person wearing eyemask that says delusions

The Collected Schizophrenias

Esme Weijun Wang has published a remarkable collection of essays in “The Collected Schizophrenias” that present the experience of severe, persistent mental illness through the eyes of a high-functioning person/patient.

It’s harrowing to read if you have a loved one on the schizophrenia spectrum, no matter what their level of functioning. It gave me nightmares, but also insight. I’m glad I read it. I would caution against reading it at bedtime.

Ms. Wang has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and Lyme disease. She writes about her experiences with those illnesses as well as the societal issues that affect people with mental illness. And her writing is excellent, expressive and vivid.

Her ability to function is beyond extraordinary. It’s a gift from God for the rest of us. She is happily married to a man who understands her condition and is supportive. She has worked at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology as a lab manager. And the chapter “Yale Will Not Save You” covers her experiences as a student there.

She gives a view of what is actually happening to our loved ones that we would not ordinarily have. So I am grateful. But, again, I advise that this is a hard book to read when you have a loved one who is suffering from delusions and hallucinations. She makes the experience so vivid.