In Sickness and In Mental Health
Giulia and Mark Lukach got married when they were 24. Three years later, Giulia began experiencing paralyzing anxiety and paranoid delusions. She started talking about committing suicide. Mark and her father drove Giulia to the emergency room while she kicked and screamed in the back seat. Mark told me, "I still was under this impression that a doctor was going to walk in the door and say, 'Okay, here’s exactly what’s going on, and here’s this pill, and as soon as she takes it, she’ll be totally fine within an hour, no problem'....That is not at all what happened."
Giulia stayed in a psychiatric ward for 23 days. It took her almost a year to get back on her feet after she got out of the hospital. The recovery period took a toll on their marriage. Doctors told Mark that it was his responsibility to keep Giulia safe and on her medication. Giulia started calling him "the pill Nazi.”
Finally, Giulia did feel better. She started working again. And in 2012, after consulting a team of doctors, Giulia and Mark had a son named Jonas.
Giulia was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been hospitalized two more times. "We've learned a lot about 'through sickness and in health,'" Giulia said.
You can read Mark's essay for Pacific Standard about Giulia's diagnosis and treatment here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental illness, there's help available.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK. There's also a live chat option on their website.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you find a support group in your area. They also have online resources, like tip sheets on mental illness warning signs and a helpline that can be reached Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm ET.
You can find resources on various mental health disorders at MentalHealth.gov. The site includes a treatment locator to find resources in your area, as well as resources for friends and family who are looking for information on how to support their loved ones who have a mental illness.
Like the music at the end of our episode? It's Kishi Bashi's "Bright Whites."