My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – A Memoir by Mark Lukach

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 effected 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.

*This review may contain some mild spoilers*

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My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward 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-stars

Continue reading “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – A Memoir by Mark Lukach”

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

I saw this book on Goodreads a few weeks ago and after reading the blurb I decided to give it a try. It’s Kerry Kletter’s debut novel and a heart-wrenching read from cover to cover. To add the book on Goodreads, you can click the cover. You can see my review below.

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My review

There are certain things children need from their mothers-things that we are all entitled too from birth. Some of these include sense of safety, trust, being nurtured and feeling as though we belong. Most of all, as children, we need someone to love us and someone for us to love back. This is something Cassie was denied when she was a young child and she couldn’t seem to figure out how to obtain it. Instead, she questioned herself and suffered mental illness. She was thrust into the world when all she believed in was lies and uncertainty.

I had a very hard time reading parts of this book. I felt like the majority of the characters (Cassie’s family) were evil, selfish beings. Most of Cassie’s family had mental issues and it was quickly trickling down onto her as she was abused, abandoned, and treated as though she was a nobody. It’s harrowing at times and makes you feel like all you want to do is hug her and reassure her that there’s nothing wrong with her, and that everything will be okay.

I felt for Cassie’s mother because it was apparent that she herself had issues with her own mother. I felt like it was just history repeating itself because her mom just didn’t know how to be a mom. She didn’t know how to love as she wasn’t loved herself. All she knew was the horrible experiences she had in her life with her own family and she couldn’t rise above it. Dumping Cassie into a mental institution was a way for her parents to not have to deal with her problems anymore.

Despite this being an emotional read, I enjoyed it. I was pleased with the book from beginning to end and remained engaged throughout. The conclusion was thoroughly satisfying. As far as the writing, the story is written beautifully and I want to read more from this author. In fact, I want to read everything she writes and look forward to her next book.

stars


Blurb

Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

Continue reading “The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter”

Lessons from Grandpa #2

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about my grandfather and another lesson he taught me repeatedly when he was still here.

When I was a teen, my grandfather always told me,

“Love your father, he’s the only one you’re ever going to get.”

I heard it often, because I was upset about my father a lot. He’s an alcoholic and was consistently doing foolish things. My grandfather knew it, but because he was up in age, he began to forgive everyone for everything. Plus, there were so many things my grandfather didn’t know, things that he would never understand.

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Me with my brother and grandfather -1980 – My grandfather bought a vintage wire clock from a rummage sale and put this picture in it to cover the clock face. It hung on the wall into my adulthood.

Growing up, I was raised by my grandfather and he taught me everything he could. I would only visit my dad every other weekend (many of which were cancelled by him), and in all actuality was closer to my step-mom than him. My step-mom and I spent most of the weekend time together while my dad got wasted. There were plenty of times I didn’t belong with my dad when he was drunk-driving and many weekends I wished I would’ve just stayed home. It was hard for me and I didn’t understand why he wanted to do this to himself and to others. He would get violent and there were times when he hurt himself and others physically. As I got older, I understood why my mom couldn’t stay married to him, and also that if it weren’t for my father’s violence and stupidity, I would’ve had an older sister. My mom miscarried their first child related to his violence.

At one point in my childhood, my dad was in an institution for a few months. He’d gotten so wasted and decided he didn’t want to live anymore. He was listening to some really loud music and got it stuck in his head that he wanted to die. He started a fire in his house and tried to burn himself down with it. I don’t know who got there first, but there was considerable damage to the house and it needed many repairs. I know that my step-mother was fed up with him and she had issues of her own, including losing her young brother in an accident and an older brother in a separate truck accident. She wasn’t dealing with any of this well and began using drugs heavily. A few years later, she died from a drug overdose. Just before that, she sat me down along with my brother and told us that she was planning to divorce my dad, but that she would always love us. There were events like this that my grandfather didn’t know about and he didn’t know the pain my dad caused my step-mother or that she was using drugs. I don’t know if it would’ve changed his thoughts anyhow.  Continue reading “Lessons from Grandpa #2”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. I’m excited to share Wednesday’s breakfast and reads with you all!

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This morning was a bit chilly and I really had a taste for oatmeal. I know, it sounds boring, but you might actually like this recipe! It’s quite good and a healthy start to your day.

