsive disorder, but few give an uncensored description of what it is actually like to live with shocking, unwanted obsessions. A Life Interrupted- The Story of my Battle with Bullying and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder gives readers an insider’s view of the devastating impact OCD and bullying can have on a person’s life. He also shares his path to standing up to his childhood bully and OCD, which takes much courage and flexibility. The reward is insight, change, and the feeling of being back in control.  The author is genuine in his description of his OCD symptoms and his successes and challenges along the way. It is well written and the author is even able to interject some humor into sharing his story. While the descriptions of the OCD thoughts are graphic, they are not uncommon and many people will be able to relate to this book. “

- Renae M. Reinardy, Psy.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Founder, Lakeside Center for Behavioral Change (Minnetonka, MN and Fargo, ND)

 


 

“I wish this wonderful, honest, engaging book could be required reading in college introductory psychology courses. It shows a nice young man, healthy, intelligent, loved by his family, descending into the hell of OCD — nightmarish intrusive thoughts and agonizing, exhausting behaviors he felt he had to perform to prevent harm to people he loved. It shows the isolation that so many people with OCD have experienced, hiding their secret thoughts and rituals for years from their involved and caring parents (even his mother, a PhD psychologist, was unaware of his condition), suffering needlessly, thinking they must surely be crazy and bad beyond redemption, until finally finding the right diagnosis and the right treatment. It also shows the social-emotional impact of “a life interrupted” by OCD, and his struggle, after finally getting his OCD under control, to develop skills necessary for more satisfying career and personal relationships.”

Irene Tobis, PhD
Director, OCD Brief Intensive Treatment Program, Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin, TX
President, OCD TEXAS, Local Affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)

 


Other Published Reviews

“This is a brave experiential account. The author of this short book is a courageous young man,   a second generation immigrant from India, who was born in Canada, came to the US at 9 months of age, and knew this country as his only country.  Sumi Mukherjee, age 34, is remarkably honest and direct in identifying his experience with bullying, anxiety, depression, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  He has little self-pity or whining tones and seems remarkably mentally healthy beyond his “casebook” diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which was exacerbated with the trauma of persistent long-term bullying. 

The fact that the author, as a teenager, was able to keep the secret of his OCD from age 16 until  21 from his involved and loving parents (both well educated and one a PhD psychologist), speaks to the peer isolation, stigma, shame and fear under whose shadows he had to live. Concerned as to why he was treated this way, Sumi sneaked into his mother’s psychological books, and thought that he might have schizophrenia. The fear of further isolation through hospitalization / confinement to ‘homes for the crazy’ was another factor. Finally at the age of 21, purely out of desperation, he was able to tell his father how he was suffering.

Indeed, the author’s experience of being wounded by bullying holds a prominent place in the story.  The OCD took hold at age 16 while the trauma of bullying were ongoing.  The OCD trafficked on Sumi’s images of bullies and he began to believe he had to perform compulsive behaviors to protect those he loved such as family members.  His stark details of his thoughts and frenzied attempts to circumvent them are refreshing. Such honesty on this subject has been beyond my experience and mindboggling about the intensity of loss of control and suffering both in bullying and OCD.  It makes the story very real and impactful.

This young man’s healing journey is, of course, not straight-line progressive.  Sumi finally gets some help, but then rebels.  As a high school graduate, he wants to experiment with who he is and goes off his medications and experiments with alcohol.  This choice is one many of us working with young people and mental illness have witnessed.  

The depth of Sumi’s learning about OCD itself is huge. The level at which an OCD sufferer has to engage / commit to actually make a difference beyond his own benefit and the ‘the prescription drugs-only’ choice is a profound learning for Sumi. He has obviously had excellent help from his family, his therapists, psychiatrists, and a very brief residential treatment, during which he finally (1) got the right medication prescription for him and (2) that OCD was even worse in its control on some others. However, to make needed changes, Sumi still had to learn and institute the cognitive behavioral skills necessary.  This process of learning took many years out of his life, depriving him of social life and other opportunities as he was able to perform at a minimal level compared to his potential. This reviewer bases this assumption on the clarity of his writing which indicates a person of exceptional self-awareness, intelligence and strength. After being in control of the OCD, Sumi next had to also deal with the real “rocky road” of the impact of the social-emotional ‘lost years’ !  A Life Interrupted is an apt title for this book.

The most poignant part of the book is when the author, Sumi, as an adult, sets up a meeting with the man who bullied him the most intensely during his childhood.  That episode was resolved in an understanding and freedom/emancipation which reinforced Sumi’s payoff for taking this courageous step of confronting one of his oppressors. The transformation of the bully in a much weaker person in adulthood as compared to the childhood bully, had its impact. Unfortunately, a few years later Sumi accidentally read this man’s obituary in the paper and learned that he had had schizophrenia, the very illness of which Sumi had been so afraid!

A Life Interrupted is a quick read.  It is like a peanut, small but full of meat. It includes tips for  OCD sufferers, their parents, significant others and also gives encouragement that even in its severe forms, OCD can be managed sufficiently to render an individual functional. It would be appropriate for anyone afflicted with OCD or bullying or depression/anxiety/PTSD.  All physicians should read it.  All psychologists in training and in practice should read it. All psychotherapists should read it. All teachers and professors should read it.  Its experiential value and flavor grounds the reader in the milieu of a cruel combination of bullying, anxiety OCD, depression.

I felt somewhat cheated after learning so intimately about the author’s distress that I didn’t know more about Sumi’s successes and his whole self, by the time I was finished reading.  He is much more than his vulnerability due to OCD and seems worth-knowing.  Perhaps his next book will include more of the whole mix of what makes Sumi a person of interest.”

- By Gail Anderson, MA, LP
Published in the MPA (Minnesota Psychological Association) Journal
Published in the MWP (Minnesota Women in Psychology) Newsletter

 


 

 

A Life Interrupted: The Story of My Battle with Bullying and ObsessiveCompulsive
Disorder by Sumi Mukherjee.
“This delightful little autobiography is written in a simple, concise style that engages the reader in the journey through the harrowing hell of obsessive compulsive disorder. Of significance is the pain involved in being misdiagnosed, bullied and ostracized by peers. It is interesting how in spite of having a mother who is a psychologist, Mukherjee’s problem remained undiscovered until later in life as a young adult. Unfortunately, as a young child, he was privy to his mother’s psychological literature which served to confound the issue as he then became convinced that he was a paranoid schizophrenic. Ironically, one of his worst bullies later suicided from that disorder but only after Sumi was able to confront him and deal with his inner fears. Several important themes are raised in this book.

Perhaps the most important one is how easy it is for the disorder or illness to be misdiagnosed by clinicians as in the painful case of Sumi. He appears to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, low self esteem, depression, anxiety, perfectionistic traits, academic failure and an inability to focus. One of the most compelling arguments the writer makes is the necessity for an accurate diagnosis so that the psychopharmacological aspects of the illness can be appropriately treated as was the case with Sumi, but only after a painful struggle over twenty years. Themes of shame, guilt, racism and inadequacy are painfully portrayed as we relive Sumi’s experiences in early childhood and puberty. It is only as a young adult that he is able to engage in a heterosexual relationship of
significance. The multifaceted aspects of the illness are graphically depicted through Sumi’s eyes. This book should be in every clinician’s library. It is a useful therapeutic adjunct and would be of value to school counselors as well as the general public.”

- Joan Neehall, Ph.D. is a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Edmonton, AB. She is a fellow of the American       Board of Forensic Examiners.
Published in the PAA (Psychologists’ Association of Alberta) Newsletter

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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