The collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang- A very insightful attempt to educate us about a terrifying state a mind can reach and thrive in.
The collected Schizophrenias is a collection of personal essays holding in its depth immense information about mental traumas, mental health in general and laying bare everything about Schizophrenia. It talks about how it affects the victim and the people around them. The kind of life they lead and the gruesome accidents that happen. It can sometimes feel like living in delusions and illusions, very easily losing track of what is real. The thought itself is very harrowing and when it is supported by real-life stories, it isn’t very easy to stomach these facts. While the author talks about her own schizophrenic disorder journey from first being diagnosed, she puts into consideration other people’s accounts of surviving and sailing through the same. With a nuanced narrative, the essays feel extremely personal. Very effortlessly Esmé slips into her prose important questions like- is heavy art, creativity, and success often accompanied by lunacy? Can appearances mislead taking into account someone’s mental state? These questions stem from the fact that our author here is a fashion enthusiast and a geek brainy individual. She talks about her time in Yale and how she was made to leave it, about Stanford and her lectures on this terrifying disorder. I carried ‘A knot in my chest’ throughout this book, some incidents shook me. I had to put down the book after I read about the children who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and similar such traumatic mental health issues. The book demands time to be read. It needs to be absorbed at one's own pace as there are several topics that might come across as triggering. Nevertheless, It is intelligent, thought worthy at times spiked with some good wit.
Non-Fiction that reads like a memoir is brilliantly authored as Esmé records her own feelings of hallucinations, delusions, therapy sessions and how catastrophic a psychiatric hospital can be. She says it is the worst place a person with such disorders can land into and how they do nothing to improve the mental health of the victim. Calling them and reading them as victims gives me a heartache but succumbed and in full control of a severe disorder can only be called a victim.
With factual writing and placing apt sometimes satirical references of the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ the author tries to bring us face to face as much as possible with schizophrenia. Though complex and heavy with medical terms, the book doesn’t take away its essentiality to be read. The writing had my heart, really. Armed with a pencil I couldn't stop myself from writing in the margins and highlighting my favourite paragraphs and excerpts. The emotions crack open through the substantial content just like sunlight splits in through gaps in window beams. It gives you hope and rips it off too, gut-wrenching but informative this is a book one must read at some point in their life. Here was my bleak attempt to review this book. I do not know how best it can be done as it is not our “quintessential” piece of non-fiction. It is definitely something more.
I made a mental note of rewatching the movie - A Beautiful mind after reading the book. Highly recommended, both the book and the movie (A beautiful mind).