Mark Lukach is the internationally bestselling author of My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward (Harper Wave), a heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love. A video of his story, as told at The Moth Mainstage, was viewed on Facebook 3.5 million times within ten days and his inspiring journey continues to resonate with audiences.
Lukach first wrote about Giulia and her bipolar diagnosis in a New York Times “Modern Love” column and again in a piece for Pacific Standard Magazine, which was the magazine’s most-read article in 2015. 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 Guila’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.
Through messages of hope, love and advocacy, Lukach addresses audiences at universities, businesses, schools, hospitals, and mental health organizations on how to approach and engage with mental health. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. In addition to his work as a writer and public speaker, he is currently the ninth grade dean and a history teacher at The Athenian School.
He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their two sons in the San Francisco Bay area.
Praise for Mark Lukach:
“Credible, our mission based behavioral health software company, was privileged to have Mark Lukach present at our annual conference for behavioral health agencies nationwide. Mark eloquently voices the often unspoken side of behavioral health – family members and “non-professional” care providers. Mark does a great job explaining the randomness of behavioral health, the impact on families, and the importance of realistic care plans for when behavioral health crises strike. In a short period of time, Mark connected with his audience and drove home the profound message of hope, without sugarcoating the reality of behavioral health crises. Mark is to be commended for telling his difficult story to benefit others.”
-- Jaclyn O’Donnell, Executive Vice President, Credible Behavioral Health, Inc.
“Mark Lukach was a featured speaker during Goldman Sachs’ Disability Awareness month in 2017, where he lectured to a global audience of about 500 people about how mental illness impacted his marriage, and the influence it has had and continues to have on his role as a husband and father. Mark is an incredible speaker! During his lecture, Mark engaged and inspired an audience somewhat uncomfortable with open conversations about mental health in the work place. Within the first five minutes of his lecture, however, Mark’s honesty broke down the corporate walls and connected with everyone in attendance; some actively working with a disability, but most of whom were open-minded colleagues willing to deepen their understanding of mental health challenges. Mark was certainly a catalyst for change, and has helped foster greater dialogue around mental health issues and increased awareness at Goldman Sachs.”
--Levee Brooks, Goldman Sachs, Managing Director
“We were so incredibly fortunate to have Mark Lukach come to the Kaiser San Francisco Medical Center. He shared his experience as a caregiver to his wife, Giulia, and through his poignant storytelling, he opened our eyes to the toll that mental illness and its uncertainty can have on relationships, love, and identity. In addition, Mark provided concrete suggestions about how we as healthcare providers can better help our psychotic patients and their families. As an emergency physician, I have treated many patients with mental illness, and I gained so much insight and patient perspective from Mark after reading his book and hearing him speak. It has definitely changed the way I think about and interact with my patients.”
--Dr. Ingrid Lim, Chief, Continuing Medical Education at Kaiser San Francisco Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF Emergency Physician, Kaiser San Francisco
“Mark Lukach spoke in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. He’s an engaging speaker, even for a sophisticated group of practicing psychologists. Mark connected immediately with the audience of psychologists who appreciated his frank, sometimes emotional, account of his experiences. He showed how mental illness is a family affair. By giving a voice to the families of individuals with serious mental health challenges, he inspired hope and gave recognition to a long-neglected group.”
--Linda M. Richardson, Ph.D., Director, Next Steps, NAMI San Diego, President, Division 18 (Public Service), American Psychological Association
Praise for My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward:
"Lukach’s rare combination of tenderness and ruthlessness is what makes this book more interesting than your typical illness narrative."
--New York Times Book Review
"I’m glad this book exists...My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is about a relationship working through crisis. But it’s also the psych ward story told through the eyes of the caregiver. Because so often, we only think about and talk about the person who’s sick—never the ones on the sidelines."
--Book Riot, "How a Book Taught Me to Be a Better Partner"
"Mark has written a dazzling, loving, and hugely courageous book about his and Giulia's experience. It is remarkable in its honesty about how psychosis affects every member of a family...this book, ultimately, is not just about the fragility of the mind. It is also about the strength of the human spirit--and the persistence of love."
--The Times of London
"Mark Lukach's memoir of his wife's recurrent psychotic breakdowns, and the way each episode forces them to reshape their marriage and commitment to life, is riveting. It's rare to be invited into the heart of a marriage, and rarer still to find a writer who can capture the self-abnegation and fierce love central to the enterprise without devolving into competition, self-pity, or sentimentality. With its hard-earned empathy and articulation of difficult truths, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is reminiscent of Dani Shapiro's incandescent Hourglass."
-- Powells.com Staff Pick
“This gorgeous memoir gives readers a raw and unvarnished account of what it’s like to live with and love someone with a severe mental illness. There are moments of gut-wrenching sadness—but, ultimately, the story is hopeful, even triumphant. This book basically tore out my heart and then lovingly sewed it back in place.”
--Susannah Cahalan, bestselling author of Brain on Fire
“Lukach lyrically transforms our understanding of love, mental illness, patience, and devotion in this stunning memoir. With moving and touching prose, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward describes what it’s like to have the picture of your life smashed in an instant and subsequently reassembled miraculously.”
--Mayim Bialik, PhD, neuroscientist, actress, New York Times #1 bestselling author
“My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is a compelling memoir and a heartrending tale of love, madness, and redemption. Like a long-distance trail runner, Mark Lukach embarks on a harrowing journey deep into the woods of psychosis and through the dark twists and turns of his wife’s illness and gradual recovery. But his loyalty to her never wavers, and his story is a testament to the healing power of love and endurance.”
--Stuart H. Coleman, author of Eddie Would Go
“Honest and heartfelt, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward tells the difficult story of a marriage tested by mental illness, and reminds us that true love is never easy.”
--Kyle Boelte, author of The Beautiful Unseen