A Schizophrenic Will- A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope - SUNY Stony Brook
From Amazon.com: Many biographies of people with mental illness seem to dwell primarily on the feeling of hopelessness, and they keep expectations for the sufferer's future low. I attempt to turn the tables on this litany of sorrow. I show myself as a result of the miracles that modern medicine can produce. I went from being a basket case to a respected, technologically-savvy medical librarian working at a world-renowned research medical institution. I am a published author in the mental health journal New York City Voices, responsible for 21 articles, in English and Spanish.
People who recommend this book include schizophrenia expert Dr. Lieberman:
A talented ambitious young student is afflicted by the most dread mental illness in the prime of his life. This first person account describes this all to common occurrence but what is unique is how he reacts to this adversity and his courageous and successful journey to recovery. Will Jiang's impressive and moving story is reminiscent of other similar first person accounts of personal struggle and triumph over mental illness including Elyn Saks' The Center Cannot Hold and Temple Grandin's Thinking In Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. Will's story will be similarly informative and inspirational to everyone who has the good fortune to read it.
Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D.
Lawrence E. Kolb Professor and Chairman
Department of Psychiatry
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute
Tags: Love Story Episode Madness University Student schizophrenia SUNY Stony Brook mental illness first break psychology psychiatry john nash autobiography biography nyspi stuyvesant high school elyn saks The Center Cannot Hold A Beautiful Mind Sylvia Nasar NAMI Mental Health America Recovery College
Added: 1 month ago
Movie Short Based on the Book by William Jiang, MLS
A Schizophrenic Will
A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope
[scene opens inside of a moving train, with a young male librarian speaking directly to the camera]
WILL: Back when I was in college, I took this train, like the LIRR ... um, Long Island Railroad, for those who don't know. Um, basically once every two months, because I couldn't afford the ten dollars each way. Like, more than once every two months, because I worked as a janitor, and I got paid like eight dollars an hour. And my folks really wouldn't, like, they wouldn't like subsidize my expensive habit of taking the LIRR to go visit them, so kinda sucked--
DANNY: [from off camera] Did they help you in any way financially, for college?
WILL: Yeah, they did, they did. Like, maybe one-fifth of my cost of college they helped.
DANNY: [from off camera] That's good.
WILL: And the rest of it, y'know, I paid ... like, cleaning the toilets and boxing and stripping floors.
DANNY: [from off camera] You were a janitor?
WILL: I was a janitor. I was. And the thing is, like, when the movie "Good Will Hunting" came out? I thought that was my life, man.
DANNY: [from off camera] Uh huh.
WILL: It's like, I was this brilliant student outta Stony Brook. I mean, not as brilliant as the guy in the movie, y'know. Matt Damon, I guess, but ... Will, right? Even though his name was Will, right? Good "Will" Hunting. My name's Will, y'know? I dunno.
DANNY: [from off camera] Did you find, like, outside the math office ... um, some complicated mathematical formulas that you decided to take home and figure out?
WILL: Um ... No, but I got straight "A"s in applied math at the most difficult state university's applied math program there was. Uh, and still is. Actually, John Nash, the guy that created n-person game theory, actually came to visit and speak at Stony Brook University quite often.
DANNY: [from off camera] You mean the John Nash that the movie "A Beautiful Mind" was about?
WILL: That's right, buddy. Yeah.
DANNY: [from off camera] Wow.
WILL: So, uh, we have a pretty cool ... y'know, applied math program out there, and I could've gone for the PhD if I didn't have my, y'know, breakdown. But y'know, things are what they are.
DANNY: [from off camera] So, were you able to, um, take the L-I-Double-R everyday?
WILL: Are you joking? I would get eight dollars an hour for four hours a day, five days a week. I could, and that money was taxed by the government. So, I might'a made like six dollars ... wait, maybe thirty dollars a day at most? Tops? No, less than that.
[he smiles and shakes his head]
WILL: I could not afford to take the LIRR everyday, no. But uh, it's ... Anyway, this is your first time out to Stony Brook right, homeboy?
DANNY: [from off camera] Yes it is.
WILL: Oh my god, you're gonna really love that campus. It's beautiful, man, it's beautiful! I'm sure it's even more beautiful now, since I haven't been there for fifteen years.
[cut to the camera pointing out the window, as the train continues moving]
WILL: [from off camera] Oh wow, Long Island's really ... uh, getting a lot of, lot more construction done there over the past fifteen years, it looks like.
[the camera turns, revealing that Will is now holding the camera as he points it at his travelling companion]
DANNY: So if they produced lumber there, that was a lumber yard ...
