When I first started writing seven years ago, I wrote obscure poems. I remember reading ‘Lady Lazarus,’ by Sylvia Plath one night, and getting this urge to write. And so, I woke up, created a blog on Blogspot, and wrote something down. I thought it meant something, but I doubt anybody else did. After that, I wrote another poem inspired by Plato’s Allegory of the cave. As time passed, I wrote more and more and posted them on Facebook. I was spamming the feed. Nothing made much sense, except to me. Some idea would inspire me, and I’d rush to the computer and write. It was during this period that a psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder, and put me on heavy medication, which made me manic, and I guess that contributed to my abstract creative flow.

People ridiculed me back then. Friends said, “Does your writing make any sense at all?” They laughed at me each time I brought up my writing. But I was so consumed by the craft. I wanted to get better, to make a living out of it, and to prove them all wrong. I spent nights awake using a razor of bitterness to hurt my heart. People started abandoning me. It was during this period that in a fit of mania I asked a few women out and received replies like: “You were never on my list.” Someone then told me that writing must be simple. I believed them and started writing cheesy romantic poems. “Oh, I love you; I love you; I love you. You make my heart flutter and sputter.” I even sent some to Harper Collins. They must have laughed out loud!

Then I tried wordplay, and rhyme without meter. My efforts were pathetic, but I kept posting and posting. Sometime during all this, I discovered WordPress and started spamming its feed too. Ten poems a day. Hell, maybe even twenty! And strangely, my blog grew, the comments and likes poured in, and seasoned poets said, “This is fantastic!” The people on Facebook were better critics! They didn’t accept my friend requests after I deleted Facebook for the first time! Soon, years passed, and I saw way too much sorrow. It was during this time that I read ‘Stag’s Leap’ by Sharon Olds, and I developed a hunger for imagery. I also loved the way Olds made her poems revolve around storytelling. I found it fascinating. I realized then that my poems lacked depth. And so, I dug into my core and poured the darkest parts of me onto paper.

I also realized that my poems lacked emotion. I wanted to make my readers feel deeply. There were a few writers on WordPress who had this quality of giving their work gut-wrenching, visceral sentiment, and I admired them. There was one who made sensation blaze through his work. I wondered how he did it. I tried imitating him and a few published poets, but my efforts were futile. I finally realized that experience (real and imagined) makes writing believable. If you want to write a poem, you must live it. You must envision a gritty, distressing reality, or revisit the harrowing past, and feel tortured, before penning something down.

And so, I wrote better poems and talked to the same friends. They said, “Your poetry is dark.” I asked them what they meant by it, and they kept saying, “Dark, dark, dark.” One said, “It’s first impressions you see! You wrote horrible poetry once! And don’t ever think you’ll be a great writer!” All this furthered my need to prove that I’m a good writer. I then got published once in a minor magazine in New York, and I guess that changed people’s perspective (or not). I don’t know because most of the people I knew once don’t talk to me anymore. I have two friends in real life. Yeah, just two. I often get very lonely, but I’m very uncomfortable when I meet new people. I’m especially disturbed when I meet people I don’t connect with on an emotional level. I don’t care if you’re as intelligent as they come. What’s the point if you’re sarcastic and if you love being part of a clique? If you’re not someone who feels richly and wants to love people, I’d hate associating with you. And trust me, I’ve met some nasty people in my life. I’ve met virgin-shamers in college. I’ve met people who sacrifice their identity to be a part of a group. I’ve met gold-diggers. I’ve met sociopaths. I’ve met hypocrites. I’ve met the most self-righteous people you can ever meet. I’ve met people who toss friendships into the dustbin just because someone suffers from mental illness. I could go on, but the point here is that all this made me bitter.

My father abused my mother and me growing up, and my classmates in school bullied me. I lived with undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder for a long time before I sought professional help. And seeing the cruel world just shattered me. Now, I’m not a perfect person. I’ve hurt people too. I’ve broken people’s hearts, but I’ve suffered for my wrongdoings ten times over. And bitterness eating me alive was probably the last straw. It made me seek religion and God, but my relationship with Christianity is complicated. I have had many religious experiences in my life, and all of them have made me want to quit writing and live for Christ. But none of them have lasted. And writing has become an addiction. Therein lies my problem. I must write even though it’s killing me. I’m becoming better at it, and I know I’ll never be perfect, but I must keep trying. A few years ago, I stumbled upon a Calvinistic website which preached a Christianity, so different from what we see on Christian Television Channels, and what we hear in mainstream churches. One line I read struck me. It said, “A Christian cannot live in a continuous state of carnality.” Now, there I was professing to be one and leading a life antithetical to what the Bible preaches.

