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This author wants families dealing with severe mental illness to know 'you're not alone'

Gadiel Luzcano
The book "Beyond Madness" aims to explain what we know about mental illness in a way that everyday people can understand.

In the book "Beyond Madness: The Pain and Possibilities of Serious Mental Illness," author Rachel Pruchno describes what life is like for the more than 13 million Americans living with serious mental illness.

As a psychologist whose daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager, Rachel Pruchno, is deeply familiar with what life can be like for those facing serious mental illnesses.

Pruchno, a decades-long mental health professional with a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies, says while there's a lot we don't know about serious mental illness, there's a lot we do know. The problem, she believes, is taking that information and presenting it in a useful way for those going through these struggles.

"That information, that knowledge, does not get to the people who need it," she explains. "It doesn't get to the families who are struggling and don't know what to do when somebody says they're thinking about harming themselves. It doesn't get to the teachers in our community, the clergy, the police, who often are the first responders."

The book features a series of real-world vignettes highlighting what it is like to experience a mental health crisis: both for the person living it, and for those around them.

Pruchno says for family and close friends of those with serious mental illnesses, developing patience and perseverance is of the utmost importance.

"I think that people need to be prepared for a long journey to find good care." says Pruchno. "But I think what's really important — and I wish I had known that at the time — is that you're not alone. You're not the only person going through this."

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