Conversations that make a book

This is a random conversation with one such many people who write in to me. I did get her permission to share bits of our conversations as a blogpost since I haven’t been writing much.

Hi Reshma,
My name is Rachel (name changed to person’s alter ego). I have been reading a lot about you all day, borderline stalking you can say … lol … just wanna tell u that I admire your bravery and your will to come to terms with paranoid schizophrenia. I can only imagine the challenges you would’ve faced on the way to where you have reached today. I’m spellbound. Kudos to you .. I hope more people get the sort of support and help you got from family friends and therapists. I really wanna read your book. Will it be available on flipkart ??… do let me know how I can buy it. Once again I admire you. People with a single mind don’t make sense anymore. We need more people like you in this world.
Lotsa love Rachel.

Me: lol thank you and for everyone who writes in like you do – there is hope for all of us!

Rachel: Good afternoon!! hope u r doing good. I just finished the book. I don’t know what to say and I don’t think I can comprehend what you have been through. All I can say is, I’m sure u have had one hell of a journey and it takes guts to do what u r doing. I could relate to things as I was reading and at some places I felt u had got it all wrong but I could feel your emotions at every page I flipped. I’ve had a horrible relationship with my father and since mother can’t take it head on with him and tell him when he’s wrong, I’ve hated her for being a mother who could never stand up for her child. The day I gave birth to my girl I told my Dad I would show him how to actually raise a daughter.
I feel every Indian has a story to tell just like you and many others out there cause we Indians live for the society first and then for ourselves and often we forget that at the end of it none of this really matters. We are animals too… and from them we need to learn that it’s existence and survival at the end of it but we humans give it so many layers and complicate it. Today I have let go of the pain my father has given me coz I feel if I convert that into love and give it to my daughter, I will be healed.
Anyway, I loved the book. Loved to read about your experiences and u r totally someone I look up to when I feel like giving up … so u should not give up coz people like u give people like us, some hope to hold on and live. Love and hugs Rachel

Rachel: Just a quick question/concern. Now that u have attained this sort of celebrity status and stuff, the social networking and media attention etc doesn’t affect your symptoms? Don’t they sort of heighten the paranoia like someone’s constantly watching u or stalking u? It could be a fan also u never now but since u r off meds as well isn’t it an added responsibility? Have u had a talk with your therapist regarding this and how to deal with the celebrity tag while u still battle the symptoms?? Just a thought… maybe it has nothing to do with your situation as such.

Me: Hi Rachel, I’ll respond backwards since that’s pretty much what my life turns out into. I don’t have a therapist anymore as I only had one during the first 2 years after my diagnosis (the rest of the story will be in my 2nd book which I’ve to get writing at some point). I’ve shuffled between several therapists but completely stopped seeing any of them including my doc. I guess this is because my mind is very used to ‘creating’ characters I call ‘Imaginary friends’ where most of my conversations take place with them – quite like during the process of being in therapy where the therapist doesn’t really offer any solutions but guides us into finding our own.
As for the ‘celebrity’ tag well it is just another label for me. Doesn’t stop me from talking to others or confiding in strangers or random people I meet online. It’s important for me because this is my only source of connecting even though it’s a virtual world but facebook did become one of my first steps towards rehabilitating myself into social interaction. Yes like anything else it comes with a price. I do build humour around it as much as I can. One of my favourite lines are: ‘I am not paranoid – people are stalking me cause they love me’
It does get to me but I keep reminding myself that paranoia itself is relative like it is with our parental figures. If I can interact and find my way around family members then I can find my way around others who are not related by blood.

But it is people like you who are reminders too. My book was written for the clear fact on how we put society first and hence the ‘madness’ that is triggered. When I read your response to it I did have a glimpse of happiness which I have been missing over the last few weeks. I did also leave home last night and disappeared – then showed up this morning trying to make sense with a part of me collapsing from within. So whether we call it madness or life or paranoia – I just believe the universe has a way of guiding us back to our purpose with either subtle reminders or on your face reminders – Cause I did ask ‘Show me a bloody sign’. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. Our hopes are always mutually existing in this wide universe irrespective of what our realities are.

