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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach
Published by Harper Wave ISBN 9780062422910
Hardcover, $25.99, 320 pages

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.

Thansk to TLC Tours for putting me on Mark Lukach's tour. The rest of his stops are here:


  1. This is an issue that needs to be addressed more than it is. I loved Brain on Fire and need to look for this.

  2. Wow, what a challenge for this family for Guilia to relapse after the birth of their child! Mark certainly had his hands full.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.