By Harris Ng
This book chronicles the experience the author, Harris Ng, had with schizophrenia. He begins his narrative with his stint in Canada where he began his undergraduate life in Engineering. It was however cut short after he had his first schizophrenic episode in his fourth year at university when a spiritual crisis spiralled out of control.
He then returned to Singapore and was admitted to Adam Road Hospital. As the story progresses, the reader is taken through 3 subsequent relapses. Each relapse was preceded by the author stopping his medication, either because he thought he was well, or because a friend convinced him that he had recovered. The successive relapses serve to teach the reader an important lesson – that a person with schizophrenia should never stop medication without consulting his or her psychiatrist.
His experiences at both Adam Road Hospital and Woodbridge Hospital were described in great detail. For those who might not know, Woodbridge Hospital was the predecessor of what we now know as the Institute of Mental Health. I must say that his description of the Class C ward in Woodbridge Hospital was rather frightening. Not only were the patients were treated like prisoners, but Harris was even beaten up by the warden for refusing to take his medication. Fortunately for him, his mother managed to upgrade him to a more decent Class B ward where he quickly recovered and was discharged.
Finally, after seeing a counsellor under the Singapore Anglican Welfare Council (SAWC), now known as the Singapore Anglican Community Services, he finally came to terms with the diagnosis and had his thoughts on his illness reframed more positively. In addition, the counsellor helped him find a job just three weeks after being discharged from the hospital. The reader will probably be pleasantly surprised to discover Harris getting a shot at love after the friends at his workplace introduced him to Violet, who was a neighbour of one his colleagues.
I feel that the main flaw with this book is that it was rather difficult to read due to the way it was written. I felt that the story Harris wanted to tell was good, but the tale was hampered by the execution.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to have an insight into the mind of a person with schizophrenia.
Where To Get:
You get the 2005 edition in most public libraries or you can purchase the book from the IMH retail pharmacy (located inside IMH Clinic B) or by sending the author an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating the language of your choice (It is available in English, Chinese, Malay, Korean and Braille.)
Written by Rachel T., for The Tapestry Project SG