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Meet Expert Patient Christina Bruni

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Christina Bruni has been in remission from schizophrenia, and out of the hospital, for over 14 years.  She currently works as a public service librarian, a job she’s held for over six years.  In June 2000, she graduated from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn with a Masters in library and information science (MLS).

The road to this success wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t guaranteed, but she had the courage to confront the illness and the determination to make something of her life.  After years of struggle, she found peace.  Christina credits her success to having a close family, good friends and a caring psychiatrist and empathetic therapist.

In the summer of 1987, she was 22 years old and had graduated from CUNY—the City University of New York—with a B.A. in English.  She wanted to write for magazines and publish books, but that wasn’t to happen.  Her beloved grandfather was in a coma, hooked up to a respirator in the intensive care unit.  Alternating between job hunting and visiting him in the hospital, she spiraled down into the terrifying world of mental illness.

One Friday night, she became paranoid and had racing thoughts, and exhibited odd behavior all night, unable to sleep.  The next morning, her mother drove Christina to the ER, where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed on the psych ward.  Given the right drug, she was released three weeks later and returned home.

That fall, and continuing into 1988, she attended a day program and then moved into a halfway house.  She spent a year in the residence, and graduated to the highest level of supported living in a housing project.  Trained as a word processor at ICD—the International Center for the Disabled—she was able to obtain her first job in August 1990, as the administrative assistant to the director at an insurance brokerage.

The woman believed in Christina’s potential, and sent her to the College of Insurance to obtain her property and casualty broker’s license.  Staying at that job close to two years, she was forced to find other work when her position was eliminated in April 1992.  At almost the same time, her psychiatrist supervised a drug holiday.  In July of that year, she had a fateful relapse and had to be hospitalized for two weeks so she could be stabilized on the meds again.

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