My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

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 b...

Title:My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0062422936
Edition Language:English
Format Type:ebook
Number of Pages:320 pages

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward Reviews

  • Brandon Forsyth
    Mar 12, 2017

    "Scared to death, scared to look /

    They shook."

    - Mobb Deep, "Shook Ones Pt. II"

    I'm trying to deflect how much this book affected me by starting off with a hip hop lyric, but it's actually the most appropriate way to review this book for me. It

    me.

    I've been incredibly fortunate in my life in many ways. I am the product of unbelievable privilege. I have never had to deal with mental health in any substantial way, personally or amongst the people I care about. For that reason, the idea of a p

    "Scared to death, scared to look /

    They shook."

    - Mobb Deep, "Shook Ones Pt. II"

    I'm trying to deflect how much this book affected me by starting off with a hip hop lyric, but it's actually the most appropriate way to review this book for me. It

    me.

    I've been incredibly fortunate in my life in many ways. I am the product of unbelievable privilege. I have never had to deal with mental health in any substantial way, personally or amongst the people I care about. For that reason, the idea of a psychotic break (like the ones detailed in this book) is terrifying to me, even as I try to grapple with realizing the stigma I'm attaching to the issue. But this is truly the stuff of nightmares.

    Mark Lukach and his wife Giulia deserve a mountain of credit for being so open and honest in the depiction of their relationship through some incredibly trying times. Neither of them come off as saints, and the book is at it's strongest when they detail the raw and real difficulties this condition imposed on them, even in the good times. That being said, some of their privilege makes mine look positively pauperish by comparison, and the fact that it's never really acknowledged in a meaningful way leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    In summary, really affecting, but not a truly great book. All of the people that I read this with for work agree that it will be a fantastic conversation starter for people unused to dealing with mental health, and I know it will help me have conversations about this that I otherwise wouldn't.

  • Torrie
    May 23, 2017

    4.5 stars

    Knowing this book is about mental illness, I knew it was going to be depressing, emotional, etc. but I really underestimated how heartfelt the author's words would be, as well as how involved I would get in the ups and downs of Giulia & Mark's journey. The author's writing is descriptive, insightful, and raw. Giulia & Mark's story helps puts things into perspective and I think there is probably something we can all learn from their relationship/journey to apply in our own relati

    4.5 stars

    Knowing this book is about mental illness, I knew it was going to be depressing, emotional, etc. but I really underestimated how heartfelt the author's words would be, as well as how involved I would get in the ups and downs of Giulia & Mark's journey. The author's writing is descriptive, insightful, and raw. Giulia & Mark's story helps puts things into perspective and I think there is probably something we can all learn from their relationship/journey to apply in our own relationships.

  • Stephanie
    May 11, 2017

    My first reaction to this book: WOW. I loved it… or as much as one can love a book about mental illness and difficult subjects, which is a lot even if it’s sometimes hard to read.

    Mark and Giulia were leading a “charmed” life with a beautiful love story. They had recently moved to San Francisco and were settling into married life and careers when, at the age of 27, Giulia inexplicably and out of nowhere suffered a psychotic break. Recovery was long and painful after a month long stint in the loca

    My first reaction to this book: WOW. I loved it… or as much as one can love a book about mental illness and difficult subjects, which is a lot even if it’s sometimes hard to read.

    Mark and Giulia were leading a “charmed” life with a beautiful love story. They had recently moved to San Francisco and were settling into married life and careers when, at the age of 27, Giulia inexplicably and out of nowhere suffered a psychotic break. Recovery was long and painful after a month long stint in the local psych ward. The marriage they once knew was gone, and in its place, pieces that would need to be rebuilt. Eventually, after a full recovery, things seemed to be back to normal until a second breakdown after having their son, and another one after that.

    Mental illness is tough. It’s hard to talk about, hard to admit to. But this memoir? This memoir, you guys… brutally honest, uncomfortably real. I cringed and I soared and I recoiled in horror right alongside this amazing young couple. The thing about mental illness is that it doesn’t preclude anyone. No one is immune. It offers no explanations, no sympathy, no nothing. For Giulia, one day it wasn’t and the next day it was. I was pulled into her story and Mark’s story and I couldn’t read fast enough. I mean, really. This book read faster to me than some of the craziest suspense novels I’ve ever read because I was just fascinated by their story and hoping and praying and waiting for the end result to be good. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it.

