What It’s Like to Live with Schizophrenia

Brandon is from Cupertino and studied microbiology at UCLA. He was in Dr. Woolley’s lab at UCSF studying neuropeptide oxytocin as potential treatment for schizophrenia when he became diagnosed with schizophrenia himself.

He describes schizophrenia as “fractured mind that results in unnecessary pain.” He is forced to feel different from the rest because of the stigma associated with schizophrenia.

When he was diagnosed, he was fortunate to have the support from his family, friends, doctors he works with, and his therapists. His family has been through the psychiatric breakdowns with him. His friends constantly check up on him to make sure Brandon is doing fine. He says,

“It is important to seek out for help – having people on your side definitely makes it easier to start your journey of recovery. Don’t delay, as soon as you think you need help, ask for it.”

Brandon has been open about his condition ever since the diagnosis. He still struggles with the social component of working with his colleagues and expressing emotions but he says that being open about schizophrenia helps him cope with his illness better.

“Be more open about your mental health, then you can be honest with yourself.”

He encourages everyone with mental illness to share their stories with others. You can share with the whole world or be as selective as you would like. However, the most important thing is not letting the stigma pull you back from getting the help you need.

He has been working with high school students through National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to try to bring attention about mental health to younger generation. He believes that early exposure to these topics will help them understand better if they ever experience similar struggles in the future. He is also starting his PhD program in Clinical Psychology at UC Berkeley this fall. He hopes to eventually establish his own lab to further conduct research about schizophrenia and discover new treatment specifically for the social deficit aspect in schizophrenia.

The story of Brandon Chuang is truly inspiring. He transformed his experience of dealing with schizophrenia. He now thinks of schizophrenia as a manifest of his courage and strength, rather than his weakness.

Throughout the interview, Brandon emphasized several times about the importance of reaching out for help.

“Don’t let the stigma pull you back. Ask for help immediately: call hotline, talk to your family and friends, search for resources, seek a therapist.”

This interview of Brandon Chuang was conducted by Becky Moon. Please contact becky@subconscious.org with any questions.