'The center is my refuge.'

Seeing David Mailey's gap-toothed smile and easygoing manner, it’s hard to picture him out-of-control. But his outbursts have landed him in jail and psychiatric hospitals. Living with schizophrenia since the late 1970s, Mailey has lost count of how many times he has been hospitalized. His guess: "no less than 10 times and no more than 30." At his lowest point, he slept on the metal grates of heating vents in the bitter cold. Yet in many ways, his life has defied his diagnosis. He is a poet and a regular churchgoer at First Presbyterian Church of Chicago whose long-term marriage has produced two daughters, 15 and 20.
Tribune photo by Kuni Takahashi
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