    I know mental illness is so personal but I love that Mark and Giulia let us into their story, the highs and lows, the fights, the tears, the frustration… all of it, no holds barred. I love how open and honest and thorough Mark is in describing their experience, and how it is to love someone with mental illness. I love that Mark isn’t afraid to show us that it’s HARD to love someone with mental illness, but that you can love them just the same. I love that he shows us vulnerability, anger, resentment, fear – the times he lost his temper along with the times he was nearly a saint (though I doubt he’d call himself that!). I love that they’re sharing their story because somebody somewhere will read this and say “aha! Me too! I’m not alone!” Oh and also? There’s a Bulldog so… instant love right there, you know.

    I’ve had anxiety and depression for most of my life, and while my issues are not nearly as severe as those depicted in this memoir, I feel grateful anytime people are willing to open up about their experiences with mental illness. It’s a relief to know that someone gets it, that there are people out there who SEE that these are real illnesses, despite not being able to physically see them. You can look fine and yet not feel fine.

    This book just gripped me from page one. I could not put it down and I will be passionately recommending it to most everyone I know. It is full of raw, beautiful, easy to read writing, depicting a very real and very hard story with glimmers of hope throughout… I cannot recommend it enough!

  • Brenda
    May 30, 2017

    My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward gave me a different perspective that I have been searching for, the perspective of a caregiver of a loved one with a mental illness. Some understanding that as caregivers I am not alone in the feeling of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and frighten. Mark Lukach also gave me some understanding that maybe we can't beat mental illness but we can learn to live with it.

    I highly recommend this beautiful, raw, honest, and hopeful memoir to caregivers of loved ones with a

    My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward gave me a different perspective that I have been searching for, the perspective of a caregiver of a loved one with a mental illness. Some understanding that as caregivers I am not alone in the feeling of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and frighten. Mark Lukach also gave me some understanding that maybe we can't beat mental illness but we can learn to live with it.

    I highly recommend this beautiful, raw, honest, and hopeful memoir to caregivers of loved ones with a mental illness or for anyone wanting to understand what it is like for a caregiver of someone with a mental illness.

    All of Norma’s and my reviews can be found on our sister blog:

  • Lauren
    May 23, 2017

    This book was painfully beautiful. I loved it all, my copy is so marked up with notes and tabs on the pages. I only hope to be loved in this life the way Mark loves Giulia. A heart catching read about love, family, and mental health.

  • Petra Eggs
    Jun 09, 2017

    I'm out of sync here. Everyone loves the book except me. The story is of how a husband adapts his life to that of his bi-polar psychotic wife who is suicidal when depressed and needs hospitalising. He is so traumatised by his wife, Gulia's first psychotic episode that he has to take 3 months off work as a teacher, and thereafter the rest of the book details just how much time he and his wife take off work. I'm amazed that either of them kept their jobs. The US must have very generous sick leave

    I'm out of sync here. Everyone loves the book except me. The story is of how a husband adapts his life to that of his bi-polar psychotic wife who is suicidal when depressed and needs hospitalising. He is so traumatised by his wife, Gulia's first psychotic episode that he has to take 3 months off work as a teacher, and thereafter the rest of the book details just how much time he and his wife take off work. I'm amazed that either of them kept their jobs. The US must have very generous sick leave terms (but considering how it doesn't seem to have a mandatory minimum vacation leave, perhaps people just go sick?)

    I was bored with Giulia who was either psychotic (not in interesting ways as in described in

    ), depressed or slightly manic. She was only described in terms of illness or wellness. Everything she did was together with her husband, she seemed to be a strong personality not a weak person, but other than being assertive (nasty) when she was sick, and a not-very-involved mother I don't know who she was.

    The father, the author, probably wasn't quite the wimp he made himself out to be. He very much wanted to be a house-husband and main carer of his son, but was unable to be and had to have his mother or mother-in-law (whom he called Suoc as a pet-name derived from the Italian for MIL) to help do the laundry, cooking and other household chores even before he and his wife had a child. She annoyed him by "ironing his boxer" ie interfering around the house, but what did he expect, she didn't have much to do but keep house for two adults and visit her sectioned daughter?