WILL: [from off camera] Right.
DANNY: Then where do they get the trees from?
WILL: [from off camera] Where do they get the trees for the lumber yard?
DANNY: Yeah. Do they cut 'em down locally?
WILL: [from off camera] Let's see ... I dunno, that's a good question, man.
DANNY: Are there lumberjacks in your ... um, Stony Brook campus?
WILL: [from off camera] That's a really good question. Yeah, I think Paul Bunyan was actually a Stony Brook student at one point.
WILL: [from off camera] Yeah.
DANNY: Paul Bunyan, man.
WILL: [from off camera] Yeah, he got a BA in logging--
DANNY: Probably took up, like, two or three seats.
WILL: [from off camera] Lookin' at the seats ... yeah, you're right. He probably did.
DANNY: Did he raise his hand a lot?
WILL: [from off camera] Naw, I'm saying he probably was, man.
DANNY: Oh, okay.
[Will points the camera back out the window]
WILL: [from off camera] Oh, lookit that farmland, it's gorgeous!
DANNY: This is probably where they chopped down the trees!
WILL: [from off camera] Yeah, they collect them out in this area. Paul did, at least ... "Yo Paul, leave some trees, man!"
WILL: [from off camera] And uh, I loved this ... I used to love taking this train, because like, there was so much greenery outside the window.
[cut to the train coming to a stop at the station]
WILL: [from off camera] Stony Brook! Here we are, man!
WILL: [from off camera] Let's go!
[Danny gets up, then cut to the two of them walking around the station (as Will is again speaking directly to the camera)]
DANNY: [from off camera] So how long has it's been since you've been to Stony Brook?
WILL: Uh, it's been about ... Lemmee see, I graduated in 1994, so right now it's 2011, right? So let's do the math, that's about seventeen years?
DANNY: [from off camera] Seventeen years since you've been here?
WILL: Yeah, and I was seventeen years old when I started over here, too!
DANNY: [from off camera] And you--
WILL: So what does that mean?
DANNY: [from off camera] Uh ...
[they both laugh]
DANNY: [from off camera] That means you're an old man!
WILL: Thank you, man, thank you!
DANNY: [from off camera] No, but seriously ...
DANNY: [from off camera] How did, how do you remember where the 7-11 is?
WILL: The 7-11 is where everybody goes for nourishment who's a college student.
[cut to the two of them walking over some train tracks]
WILL: Y'know? See, look. Check out this track.
[Danny swings the camera around to look out at the tracks stretching towards the horizon]
WILL: That's no joke, man.
DANNY: [from off camera] Wow.
WILL: That's the LIRR ... Lookit this way. Down the other way?
[he swings the camera around in the opposite direction]
WILL: That's also LIRR ... Lief and I, we walked all the way to Port Jefferson on the tracks from here one day, 'cause we're crazy like that!
DANNY: [from off camera] Where's Port Jefferson?
WILL: It's like five miles away, on the tracks.
DANNY: [from off camera] Oh.
[cut to the two of them walking on campus]
WILL: And this road here, this path, is ... it's like the final path to the finish line of the five-mile runs I used to do. And, uh--
DANNY: [from off camera] Five-mile runs?
WILL: Five-mile runs, yeah! I averaged about seven ... six-seven minute miles.
DANNY: [from off camera] Mm hmm.
WILL: On those runs. I was pretty fast back in those days.
DANNY: [from off camera] What about now, Will?
[he slaps his belly]
WILL: Ah, not so much, my friend! Not so much ... The medicine does quite a job on my strength!
[cut to another shot of the two on campus]
WILL: So right there is the chemistry building, and behind the chemistry building is the physics building and the math building. And, uh, I had graduate student friends who were Soviets back then, that I met in a karate class. And uh, so the first time I learned they were Russians, y'know, Soviets, I was like "Oh my god!" Because, like, the Soviets were the old, like y'know, terrorists or whatever, that America was mobilized against. So I was kinda paranoid about that.
DANNY: [from off camera] When did the Cold War end?
WILL: The Cold War ended ... I don't remember.
DANNY: [from off camera] I thought it ended in 1989.
WILL: Eighty nine? No, I don't know about that. I forget. It's been a long time ... Are you, I didn't know this was a history lesson!
DANNY: [from off camera] No, because you mentioned they're Soviets, but--
WILL: They were still--
DANNY: [from off camera] They may have been Russians at the time.
WILL: I dunno, man, I dunno. I forget.
DANNY: [from off camera] Okay.
