IN FIRST PERSON
To hell and back
Schizophrenia is an illness most people would rather not recognise. SAVITA talks about her battle with it.
I WAS 14-years-old when Jim Morrison started talking to me. This was in 1982 and Morrison had been dead for well over a decade. His poster would make critical remarks about my attire and Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters would howl in laughter. They were all on my wall.
Janis (Joplin) wasn't so bad, she was a schizophrenic like me so, with her, it was a question of being kindred spirits. Everyone who was talking in an undertone had to be talking, usually ill, about me. Every one who was looking my way had to be thinking ill of me. Anyone who talked to my mom or dad had to be complaining about me.
I wrote a song called "Paranoid"; it went: "Running down the highway/Fell into a well/Couldn't escape from the mire/A prisoner of the spell. The world goes on above you/You're all alone again/Sit back, revel and cry, my friend/You'll never escape the pain. Tears fall (plop) into the well/Your head is beating, your heart feels empty/Terror freezes me and Sandy/I feel so nice and dandy." Terror and suspicion were eating the soul right out of my life. It didn't seem worth living; anyway you looked at it.
Things came to a head just short of my 16th birthday. I had a fight with my friends. It was surprising I had any friends left at all, the psychiatrist said things seemed to be getting tougher, which was a sweet way of saying they were bloody hopeless. Photos were screaming at me to die Amitabh Bachchan was telling me to jump in front of every bus I saw) and 30-storeyed buildings beckoned me to jump from their top. My final day of reckoning arrived. A night tanked up on heroin, fights with two different sets of friends, the psychiatrist unable to help, and Morrison telling me very persuasively, "Come on baby, light my fire" was enough for me. I stepped out of my fourth-floor balcony and landed with most of my bones broken. The sad part was that I was still alive.
A three-year road to recovery was paved with hurdles and minor miracles: some came with water from Lourdes, another friend, a Parsi, with no news from me, found herself near a Fire Temple praying for me, my mother was discovered by a homeopath who put me on the road to physical recovery and it seemed good to be alive. But I missed my medicines every two days and we were back at square one. I was still occasionally attempting suicide twice or thrice a year.
Then I started thinking. If no one else was going to help me out, there had to be someone. And, that someone had to be me. I was the only person who had to live with me and I couldn't go on hating myself. Whoever created me, even if it was merely Darwinian evolution, must have done so with a purpose in mind. If all the past had been bad and no one would deny how rotten it had been it did NOT stand to reason that things would continue to go from bad to worse. The psychiatric drugs now available are good. My academic record was brilliant and what I chose to make of my life was left to me.
Thus, here I am. I am now 36-years-old; I have no job; that doesn't mean I'll never have one. I have no one to live for, but I do have myself. My lecturers love me, my psychiatrist believes in me and my music teacher thinks I am the next Lennon- McCartney. That is a good enough beginning for me.
I am still taking medicines, and will be for a long time, but my psychiatrist tells me I am on the road to recovery. Pictures and voices no longer talk to me, if people laugh at me behind my back, well, that is their lookout. All I am concerned with is living this day and the next; for now, the future will take care of itself. For today and I hope, forever, I am not and will never be again, a paranoid schizophrenic.
For further details, contact SCARF 044-26153971; 044- 26151073 and SNEHA 044-2835 2345.
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