I was terrified when I read this. I thought I was going to hell. It worked on me more and more, and I’d keep writing and deleting; starting a Facebook page or a WordPress blog and deleting it, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I started dreaming of hell. I spent nights petrified. But I eventually had what one might call a salvation experience. I remember repenting of my sins, and Matthew 11:28, did it or me. I felt incredible joy. I then started praying for the right things like asking God to take away my pride, my lust, and my idols, but when my family turned against me, I couldn’t take it. It drove me mad. I started having irrational thoughts asking me to do penance at three in the morning by walking the streets barefoot. I listened to them, stepped on thorns, and even tried gouging my eyes out with a branch. They finally institutionalized me. I then gave up on Christianity.

Two years later, God restored me to repentance, but this experience also didn’t last. I started getting these awful blasphemous thoughts, and my madness grew. I felt a finger poke me in the morning to wake me up, and I finally saw something. What it was, I don’t know, but it was something supernatural that made me scream in terror. Soon, I went back to my miserable ways, started a Facebook page for the umpteenth time; started my twentieth WordPress blog, and started writing again. I initially wrote under a pseudonym, but I deleted that blog too and started one under my real name, which brings me to today.

Today, I’m jaded. Most of the people on Facebook probably think I’m some sick, tormented maniac and don’t bother reading what I write. People on WordPress show me a lot of support, but it’s because they’ve made my acquaintance only recently. The older bloggers know how unpredictable I am. I follow them, but they don’t care about me. I also have this habit of unfollowing them before re-following them, and so, they know how pathetic I am; clamoring for attention like a herald in the old days. I also have this habit of sending out friend requests on Facebook to people who stopped accepting them years ago. Yeah, I’m desperate to get people to read what I write. I’ve let go of most of my bitterness, but I still want to prove a point to people. I should realize that people have moved on with their lives. I don’t think I’ll move on with mine anytime soon though. I’m still chasing the will-o’-the-wisp thinking I’ll be a successful writer who’ll win awards for his literary fiction.

Today, my parents support me, and I barely manage. I’m still on heavy psychiatric medication, but I cope. But the truth is that I cannot work a regular job and support myself. I’m highly dysfunctional and suffer from social anxiety. I’m also belligerent. If you didn’t know my story, you’d think I’m spoilt. I have friends who tell me to give up writing and ‘get a job,’ and it hurts me. It’s easy for people to talk. They don’t have a cyclothymic variant of Bipolar where your mood swings every hour. If I could do more, I’d do it. The reason I dropped out of college was because I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t study, or focus and depression, coupled with delusion sank in. And with time, my disorder has only gotten worse. I’m no longer the man I was five years ago. Depression isn’t only a vague feeling of sadness. There are times when you feel like the world is on your shoulders, and you can’t even get out of bed.

And don’t talk to me about therapy. In India, most therapists are authoritarian and dogmatic. There is a gap in power between the therapist and the patient. I don’t think anybody tries existential approaches to therapy here. And I don’t believe in hypnosis. You should never let someone into your subconscious mind. People (including therapists) are flawed. Imagine the chaos they can wreak.

In the hospital I was admitted in, the doctor asked me if my fears of hell were rational with a scornful look on his face. Now that again is a problem. It’s hard to find a Calvinistic therapist! People come from different religious backgrounds, and they’ll try imposing their ways on you. Now, in the end, truth is singular. There cannot be multiple truths like postmodernism says because that goes against the very essence of the term. Whatever you believe in, you’ll confront one certainty in the end like you face one death. If you’re going to deny that, then you might as well say that there is no reality. So, I don’t understand the many rivers all end in one sea analogy, or the even more commonly used fusion of many religions theology. How can polytheism be fused with monotheism? More importantly, how can two people be right when they’re saying two different things. You’re right, or I’m right. It ends there.

So, I’ll end this by saying that I don’t know what the future holds. Will I become a successful writer? My second choice in life is to study literature and teach. My third is to abandon writing and study theology and preach. But for the third, you need a strong calling, and I’m not even sure where I stand before God today. Finally, to all the people I’ve hurt in life or online, I’m sorry. I hope you’ll forgive me.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

47 Replies to “My story”

  1. You’ve abandoned yourself to Providence (I reckon) which is wonderful. It means a lot of pain but it’s an adventure that can’t otherwise happen. Most of us stay at home and eat potatoes. You’ve outlined a momentous journey, Nitin.

    1. I have Bruce. I’m a fatalist. I just hope I don’t descend further and become a knight of infinite resignation. I doubt you’ve eaten potatoes all your life though. You may not have lived my life, but you grew up in an era where nothing was handed to a person on a platter. I can’t imagine living like that.

