Updated: Jun 27
Story by Sanam Choudhury
I was always sleeping, and when I wasn’t I was surviving without emotions, my vision turned to black and white devoid of the vibrancies I was used to. That is when I stopped my medications, told myself that I wanted to get better and the first step was telling the shadows whose whispers I had until then listened to, that I worthy of being loved.
At the age of 17 I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, OCD and psychosis. In an angry outburst I told my parents that I was extremely irritated and resentful, that I broke things, threw hands at others during fights and have attempted to commit suicide. They took me to a psychiatrist who put me on medication.
In my childhood days schizophrenia was a constant but muted presence. When I was 5 years old, I was sexually abused by my uncle who silenced the child I was with chocolates. Although I tried pretending it was not a part of my life that had power over me, the memory traumatised me relentlessly. Every story of sexual harassment I hear would beat me physically and mentally. I would cry for hours and become incapable of carrying on with my daily life.
Schizophrenia for me started with the feeling that wherever I went, the crowds were talking about me. I felt special, like the protagonist of a thriller story or the child of God, and therefore people were spying on me. Soon I found respite in expressing my vivid imaginations through stories, so I was the prince in one story and a mother and daughter who survived harassment in another.
My sexual identity as a lesbian was another aspect I struggled to understand and accept. The term “lesbian” was absent among the words I was taught in school and at home. I felt ashamed of my sexuality and thought I was the only one in the world. Even after I realised that I was not alone, I was scared of my family and society rejecting me. Schizophrenia made me believe that Deepika Padukone and I were in a relationship for 12 years.
It was when the shadows started taking solid forms to tell me I was not worth loving, I hit rock bottom. I became obsessed with keeping myself clean. Washing my hands after I come in contact with any object or surface, I would wash them until the skin peels off.
Medication successfully blocked out the darkness I was battling with, but it also absorbed all the colors. I remember feeling nothing when one of my relatives passed away. That is when I decided it was time to take my life into my own hands.
I had the support of my parents and my girlfriend. I have always only listened to the shadows but one day, I talked to them. I told them being molested or being a lesbian did not make me undeserving of love. I have survived much and I am worthy of being loved. Then I picked up the courage to reduce the number of times I washed my hands systematically and slowly.
I wrote a letter to my mother explaining to her about my sexuality. My parents readily accepted me and I realised that when I take the first step to accept myself, others will embrace me too. In Guwahati, on the March of 2020, an organization named Xomonnoy conducted a Queer Pride Rally. I attended the rally and held a banner written "I'M GAY AND I STAND PROUD". I also posted it on my social media accounts.
Coming in terms with my sexuality also helped me face my mental illnesses. It made loving myself easier. And through my struggles I had the constant support of my girlfriend. I met her through Facebook and even though I was not good at making conversations, I felt safe with her and I was open about my feeling towards her from the beginning. After a year of meeting her, she accepted my feelings towards her.
I am a lot stronger now and having broken the shackles of shame that came from a place of ignorance, I want to help others who are bound the same way.