Erin Emiru

@ Mental Health

“I feel small, but encouraged that my telling my story is helping others understand, empathize with, and have hope for people living with mental illness.”

Erin Emiru had been struggling with the symptoms of schizophrenia long before her diagnosis at age 22 after her first of 14 hospitalizations in as many years. The struggle to find the right course of treatment (including medication, support systems, and self-care) was especially difficult as she suffered from an eating disorder at the same time. Even though her illnesses often made everyday activities tremendously challenging, she was determined to improve the lives of people living with schizophrenia. Erin persevered through every setback to emerge as an exceptional student, completing her BSc(Hons) and MSc in Neuroscience between hospital stays. She was pursuing her dream of obtaining her PhD with a prestigious scholarship when she made the difficult and conscientious decision to leave the program to protect her mental health.

Despite this heartbreaking setback, she has found a variety of creative ways to deploy her experience and expertise to help others. In 2012, her memoir, When Quietness Came: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey with Schizophrenia, was published. She has also co-authored several research papers, given countless presentations and lectures on mental health, and appeared in the documentary They Heard Voices. She is currently working as a Peer Care Coordinator on a mental health and addictions team in Vancouver, and is writing her second book that brings together lived experiences of mental illness with the neuroscience behind them.

By weaving together her extensive personal experience with her professional expertise as a neuroscientist and frontline peer support worker, Erin is changing the conversation around schizophrenia, psychosis, and mental illness in her community and beyond. She inspires brighter futures for people faced with overwhelming diagnoses, with compassion, humility and wisdom beyond her years.