    When he and his wife have a child, during one of her periods of stability, he immediately becomes a house-husband and main carer of the little boy. When his wife has to go hospital during two more psychotic breaks, he has to have his mother or "Suoc" come to help out. His mother has to fly in from Japan to San Francisco to do her turn! Why is it that so many women look after kids by themselves but so many men need help? I was a single mother but my ex needed the help of his sisters with the kids. Neither he nor they could envisage he could actually manage the house and the children and get them off to school in clean clothes with lunch before going to work All By Himself.

    The author, Mark, was emotionally unstable because it was so difficult to adjust to either visiting his wife in hospital or caring for her at home. His only real hobby seems to have been surfing. Again not a rounded character. If I met either Mark or Giulia for coffee I wouldn't know what they looked like other than she is dark and has glasses, nor what I know what to say beyond 'How are you?" which in the circumstances might be a leading and unwelcome question.

    So what I got from the book is that if you love someone with a lifelong psychosis that might flare up at any time (or might not, ever again) you have to be prepared to adjust your life to living around it and hope that one of you when either well or not needed for caring duties, can get jobs with good medical insurance and high pay so that when times are bad, at least financially you are ok.

    I don't know what kept me reading this book. When I got to the end I was really surprised. She was well, the kid was well, the father was well, so nothing to say.... bye. Then the credits. Oh.

  • Mischenko
    Jun 17, 2017

    To see the full review, please visit

    Lately, I've been reading a good amount of books regarding mental illness. In the past I've dealt with my own mental health issues, mainly after developing a thyroid disorder and after having children. It isn't easy and in my opinion isn't taken seriously enough. Many medical professionals are less than compassionate. Many times family members look at it as a weakness and feel that it's crippling to their own lives as if the actual

    To see the full review, please visit

    Lately, I've been reading a good amount of books regarding mental illness. In the past I've dealt with my own mental health issues, mainly after developing a thyroid disorder and after having children. It isn't easy and in my opinion isn't taken seriously enough. Many medical professionals are less than compassionate. Many times family members look at it as a weakness and feel that it's crippling to their own lives as if the actual person with the disease chooses to be ill. The mentally affected person's life stops, while everyone else expects to move on with their own. With that said, I had mixed feelings about this memoir and possibly because it's one sided, from the caregivers perspective. Although, I personally have never been in Mark's shoes and haven't had to deal with a person with a disorder like Giulia is experiencing. 

    is a memoir written by a husband who is dealing with mental illness for the first time. Early in his marriage his wife suddenly develops a mental disorder originally diagnosed as Schizophrenia but later re-diagnosed as Bipolar. She spends about a month in a hospital while doctors try to figure out what's wrong. During this time, her husband Mark is dealing with a range of emotions including sadness, confusion, anger and many more. As Giulia is started on medications, everything is up in the air and Mark is left to wonder what their future holds. 

    Parts of this memoir were hard to read, while others were heartwarming. You can feel the love that Mark has for Giulia, but as anger sets in, things begin to change for their relationship. He begins to resent her as time moves on from her first hospitalization. This is where I began to have some mixed feelings. There were events taking place in the relationship where they were falling away from each other and their relationship became uncertain. Was he giving up? It almost seemed as though Mark was becoming more distracted and couldn't deal with it anymore. Again, I can't imagine how hard it must have been for him, but it seemed like he just wasn't understanding that the illness wasn't Giulia's fault. She had no way to stop it and she was very scared as well. With their mutual decision to have a child (Jona), things became more complicated and even with the overwhelming support of both wonderful families, which I thought was amazing, it wasn't enough. Giulia would be dealing with a lifelong illness which could potentially affect everyone who loved her. 

    I thought the book was written very well. I was engrossed from cover to cover and I'm glad to have read it. I commend Mark for the courage to tell their story and the strength to hang on through all the ups and downs. I hope that as time moves on, Giulia's illness will improve, and Mark and Giulia can enjoy their marriage and child. 

