Member Reviews

Miriam and Craig seem to have it all. Fulfilling and rewarding careers as successful artists, four amazing kids and a beautiful home in a great area of L.A. Their lives are blessed ... at least, that was how it seemed until suddenly their son, their beautiful, artistic, intelligent and sociable son, Nick, started behaving strangely.

Thus began a multi-year odyssey into the world of mental illness and the search for someone, anyone, who could help Nick, and the rest of the family cope with his Schizophrenia.

In HE CAME IN WITH IT, Nick's mother Miriam, learns just how terribly flawed the U.S. Mental Health system is, and  how profoundly the lives of not just Nick, but the rest of his siblings are irrevocably changed by his new reality.

While Miriam tries to maintain her successful art and mural painting career with its exclusive clientele,  Nick's behavior rapidly worsens and it soon becomes apparent that Nick's suffering will not end anytime soon (if ever.)

Once when talking with a friend, Miriam admitted to having a brief fantasy of driving herself and Nick off a cliff together. "The swath of maternal pretending fell away. We sat with the truth of what it means to be a mother."

I was thoroughly drawn into her story. I too have a son with mental illness (bi-polar, not Schizophrenia) and I empathize with her struggles. At one point she mentions how difficult it is "To see the unspooling of your son's mind, like fine wire...." A statement loaded with so much emotion.

Although we live in separate countries (Miriam in the United States and I in Canada) I see many parallels and similarities in our lives.

A touching and real view into the life of a mother, a family, and a country and how a single person's mental illness touches the lives of all those around them. It is not always pretty (in fact it rarely is) but in the midst of anguish there are moments of redemption that are just enough to keep hope alive.

I listened to HE CAME IN WITH IT as an audiobook and I highly recommend this as the way to experience Miriam and Nick's story. Narrator Ann Richardson is a phenomenal talent. Her pacing is sheer perfection and the way she emotes will have readers feeling as if it is the author herself speaking. Her narration rates a ten out of ten and it is easy to see why she continuously wins awards for her voice.

I rate HE CAME IN WITH IT - the Audiobook - as a solid 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I highly recommend this memoir to anyone who wants to learn more about the realities of loving someone who is profoundly mentally ill through no fault of their own.

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of #HeCameInWithIt

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In the 1980s Miriam Feldman and her husband Craig O'Rourke - both artists - were happy to purchase a craftsman-style home in the toney Larchmont Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. And they were thrilled when their son Nicholas was born soon afterwards. Nick was strong and adorable and "his future was as bright as the goddamn sun." Craig took Nick on fishing trips and to museums, and the boy would follow Craig to his work studio in the garage. Nick was artistic like his parents, and Miriam anticipated a great career for him.

When Nick's sisters Lucy and Rose came along, they adored their big brother, and Miriam - feeling blessed with her wonderful family - strove to be the best mother she could be.

By his teens, however, Nick started to exhibit troubling behavior. He would frequently destroy things around the house, steal his sisters' belongings, and lie about where he went and what he did. After a painful break-up with a girlfriend, Nick complained of terrible thoughts in his head, and Miriam once found him with bloody slashes on his wrists. Nick became a heavy marijuana user, and spent a lot of time alone and brooding.

Miriam was in denial about Nick's problems, and made a second career out of cleaning up and covering up, to hide the extent of Nick's difficulties....even from family members. Miriam clung to the belief that Nick was showing typical teenage behavior, and refused to admit - even to herself - that something was very wrong with her son

Craig thought Nick was just being lazy and willful, and thought his son only needed a firm hand to set him on the right track.

When Nick's disruptive and destructive behavior escalated, his parents confined him to the house. Craig was adamant about grounding Nick, but Miriam gave in to the boy's pleas to have coffee with his girlfriend. The outing led to a vicious physical fight between Nick and his father, the police were called, and Miriam had the opportunity to have Nick held for a psychiatric evaluation. Instead, Miriam took Nick home, thinking that if she could just get him through high school and into college, all would be be well.

Miriam's obsession with her son had severe consequences for the entire family. Miriam and Craig owned a property in Washington state, which they were fixing up for their golden years. Miriam encouraged Craig to spend great swaths of time in Washington, thinking she'd have freedom to 'fix' Nick without his interference. And Craig left it largely to Miriam to raise the children.

Miriam writes of her husband, "Craig's own father had walked away from his infant son and teenage wife, leaving them to make their own life. Craig had cleaved to his own son with the urgency of the bereft. We all mused that they were like John and Sean Lennon. Once schizophrenia scooped Nick up, Craig stood paralyzed as his redemption disappeared in front of his eyes." The end result was that Craig sidestepped interactions with Nick, being unable to face the boy's illness.

