Good evening….

I… am among the very few… fortunate survivors…who…despite schizophrenia… have managed to live a somewhat adequate life… This was made possible… because of help from many… many individuals… When life was at its darkest… many people… my family… my friends… and many of my care-givers… extended exceptional support… It was this support, eventually, that caused my will to strengthen… and not give up… I thank all of you…at the outset… for enabling me to get here… to get this far.

I had my crisis episode… the precipitation of florid symptoms of schizophrenia… in 1979… when I was about 19…I was going to an academic examination on my motorbike… when… I was distracted by racing thoughts… and rammed into a cyclist…This event seemed mystically significant to me….I went home, lay in bed, nursing a hurt foot, when it just occurred to me… that I should stay awake for 3 nights… 3 nights after which, I will become privy to a great secret. My mother… sensed something was wrong, and she gave me a notebook…in which to write my thoughts. This gesture too… I thought as strangely significant…I also felt I should guard that notebook with extreme care… as in it… will be the secret that would be for me and me alone. I began writing… random sentences in it… sentences, which I thought at that time, were profound…

I kept awake that first night after my accident… racing thoughts continued to run through my mind…I was obsessed with resolving what reality is…what nature is… what society is… All the time, I was clutching my little notebook… as if it was a lifeline. That night… when I reached what I thought was a crucial point in my reasoning… I was surprised by a cat…a cat entering through a window in my bedroom. Somehow, this too seemed mystically significant to me… I redoubled my resolve to stay awake the next night as well.

That following night, there I was, racing thoughts… racing fears… strange… apocalyptic poetry began to run through my head… and then, suddenly… I thought I had resolved the puzzle of reality… that reality was just a manifestation of a tussle between will and truth…At that very moment, the cat… probably the very same one as the night before… jumped onto the window. I growled… yes growled instinctively at the cat. I concluded that the cat was a signal that I was on the right track… that I just had to keep awake for one more night… I wanted the secret.

The day following those two sleepless nights, I experienced what is commonly known in psychiatry as ‘psychotic grandiosity’… a feeling that one is the prime protagonist in reality…I felt that I was a mastermind… and that the entire world was a creation for me and me alone…I would have stayed awake for the third night… but a peculiar twist in my reasoning made me resolve not to speak… I just clammed up… I stopped talking… This was the explicit tipping point that made my family seek professional help. The psychiatrists were called. The first question from them was, “Do you feel someone is using witchcraft?” I broke my silence and started speaking; I said “Witchcraft is psychology…”

I then confessed to the doctors that I had been awake for the past two nights… and…that I needed to remain awake for one more night. I was immediately given medication that would help me sleep. What would have happened, if I had not spoken… and had I stayed awake the third night… I do not know. But…when I look back today… going completely mad seems a distinct possibility.

When, over time, I analyzed the thoughts I had then… during the onset of florid symptoms of schizophrenia… I got to a few conclusions… conclusions, which I felt I must address and set right…ONE… that much of the learning we get… both from our natural beginnings… and the nurture by society, is corrupted… TWO… that people communicate in subtle subliminal ways… THREE…. that our social foundation is setup with the intent of preserving an unfair pecking order in it…These conclusions seemed so obvious to me… I obsessively…wanted answers why things were this way… why do some people behave unreasonably… why ARE there so many views on what is right and what is wrong… why so much differences in our beliefs… why are we challenged… and why do we fight…

I felt a pressing need to evolve a different kind of outlook… an outlook that explains why we are in conflict… internally and externally… I discovered it was a kind of outlook that doesn’t lend itself readily to articulation… However, I tried anyway…The many insights in I, Me and Us… are aimed at resolving confusion… real and surreal… and also at coming out of any feeling that we are inadequate… it is about becoming secure… value adding persons in our lives… The “I” stands for individual awareness… the “Me “is the package of desires, opinions, hopes and fears of the “I”… and the “Us”… the interaction of the “I” and the “Me” with the world.

I, Me and Us, explains how we can overcome much of our conflict when we acknowledge personal growth… growth in some manner or another… whatever our circumstance…when we acknowledge there is constant… continuous betterment…This betterment becomes evident when we delink from any need to be perfect… when we delink from any need to be the best of the best… and… when we also end the widespread… spurious…search for freedom…Once we get to realize we are what we are… and where we are… as being our raw material… the raw material on which we can keep building… we align with the progressive process that is life.

The genesis of I, Me and Us, was in that notebook my mother gave to me… When I was largely over the characteristic symptoms of the condition… I went back and read that notebook… I was touched… touched by the mental anguish of the person I had been… I wanted to reach out and comfort that tortured being that was me… I also wanted to protect others from ever having to face this devastating condition.

I, Me and Us is the result of me…challenging myself… to come out of despair… challenging myself to go from being a victim to becoming a survivor… I challenged myself to work out the kinks in my thinking… and to develop the scaffolding that…hopefully… can help others reach their own independent insights… It is a project that was many years in incubation… and took many years of writing and rewriting… I have wrestled hard with words… to articulate as accurately as I could… the concepts that can help us be poised and proactive…I want to help as many people as I can… appreciate their own lives… and appreciate life itself… to the greatest extent possible…This is my ambitious goal…  I hope… in its own small way… this work makes the worlds of those it touches… enduringly clearer… and more importantly…enduringly better.

In closing…I thank the esteemed panel here… and the entire Westland team… for making this event possible. They have been patient… and supportive… throughout the publishing process. Back to Novena for kicking off the panel discussion on “Mental Health and Social Impact”… Thank you.