Fallen Standing: An Excerpt from a Powerful Memoir


Excerpted with Permission from Fallen Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist by Reshma Valliappan

“You guys wait for me to be 30 and then tell me all of this? Why do you assume that I won’t understand?

I’ve understood you ever since I was six!”

This is how most of my mornings have been ever since I turned 30…in the eyes of the world. This

is how most of my mornings have been even before being 22…just a different set of words and content

were used or referred to.

This is how most of my last sentences end when fights take place between my folks and me ever

since I got my voice back. Most of the time it ends with how selfish I am, and I walk away not knowing

what to say anymore. Crying never did take place for me. There are some types of pain where tears don’t

need to show.

The meds just suppress everything. It becomes a form of control. It took away my voice. Not only

did it repress my so-called symptoms, it repressed ME. The only person who could stand up for me was

me and she was repressed. I could not find that voice. I could not find her. People would come and go,

say the meanest insulting things about me and to me. My parents didn’t say anything but were more

escapist, and I was blamed for it. It felt horrible. Deep inside I knew I could not and never did expect

them to stand up for me.

But what affected me the most and what I could not accept was losing my own voice. Losing the

only person I knew and could always rely on to stand up for me, to back me up. To let me know that it is

okay to say what you mean and mean what you say even if the world around you hates you and condemns

you for it. I lost her.


And the worst of it all was people around me now liked me more, ’cause I was exactly what they

wanted me to be. I was tame. I was obedient. I was like a dog. I would do anything they told me to. If

they didn’t like something I was wearing and asked me to change, I would. There was no question in my

head about their intentions. I followed. It seemed like everything ME had died. Not once did it occur to

me that I had a different set of choices and a very different way of dressing. It simply didn’t. And this is

what those days of meds did to me. It made it easy for EVERYONE to control EVERYTHING about me.

It made them feel good. I don’t know if they ever thought or considered what it made me feel. And what

it makes me feel now that I remember all of that.

They might and certainly do have good intentions with trying to help and support me. Although

they took it too far and made everything into a symptom. Your good intentions might not necessarily be

good for me. What you might consider unimportant might be very important for someone else.

It pinches even more that every time I type ‘they’ or the world around me I know exactly who I am

referring to. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.

I keep wishing these pinches were like the ones you need to do for a reality check and you hope

you’re dreaming or maybe watching a horror movie. Unfortunately, my life turns out to be a movie. Some

outsiders tell me to look at it differently and say, ‘Hey, that is so cool. You actually get to live a movie.’

I don’t know whether I should slap them or TRY and see a bigger meaning in what they ignorantly state,

only so I can comfort myself with the added pinches I seem to be getting even by sharing.

NO, it is not AT ALL COOL.

You watch a two-hour movie and come out with sweat, with laughter, with perhaps haunting

images of your past, with a lot of things. It might stay with you for a while. You might talk about the

experience at a book club, at your kitty party, with your circle of friends, on a social networking site and

then it’s all gone. It’s forgotten until your next movie. But it never is gone for me or for many others like

me. It is EVERY SINGLE DAY. Can you multiply that to all that you have felt and even try to imagine

what it’s like?

Screw me. I’m sure you can’t do that even with those around you who are not ‘insane’. So

where’s the question of the schizophrenic being understood at all? And I am the crazy one? I need to get a

grip on what is real and what is not? I need to find balance, focus and control?


p/s: Do I sound antagonising? Don’t I sound like I just don’t give a fuck? Aren’t I rude and

revengeful? Do I sound like I just about hate every one of you who falls in any category you might relate

to? Do you feel like I’m condemning your existence and your ways and your values and your philosophies?

Well then…GOOD that you FEEL and THINK that way. You know why? Because I have been

made to feel this way my entire life and there are certain people who still make me feel this way even

today. SO WELCOME TO MY WORLD…or WELCOME TO THE WORLD! This is how it functions.

This is how it is and for all of us. It’s called a mirror. It’s called a reflection. And if you can’t handle this

one page, then throw the book away because my arrogant egoistic throbbing self will tell you to your face

that maybe you’re not worth reading the rest of it.

p/s again: I was only re-quoting a sentence that was used on me once. You like it?

…But then, I gotta be nice. ’Cause someone out there will say I’m being symptomatic and talking ill of

others. And even as I wrote the previous line I recollected an outside voice saying, ‘Man, she sounds


This is the truth. I am not making it up. When I say whatever it is I say, no one believes a word of

it. This is what the world has done. I do know that those who have undergone the same will certainly

know what I am talking about. That even if I am telling you the truth of what it really is you are still not

going to believe me. You are still going to think that I am thinking otherwise, that others think I am being

symptomatic and delusional.

And that is the paradox of a schizophrenic existence!

And that is why we don’t trust easily! Not because we are suspicious. Not because we are flooded

with delusions, paranoia and disorientation.

It is because we have to spend most of the time motivating ourselves from the vultures out there

who simply do not believe us. It is because we have to fight for what everybody has so easily. It is

because we have to wake up with constant reminders of how useless we are even when deep inside we

know we have a lot to offer and are not useless. But it reaches a point where you can’t get out of bed

anymore. Where you refuse to open your eyes and would rather keep sleeping…forever.

You keep fighting for yourself and they keep condemning you. And you are left alone even more

unless you agree. And you go into doubts about who you are and you reconsider everything about

yourself and you believe that you are indeed useless, a complete waste, and your existence does not

matter. Imagine having this repeated even after recovery.

Imagine a system that still exists where they think someone like me is making it all up. Where a large

group of people refuse to believe what I say but when a professional says the same thing it is taken as a

fact or the ultimate truth.

AND THIS IS WHAT makes the schizophrenic feel hopeless, helpless and easily driven to take

one’s life. This is the darkness we are put into when we already have enough on our platter.

What has come to the world, to society, that makes one think this way? Our laws…our activists…our

fighters…our leaders…our social structures…our conditioning…

And I keep wondering – is this what the world out there thinks of someone like me? And then I

question everything I do. Everything I try to make sense of, just so that I can find a meaning good enough

for me to wake up to tomorrow and continue living in the same REAL WORLD. And I wonder, ‘does it

really matter’, ‘do they REALLY care?’ or is it, ‘Oh, look, even being schizophrenic she is doing so

much’ vs. ‘Oh, these schizophrenics can’t do anything.’

So one day I am the coolest person for you and the next day I am the most useless incapable

person on earth and you don’t want to have anything to do with me anymore.

…and you say I have personality issues?


Excerpt from Fallen Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist by Reshma Valliappan; Published by Women Unlimited; Price: Rs 325)

Reshma Valliappan is the author of Fallen Standing, and also the Founder of The Red Door

Views Expressed are personal. Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for trained professional help