As a baby reporter in Texas, I covered what we euphemistically called mental health services in the state. These “services,” reserved for the dangerously ill, involved brief, groggy hospital stays followed up with a handshake, script for enough pills to stun a moose, and best wishes: See you soon!

Unless something worse happened, the patients were bound to be back. And just as surely, whenever I’d return to the newsroom after a trip to one of the state-run mental hospitals, my editor could be counted on to joke, “You didn’t catch anything while you were there, did you?” Schizophrenia cooties, I guess he meant, or bipolar bugs.

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