Jeneen Interlandi, writing in the New York Times Magazine:
We were on something like the 15th round of rummy, and my father was winning decisively. He cracked a wide, toothy grin as he laid his cards on the table. “That’s 321 for BaBa, and 227 for String Bean,” he said, tallying the ledger we were keeping on a piece of scrap paper.
Before he finished writing the numbers, he began a rapid succession of anecdotes about his first car. And his second. And his third. He reached for a magazine to show me the vintage Mustang he said he was planning to buy my mother for their 45th wedding anniversary, which, he reminded me, was just six months away. Then he began speaking Sicilian, instructing me to repeat after him: “Napeladan mangia pane!” (“People from Naples eat bread.”) “Calabrese testa dura!” (“People from Calabria have thick heads.”) My father has the most amazing blue eyes, and right then they were wide and eager, like an overexcited child’s. He was rambling, and the inflections of his voice betrayed sheer manic joy. It was a mood completely incongruous with our setting.
We were playing our card game at the Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services, or PESS, a small locked-down unit in the community hospital near my parents’ apartment in Somerville, N.J. Harsh fluorescent lighting fell on cracked and faded yellow walls. A disheveled, rail-thin woman paced and wept in the room across the way. Down the hall, a police officer guarded locked double doors.
Absolutely gripping article. Weaves together the story of her father’s harrowing battle with bipolar disorder, the story of her and her family trying to navigate the health care and court system for the mentally ill, and the history of health care for the seriously mentally ill in the US. Really can’t stop gushing about this piece, you guys.