“Supported and full.”
That’s how Erin Emiru describes her life after her battle with severe schizophrenia.
Emiru’s has a loving husband, a rewarding job, and helps others battling mental illness — all despite requiring 14 hospitalizations over the years.
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“It’s scary,” she said. “When I’m very ill I believe there are microscopic rats inside my head eating my brain, and that terrifies me.”
She also battled an eating disorder and abusive relationships.
Her schizophrenia was eventually treated successfully with medication.
Amid the chaos Emiru earned an honours undergraduate degree and completed a master’s degree in neuroscience.
“I’m a pretty determined person,” she said. “It wasn’t easy and it was harder than it would have been without my schizophrenia.”
Now the 40-year-old is transforming the lives of others with mental illness. As a peer support worker, her life experience helps her connect with clients.
“Just so you know this quiet room I’ve been in,” she recalled telling someone. “I’ve been on this bed, I know what it’s like in here.”
“And they turned around and they said, ‘I’ll talk to you but no one else.’”
Emiru hopes to make a difference by sharing her story with others.
“I think because I’m willing to put myself out there I’m helping bring down stigma and discrimination.”