Rachel: Off meds off therapists. Wow u definitely have found your way out of it. Can’t wait to read the second book!! Plz start working on it soon. Well I only understand the chemical aspect of any medical condition since that’s what my job is all about. How do u deal with these problems like when u r having an episode it could just mean that your brain has just produced something in excess. We get 10 and you get 100 so u see and hear more people (my dumb logic nevermind) … so in such situations can you make sense of it and still control and contain your impulses without meds that help suppress those symptoms?? I know anything to do with the brain altering substances have terrible side effects and you would rather live with the symptoms than make yourself worse but when you dissociate from what you are dealing with reality can be a challenge right? How do you know what you have to do at that point? It’s not about how you behave or what happens during these episodes but how you cope with them right? coz maybe it could just mean that you might harm yourself since your senses and ‘delusions’ are heightened at that point of time so when this happens dealing with reality and people including someone like me on Facebook might be difficult.

I have always tried to study more about neuronal disorders but even books give you a very vague idea and everything is a theory with loose scientific evidence. I don’t think science has been able to explain most of it. Meds are just helpful in straight forward diseases where you have an attacker and you kill it like a bacterial infection, and not the more complex disorders that affect more than one part of the body with complex mechanism of action u know what I mean? So in cases like yours I feel it’s more about dealing with the situation more than finding a cure. Isolation is worse cause that takes away the feeling of being a normal human being but when there are episodes – dealing with that as well as the outside world and unknown people and a bunch of losers with negative intentions could cause a lot more harm to you in your fragile state right…

Me: Reality is relative isn’t it like everything else. On one hand we have religion and spirituality telling us that everything is an illusion/maya. On the other hand the same struggle to live with either or. To me thankfully I majored in philosophy which has been a blessing to have done so cause there is so much of existential issues going on in our heads. We humans love intellectualizing everything but when suffering strikes the biggest lessons I have learnt is to just be with it. To just experience it – not because there is no choice or no option but a matter of knowing what the universe holds out to us. That really is how I look at anything.
Yes to the fragility. If you speak to many others like me one common word we would use is ‘energy’ which is where the experience between you and me is the intensity of it. Physics is the only branch of science that can actually shed light on alternate reality, energy, and such experiences – that is what I like about it. As human beings any one of us can be paranoid for the simple reason being is we are all shrouded by an ego-projection of ourselves to the world. When this gets pinched we shake. Likewise the human psyche is nothing more but our inner child having to be protected by this ego we have to form. When we stop needing to protect ourselves out of the existential complexes we don’t need to stress our child, adult or parent – which means we can continue living our child and that makes everything seem less overwhelming.

Digressing conversations on another day:

Rachel: Zombies don’t talk do they?

Me: NOOOOO they are permanently on Vipassana mode. They must be indians no? or Hindus to be precise? who follow some maun vrat for life…oh oh they are like having SAMADHI outside of grave!

Rachel: I don’t like zombies. I’m a blabber mouth. I don’t get along with people who don’t talk.

ME: See zombies make good listeners cause they don’t talk. They’ll just glare at you like how my cat glares at the bird and then vallop!

Rachel: You want your zombie partner to eat u basically ?!!

Me: uhhggg no I don’t want a zombie partner! But interesting thought now. I wonder what kinda kids I would have given I think of myself as a vampire alien hybrid.

Rachel: Noooo way…I should stop giving u ideas now. See the problem is I have a baby girl … if u have a baby boy – what if my girl falls for that zombie hybrid…nahiiii (dramatic movie scene scream)

Me: No no please continue. You just enlightened me on my fictional ideas that I’ll turn into some academic nonsense again just to prove my points. Zombies are above the ground samadhi walkers!

Rachel: Ground Samadhi walkers … I didn’t understand any of that.

Me: They are having existential issues in trying to fit in reality you see. Unlike actual gurus who take samadhi – these folks are confused cause they are not dead but alive – can’t eat food but human flesh – which says they crave an existence denied to them since they are not under the ground. You must understand zombies are only found in AMERICA like how aliens only land there. The reason being is those guys don’t cremate their dead they bury them.

Rachel: You planning to shift to Amreeka then?