WILL: But I mean, I still ... I guess my point is, I still, um--
DANNY: [from off camera] You saw them as Soviets.
WILL: I associated them as Soviets.
DANNY: [from off camera] Yeah, so it was very close to the time of the end of the Cold War.
WILL: Right, exactly.
DANNY: [from off camera] The Cold War was still fresh.
DANNY: [from off camera] Okay.
WILL: And, uh ... Yeah, so they were really good guys, though. And, uh, but I've lost touch over the years. It's unfortunate. But uh, they were PhD students when I was a bachelor's student--
DANNY: [from off camera] Uh huh.
WILL: So I was, like, really young. And they both knew my ex-girlfriend, too. And, uh, they were actually, they really liked her ... That's about it.
DANNY: [from off camera] Uh huh.
WILL: And over there is the, uh, the library-slash-bookstore where I wanna get my mug, so let's go.
[cut to the two of them walking up the stairs to the library]
WILL: Uh, but this over here is the Library of Congress affiliate. I think it's called the, uh, what is it? Uh ... Yeah, that's the library. Yeah.
DANNY: [from off camera] Okay.
WILL: Yeah, so ... they really did a nice job landscaping it now. It's got ivy growing all over it, it's really gorgeous.
[he points at the stairs]
WILL: And uh, these steps here? One time I was taking a physics class, and I was able to run up the steps from the bottom to the top in about five seconds. So, and then I discovered, in terms of horsepower, that's a little bit over a horsepower that I was able to generate for about five seconds ... Scientifically, that's pretty cool. I enjoyed that.
[cut to another shot of the two of them walking around campus]
WILL: The giant cube in the distance, that's the hospital where I was first hospitalized in 1992, after Labor Day. That's the Stony Brook University hospital. That's where I was actually roughly treated, but they saved my life.
[cut to the two inside of a building, as Will continues speaking directly to the camera]
WILL: Well, it seems like this whole day has been wasted, because I can't get my transcript here right now, so I'm feeling like this guy over here.
[he points at something off camera, so the camera pans over to reveal a giant dinosaur skeleton]
WILL: Y'know, I need food as badly as he does, so let's get some dinner, man.
[cut to another shot of the two walking around campus]
WILL: I just felt like coming out, having a day trip ...
DANNY: [from off camera] Yeah.
WILL: With my buddy, Danny boy!
[Danny reaches in and waves from off camera]
WILL: So ...
[Will takes the camera and points it at Danny]
WILL: [from off camera] Say hi, Danny boy!
DANNY: Hi, Danny boy!
WILL: [from off camera] Wait up, man, wait up ... It's like a little bit too bright.
[he moves to another spot]
WILL: [from off camera] Now say hi, Danny boy!
DANNY: Hi, Danny boy ...
WILL: [from off camera] Alright, man. Thanks a lot for coming.
[he gives the camera two thumbs up]
DANNY: You're welcome!
WILL: [from off camera] And we'll, uh, we'll do this again in the city.
DANNY: Most of the camera work is me ...
WILL: [from off camera] Yo, it's all about this man! He's the man!
DANNY: And look what I'm carrying for him ...
[the camera focuses on the bag hanging over Danny's shoulder]
WILL: [from off camera] Yeah, he's--
DANNY: Heavy tripod!
WILL: [from off camera] It's five pounds, son!
DANNY: Yeah. Five pounds.
WILL: [from off camera] Alright, man ...
[they high five, then cut to another shot of the two walking on campus]
WILL: So thus ends our day here at Stony Brook, and uh ... like I was just telling you, Danny boy, so Stony Brook, like, that's at the student union that we were just at. Um, I saw Farrakhan speak, and I remember the fact that the widow of Malcolm X came here. She was at the Social Behavioral Sciences building one time, at least.
[they begin walking through the parking lot]
WILL: And, uh ... also, but y'know, so those people have come here. But also the Dalai Lama's been here, so like, proponents of peace have been here. Like, major proponents of peace. As well as, y'know, John Nash. Y'know, a giant in the field of applied math. So, y'know, this campus is probably one of the jewels in the crown of the SUNY system, and I'm really proud to be an alum. I'm shocked, I mean one of the things that went through my mind, uh, when I was here, was it was such a beautiful campus. I can't believe how much shit I went through just trying to graduate from this fuckin' place! Um, it really boggles the mind. It's not, it wasn't meant for so much suffering.
DANNY: [from off camera] You also graduated Queens College. I mean, which was tougher, getting your MLS or getting your bachelors degree?
