A Memoir of Madness in the Family
by Paolina Milana
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 04 May 2021 | Archive Date 03 Jun 2021
PR by the Book, She Writes Press
Imagine keeping a family secret about your mother’s mental illness and growing up as one of the offspring charged with “caring for crazy.” Then, to compound the horror, witnessing another version of schizophrenia as it consumes your younger sister – who you practically raised yourself, thanks to your mother’s frailty. To see Paolina Milana as an example of resilience might be the understatement of all time.
As a 20-year-old, Paolina gets a chance to escape her circumstances by attending an out-of-state school, but the madness she tries to leave behind will not let her be as letter after letter arrives, constantly reminding her of the insanity from which she longs to break free. Making matters worse, the voices in her own head whispering words she’s not sure are normal, further her fears. “Please don’t make me be like Mamma,” she prays to a God she’s not sure is listening.
The unexpected death of her father soon after she returns home leaves Paolina in shock—becoming fully in charge of her paranoid schizophrenic mother. But it isn’t until at age 27, when her younger sister explodes in a psychotic episode, is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and must be committed, that Paolina descends into her own despair, nearly losing herself to the darkness.
Beautifully written with flourishes of handwritten letters (in Italian) from her parents, recordings of her own inner voices challenging her every move, and a heartbreaking slew of sticky notes revealing the harrowing thoughts of her sister’s delusional mind, Paolina’s epistolary memoir invites readers into her inner circle of intimate encounters with mental illness.
Poignant and impactful, Committed is a story of resilience that teaches and inspires, not as a tidy narrative, but as an authentic and rare share that speaks to the struggle of staying sane despite being surrounded by madness.
A Note From the Publisher
"Paolina lets the reader in, to both her heart and her mind, as she struggles to make sense of the madness all around her. This is a harrowing story told with generosity of spirit, and that is not easy to do."
-- Jennie Nash, founder and CEO, Author Accelerator
"COMMITTED is a must-read for anyone struggling with mental illness, especially if, like Paolina, insanity has taken root in your family tree. This raw memoir brings to light the reality of madness -- both in terms of what may surround us and that which may lurk within us."
- Samantha Dunn, author of Failing Paris and Not By Accident
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Embarking on her latest book, Committed: A Memoir of Madness in The Family (She Writes Press, May 4, 2021), author, speaker, podcaster, and founder of Madness To Magic, Paolina Milana’s mission is to share stories that celebrate the triumph of the human spirit: To unleash the power that lies within each of us to bring about change for the better.
MIlana’s professional background is rooted in journalism where as a features writer for a major daily newspaper in the Midwest, she told the stories of other people. Then she moved to the field of PR/media and digital marketing as an executive in both corporate and non-profit environments. Given her experience in an emotionally tumultuous household where she was put in the position of caregiver to unstable family members, she is uniquely qualified to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care and as an empowerment and resiliency coach, using storytelling to help people reimagine their lives, write their next chapters, and become the heroes of their own journeys.
Paolina has won awards for her writing, including her first book, The S Word, which received the National Indie Excellence Award. Her self-help picture book for adults, Seriously! Are We There Yet?!, and her holiday fiction novel, Miracle on Mall Drive both published in late 2020. Paolina is first-generation Sicilian, married, and lives on the edge of the Angeles National Forest in Southern California.
● National Caregivers Day - February 19
● World Teen Mental Wellness Day - March 2
● National Write Down Your Story Day - March 14
● Stress Awareness Month - April
● World Health Day - April 7
● National Siblings Day - April 10
● Tell a Story Day - April 27
● Independent Bookstore Day - April 27
● National Mental Health Awareness Month - May
● Get Caught Reading Month - May
● Childhood Depression Awareness Day - May 4 (book’s pub date)
● Mother’s Day - May 9
● World Schizophrenia Day - May 24
● Father’s Day - June 20
● National Grief Awareness Day - August 30
● National Suicide Prevention Month - September
● National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month - September
● National Self-Care Awareness Month - September
● World Suicide Prevention Day - September 10
● Emotional Wellness Month - October
● Italian-American Heritage Month - October
● Mental Illness Awareness Week - October 3-9
● World Mental Health Day - October 10
● National Family Caregivers Month - November
Average rating from 16 members
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This book easily earns all the stars! It's probably one of the best books on mental illness that I have ever read. Paolina Milana tells her story of having a mother, then later a sister, with paranoid schizophrenia with such honesty and passion. The toll that being a caregiver has on her is completely understandable and she shows real courage. I highly recommend this book!