      1. Yes, I’m sure that “abandonment” without keeping a sense of self, can make one drown in the sea. Anyway – I’m to a psykilogist sighchologist shrink…

      2. I like sighcologist. It makes the therapist sound empathetic! You’re right though. Just abandonment is a brutal self-punishment.

      3. Like the cocaine snorting irreverent clown and the mime! And your sentence and mine as one ending line and write a sleazy story please.

      4. I write sleazy stories in my head but these days I’m too scared to even type “fuck” – it’s because of the prudery of readers suggesting I do this and do that. Like the cunt who suggest a couple of days how you should edit your stuff. I hate those arseholes. You’re more amenable to things than I am…

      5. That edit really pissed me off to be honest. And this is not the first time he’s angered me. If you go to my post as if, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And then there’s this person who goes on and on asking that I read him. I give them the best treatment by ignoring them! But I think you have a dedicated set of followers who wouldn’t mind if you cursed now and then. Then again, hell, I know how difficult it is to write for oneself.

      6. Well, Nitin, I sort of done what you suggested (without the suggested final sentences) and wrote the kind of story I used to write without the hangups that have overtaken me. I haven’t posted it yet, but I’ve stuck it in my storage which you probably know about because it’s where I stick everything in case the local mountain erupts (which it’s meant to) and I haven’t got time to grab the computer. So if you want to read it (and I’d sort of like you to) it’s here awaiting posting on the blog on 8 August:

      7. That was one hell of a story Bruce. Hilariously tragic. I’ll admit that the ending made me wonder if I should laugh or just keep quiet. You’ve shown me a very different side to your writing, and if people don’t get that their lives are easy when compared to some, they’ll get it on August 8th. The ending reminded me of an episode of Orange is the new black. I dunno if you’ve heard of it, but it’s a prison comedy that slowly transitioned into a bloody serious drama.

      8. Thanks Nitin, that means a lot and is much appreciated. I would prefer to write stuff like that now and again but am caught up in letting others dictate how I should operate! I shall overcome. I’m glad, with this story, that you didn’t know whether to laugh or keep quiet – kind of like what a clown can do!! Thanks again Nitin, for taking the time.

  2. Nitin. I love this post. And I’ve only followed you for… what, eighteen months? but I love your writing. It’s deep. It’s emotional. It’s real, even when it isn’t. I look forward to whatever eighteen months from now holds for you, because I know I’ll get to read it. Be kind to yourself, brother.

    1. Thank you so much dear Tara. Yes, you have followed me for a year and a half, I think and we’ve had some crazy moments (especially on hangouts) Emily still sends me redneck impressions. She’s a legend. I try giving my writing depth and poignancy and there are times when I’m not satisfied with my work, but I keep at it. There’s still so much I can work on. I enjoy reading your stuff. I love your poetry, but I absolutely adore your prose. I wish you’d write more prose like that science fiction series about visits to different planets. Maybe a paranormal one with dark humour. A gassy ghost perhaps!

      1. Thanks Nitin! I’m actually working on a short story anthology right now which we be available in both print and e-books. That should be out tentatively in October, if all goes well. As for the Explorations stories… yes, they are the next project after the anthology. It will be ten stories. Perhaps twelve if I’m feeling ambitious lol.

        I thoroughly enjoy your writing. There are definitely a few that stand out but I’m not sure I have a favorite style. Whether there is dark humor or storytelling or poetry or real life. I think you are an incredible writer.

      2. That’s brilliant Tara! You have all the talent. I hope publishing becomes a regular thing for you. And the exploration series is one of my favorite things on WP. You should try and get the remaining published and not put it up on a blog. Just a thought. And thanks! I give it my all.

  3. I can be pathetic too. If someone dislikes you, in the end, they won’t matter. You gotta find your people. But I get being isolated, I am too. But there’s always a few people out there who cares.

    1. You’re right Casey. I have to find my own people. But the problem is that my country is filled with stigma when it comes to mental illness. People hate when someone talks openly about their psychological problems. We’re not an open country. We’re a bunch of hypocrites. We ape the west when it comes to fashion choices, music, and partying, but deep down we’re as conservative as they come. I feel like an outcast here. I often wish I lived in the west where people are frank and don’t judge. Here’s hoping that I find a few people who care despite being a stranger in a strange land.

      1. I can’t say the U.S. is like India, I’ve heard it’s pretty conservative. But there’s still heavy stigma on mental health. I had family members tell me “thinking positive” would cure my bipolar disorder. It depends on where you live in the U.S., though. I live in Iowa, so it’s pretty conservative. The opposite of me. Depending on what town I’m in, I don’t feel comfortable. I want outta the Midwest!

      2. Haha. I get you. In India, they say the some things, but sometimes go to extreme lengths and ostracize people. I’ve had people tell someone else to avoid me because I’m Bipolar.