I have to admit that the way I used to make this recipe isn’t the way I make it anymore. I’ve added the original ingredients below in parentheses.

Ingredients: Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 1/2 cups almond milk (cow’s milk preferred in original recipe)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • TB of Brown Sugar
  • Original recipe calls for 1 TB of butter (omitted in my version)
  • Extra milk for serving

Directions:

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Add oats and milk to a pan with a dash of salt.

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Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. The oats will start to thicken, so at this point add the raisins and simmer for a few more minutes. Stir a few times.

After simmering, I like to shut off the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The raisins will get nice and plump and the oats will be very creamy.

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Add your brown sugar to the bowl and butter if you’re using it.

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Stir it all up in your bowl and add more milk if desired. Sprinkle on your cinnamon and your good to go. It’s a fairly easy and healthy recipe! It does taste better with butter and cows milk, but without the dairy, it’s still delicious.

 


This week’s reads:

I finished Luke Narlee’s book The Appointment which I’ll review later today. I started two new books and so far I like them both. 

First, let’s start with Tuesday’s Promise. I reviewed two other books about Tuesday and Luis Carlos Montalván last week. I couldn’t wait to get Tuesday’s promise and I also picked up Tuesday Takes Me There which I’ll review later this week as well. Their story has really touched me and I’m so glad to have learned about these two. You can see my original post on those books HERE. Here’s the blurb on this one…

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Blurb: Luis and Tuesday are winning hearts again. With his captivating New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday, Iraq War veteran Luis Carlos Montalván furthered America’s conversation about the need to care for first responders suffering from the effects of PTSD, especially highlighting the near-miraculous benefit of service dog companionship.

Now, in this spectacular follow-up, Luis and Tuesday rescue a forgotten Tuskegee airman, battle obstinate VA bureaucrats and bring solace for troubled war heroes coast-to-coast. All this, while Luis’ personal battle intensifies; while Tuesday has helped him make immense mental strides, the chronic pain of his injuries threaten to leave him wheelchair-bound. In a grave decision, Luis opts to amputate his leg, and learn how to live with a prosthetic.

As Luis regains his athleticism, 10-year-old Tuesday enters new phase in life; due to his growing age he will soon need to retire. Together, these two friends begin the tender process of welcoming a new puppy into their pack. SINCE TUESDAY is an inspiring story with an unforgettable message about love, service, and teamwork.

I had no clue what was in store in this follow-up to Until Tuesday. I’m learning a lot more about both Tuesday and Luis and the book is even more heartbreaking than the first. I’ll review later this week. 

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Run Rabbit Run by Barbara and Max Rodgers

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Run Rabbit Run is a memoir written by Barbara Rodgers and Max Rodgers. I picked up the eBook on Amazon for $3.99. You can find it by clicking here.

The story is true and discloses a slice of Barbara’s life that can only be described as turbulent. Her life begins with a dysfunctional family and progresses into bad relationships, divorce, greed, and uncontrollable mental illness. She has a beloved twin sister who she confides in until an unforeseen event rips the two apart. You can see Barbara and her sister Mary’s song below.

Lyrics:

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
To never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
While you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
But I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
So high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

_____________________

The story is emotional, raw and gritty at times. At one point I began wondering why Barbara was making some of the choices she was, but understand that mental illness works this way. It has the capability to control you and takes over your emotions. You start believing that you are worthless along with other horrible thoughts. It can feel impossible to be free from it.

light-1-a.jpgBarbara was dealing with some deep wounds and didn’t have much support, until Max came into the picture. Max was just the person for Barbara and understood her condition. Max’s perseverance helped Barbara to understand that she was loved and not alone. As life moves forward, Barbara begins to change and finally gains control over her mental illness.

It was obvious to me what Barbara was going through. I’ve gone through a similar experience, although not as extreme. It seems like there’s no one on your side and the future appears bleak. I feel that the authors did an excellent job telling their story and the book was written well. I personally liked the story even though it’s hard to apply the word ‘like’ with such an emotional read. I didn’t want to put the book down.

For those who are asking, I would most definitely consider this a Christian book. It’s a compelling story that I would recommend to others who are struggling with mental illness.

4-stars

Continue reading “Run Rabbit Run by Barbara and Max Rodgers”