Looking at the World From the Eyes of a Schizophrenic

Reshma says she could have easily been indifferent to society, but at the end of the day, she too wants to belong.

Mind It
2 min read

“You need the mad person to make you feel better”, says Reshma Valliappan, artist, mental health activist and schizophrenic.

Reshma was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002. Her hallucinations were auditory, olfactory, tactile and visual in nature. Cases of schizophrenia where all four kinds of these hallucinations are present are quite rare.

Talking about her illness, she says:

I am crazy because my heart has been broken a zillion times. And when I say that my heart has been broken, I don’t mean separation from an intimate sexual relationship. It’s (instead) this constant feeling when you are growing up and you know you are different because you see or hear stuff. And when everybody around you disbelieves you and says “that stuff doesn’t exist” - my heart breaks.

Schizophrenics don’t often fit in society because of the stigma attached to the illness. Reshma says that schizophrenia, therefore, is her response to a society which does not believe her.

For some really strange reason, the whole world is trying to tell the schizophrenic, “I know what your schizophrenia is”and I am like, no, you don’t. You’ve never experienced it, you may have studied it. That’s a very different thing.
Reshma Valliappan

It’s not simply the societal hurdles that need to be overcome. Commenting on the legal status of a schizophrenic in India, she points out how she cannot have something as basic as a bank account.

When you’re working with laws, when you’re working with ministries, it’s a really tough process to convince people why they need to give a schizophrenic a bank account, insurance. To me, that’s madness.

She could have easily been a rebel, Reshma says, and been indifferent to society and its rules, but at the end of the day, she too wants to belong and feel believed.

Video Editor: Ashish Maccune

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