First of all, thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. • Before I start my review I want to put some trigger warnings in place as there is mention of suicidal thoughts/ ideation so please be mindful of this if this poses a potential trigger to you. • This is a really intriguing and gripping memoir about Paolina as we follow her through part of her life. After the traumatic events leading up to her mums incarceration into a mental hospital for paranoid schizophrenia, we see her going off to college, savouring her independence and freedom from the weight of constantly having to worry about everyone else. Due to her mums mental state, Paolina had begrudgingly had to take up the role of caregiver, meaning she was unable to be herself and do whatever she wants, in fear, as if waiting with bated breathe for her mother’s relapse. We also see how Paolina juggles world after college, back at home and having to find a job, good enough to get her out of debt to be able to eventually complete her education. All she dreams of is escaping her home which feels like a constant black hole of tension, where she’s back to having to take on everyone else’s’ problems without anyone caring about what she needs or wants. Paolina is the protagonist you desperately hope gets the happy ending, allowing her to finally achieve the freedom she so thoroughly deserves to be and do what she dreams of. • The book reads really well, almost like a story rather than a memoir. It’s really interesting from the point of view of someone having to witness and cope with a loved ones mental state darkening. It expresses how traumatic it can be towards their loved ones and how resentment can grow for having to take care of them, despite how much love they may have in their heart. There are times where it’s consumingly powerful, raw and harrowing to read. In particular it’s suffocating and so painful to watch Paolina struggle with her own suicidal thoughts and exhaustion from the realisation that she has to keep going and taking on everyone else’s problems. You can truly feel the draining of her energy as she continues being the caregiver her mother needs and requires of her, despite how low and depleted she feels. Other times, the book is quite liberating and empowering and you feel the strength Paolina has siphoned and manifested. I just have nothing but love and respect for Paolina and this beautiful piece of literature. I love how much power this book holds. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read on mental health, as a sufferer myself, this is really eye-opening and it evokes so much emotion throughout. I would recommend this book to anyone whose interested in anything to do with mental health or mental illnesses, particularly that of paranoid schizophrenia. Or, just wants to read about an extremely strong and empowering woman. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book was a page turner from beginning to end. Very captivating with amazing character development. Following the true life of a committed and psychological thriller. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
In Committed: A Memoir of Madness in the Family, Paolina Milana bears her soul and reveals the secrets of her family she had kept close to her heart. This book is well written and makes it clear what it's like to live with someone with mental illness. After a decade of caring for and keeping her mother's mental illness a secret from the outside world, twenty-year-old Paolina Milana leaves for a year of out-of-state schooling. She tried to level the crazy at home but letter after a letter arrives causing her anxiety and the voice in her own head seems suspect. What happens we she goes home is more tragedy. Milana will never be free from her family and its curse. I wasn't sure what to expect after reading Seriously! Are We There Yet? This was illustrated the self-help boom that hit home. But Committed is so different but wonderfully well written and things hit home in this memoir as well. The author also mentions this is a sort of companion to The S Word: A Memoir About Secrets. At first, I was nervous I wouldn't understand having not read it. There was not an issue at all for me. Milana is so open and I saw things that affected my own life. To read about someone else having to take care of their family because of mental issues, almost made me cry because it is my life. It felt good to not be alone. To see someone else struggle with family responsibilities and their own wishes and dreams. I loved this book so much. It's well written and portrays a fine example of living with mental; illness. I also loved it on a personal level; her story reminds me I am not alone. Committed is a must-read.
This is a tough read subject wise. I was really rooting for Paolina. I think this is an important read that can help those with family members that are struggling with mental illness.
Despite crushing life circumstances, Paolina, the author of this book, manages to find tiny glimmers of courage and hope. Her family is Sicilian, living in the US. Her father adores her and is her rock and refuge. Her mother has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and lives in a drug-induced state alternating with "crazy" and danger. Paola is terrified she will inherit a mental illness so constantly looks for traits and signs within her self. She suffers with obesity which causes her to despise her body and lack confidence. When her father tragically dies, she feels overwhelmed as she alone must now care for her mother and siblings. If that weren't enough, one of her sisters, Viny, withdraws and becomes schizophrenic as well. Even the Psych ward sends her home as she endangers others. All this when Paolina is a young woman in her 20s. Before her father dies, Paola graduates from college and is hired by the Daily Herald in the copyright department. As a writer she is able to express herself and her father is very proud of her. Thankfully she has that outlet as well as friends, including one who knows something dreadful is going on and helps her. Paolo clings to the few spots of brightness in her life. Handwritten notes are included in this powerful and sobering book, notes of endearment and of despair. They are very moving and poignant and show the emotional state of each writer. Many are written in Italian and translated by Paolina. The story tugged at my heart. The anguish and pain must have been agonizing. To live (exist, rather) through this AND to come out is miraculous. However, Paolina was not unscathed. She endured horror after horror. My sincere thank you to PR By the Book/She Writes Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading the e-ARC of this emotionally tough book. It is not an enjoyable read or topic but important. -
I would be lying if I said I enjoyed reading this book, but that does not mean it was not a great book . There are many books about mental health but this particular book was ver well written. It was honest, uncomfortable and at times painful to read . Paulina is the daughter of a schizophrenic mother. Just as she finds herself in college “free” from the daily struggles of her family life she finds out, she is the now the oldest sibling of a schizophrenic sister .
Paolina Milana longs for a normal life, one free from her mother’s mental illness and the chaos it causes in the home environment. She eventually gets the chance to leave home to attend college. Even then though, she leaves home for college, she never truly free from the chaos going on at home. This book provides an honest view of what it like to live with a family member suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Paolina continues to be the caretaker even after finishing her schooling. Then, the worst happens, not only does her mother suffer from this disease, but her sister as well. This book at times was painful to read as you continued to hope that Paolina’s life and that of her family would become less chaotic and calm. This book really opens up the reader’s eyes to what it is like to live in a family where there is a serious mental illness. This book would be helpful for anyone interested in mental health, and anyone who has a family member struggling with mental illness. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this advanced review copy in exchange for my honest review.