One Mind, Many Realities

A photo series exploring the daily lives and minds of schizophrenics to mark the end of World Mental Health Month.



Each person experiences a reality of their own that is framed uniquely and vividly by our minds. Living through an individualised–even distorted vision of reality is especially true for people who have a mental disorder like Schizophrenia or Psychosis. Mental disorders such as these involve a loss of connection with reality in some form; they produce symptoms like hallucinations (hearing, seeing or feeling things that are not there), delusions (fixed false beliefs or suspicions not shared by others), and disorganised thinking (incoherent or irrelevant speech, emotions or behaviour) among others.
This photo series delves into the minds of people living with these illnesses and traces their reality through its discontinuities, seeming senselessness, and emotional fatigue. The statements below each picture are quotes from the patients statements, uttered during the various counselling sessions conducted with them during my month-long stay at a rehabilitation centre in India.

Having observed and engaged with their lives so closely, this is my attempt to sensitise those around me to what it means to live with a mental disorder every day. A reality captured through my lens, and told through their words.

“Uss TV mein mere 3 lakh chupe hue hain.”
“3 lakh rupees of mine are hidden in that TV.”
“Mere kandhe par ek saanp baitha rehta hai. Kabhi bhi kaat sakta hai.”
“There is a snake who sits on my shoulders. He can bite me anytime.”
“Yeh log humko chai nai dete.”
“These people don’t give us tea.”
(While drinking her 3rd cup of tea)
“Ab partition phirse hone wala hai. Usse pehle mujhe apni beti ke paas pohonchna hai.”
“The partition is going to happen again soon. I have to reach my daughter before it happens.”
“Uss mohalle mein manushya manushya ko bech raha tha.
Isiliye ma papa ki ladai hoti thi.”
“In that society, humans were selling humans. That’s why mom and dad used to fight.”
“Jo bimaari pati ko hoti hai, wohi patni ko bhi hoti hai.”
“Whatever illness afflicts a husband, afflicts a wife too.”
“Woh bachpan se mujhe kidnap karne ki koshish kar raha hai. Abhi bhi aata hai.” ”He has been trying to kidnap me since my childhood. He still tries.”
“Woh roz mere bacchon ko ghar jalaane le jaata tha, aur hume bolta tha toffee dilaana le ja raha hai.” “He used to take my kids to burn homes every day and would tell us he is going to buy them toffees.”
“Hum ek baar gir gye the. Bohot khoon baha. Ab humaare andar bilkul khoon nahi hai” “I had a fall once and lost a lot of blood. Now there is no blood in my veins.”
“Mere paet mein 12 bacche hain.”
“There are 12 children in my womb.”
“Main soti hu toh ek aawaz utha deti hai, ‘Kanta, utho!’ Aur phir main so nahi sakti” “When I sleep, a voice wakes me up, “Kanta, wake up!”And after that, I can’t sleep.”
“Mera ek beta tha. Mar gaya. Uska poora chehra kaala tha. Itna kaala ki tum soch nai sakti– naak, muh aankh, kuch dikh nahi raha tha.”
“I had a son. He died. His whole face was jet black. So dark, that you could not even see his nose, mouth or eyes.”

These photos were taken during the artist’s month-long stay at a rehabilitation centre in India.

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Yukti Bhagchandani
Yukti Bhagchandani
Yukti’s versatile artistic expression comes through the written word and photographs. As a Copywriter, she has conceptualized, strategized, ideated and written for ATL and BTL campaigns for brands like Ford, Snickers, Fitbit, HCL, Pedigree and others. She has run campaigns for Motorola, trending No.1 on India Trends. Her photography work on women’s body shaming has been featured on platforms like Buzzfeed, ScoopWhoop and Hindustan Times.