He Came in With It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness

He Came in With It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness

by Miriam Feldman


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“…a cleansing narrative that should inspire mothers—and other caregivers—to rise up, unite, and breathe hot new life into the drooping cause of mental healthcare reform.”— Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author.

“To know that you are not alone in this loneliest and most emotionally difficult of all family situations is a great gift, a comfort and source of strength. And Mimi Feldman is the one you want as your mentor, your guide.”— Janet Fitch, New York Times best-selling author of White Oleander

“…a compelling, moving story…It was an honor to read it.”— Jenny Allen, author of Would Everyone Please Stop

In an idyllic Los Angeles neighborhood, where generations of families enjoy deep roots in old homes, the O’Rourke family fits right in. Miriam and Craig are both artists and their four children carry on the legacy. When their teenage son, Nick, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, a tumultuous decade ensues in which the family careens permanently off the conventional course.


Like the ten Biblical plagues, they are hit by one catastrophe after another, violence, evictions, arrests, a suicide attempt, a near-drowning…even cancer and a brain tumor…play against the backdrop of a wild teenage bacchanal of artmaking and drugs. With no time for hand-wringing, Miriam advances, convinced she can fix everything, while a devastated Craig retreats to their property in rural Washington State as home becomes a battlefield.


It is while cleaning out a closet, that Miriam discovers a cache of drawings and journals written by Nick throughout his spiral into schizophrenia. She begins a solitary forensic journey into the lonely labyrinth of his mind.

This is the story of how mental illness unspools an entire family. As Miriam fights to reclaim her son from the ruthless, invisible enemy, we are given an unflinching view into a world few could imagine. It exposes the shocking shortfalls of our mental health system, the destructive impact of stigma, shame and isolation, and, finally, the falsity of the notion of a perfect family. Throughout the book, it is the family’s ability to find humor in the absurdities of this life that saves them.  It is a parable that illustrates the true definition of a good life, allowing for the blemishes and mistakes that are part of the universal human condition. He Came In With It is the legacy of, and for, her son Nick.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684425112
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 07/21/2020
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 275,669
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Miriam Feldman is an artist, writer, and mental health activist who splits her time between her Los Angeles studio and her farm in rural Washington state. She has been married to her husband Craig O’Rourke, also an artist, for 34 years and they have four adult children. Their 33-year-old son, Nick, has schizophrenia.

With an MFA in painting from Otis Art Institute, Miriam founded Demar Feldman Studios, Inc., a distinguished mural and decorative art company, in 1988. At the same time, she built a strong career as a fine artist, represented by Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica, CA.

When Nick was diagnosed in 2004, Miriam became an activist and a writer. With first-hand knowledge of our mental health system, she decided to be an advocate for those who have no voice. She serves on the advisory board of Bring Change 2 Mind, the non-profit founded by Glenn Close, and writes a monthly blog for their website. Miriam is active in leadership at NAMI Washington and writes for their newsletters. She is a frequent guest on mental health podcasts and is active on Instagram, where she has created a community of family and loved ones dealing with mental illness.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

If there is one central, irremovable figure in any narrative of mental illness besides the Victim, it is the Mother. Frantic with grief and horror and helplessness, often bereft of support systems (fathers tend to disengage from a stricken son or daughter), ostracized from friends, vilified through history as the cause of her beloved child's tragedy (see: "schizophrenogenic mother"), and grasping constantly for a healing miracle, the Mother suffers in a dark silent hell that only her sisters in anguish can understand.

Now comes Miriam Feldman to throw open doors, rip down curtains, and usher in a fierce light to drive out the stigma that enshrouds the Mother. He Came In With It places herself in the same hard glare of truth telling with her adored, clinically "mad" son Nick. With crisp demotic sentences, heartbreaking scenes, and inspired imagery, she has fashioned a cleansing narrative that should inspire mothers--and other caregivers--to rise up, unite, and breathe hot new life into the drooping cause of mental healthcare reform.—Ron Powers,Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer.—Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author.

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