Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach - #review

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.



I have so much love and respect for both Guilia and Mark.  No, I do not know them personally.  But I know the type of situation (I say as I sit here taking my meds for depression).  For four years, I worked at a residential facility for adults with MR/DD and other psychological diagnoses.

Imagine one day waking up and your life as you knew it no longer existed.  For Guilia, it was replaced by a life where her family members were in danger.  I think harm or illness to a family member is something that would send most people running for their battle armor.

As Guilia's illness progressed, exponentially more of Mark's time and energy became focused on Guilia's care.

How did they make it through?  And by that I mean from that day until this one, not until the illness had passed.  Because sometimes, frankly, it doesn't.  I've been on meds (on and off) for depression since my teens, nearly 4 decades ago. I probably will be for the rest of my life.  Do I wish it was different?  Yes.  But I do it because the alternative is a grey life.

I would say they made it through by love for each other, a lot of help from family and friends and dogged determination.  My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is not a pretty story, but it is an important one.  There are thousands of stories like Mark and  Guilia's out there, but relatively few people have the courage to share them.  It's time to end the shame, reticence and stigma around mental illnesses and the people who have them.

Congratulations to Mr. Lukach for writing and sharing such a poignant, heart-enlarging story.



Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, the AtlanticPacific StandardWired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth-grade dean at the Athenian School, where he also teaches history. He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their son, Jonas, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.



  1. I like the term "heart-enlarging" ... it is a perfect description of this book!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. Stories like these really inspire me in regards to marriage. The stories where people can say, It was hard, really really hard, and sometimes I didn't like it, but we did it anyway, and here we are, 20 years later still together. To me, that's what life is all about. Sticking with those we love through the hard times, and sailing through the easy times.

    Thank you for being on this tour!