A year ago, Lloyd Hale drove past the four-story building once called the S.C. Lunatic Asylum, now a hulking souvenir to a bygone day when thousands of the state’s most severely mentally ill were locked up on this campus in Columbia.
He passed a string of ghostly vacant buildings and slowed. He stopped at the final building, the one in whose wards he spent 18 months of his young life, the months when the real Lloyd Hale surfaced from delusions that had claimed his reality, his family, his freedom ”” and another man’s life.
Hale parked his state-issued work vehicle at the building.
In the silence and privacy of his car, he cried, sobbing for his younger self, the one so nearly lost to the delusional grip of schizophrenia. And he cried for the real Lloyd Hale, the one who was rescued, the one who now helps others tangled in mental illness.