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A heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.
Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.
Eventually, Giulia fully recovered, and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.
A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.
|Product dimensions:||7.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is the ninth-grade dean at the Athenian School, where he also teaches history. He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their two sons in the San Francisco Bay area.
Table of Contents
1 August 2000 1
2 July 2009 16
3 September 2009 46
4 October 2009 81
5 April 2010 111
6 August 2010 139
7 September 2011 154
8 October 2012 173
9 November 2012 202
10 April 2013 222
11 October 2014 242
12 November 2014 276
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book with curiosity, knowing Guilia probably had schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. After the first episode, I was sure she had bipolar disorder. Eighteen years ago, as a middle aged adult, teacher and wife/mother, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Mark's journey with his wife is heartbreaking but honest. Many pages mirrored my husband's feelings, along with my children's. What makes this book great is the hopefulness and love between Mark and Guilia. He is truthful in his disappointment and exhaustion, but unwavering in his love; something those of us with the illness need to refer back to during difficult times. I loved the Ending--quiet, yet hopeful, knowing bipolar disorder doesn't become "cured", but managed. I will recommend this book for my doctor's library as well as to others diagnosed with bipolar disorder. An excellent read.
Their marriage started out perfectly, they fell in love in college and they had hopes and dreams about their future. They both found jobs and they fell into a routine. Giulia began to doubt her ability at work and anxiety slowly crept in. It began with one night of insomnia and grew to two nights, then three, then sleep was something of her past. A Skype call to her mother prompted her father to immediately fly out for a visit. The Devil would not leave her alone. Giulia could not be reasoned with, she is irate. They take her to the hospital (the Devil accompanies them too) and she is admitted. This is her first visit to the psych ward. Her diagnosis was schizophrenia but later on, they decided perhaps this is not correct. Mark begins to feel that their normal life is gone. He is losing his wife and gaining a patient. After an incident at the hospital between the Devil and God, they release Giulia. I was horrified that they discharged her when I felt that she was not ready. I felt that they just did not know what else to do with her. At home, Mark is happy to have her home while Giulia feels the opposite. It takes time for the two of them to find normalcy again. They begin to fall into a routine again as she attends an outreach program and Mark works. The illness is taking a toil on their relationship as she needs constant supervision and both of their emotions are being pulled in opposite directions. Depression is hitting both of them but with different effects. It was an engaging and insightful look into the lives of a couple as they deal with her mental illness. It became frustrating at times as I “waited” with them for the next episode to occur. Giulia knew that she would have this health issue for the rest of her life and she tried to take medication to prevent the attacks but nothing would work to stop them. The couple would just wait and watch for the symptoms so they could stop the severity and/or stop a full-blown attack. It was stressful, I thought. Then, they add a child into the mix, it became even more stressful. I enjoy this novel, I thought the husband’s comments and thoughts were honest. He loved his wife but didn’t know what to do, he also became resentful at times, and he also knew he needed to think about the other individuals in his life. It is a complicated and complex issue. A great novel about mental health.
A story about a husband and wife struggling with mental illness. Hope the rest of their lives are free of pain. Well written.
This well written book is hard to put down. Mark's love for his wife, son, and their extended families comes through from the beginning to the end. This memoir chronicles the beginning of a lifetime for this couple and family in dealing with mental illness. Thank you to the author for dealing with such a difficult, personal topic in such a candid manner that hopefully helps to chip away at the stigma of mental illness for patients and their families.
Makes me want to read it!
Mark Lukach fell in love at first sight with the beautiful Italian woman Guilia when both were freshmen in college. They had so much in common- they're both lefthanded, their moms have the same birthday, she grew up in Italy and moved to the US, he grew up in the US and moved to Japan in the same year. They felt these coincidences were part of their mythology that they were destined to be together. Mark and Guilia planned a future together, one where Guilia would have a fabulous job in fashion marketing, and they would have three beautiful children. Family was important to both of them. For awhile things were looking like they would follow the track they had planned. Until Guilia began to act erratically. She had a great job, one that she was good at. One day she started emailing Mark during the day with work emails that she was agonizing over for hours. She would waste an entire work day worrying about these simple emails she had to send. That is how Guilia's mental illness manifested itself, as Mark describes in his heartbreaking memoir My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward. Soon she began to believe that the Devil was tormenting her. It got so frightening that Mark took her to the local ER, where the doctors decided that Guilia must be admitted to the psych ward for her own good. Mark and Guilia's world was turned upside down. Everything became about her mental illness, which the doctors couldn't really pinpoint with a diagnosis. Was it schizoprehenia? Was she bipolar? Her symptoms didn't exactly fit any diagnosis. Mark takes us inside the world of mental illness with a loved one. The unpredictability, the unbelieveable emotional and physical stress on not only the person with mental illness, but also on loved ones. Guilia's parents came over from Italy and were heartbroken at what had happened to their daughter. Mark's parents also came from Japan to lend support, but no one knew exactly what to do. Guilia was heavily medicated, and it took a long time to find the correct medications that would abate her depression and suicidal thoughts, and those medications frequently left her lethagric and zonked out. Mental illness is so debilitating because the sick person often cannot help themselves, as someone with a physical illness can. Mark was responsible for Guilia, but when she requested that he not be given information about her from her doctors, the doctors had to respect her decision, making the situation even worse. Guilia did get better, and their dream of having a child was realized. She went back to work and things seemed better, until she relapsed. Now Mark had to balance Guilia's illness with caring for their infant son. My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is a moving memoir about loving and living with someone with mental illness. It will break your heart, and enlighten you as to how difficult it is to deal with an issue that our healthcare system is woefully unprepared to do, although Guilia was lucky enough to have doctors and hospitals that were caring and professional. If you read Susannah Cahalan's Brain on Fire, I recommend My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward as a good followup to that book.