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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