ABOUT VAL RESH
Reshma Valliappan aka Val Resh is the founder-director of The Red Door® that has been using creativity to redefine mental ill health and other disorders since 2011. Val is also the protagonist of an award winning documentary 'A Drop of Sunshine' based on her living with schizophrenia without medications. Author of her memoir 'Fallen, Standing; My Life as a Schizophrenist', Val's artwork and articles are published in many journals, textbooks and covers. She has been featured in countless magazines, newspapers, television channels, interviews, and spoken at many platforms globally.
Resh is also an Ashoka and Ink Fellow, recognized for her innovative work through The Red Door as it was the first Indian organization to have advocated for "Counterpower: Creative as the counter-response to violence" at the 14th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015.
She currently works as an educator - intervention specialist closely with community schools to empower boys and girls through sex-gender education, enabling them in channelizing their aggression through creative processes. The program 'Peaceful Warrior Changemakers' is being taught by her at two Akanksha Foundation schools. Her work has been recognized by many national and international organizations.
However, she refers to herself as an 'Alien-vampire sent to earth to redefine madness through having lived with Reye's syndrome, paranoid schizophrenia, sleep disorders and scar epilepsy following a brain tumour without medications. Humans require names and labels and so the above bio of importance is necessary. Her alter ego is SKii the mime, who plans on taking over the world - a hundred at time through silence.
Val also paints extensively, when she is not being an activist or an educator. Her routine does include a lot of time alone with her cats and nature, meditation and esoteric practices that she only discloses through her art and writing. She also provides counselling to individuals and care-givers seeking some respite in dealing with schizophrenia. . There are other things Val does, of which she herself might not know of. In short, she spends her free time by annoying ghosts and talking to her imaginary friends.
I hear voices, because I am a good listener.
What About you?
Mental Health Speaker Reshma Valliappan
TEDx Shiv Nadar University, 2018
"Madness, the world got it wrong"
ChaT Youth Summit Jaipur, 2016
"Life: normal or mad"
9th Hearing Voices Congress 2017, Boston
"East meets West"
TEDx Christ University, 2016
"What can life teach you?"
Mindscape 2014, Mumbai
World Schizophrenia Day, QUINT
PLEASE give VAL at least a month notice in advance OR minimum 2 weeks for online talks.
Apart from other commitments, RESH does get pressured with last minute notices, much like any other human would.
After all, Resh also does have a mind that splits, and it takes time for her to work with it, since it's a job done alone.
As a speaker Resh is known to debunk the cultural and societal constructions of madness with wit, humour and courage. She isn't afraid to be politically incorrect while challenging the norms of the medical, religious, spiritual, patriarchal, and Western narrative itself.
Having researched extensively in the history of mental illness, she raises the standards of madness itself, leaving her audience often shocked, dumbfounded, challenged, uncomfortable, inspired, moved, encouraged and more often in deep thought of what truly is madness.
Living without medications for schizophrenia, scar epilepsy, sleep disorders and a range of issues, she sheds a different light about illnesses and advocates for a shift in the way suffering is understood and lived.
Why do I call myself the Schizophrenist?
I practice Schizophrenistry — the art of turning multiple realities into words, pictures, and actions without any social constraints to enable those with lesser realities an access into mine.’ (re-quoted from Todd Murphy)
as featured for SKIN STORIES, Point Of View
Who am I in all of this chaos?
I am SKii the Mime who practices silence for long hours and even days (Vipassana) while communicating to the world using body movement and expressions. SKii often experiences overwhelming bouts of depression, melancholy and extreme grief. SKii lives in a world that is Borderline of Black and White.
I am Vajri the receiver of knowledge and Irakali the healer using knowledge. Together we form Vajrakali. The direct spiritual daughter of Aghor Krishnaswamiyar devotee of Goddess Chamundeshwari. I practice several forms of Martial Arts not as a physical training but for dealing with life. Each movement symbolizes a mudra and energy play. The dance of Kali is an act of 'trance' where I convert a seizure into an energy healing shield. Shakti is then the Raven or the Vulture, the aspect of Dhumavati.
She comes as the spinner of fate. The weaver of time. Removing everything that once was and restoring the old to practice older lessons into newer forms. My name is then Koru, also represented as the Spiral Path and Taoist, Buddhist Tantra.
As Itara-Shiva, my ice-crystal is a translucent Rudraksha. If you see me in that form, I look like a boy child.
As Hisaivani, another name given to me by a family priest, I instruct knowledge in the form of a pendant or anything that acts as a 'bind'.
My union is the form of Ardhanareshwar/Avalokiteshvara to remove gender and sexual identities which blinds mankind.
As a shaman, I am the jester who mocks, laughs, teases, fools around, and mirrors anyone who comes asking for help. I become them but I leave when disrespected and hurt by greed and insincerity.
As a female warrior, I challenge notions of patriarchy formed in every worship, practice, codes and devotions. Reliving as an Onna Bugeisha the path of the female ninja given to me is not for warfare but for love. I am then a warrior lover.
As Rhumm, I am a philosophical child of Shadow, comfortable in my own skin and accepting of the ways of the world. My friend Kylie is an 8 year old spirit guide. My other friend Jake is the embodiment of magic. He is 4 years old.
As Val I am an artist. Stroking all of the above using colours.
As Reshma Valliappan I am an author, a research scholar and a writer challenging all conventional systems through words.
As The Schizophrenist, I challenge everyone on the constructions of normalcy and madness. Everyone sees the word 'schizophrenia' as something bad and not to be experienced including those who themselves live with it. I say Schizophrenist because I wish for others to rise beyond their social egos and look at the possibilities of existence involved in the experience of schizophrenia. I don't have a problem with the word. Others do.
As Resh, I annoy the crap out of anyone just because I like being a brat and I think the whole world is too serious about everything, including spirituality and all the 'serious' stuff I wrote above. I even mock myself.
But I am more or less all of YOU. A reflection.