Story Of/ In A ‘Report’

June 4, 2014 at 9:15 AMJun (Friends, Media, Slice Of Life)

udayavaniFriends from A.V. Baliga Hospital, Doddanagudde, Udupi invited me to inaugurate World Schizophrenia Awareness Day on 24 May 2014. I wondered why I was the chosen one. But soon I learnt that though it was observed as World Schizophrenia Day it is also inclusive of other psychosis and the theme for this year, across the globe, is to fight the stigma attached to mental illness. On learning this I agreed to be a part of the programme. Dr. P.V.  Bhandary and my childhood friend Dr. Deepak Mallya convinced me that I am the right person to inaugurate for I have been vocal and open about my depression and have been trying to fight the stigma attached to mental illness.

After inaugurating the programme I spoke, in 10-15 mins, about medication not being enough to overcome mental illness and the need for social support and the need for the individuals to engage with the world and life around to overcome the illness. I spoke all of this based on my own experience in dealing with depression making it clear that I am incompetent to speak on schizophrenia and that I am speaking about my own struggle through depression.

On the following day i.e. 25 May 2014 a Kannada newspaper named Udayavani in its report of the programme says, “He [me] said he could overcome the problems of schizophrenia because of his family’s efforts in encouraging him to take up writing.”

I dont know who was the reporter from Udayavani who came to cover the programme. I dont know what he heard of my speech. His report says I am schizophrenic and says I took up writing because my parents pushed me in to it.

I realized in what situation people say, “I did not know whether to laugh or cry.”

When I narrated this to a friend he got angered and said, “Write to them and ask them to apologize and publish a corrigendum.” Another senior activist friend who was with us laughed and said, “One will apologize and publish corrigendum if mistakes happen. But Udayavani does all the so called mistakes deliberately very consciously and with great thought behind it.” I too laughed because I knew he was true. Udayavani has been publishing several cooked up stories to stir communal hatred and communal tension in coastal Karnataka. Amidst all of those reports this report can be brushed aside by laughing at it, I told myself. But deep within I knew what exactly the report had done to me.

[Photo: Newspaper report of Udayavani]

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