I've had this experience before, even as I am having right now. Hitler is having peace-talks with the Mahatma. Why can't anyone else see it?
I've had other experiences too, like the one in which Subhash Chandra Bose was trying to convince Vivekananda to give up violence, and the other one where a whole county in America was destroyed by nukes launched from Japan. Horrifying, weren't they?
But, why didn't anyone else see it or know it? Why only ME?
I think all this started right from my adolescence, where I had my first encounter with the tiger that had escaped from the zoo, which chased me right till the gate of the town, some 15 km away...or was it 20 km? Never mind... But, the fact is that, nobody ever bothered to see a tiger chasing a boy. Instead, they were staring at me as though I was running away from an imaginary tiger!
My second encounter was when I was 21, where that comic character from that popular sitcom was trying to cheer up gloomy Chaplin. Wasn't it strange that such a serious and distinguished person such as Prof. Chaplin be cheered up?
I was so angry that I started hitting that comic character left and right till he fell at my feet by the end. But, that day, people's behaviour towards me was very...odd. Maybe because I had chased that character down the street...thrice.
I've had many episodes like this. But, I don't know why but these things happen to me only. Someone or some voice motivates me to take action when involved in such incidents.
Surprisingly, I appear to be the only person who seems bothered and concerned about it. All others look at me as some sort of odd creature. To my amazement, everything appears to happen only to me or around me. Nobody seems to be noticing anything, although they are as real as I am. How strange!
But, sometimes, this whole world looks like a jumble of confusing thoughts, actions, images and sounds to me. People suddenly change their attitude towards me. There was this incident in a train where I was replying to a voice which was asking me about the hormonal behaviour of men and while I was replying to this voice, this woman who was sitting beside me slapped me hard!
My family straightaway abandoned me, stating that they cannot compromise the name of the family for my unusual behaviour. That day, I also got to know that His Holiness Dalai Lama belonged to our family.
I have always had a high IQ and was an achiever as an adolescent. But, at the same time, I was socially isolated. With very limited external support, I managed to scrape through some degree of some sort and got a low-profile job. But, no one kept me for longer than 3 months, citing the reason of "Abnormal and Bizarre Conduct".
Of late, I was getting suicidal thoughts. Although I thought that this was due to high stress, my best friend and companion, Mr. Washington, suggested that I go and consult a psychiatrist.
All through my first meeting, the bean bag I was seated upon seemed to be a little uncomfortable, although it seemed like a cat to my therapist. He was astonished when he asked me who had referred him to me. He was asking stupid questions like the number of times I bathe in a week, or how I lock the door of my house... I mean, seriously? How can one bathe more than twice in a week, it being so difficult?
Anyway, it seemed to me that more than my answers, he looked as if he was interested in my body language. Thse interactive sessions continued for some more time and then one day, he said that this sitting today is supposed to be my last one.
I was sitting, outside the consulting room, in front of the highly respectable Gandhi, and beside him is seated the "Symbol of Peace" Hitler. The attendant threw a very suspicious glance at me and informed me that the doctor was calling me in. I bid farewell to those great souls outside the room, at which the attendant looked horrified, and entered the room.
The doctor was holding sheets of my brain scans and was studying them when I entered the room. He looked quite a bit dejected. The first thing he informed me was that he was really sorry. I was confused. He said he had a doubt that I might be suffering from schizophrenia, a type of mental disorder.
He started explaining: "It may have happened due to the abnormal regulations of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, related to specific pathways or circuits of nerve cells that affect thinking and behaviour. The problems with how these circuits operate may result from trouble with certain receptors or nerve cell for key neurotransmitters or with other cells with the nervous system that provide support to nerve cells within brain circuits."
Let me be frank with you. I didn't understand a single word of it. What I DID understand was that something was terribly wrong with the functioning of my brain. A thousand questions started popping up in my mind.
Are there any other conditions that could be causing or aggravating the schizophrenic symptoms? How soon after starting medication will I notice improvement? Are there chances of being symptom-free? Will those medications have any sort of side-effects in the future? Will I get a precautionary warning for a relapse of any sort? Should I publicise my pathetic condition to my family, friends, and colleagues? Could I carry on with my regular, daily activities? What should I do when I see imaginary things? Does alienating myself help me in any sort?
On top of it all, SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
From that moment on, I started fearing further mental deterioration. I began to lose faith in treatment. I felt my agitation and anxiety grow in my worthless and hopeless body. I started developing a negative attitude towards medication and my adherence towards therapy reduced drastically.
It then occurred to me that all this was false. How could I be so...fake? How can I possibly imagine things? I had already made up my mind to resist any sort of treatment referred to me. I don't see any delusions or hallucinations, and all of them are as real as flesh and blood.
The doctor asked out of the blue: "Have you had any family history of schizophrenia?"
I couldn't think. I couldn't hear myself think, with all those voices in my head. I just said no, got up, and ran away, out of the room, out of the building, onto the street. Everyone seemed to call me. I ran to my home, and locked myself in.
Months had already passed since my last sitting with my therapist. I thought I couldn't survive anymore. The ways I used to think, act, express my emotions, perceive reality, and relate to others had severely changed. I was having problems functioning in society, at work, and in handling relationships. It had left me frightened and withdrawn. I could no more tell what is real from what is being imagined. I began experiencing psychotic periods at a rate of one an hour.
If I had had a family, the chances of me being a schizophrenic would have been comparatively lesser. Had I considered this problem seriously, I would not have been here today.
I saw someone call me to the stairs. I heard voices asking me to climb those stairs. I climbed up those stairs which seemed endless. I felt something drag me towards the edge of the terrace, all the way on the other side of the staircase. I was asked by someone to look down. All those people, all those vehicles, that height, made my head spin.
All this time, two distinct voices were having an argument inside my head. One was mine, and the other was mine as well... the former was the me who used to be ME and the latter was an irresponsible, violent, stupid, reckless, rash, immature and a negligent schizophrenic.
Suddenly, all the voices ceased and I felt myself being pushed. I saw the lights get brighter and.....darkness.
[This is a work of fiction. The author is a student of St Joseph's Pre University College Bengaluru]