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To recognize Princeton's Graduate Student Government Mental Health Initiative, Esmé Weijun Wang will join us on stage at Richardson Auditorium to kick off the month long campaign. Her talk will be on the theme of mental health and illness—the challenges of dealing with those issues and what we can cultivate to deal with those challenges for both ourselves and others. She will focus on stigma, especially cultural stigma (as an American and as the daughter of immigrant parents); cultivating resilience and self-advocacy; and carrying one’s own hopes and dreams, as well as the hopes and dreams of others who may be struggling.
In 2015, Esmé was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease, and she also lives with schizoaffective disorder. While these conditions create boundaries, they also inspire her to guide and support others who are dealing with difficult times. Esmé’s blog, “The Unexpected Shape,” provides encouragement, advice, and resources for people living with limitations. And she’s designed an online course, Rawness of Remembering, to teach the skills needed for withstanding challenging circumstances via restorative journaling.
Esmé’s New York Times-bestselling essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias, won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and the Whiting Award for Nonfiction. Of the collection, NPR writes, “The Collected Schizophrenias is riveting, honest…we are lucky to have it in the world.” Her debut novel, The Border of Paradise, was named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR and one of the 25 Best Novels of 2016 by Electric Literature.