The Silent Millions: Growing Up in a Family With Mental Health Issues

Many readers of The Music Between Us: Memoir of a Bedside Musician have mentioned that among the book’s themes, the one that seems to emerge most prominently is what it might be like for someone living with a family where mental illness is a constant companion.

One reader said that although the emphasis on the powerful experience of playing music for patients in hospice care was enlightening, that is not what grabbed her attention. This reader had a brother who was living with mental illnesses under the same roof. It literally turned her world upside down. The neglect she experienced by her parents as they spent their time and energy caring for her brother had chewed into her self-confidence.

Another reader had a mother like my own. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she was taken away to an institution. This reader was just eight-years-old at the time and ended up being raised in a series of group and foster homes. She still copes with the emotional damage inflicted on her at such an early age by her mother's disease.

Many more readers who grew up in healthy families shared stories of extended family members such as cousins or childhood friends who also lived with mental illnesses. Many of these readers had not fully realized what went on in the homes of these friends and loved ones until reading The Music Between Us, and how that probably impacted their relationships with them.