Chicago—raised in an idyllic environment from a young age, Issa Ibrahim watched vulnerably as his family descended into chaos during the drug-crazed late 1980s. His own drug addiction soon began triggering dangerous and psychotic thoughts.
Following the heartrending tragedy of accidentally killing his mother, Ibrahim received the insanity plea and was committed to a mental hospital with no release date. He remained there for nearly 20 years.
The Hospital Always Wins—the first memoir of life in a mental hospital from an African American—is a unique and powerful tale of drugs, insanity, incarceration and the healing power of art. His searing memoir details his development of severe mental illness leading to the accidental killing of his mother, his subsequent commission to Creedmoor, a mental hospital in Queens, and the episodes that occurred within its walls—some that helped him heal, others that prevented him from leaving.
Revealing the inner workings of a broken mental health system, Ibrahim writes with great candor about the mind-numbing conditions at Creedmoor and his legal battle for freedom.
The Hospital Always Wins also explores the therapeutic nature of art. Ibrahim honed his craft as an artist while at Creedmoor, finding refuge at the Living Museum, Creedmoor’s art studio and the largest in the country for the mentally ill. Initially trading his drawings for basic commissary goods, Ibrahim later enlisted the help of a hospital staffer to submit his work to outside art exhibits and galleries. He quickly created a name for himself in the greater art world—with customers reaching as far as Europe—while still confined within Creedmoor’s walls.
Ultimately, The Hospital Always Wins is a memoir about survival and atonement through creativity and courage; about committing an unthinkable act and somehow coming out whole again, against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Ibrahim is a freelance artist and writer. He and his artwork have been featured in an HBO documentary, an award-winning NPR story entitled ‘The Hospital Always Wins,’ and in exhibitions the world over. He has created numerous CD covers and merchandise designs, and his award-winning musical documentary film, Patient’s Rites, is showing in film festivals and has been embraced by the mental health community.
Ibrahim’s book, The Hospital Always Wins will be released on June 1, available at bookstores and online for $26.99.