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The two got engaged the following spring and married in June 2012.
In 2013, their daughter, Eliyah "Ellie" Neiman, arrived.
Ellie and Andy were immediately smitten with one another. Imagine having a dad who was — as Lainie once described him — a guitar-strumming combo of Willy Wonka and Kermit the Frog.
He was not one to impose boundaries on Ellie, but to present her with possibilities. Naps were optional for toddler Ellie when dancing around to Broadway show tunes with Dada was more compelling.
More recently, after the family had moved back to St. Louis, Lainie recalled that Andy and Ellie would often walk over from their place to hers, covering about a mile. "When I asked where her shoes were, Andy replied, 'She didn't want to wear them.'
"'Andy,' I said, 'she's seven years old. She doesn't get to decide!'"
As an actor, producer, writer and musician, Neiman had been on a high wire. Now as a father, a husband and a provider who was on medication for a mental disorder, he was performing a juggling act on the wire as well.
In some ways, such a life could be ideal for someone with Neiman's interests and energy. He had side gigs that gave him an audience, as a waiter at Acero in Maplewood and the Crossing in Clayton; and as an Uber driver. He loved making connections with his customers and making their meal or their ride memorable. And neither tied him down so much that he couldn't break away to take on a role in a production.
But because his connections were also transitory and transactional, Louise said, "the work could be more depleting than sustaining."
Then COVID-19 came to amplify his depression.
By late winter 2020, audiences for Neiman's work (and every other local thespian) evaporated. His Seroquel medication was no longer helping even at higher doses.
Friends and family rallied to supply resources and expertise for Neiman as he grew increasingly despondent and delusional, and, most alarmingly, talked about ending his life.
Over the course of many years, family members had educated themselves about bipolar illness. But as Neiman's situation grew more desperate, they were finding potholes in the roads that might lead to his recovery.
As Andy spent days and weeks in facilities, they were seeing how caregivers were ill prepared to deal with patients who frequently could present well in the moment, but required much more intensive therapy. "Their goal is to get you stabilized and get you out," said Louise.
Added Lainie: "The mental health-care system is the stepchild of all health care. With the resources we have in this country, it is beyond appalling."
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