      3. That’s crazy. The media doesn’t help here in the U.S. either. When there’s a mass shooter they claim they have a mental illness when most don’t. Or the movies portraying people with bipolar disorder as violent. I can see people saying that here, too.

      4. Yeah, I’ve noticed that. I hate it when movies portray us as being violent. Even Silver Linings Playbook, which is a good movie, did that a little.

      1. Yeah, those external forces which define, label, and direct us are powerful, powerful things. It’s easier said than done, but those things are not real, we have to learn to dismiss them. There is something inside all of us that we share. Why so many people live to destroy that sameness, I will never understand. Always the focus on what sets us apart, never on the common ground.

  4. Write for yourself, not for anyone else. Write what you want to write about, not what you think others want to read. Write about what makes you happy, sad, angry…whatever. It’s the real shit that interests people and if it doesn’t…well, they’re not worth your blood, sweat and tears.

    I’ve got a job, but it’s not my life’s work, it’s not my career. It pays my bills but it doesn’t give me joy. One day I’ll be doing what gives me joy and I totally believe you will too, because you’re a great writer.

    1. Write for yourself, not for anyone else. Write what you want to write about, not what you think others want to read. Write about what makes you happy, sad, angry…whatever. It’s the real shit that interests people and if it doesn’t…well, they’re not worth your blood, sweat and tears. – This paragraph alone is right up there with a Charles Bukowski quote. It’s brilliant. And I believe that you will get that job that satisfies and sustains you. In the end there is triumph. It may not last, and it might be as small as a morsel, but it’s worth the pain. I hope I find my calling too.

      1. Being likened to him is a huge compliment. To be honest I see strains of him in you too.

      2. Thank you and you’re welcome! Another writer who’s raw, but also humorous and poignant is Irvine Welsh. But I digress. Your writing is real and to-the-bone. That’s what I love about it.

      3. Irvine Welsh is a brilliant man and the subject matter of his writing is right up my street. I actually think you’re further forward in your writing than you think. The basis is totally there but you need to focus on the raw, the humorous, the poignant and fuck anyone who doesn’t get that. You’ve already got a number of people who appreciate what you have to say, who take the time to comment on everything you have to say and people of substance – not sycophants who just blow sunshine up your arse…all those fans can’t be wrong!! Listen to what they have to say.

      4. Haha. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I’m glad I don’t have a popular blog! I’m glad for the few dedicated followers like you who take their time and read. I’m starting to write for myself alone without giving a f***

  5. i really enjoyed reading about your story! I think you’re mega talented, yes you’re work is dark dark dark. i think one of the only other poets on WP that can relate/understand to the dark themes in my own stuff. And I really appreciate how open you are about your mental illness, i think you can go far

    1. Thank you Samantha! I really appreciate your kind words. A lot of your work resonates with me because you know how harrowing mental illness is. And even your art captures loneliness and pain. No other artist I know is able to convey feeling through their art. That takes some real skill! I hope we both go far.

      1. Thank you so much! I didn’t know if people would like it, but change is good, I guess. I will reply to your mail soon.

  6. Nitin, I’m sorry for only getting to this today. I relate to all you’ve written!! I have not experienced your life and am more functional than that; but have also felt the weight, the guilt, the negative side of religious thought, the oppression of my mind, and the burning need to write …but the insatiable want for attention for it.

    You are an excellent writer.
    God does not want us to suffer; His nemeses do.
    People are crap, but there are occasional diamonds in the manure of humanity.
    Look into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For real.

    1. I like people are crap lol. But on a serious note, this comment means the world to me. Thank you for being able to relate to what I’ve written Chelsea. Guilt is a terrible thing to carry. It eats us bit by bit. And attention comes and goes, I guess. Thank you again for your kind words.

  7. I love this outpouring of heart of yours. Now this may come off as a commonplace but I personally relate to most of what you said. I’m also a Christian, and I swallow my daily portion of simirlar struggles regardless, including those I have no control over, like mental unwellness. What I’ve come to learn the hard way is that, quoting M.McLaughlin, ‘people will disapprove of you if you are unhappy, or if you’re happy in the wrong way”. If writing is that thing that makes your life better and your sufferings more tolerable, close your eyes to others frowning and write away. Write even if chances are slim that anyone, any human at all will ever understand you completely. Truth is, we as humans are just not capable of understanding or compassion until we’ve gone through the same exact stuff. Only God does.
    You got a follower in me. I’m now off to reading your poetry :)

    1. Thank you so much for such a beautiful comment. You’re right. We can never empathize with someone unless we’ve walked in their shoes. People hate unnecessarily. Mental illness is the hardest thing to fight. It’s excruciating and takes such a toll on both you and the people who love you the most. So, I can relate to that completely. Thank you for the follow and the support. I followed you back!

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