Also known as My Lovely Wife in The Psych Ward
I read this book sometime last year and I think it’s taken me this long to get my head around what I’d like to say.
I know I say this all the time, but the story that this book tells is incredibly important. The title kind of gives it away; it’s about a Mark, the author, who is supporting his wife, Giulia, while she gets admitted into a psych ward. But the story it really tells is something that isn’t brought to light often, and something that is so, so, so important to me.
I think it’s fair that people with mental illness get all the love, care and empathy that they deserve. It’s really hard for people who haven’t experienced mental illness through their own lives or through a loved one to really understand it. Personally, my approach for a very long time was somewhere along the lines of, ‘why can’t you just stop being sad?’ or, ‘give it time and you’ll get over it’, which is obviously unfair to those who battle with having little to no control of their feelings day in and day out. I think it’s taken my entire life to understand, despite how closely I’ve lived with mental illness.
My Lovely Wife isn’t really about Giulia. It is about her support team. It’s about their parents who fly from across the world to make sure she and Mark are okay, it’s about the colleagues who are vaguely worried but spread rumours anyway, it’s about Mark, who silently takes all the fear and the hurt from seeing his wife turn into someone he truly loves and adores into someone completely different. Over, and over, and over. It’s about all those feelings that are so far buried beneath the facade which must always say that everything will be okay just in case the problems are the one thing that tips them over the edge and into the abyss.
“In fact, maybe love, in the purest sense, is about being kind to someone with no expectation of how they’re going to respond. They can ignore your kindness, reject it, or return it tenfold, but you just continue to be kind, and that is love.”
I am so grateful to have read this book. It helped me understand a lot more about my father, who suffers from psychosis piggybacking on severe depression, similar to Giulia. I saw the phases of dad’s illness and of my own personal struggle within these pages and it was comforting beyond words to know that the tests that I have been put through as a daughter and a carer are not entirely unique to my situation. I saw that it was okay to have moments of weakness when you’re meant to be the strong, supportive backbone. I saw that it was okay to sometimes feel resent and hate the situation that you’ve been put in. I saw perseverance and unconditional love and it inspired me to do better by my family so that no one has to go through this alone.
I’m grateful that my story has been told.
Never be afraid to ask for help.