Me: Nah…Amreeka and me? They’ll like imprison me or throw me inside the asylum cos I don’t take meds.

Rachel: But we do get to see Hindu ghosts?

Me: Ya see unlike Hindu counterparts who would say ‘that is why we cremate’ so that they don’t prop up from the graveyard and turn into zombies. Simple. But then we super englightened people even after death – we don’t turn into zombies we turn into spirits! Then we open daaru shops with names like OM SHIVA WINES, Prasad Wines, Shakti Wines..etc.

Rachel: Zombies are bad and spirits are good?

Me: hmm we must ask the Amreekans cause it depends on which movie they saw like glittering blonde vampires and hot looking zombies who fall in love with teenage girls.

Rachel: Spirits are bad too. I’m scared of the unknown like even darkness. Glittering blonde vampires…man that sounds like a porn movie.

Another digressing conversation:

Rachel: I was seeing your documentary. Mom asked me who you are. I told her. She’s like ‘Maybe she got her hair colored pink when she was “taken over” by her alter ego. I’m sure she doesn’t like it’…lol…

Me: lol my mom says the same! All mothers are the same.

Rachel: Hahahaha. Yes all mothers are the same … mommy DNA.

Me: My mother finally agreed the purple looks nice then goes into mother mood saying ‘but your black is natural nothing is better’. You can tell your mom I said ‘Aunty I am naturally crazy also – so makes no difference whether alter ego did it or I did it’

Rachel: Hehe. Hey I think in your documentary one part of it u have black hair … I agree … I like the black hair better.

Me: Yes it is all black in the documentary. I told people I killed that Resh simply to mess with them. Some even believe it ahah!
Well my hair is pink for a reason ‘I have candyfloss hair cause if I can’t eat candy I might as well look like one’

Rachel: Hehehee are u serious

Me: Ya then when it is white blonde I tell people I am the illegitimate child of Marilyn Monroe and Einstein

Rachel: Hehehe…your imagination. You should become a scriptwriter u know. You’ll make good money.

Me: See basically the reason it is pink was this (like seriously speaking).
It was first purple cause I went into hibernation and then meditated so much my crown chakra opened up! Volla purple! then I stepped out for book launch and met humans it got faded and turned pink.
I’m sure your mom will like that explanation. I told my mom and my friend’s mom and they didn’t know what to say after that.

Rachel: My mom asked me if all schizophrenics dress up like you. I said well they are allowed to since the world anyway thinks they are crazy and it’s an added advantage. You can act crazy and nobody would care. Gosh sometimes I wish I could do these things. I’m still not able to convince my parents and husband for a tattoo … like jus one !!!!

Me: Oh well we live in a society where anything different is crazy. Now I have the right to get away with anything and I started enjoying it.
By the way you can just say you got the shared psychosis by talking so much to me! It’s an actual disorder under DSM.

Rachel: Hahaha that’s a good idea … I’ll say you inspired me to get one.

Me: Yea my life purpose is to inspire madness!

Rachel: From where do you get those colors dude? I’m sure you don’t get them in India.

Me: I told u I meditate and it changes.

Rachel: Yeah right. I’ll meditate and hopefully get a tattoo then.

Me: Ok tattoo doesn’t work with that logic. Tattoos mean blood – pricks – and slight pain. So which means you’ll have to get into the whole vampire clause for a tattoo. Then your poor mom will call my mom.

Rachel: Ayeee Pavii No wayyy. I don’t like vampires. I’d rather go to Goa get drunk and get a tattoo. I don’t wanna feel the pain they prick you with needles!

Me: Thankfully they don’t prick you with pricks!

Rachel: hahahah. Hey, wanna tell u that I always had this prejudice against people with a condition like yours. Thanks to all the movies…but now that I’ve spoken to you I think you make more sense than most people I’ve met or read about. Half of them pretend to be what they’re not and it’s so annoying to sit and have a conversation with them.


2 thoughts on “Conversations that make a book

  1. This was so like being inside my head- if I had not read the article on shamans that you shared I would have got more worried- I can identify with one or the other disorder all the time- and is it just about our previous lives? Vipashyana and Shamans and therapists – they are all so overlapping.

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