    4****

  • Krista
    Jul 02, 2017

    As author Mark Lukach concludes at the

    As author Mark Lukach concludes at the end of

    , he does sound like he has lived “a charmed life” – a childhood of love and adventure, mutual love at first sight with the woman he would eventually marry, professional fulfillment – so while he's describing the harrowing circumstances around his wife's recurring psychosis, I couldn't help but think, “This is awful, but it could be worse”. And despite having worked as a freelance writer and enjoying success with articles in major publications, I didn't find this to be an incredibly well-written memoir – the emotion is flat, the timeline rushed, no research is added for understanding – so I couldn't help but think, “This is okay, but it could be better.” Yet, as someone who has had no contact with the mental health system, I am grateful that Lukach decided to share his story: his might not be a typical life, but this memoir has the sheen of a truthful account; a worthwhile addition to the record of human experience.

    The book opens with Lukach's fairytale romance with future wife Giulia – a beautiful, gregarious, and focussed Italian-born fellow-Freshman at college. They eventually marry, move to San Francisco, and begin their working careers: he as a teacher, she as a marketing manager. They have dinner parties and long walks on the beach, get a dog, and plot their happily-ever-after. And then Giulia becomes overwhelmed with work, can't sleep, and begins to have hallucinations about talking with God. When the sleepless nights continue, Giulia becomes terrified that she's now talking to the Devil, and as Lukach has no idea what else to do, he brings his wife to the ER against her will and consents to admitting her to the psych ward. Lukach is brutally honest about this experience: His uncertainty and fears, the cold bureaucracy he confronts with the health professionals, the toll this experience takes on him personally. When medication eventually allows Giulia to be released (after 23 days), she then sinks into an eight month long depression; wishing every day for death. Lukach pulls her out of that, too, and despite neither of them having worked for nearly a year, they have enough money saved to be able to go on a four month, round-the-world vacation; rediscovering their love and commitment.

    Giulia feels so good at this point that they decide the breakdown was a one-time occurrence, and they have a baby. Not long after Jonas is born, Giulia begins to have delusions again; this time Lukach doesn't hesitate – he brings his wife to the ER and demands admittance to the psych ward. After an even longer stay this time, Giulia is again released and again suffers months of suicidal depression – all while her husband does his best to take care of the baby and the house and his sick wife. As he is not taking very good care of himself, friends intervene and one hands him

    : an “antipsychiatry” book that advocates for less medical intervention for the mentally ill. And while Lukach is eventually interested in what this book might offer him and his family, he really doesn't go into it far enough for my satisfaction. He and Giulia do make a “mad map” – Giulia is able to predetermine what care she is willing to endure in the event of further breakdowns (which totally makes sense: allowing someone to make decisions, while healthy and in concert with a psychiatrist, about her own future) – but when Giulia did have another episode, she was no longer willing to take the medications that, when healthy, she knew she would need; no longer understood why she couldn't have her two-and-a-half-year-old son visit her in a care facility.

    What was most interesting was Kuhach's evolution as a caregiver: Everything was unknown during the first episode, he had a false confidence that he was an experienced decision-maker the second time, and by the third, he was willing to back off and let the professionals do their jobs. He never stopped advocating for Giulia, and he continued to visit her every day that he could, but he eventually understood that he would need to put Jonas and himself first. On the other hand, it was hard not to recognise that this is a family of inordinate privilege: They could go long stretches without working; her mother routinely flew in from Italy, and his from Japan, whenever needed; we're supposed to feel bad that Kukich has to give up frequent surfing for trail running. I was annoyed that their local coffee shop became hip for its selection of artisanal toasts, and I was shocked when Kukich concluded (after the suicide of one of Giulia's friends from the psych ward) that killing oneself is simply another kind of courage. He voices his frustration that prescribing medicines for the mentally ill is an imprecise science – Giulia seems to be forever over- or undermedicated while finding the right dosage – but it's obvious from their experience that they need to trust the process; Giulia

    medication, no matter its side-effects or the opinions of the antipsychiatry movement.

    Ultimately, like I said in the beginning, this was an interesting experience for me to read about, even if I didn't think it was as well-written as it could have been. I wish the Kukichs all the best.

    For further reading, this is the original article in

    that opened up Kukich's writing career (talk about a charmed existence). And this interview in

    adds Giulia's voice to the story.

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