'I thought I was possessed': S'pore man on battling schizophrenia

'I thought I was possessed': S'pore man on battling schizophrenia
Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014
The New Paper
By Chai Hung Yin

SINGAPORE - For 16 years, he suffered in silence and hid his dark secret from his friends and colleagues.

Today, he is not afraid.

Mr Julius Athanasius Chan suffers from chronic schizophrenia. During the 16-year period, he suffered four breakdowns, with hallucinations and delusions about himself and even about his father, whom he thought betrayed him.

Even though it is still painful for him to recall the past, Mr Chan, 39, wants to help schizophrenics.

He is now a peer specialist with the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), an organisation which has helped him live a normal life.

As a peer specialist, he helps mentally ill patients recover by sharing his personal stories, which instils hope and gives encouragement.

Mr Chan hopes that people with mental issues will step forward and seek treatment.

"It is okay to seek help. Recovery is possible and it is a choice. You must be self-determined. You must choose life," he says.

His positivity is a far cry from how he once was.

Mr Chan's story began when he was 19 years old. He wanted to pursue priesthood and felt that he was not ready for national service (NS).

"I prayed a lot, asking if God could take away this time for me," he says.

Mr Chan went overboard.

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(Photos: ST, AFP, Reuters, TNP)

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