In retrospect, Craig's absence from the family seems like a bad idea. Lucy and Rose felt deserted by their father and overlooked by their mother, who had little time for them. Rose came to feel 'invisible', and her escalating anger eventually tore her from the family.

Nick lasted all of seven days in college, and psychiatrists diagnosed him with bipolar disorder before they realized he actually had schizophrenia - one of the most frightening of all mental illnesses.

Miriam relates Nick's tragic saga in the book, admitting Nick had to be banned from the house for fear of what he'd do. Miriam writes about finding Nick a place to live; taking him to doctors; bribing him to take his medication; making financial arrangements for his well being; calling the police when he acted out; finding programs and studies to enroll him in; etc. Miriam hoped against hope that Nick would get well, but Nick is now in his thirties and still mentally ill. Miriam says about herself, "I ran headlong, haunted and wild, after my son. I am running still."

Unfortunately, the family's medical difficulties weren't confined to Nick. Miriam had severe physical problems, and Craig and Lucy fell ill as well. Luckily, Miriam had a wonderful support network of neighbors, friends, and relatives, who helped her get through the dark days.

It would be instructive to learn about Nick's illness from his point of view, but the disordered thoughts of severe schizophrenics make that impossible. However, Miriam did find notebooks from Nick's teen years, which contain jottings that foreshadow his descent into mental illness. It's clear that Nick was a talented intelligent boy whose mind became clouded by the chemical imbalance associated with schizophrenia.

Though Miriam's narrative is sad and disturbing, she infuses her anecdotes with humor, which makes a welcome respite from the gloom. Miriam's ongoing ordeal has made her an advocate for those who can't speak for themselves, and she's on the advisory board of Bring Change 2 Mind, is active in the leadership of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), is a frequent guest on mental health podcasts, and uses social media to communicate with families dealing with mental illness.

This book is recommended to people dealing with mentally ill individuals, and anyone else with an interest in the subject.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Miriam Feldman), and the publisher (Turner) for a copy of the book.

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Wow. This reads like fiction, it’s not. It is the powerful story of mental illnessas told by the mother (Miriam) of a grown man (Nick) with schizophrenia.

There were times I was reading this and thought "so Nick is a teenager ", but he is not. If anyone close to you has mental illness (not just schizophrenia) you will probably relate do much of this book. If you've never been close to someone battling mental illness, it will be a lesson in what it is like to love someone who experiences the world much differently than you do. We saw the challenges as well as the wins (usually small, but a win is a win). Tears and laughter. Fears that he won’t live, fears of what happens if he does. Often other members of the family are background players, even as their having pretty serious issues of their own. This is a story of how one family attempts to make it all work together.

The narrator of the audiobook did a good job of making you feel how mom did.

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He Came In With It is a bold observation of a son’s dizzying descent into schizophrenia. More than that, it is an unflinching look at his mother’s experience with this life-changing journey.

The author shines a bright light on her thoughts and actions as a mother. The self-reflection is raw and often unflattering. It is clear that she was often angry at her son and her other children for their shortcomings, likely fueled by a mother’s difficulty mourning lost dreams and expectations. The anger was intense and hinted at her own unfulfilled needs for love, success, and a picture perfect family.

This audiobook was expertly narrated. She achieved the perfect balance between neutrality and bringing the characters to life. Even with this masterful narration, I found myself disliking the author’s depiction of herself. I realized it is hard to read true stories of a mother who has been impatient and unkind to her struggling child. However, the author should be praised for her honesty and beautiful writing. It is my hope that this self-awareness will continue to help her heal.

Thank you to NetGalley, author, narrator, and publisher for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

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He Came In With It by Miriam Feldman was able to pull me into this mother's life and her account of the events that led up to her son's diagnosis of schizophrenia. She second-guesses every decision she made and every conversation she had with her boy. The way the illness completely changed the person her son was and how others saw him in school and church affected Nick and how his mother went from thinking she was doing well as a mother and then when Nick started declining she tried to cover for him and as a result led to her mental health getting worse as well as Nick's. Overall this book is great for those interested in mental illness or those who just want a better understanding of what families go through and what did and did not work.

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Audiobook for me and I really enjoyed the narrator. One of the best I’ve heard. Highly recommend it.
This is my second book on schizophrenia and I loved it.
I’m originally from California so I clearly understand all of the story and the places in this book.
I was moved by the authors honesty. Watching her take me through her tough decisions, such as.
*Banning her son from the house.
*His Homelessness because of it.
*Drugs use.
*The Violence, and so much more.

I completely understood her tantrum toward God, and it really spoke to me. I know the raw crippling pain of a dysfunctional life. When you’re trying to find “normal”. It all feels like it just to much. Anybody understand what I’m saying?
If you want to get a glimpse of this mental illness and read a well written novel, then this is the book for you.

Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for this great audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

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