While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence


Product Details

$30.00  $27.90
Celadon Books
Publish Date
6.42 X 9.52 X 1.16 inches | 1.09 pounds

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About the Author

Meg Kissinger spent more than two decades traveling across the country writing about America's mental health system for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, she has won dozens of accolades, including two George Polk Awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and two National Journalism Awards. Kissinger teaches investigative reporting at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and was a visiting professor at DePauw University, her alma mater. Her stories on the abysmal living conditions for people with mental illness inspired changes to state law and led to the creation of hundreds of new housing units. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband.


"Meg Kissinger is a world-class reporter and a rip-roaring storyteller. Her heartfelt, eviscerating, deeply introspective investigation of long-held family secrets will leave you quaking with rage about our broken mental-health system--and grateful that writers like her are on the case."
--Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road

"As a journalist, Meg Kissinger has long been shining a light on our broken mental health care system by telling the stories of people struggling with mental illness. In While You Were Out, she tells the more personal and painful narrative of the people in her own family who have struggled with mental illness. A gifted storyteller, Kissinger reminds us, in the words of her deceased brother, 'Only love and understanding can conquer this disease.' This wonderful book offers us both."
--Tom Insel, MD, Former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health

"Frank and revelatory, While You Were Out is a story of overwhelming power, chronicling the kind of American tragedy that feels both aberrant and ever-present."
--Rachel Aviv, author of Strangers to Ourselves

"Bearing witness is an act of courage. Meg Kissinger has courageously given us a chronicle of love, loss, family and obligation, all refracted through the lens of mental illness. Here is a story as urgent and indelible as the bonds that hold its characters together. In speaking to her family's experience she has laid bare our own collective one."
--Jelani Cobb, Dean of Columbia Journalism School and author of The Substance of Hope

"For years, Meg Kissinger had the mental health beat pretty much to herself. For the readers of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she turned out one incredible story after another about the ordinary people who suffered from mental illness and addiction--and from the failure of health care institutions and local and state government to care for them. She wrote occasionally about her own family too. Now, in this gripping and poignant memoir, she has put it all together, telling the big-picture story of this country's catastrophic inability to create anything resembling a mental health system and the impact that those failings and a ruthless illness had on her own family. If you want to understand mental health in America, this is required reading."
--Rob Waters, Founding Editor of MindSiteNews

"Meg Kissinger's memoir of a boisterous, loving, troubled family does the nearly impossible: tells a deeply personal story in the context of a nation-wide mental crisis, treating siblings and strangers with equal compassion and journalistic rigor. A beautiful, heartfelt book."
--Liz Scheier, author of Never Simple

"A smart, stirring family memoir of suicide and survival, and a bracing call for more investigative journalism on mental health and addiction."
--Patrick J. Kennedy, former Congressman (D-RI) and New York Times bestselling co-author of A Common Struggle

"More than a poignant memoir....this is an important and wise book, one which sheds light on a subject that is still surrounded by shame and silence."
--Daphne Merkin, author of the memoir This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression and the novel 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love