President, One Mind; Marketing Communications Director, Staglin Family Vineyard
Living with schizophrenia

Brandon experienced his first psychotic episode in his freshman year at Dartmouth. It ultimately redirected his life, from studying engineering to a career in digital media. Today, he wears “many hats” in his busy and fulfilling life – traveling, speaking at conferences, advocating for advances in brain health science, and studying toward a master’s degree. Above all, he loves spending time with his wife and dog and sees himself as “very fortunate” that life has made him who he is today.

Brandon’s Story

What was your most difficult time?

A month after my first break, I grew despondent and convinced that I was going to die soon. My medications weren’t quieting my psychosis, and in my perceptions, my soul kept leaking out of my body. One night, unable to tolerate the unending fatigue of constantly “holding my soul in,” I decided I would just lie down and close my eyes and let it leak out all the way. I had almost—almost—given up.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

At that moment, I thought of reasons to live. I committed to living well again. I participated in community activities, volunteering and auditing classes at UC Berkeley. These pursuits exercised my mind and gave me purpose.

My family’s love for me galvanized my will to learn to love again. This love has formed the basis for my values: family is priority one, friends are intrinsically worthy, I must open my mind to experience the light in the world, and work to benefit others. Today, my faith in and pursuit of these values keeps me going with gusto.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I continue to take my meds with discipline, exercise daily, eat a healthy diet and sleep a sensible length every night. I enjoy socializing with family and friends (and they are essential to my well-being). When I have personal time, I relax by meditating, playing my guitar, or reading.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

Never, ever give up. You may not be able to see out of that dark hole, but the light of life will always be there for you when you are ready. The work to climb back to health is fully worth it. Partner with your family and your doctor/therapist to find the path to wellness that will work for you. Keep learning, growing, and pursuing your goals—a personal sense of purpose is essential to wellbeing—but be open to forming new goals if your earlier goals no longer make sense. And keep on enjoying life whenever and wherever you can.