I just finished this memoir by Elyn Saks, a esteemed professor of law and psychiatry at the University of Southern California. I had this on my wish list ever since I saw her speak at an industry conference. Her accomplishments alone are remarkable, but what makes them truly amazing is that she did all of it while battling through her schizophrenia.
For those of us who battle our own mental illnesses, I found her story to be an inspiration. There were no sugar coated banalities. Her account is one of harsh realities, terrifying hallucinations, isolation, paranoia, fear but ultimately, and most importantly, triumph.
As someone who’s battled her own demons psychologically, her memoir was a testament to the endurance of the human spirit, the dogged refusal to give up and resign one’s self to the limitations of a diagnosis. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who, like me, has felt held back by their own mental demons. It’s a well-written, blindingly honest story of her own experiences, which few people have access to otherwise: the mind of a schizophrenic.
In reading her story, I felt compelled to check a lot of my own preconceived notions, planted by society and the media about mental illness. Her tale encourages us to see the humanity and humility in the mentally ill, and opens up the dialog to creating safer spaces for the most vulnerable among us.