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Family wades through depths of mental illness

New book aims to help others

September 24, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

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Steve and Linda Schmitmeyer talk about Steve Schmitmeyer’s past bout with mental illness and the book Linda Schmitmeyer wrote about the nearly decade-long experience, inset below. Also pictured is their 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Sammie.
Linda Schmitmeyer's book about her family's experience with her husband Steve's mental illness will be released Tuesday. SUBMITTED PHOTO

MIDDLESEX TWP — Steve and Linda Schmitmeyer, sitting on their patio on a sunny September afternoon, are the picture of a happy couple.

But their smiles and easy banter this day come at the end of a long, harrowing road for the Schmitmeyers and their now-grown children.

For years, beginning in 1990, Steve Schmitmeyer was mentally ill, and the Schmitmeyers faced a series of misdiagnoses, baffling behavior, a breakdown and a struggle to hold their family together.

Linda Schmitmeyer, a freelance writer and editor and a former features editor for the Butler Eagle, wrote a book about the experience, “Rambler: A Family Pushes Through the Fog of Mental Illness,” which is being released Tuesday by Artists’ Orchard, a small Pittsburgh publisher.

The book chronicles, Schmitmeyer’s worsening spiral which began in 1990 when, at 40 years old, he abruptly quit his job with an engineering society.

Linda said about mental illness, “People don’t talk about then. They still don’t talk about it.”

That was the impetus for her to write her book, a process that took 12 years and at least four drafts.

“I wrote the book to help people better understand the nature of a mental illness diagnosis,” she said. “And I think it helped me process a very difficult time and come to terms with the changes brought about by that illness.”

Read the full story in Monday’s Butler Eagle.

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