WILL: Uh, which was tougher, getting my MLS or my bachelors degree ... Umm, well, I graduated, definitely the intellectual level required here at Stony Brook was higher than at Queens College. So, in that way, it was tougher here. But at Queens College, the thing was, I was heavily medicated, so I could only study maybe an hour a day. So, and even that hour, I could study badly. So they were both really difficult schools to go to for me. Uh, just for different reasons.
DANNY: [from off camera] Will we be going to tape at Queens College as well?
WILL: We are definitely gonna go tape at Queens College!
[the scene fades to black, then "Books Available in English and Spanish at Amazon dot com in print and on kindle" appears on screen]
Bibliotherapy and Psychoeducation at NYSPI 2004-2011, Being The Patient Librarian at a Psychiatric Institution
By William Jiang, MLS
Happily, I step out of the quick-moving steel elevator in my gym clothes after working out for an hour in the basement of the modern architectural beauty that is the hospital in which I work. I always like passing the entrance at 1051 Riverside Drive. Known as the Atrium, this artistic masterwork looks like a web woven with intricate white girders that support the giant glass facade. I reach my floor and I take two quick rights. The hallway lights flicker a bright institutional white. It is early in the morning as I take out my keys to open the three sturdy steel doors behind which is my library. It is a rare kind of library in, arguably, America's oldest and most competitive psychiatric research institution. I have reached The Patient and Family Library of New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), and I am its Chief Librarian. I open the last white steel door to my library and it closes behind me. I am excited because the online book catalog that I programmed from scratch is live and is searchable from anywhere in the world. This includes the three adult inpatient units in our hospital, and those are the most important people I want to reach. Those are the people I want to reach with our collection of psychoeducational bibliotherapeutic books, magazines, DVDs, and ready-reference materials in English and Spanish. In other words, my library offered educational materials about various mental disorders to help the sufferers cope better and develop insight to their challenges brought about by their illnesses.
This was a typical day for me at NYSPI. I was the Chief for seven years between July 2004 and July 2011. In that time I learned a lot about the major mental illnesses that NYSPI treats: eating disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. These mental illnesses are significant and touch everybody in our society. Even if you don't have a mental illness yourself, there is definitely somebody that you know or have passed by during your day who is personally affected. According to the Surgeon General, one in four Americans suffer from one or more of the disorders I listed above. Mental illness does not discriminate, and it can strike anybody: the homeless man in the street or the wealthy "do-ers" of American society.
There was a delegation from Korea that came to study my library as a model for Korean psychoeducational libraries. There were also four other patient libraries in the United States that came to me to help them build successful patient libraries based on the concept of psychoeducation. My library helped over 1,000 per year. In terms of the physical collection, my library had the following resources: over 500 books that were specially selected by staff and myself geared towards laypeople but that gave education and insight to our patients. We had books that dealt with topics from theoretical to concrete psychology. One could find a book about Freud and Jung or 100 Questions & Answers About Schizophrenia or The Mindful Way Through Depression. Also the library had periodical subscriptions to 12 psychoeducational magazine and newsletter titles. We had everything from Scientific American: Mind to ADDitude. Also, the library had over 100 psychoeducational video titles from MTV's True Life: I Have Schizophrenia to NOVA's documentary about eating disorders: Dying to Be Thin. I also got the best available psychoeducational ready reference materials from the National Institute of Mental Health. These took the form of pamphlets that were attractive and easily given to people who needed a quick comprehensive introduction to a particular disorder. It could have as easily have been someone who wanted to learn about bipolar disorder in Spanish or maybe they wanted a mental health crisis and resource referral line in New York City in Chinese such as LIFENET.
I remember that my Patient Library had a movie event and panel discussion about brain stimulation techniques organized around the amazingly insightful movie "Shock" that featured the struggle with the dark depression of the wife of the presidential candidate Michael Dukakis: Kitty Dukakis. She came forward to fight the stigma associated with mental illness by letting the world know in this movie that she needed needed electroshock therapy otherwise known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to deal with her severe depression. The movie had people who were pro and con ECT, so it felt balanced. It is sobering to think that sometimes, the only thing standing between certain death and you is that man in a white coat with his hand on the healing power of electric current: the psychiatrist. that being said, I personally would undergo ECT based on what I know about its efficacy and possible adverse effects.
