RESHMA VALLIAPPAN a.k.a. Val Resh, walks in with a calm demeanour as we met for the first time at the Starbucks @ Paradigm Mall. From the photograph forwarded to me prior to our scheduled appointment, she looked much younger and carefree.
As we settled down at another venue, Resh shared with no pretense and direct openness. What I have pictured in my mind is far from what I meet. As the saying goes, “judge not the book by the cover.”
You see, Reshma was disgnosed with schizophrenia when she was 22. In April 1995, she started hearing “voices” and ran away from home. Her parents then decided to move to India, her mum’s homeland, as Resh was getting restless and rebellious. Though she was active in sports and other co-curricular activities, she started breaking tables and chairs.
The only teacher who understood her was Mr. Chan who was able to connect with her and able to get her to cope. However, in August 1994, she saw him collapsed suddenly in school and was later pronounced dead. It came as a shock to her.
By the end of 2002, Resh had already seen 4 different psychiatrists. It was only then that she came to know that she had “Reye’s syndrome”. She then found out that she was in deep coma at the age of 1 ½ (1981) and was medically dead. In 2011, brain tumour was discovered at her left hemisphere and she had partial seizures.
Looking at her now as she shared, she has truly come a long way. Today, she is free from drugs and medications. Resh also gives talks at Centre for Advocacy in Compassionate Mental Health besides other places. As an “alien sent to earth”, as Resh describes herself, she leaves the reader with these: “Learn to love. Don’t be hypocritical. Be honest and kind.”
Artist * Writer * Pantomine
Mental Health Advocate * Activist