Thriving as a librarian and advocate: Christina Bruni
Christina Bruni was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1987, soon after graduating college with a BA in English.
In 1987, when she was 22, her beloved Sicilian grandfather slipped into a coma and was hooked up to a respirator in an intensive care unit. The experience was Christina’s breaking point.
At 5:00 pm on a Friday, she experienced paranoia and delusional thinking. Christina thought that the government was after her and that the world was ending. She thought a person would kill her and was fearing for her life, though she didn’t hallucinate or hear voices. By 9:00 am that Saturday her mother had driven her to the ER.
Christina was given medication within 24 hours. Three weeks later she had no symptoms. Her current doctor lists her condition as paranoid schizophrenia in remission. She has been symptom free since that time.
However, the mental health staff at Christina’s day program held the belief that recovery wasn’t possible. But even then, she believed in her vision of recovery. Her goal was to obtain a full-time job and live in her own apartment. She achieved this goal within three years of having her breakdown.
Christina and her psychiatrist made the decision to wean her off all medications in 1992. However, Christina soon found she was unable to function without the antipsychotic medication. Since that time, she has taken her medication everyday as prescribed. Christina credits her success to her ongoing treatment. Today, she has been in full symptom remission for over 30 years.
In June 2000, Christina graduated from Pratt Institute with a master’s in library and information science (MS). Today, she is a member of the Beta Phi Mu librarian honor society.
She has worked for over 20 years as a professional librarian in an urban public library. Fifteen years ago, she found her niche to be career services, helping others find jobs that fit well with their skills and interests. More than 85% of the individuals she created resumes for over the last 15 years have obtained job interviews that led to job offers.
Since 2005, Christina has been the “Bruni in the City” columnist for City Voices, a peer-to-peer mental health newspaper. In 2020 she started to alternate this original column with her new Career Corner articles. These articles are available at www.cityvoicesonline.org.
Christina understands that life can be hard for everyone living on earth. Her early life was difficult, and she prefers to keep this private. In July 2000, when she was 35 years old, her recovery took off when she started her librarian job.
She has been a motivational speaker since 2002, talking with peers, family members, college students, teachers, counselors, and the general public. Christina wants you to know that you can have a full and robust life of your own design while living in recovery from schizophrenia. An optimist, she firmly believes that your greatest pain can be the catalyst for figuring out your life’s purpose. Her goal is to advance joy, love, peace, and understanding in the world.
In addition to being a speaker, author, and librarian, Christina is an athlete. The achievement she is most proud of is her ability to deadlift 205 pounds at the gym.
Christina’s full recovery is documented in her first book, Left of the Dial: A Memoir of Schizophrenia, Recovery, and Hope. The premise of Left of the Dial is that getting the right help right away resulted in a better outcome. Christina healed via medication and by engaging in creative pursuits with art, music, fashion, books, and writing.
Her second book, Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers: Finding and Succeeding at a Job Living with a Mental Illness, was published in October 2022. It details real-life strategies, first-person accounts, and resources for finding and succeeding at a job that is right for you.
The best advice Christina can offer about living in recovery is that having a support network can make all the difference. It can be as simple as sharing a meal with friends. Finding what gives you joy can help when you’re going through a hard time. Be open, curious, and receptive to new people and possibilities.
You can contact Christina at cb @ christinabruni.com. Use the word CURESZ Profile in the subject line and she will respond to you.