The result of much of the learning that I attained as Chief Librarian is published in two works of nonfiction. I shared some of my objective knowledge about psychiatry in The Medical Librarian's Guide to Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia: Nutrition,and Complimentary Therapies, Createspace, 2012. The book covers a lot of ground, and is potentially useful for many. For example, omega-3 fish oils have the power to prevent fully- blown psychosis in those that are prone to it due to genetics and/or environmental factors. Amazing stuff! My second work of nonfiction is my autobiographical sketch: A Schizophrenic Will: A Story Of Madness, A Story Of Hope which I wrote to do my part to combat the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and to give people living with my same diagnosis hope. It also qualifies as a psychoeducational text.
I have mentioned psychoeducation, but what is it really?
Psychoeducation refers to the education offered to people who live with a psychological disturbance. Frequently psychoeducational training involves patients with schizophrenia, clinical depression, anxiety disorders, psychotic illnesses, eating disorders, and personality disorders, as well as patient training courses in the context of the treatment of physical illnesses. Family members are also included. A goal is for the patient to understand and be better able to deal with the presented illness. Also, the patient's own strengths, resources and coping skills are reinforced, in order to avoid relapse and contribute to their own health and wellness on a long-term basis. The theory is, with better knowledge the patient has of their illness, the better the patient can live with their condition.
The concept of psychoeducation was first noted in the medical literature, in an article by John E. Donley "Psychotherapy and re-education" in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published in 1911. It wasn't until 30 years later that the first use of the word psychoeducation appeared in the medical literature in title of the book The Psychoeducational Clinic by Brian E. Tomlinson. New York, NY, US: MacMillan Co. This book was published in 1941. In French, the first instance of the term psychoéducation is in the thesis "La stabilité du comportement" published in 1962.
The popularization and development of the term psychoeducation into its current form is widely attributed to the American researcher C.M. Anderson in 1980 in the context of the treatment of schizophrenia. Her research concentrated on educating relatives concerning the symptoms and the process of the schizophrenia. Also, her research focused on the stabilization of social authority and on the improvement in handling of the family members among themselves. Finally, C.M. Anderson's research included more effective stress management techniques. Psychoeducation in behavior therapy has its origin in the patient's relearning of emotional and social skills. In the last few years increasingly systematic group programs have been developed, in order to make the knowledge more understandable to patients and their families.
Also, my library offered bibliotherapy. What exactly is that?
My library offered a form of bibliotherapy which has its roots in the early 19th century and before: this form of therapy is an ancient concept when we talk about libraries. The ancient Greeks put great faith in the power of literature, and a sign above an ancient Greek library read: "healing place for the soul".
In America of 1802, although the term "bibliotherapy" had not been coined, Doctor Benjamin Rush recommended the establishment of a library in every hospital to amuse and instruct the patients. Rush recommended that books be used for treatment and exhorted the medical community to hire trained professionals to work with asylum patients. However, because novels, in the early 19th century, were thought to add to the development of mental illnesses such as dementia praecox, or schizophrenia, he suggested the use of nonfiction books for the insane.
In the US the first patient library opened at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1844. This library started by providing moral and religious reading materials to patients as they exited the hospital, back into the community. Of note, interlibrary loan from nearby public libraries existed to provide books and other materials such as business, technical, Braille, and other materials in foreign languages .
From 1906-1914 hospital-centered patient libraries were mostly seen in private hospitals, state run mental hospitals, and long-term care facilities. World War I created a huge push for more books. Books provided solace to many soldiers while they were recuperating in the US and France. The war built momentum speaking to the therapeutic power of books.
More on my tenure at NYSPI
I led psychoeducational groups on all three of the adult inpatient units in English and Spanish, and in some groups I presented my patient library newsletter that was sent around the community to over 1000 Columbia University people. Many of the patients found the groups helpful. Many issues of the newsletter dealt with things that can help people who suffer from mental illness cope with their illnesses such as meditation, breathwork, avoiding cannabis to avoid increasing the risk of psychosis, and the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for multiple psychiatric issues. In one issue that I remember well, I included a book review of my own critically acclaimed autobiography which is available on the Kindle as well as Amazon.com in book form: A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope. When I led groups anywhere in the hospital, on the English-speaking wards or Spanish-speaking units., it didn't matter what the diagnoses of people on the units were, I had a lot of positive feedback from both patients and staff. People told me that my autobiography and my living example gave them hope to continue living. Those moments were some of my most gratifying times at NYSPI.
Now, due to budget cuts and my leaving the position of Patient Librarian, the library has closed. There is a huge demand for real estate in NYSPI because they try to maximize the amount of research that they're able to do, and the Institute only has so many square feet of office and lab space on campus. I will always be grateful for the administration and staff of New York State psychiatric institution for permitting me the honor of making a difference in our patient's lives during my tenure.