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Andy Neiman Was a Comet Flashing Through the Darkness 

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Neiman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. During the summer of 1995, he was in and out of SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital's psychiatric unit as he tried to come to grips with the emotional roller coaster that is the bipolar mind.

click to enlarge Andy Neiman (left) with his mother, Lainie, and brother, David, circa 1995. - COURTESY NEIMAN FAMILY
  • COURTESY NEIMAN FAMILY
  • Andy Neiman (left) with his mother, Lainie, and brother, David, circa 1995.

At the time, Lainie Neiman was working with St. Mary's as a marketing and communications specialist for the psychiatric department and had a sophisticated understanding of his treatment. Looking back, she said the staff members could not have been more attentive and caring toward her son. His later interactions with health-care systems in several other states would not go nearly as well.

From Recovery to Rom-Com

For many years, Neiman, thanks in some measure to an antipsychotic medication called Seroquel, coped with and managed his illness effectively. He became one of St. Louis' most decorated and well-known actors and, as well, met the love of his life.

Neiman encountered Louise Edwards in 2000 through St. Louis Shakespeare, a professional company founded in 1984 to perform the bard's work throughout the region. Their relationship remained platonic for a decade, at least in Edwards' mind.

Then, without realizing it, the two produced a rom-com.

By 2010, Edwards was attending Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, to pursue a PhD. As it turned out, Neiman's ambitions gave him reason to move to Chicago as well. When he mentioned that to Edwards over a coffee one day, she suggested that Neiman might move in with her and split the rent.

She was looking for a roommate, not a romance. "I loved him as a friend. I thought if anything was going to happen between us romantically, it surely would have happened by then," Edwards recalled.

Without missing a beat, Edwards added, "Our lease started in September and by October we were romantically involved."

click to enlarge Louise and Andy started as friends. - COURTESY NEIMAN FAMILY
  • COURTESY NEIMAN FAMILY
  • Louise and Andy started as friends.

That fall Edwards' father, John Edwards Sr., had died after a yearlong battle with cancer. Through her grief, Edwards learned that her roommate was as compassionate as he was passionate. Somehow, she said, he would know instinctively that what she might need in the moment was a bike ride to the IHOP for a stack of pancakes. "Andy just knew these lovely simple ways to care for someone," she said.

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