Please Check This Brain for Rabies

I’m going to tell you a story about my friend, Susie.

Her name isn’t actually Susie.  But later on in the story, when I introduce Susie’s sisters, it makes for some excellent comic fodder.  I love making things funny.  And I love the word “fodder.”

So Susie had a really nice Christmas.  Her parents came for a visit and it was a perfect, quiet Christmas.  Susie missed her sisters and their families terribly, but she still had a great time with her parents, husband and kids.

Towards the end of the Christmas break, Susie got sick with the flu.  Then both of her kids got sick.  Her husband didn’t get sick because he lives on jalapeno peppers and various forms of whisky, and it turns out the flu is not capable of surviving in such harsh conditions.

So Susie’s parents flew out on New Year’s Day, and Susie and the kids were stuck in the house for another week, sick as can be, smelling like week-old pajamas and looking like something a cat would drag in, eat, and then hack up on the living room carpet.

During this time Susie started to get into a bit of a funk.  She had been in funks before, usually after holidays spent with family.  She hates living so far from them and it makes the typical post-holiday blues a bit more blue-y.

In the past she had always been able to get out of the funk within a day or two, but this time something was different.  In addition to the funk, her OCD was going haywire.

You see, Susie and her husband had decided to buy their sons a new puppy for Christmas.  The 17-year-old dog that she thought may have made some sort of immortality pact with the devil finally died with the assistance of a veterinarian who wondered whether he was actually putting a dog to sleep or just wasting drugs by injecting them into a furry, emaciated, dog-shaped corpse.

Either way, there was a sweet, new furry puppy running around the house, just generally being adorable.  She would chase Susie’s children around the back yard.  She would cuddle when she got tired.

Then, for absolutely no reason at all, Susie became convinced that the dog had rabies.  She started keeping track of every innocent scratch or tiny bite that the new puppy would inflict in play.  She began obsessively checking for signs of rabies.  When she looked at the puppy’s mouth, she actually SAW rabies.

Then there were the other OCD things that got out of control.  Susie does this thing sometimes when she watches a movie.  She’ll watch a movie, say Jane Eyre, and then she’ll rewatch parts of it over and over again.  She’ll find clips on YouTube and she’ll memorize them.  She’ll memorize long dialogues and every movement and facial expression in multiple scenes, and then she’ll replay them in her mind, perfectly, before she can move on to another task.

Sometimes she does it perfectly and she’s able to get back to her life for a while before the compulsion pulls her back in, but sometimes she makes a mistake and it causes her great anxiety because she has to get it just right.  So she would start all over again.  But Susie’s kids would interrupt her with ridiculous requests for lunch or homework assistance, and Susie’s anxiety started to get worse and worse.

So she began hiding in her closet to practice her scenes.  A few times her kids found her in there and she’d make up some excuse about putting laundry away.  But she hadn’t done laundry in days because she was obsessing about a rabid dog and perfecting a dialogue that no one would ever hear.

And she cried.  She cried about her life.  Her lack of talent.  Her life spent drifting without purpose.  And she suddenly hated her husband.  Her husband who had put up with more than his share of insanity, who had numerous reasons to leave her, was suddenly her enemy.

And then the next minute she would be crying intensely on his shoulder.  She would cry in restaurant bathrooms or while walking through Target.  She didn’t care about showering.  She woke up every morning and thought, “Why?”  She didn’t want to make breakfast, do laundry.  She couldn’t imagine anything that would bring her joy.

Then one day she texted her sisters:  1.  Snoozie (Snoozie is not a boring person.  She’s actually quite fun.  But she’s an accountant, and if you told me I had to be an accountant I would probably saw my fingers off of my hands so that I couldn’t use an adding machine.)  2.  Schmoozie (Schmoozie is semi-famous in the city in which she lives and as such she gets to schmooze with some bigwigs in the city.  Plus, an actual ex-mayor hates her.  GLAMOROUS!)  3.  Boozie  (Boozie is really self-explanatory.  She has three young kids.  She drinks a lot.)  4.  Boozie II  (Again, self-explanatory.  Three young kids.  Lots of alcohol.  Also, she and Boozie are twins.)

Anyway, Susie texted her sisters that she was in a funk, was drowning, was contemplating cutting the head off of her new puppy, putting it in a bag and taking it to the rabies people so that they could test it for rabies.  She told them about the hours spent in the closet quoting Jane Eyre.  She told them about hating her saintly husband.

Without Susie’s knowledge, her four sisters started texting one another about Susie’s likely imminent check-in to the nuthouse if something wasn’t done quickly.  They texted Susie encouraging messages of love, while I’m sure their texts amongst themselves said things like, “Sweet Jesus, I think she’s going to kill the dog,” or “Dear Lord, she’s in her closet rehearsing for a play she hasn’t been cast in.”

Boozie’s husband is a doctor and he spoke to a colleague about Susie’s issues and apparently this colleague said that Susie hadn’t snapped yet, but she was right on the verge of snapping, and when that happened there would probably be a puppy head in a bag.

So Susie’s sisters started planning.  Could they all fly down to help Susie?  Should they involve their parents?  Susie didn’t want their parents to know.  What should they do?   Schmoozie said, “At what point are we going to tell the grownups?”

Then Snoozie sent this text: “You know, Susie, have you thought about having Mom come and stay with you until you get through this stretch?  She’s really good in a crisis.”

Susie replied back, “I don’t know if I want Mom and Dad to know.  They’ll just worry.”

Snoozie said, “Just think about it.”

The next morning, Boozie Facetimed Susie and said, “Look, J (the doctor) is really concerned about you.  I never worry about things unless he says to worry, and he is legitimately worried about you.  He spoke to a friend, and they think you’re on the verge of snapping.”

Susie said, “I don’t feel like I’m going to snap.”

Boozie said, “If people who were about to snap felt like they were about to snap, they’d get help before they snapped.  You are about to snap.  Let us call Mom and Dad and see if they can fly down to help you.”

Susie said, quietly, through tears, “Okay.”

Susie hung up with Boozie right as Boozie II FaceTimed.  She said, “Are you going to let us tell Mom and Dad?” and Susie responded, “Yes.”  Boozie II said a whole bunch of encouraging things and Susie just kind of nodded in agreement.  Then Boozie II put the FaceTime call on hold.  When she came back on she said, “Schmoozie just went by Mom and Dad’s house.  They are flying to you tonight.”

Then Susie broke down.  She cried like a baby.  She didn’t realize how much help she needed until that help was on its way.

Susie’s parents flew in and helped her take care of the kids.  They set up doctor’s appointments and got Susie on the medicine she has needed to take for years but refused to for one reason or another.  Susie’s mom would check on her periodically if she disappeared for too long to make sure Susie wasn’t hiding in the closet reciting lines from Pride and Prejudice.

And Susie is now on the mend.  She is seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist and is taking her meds.  She no longer wants to harm her dog.  She’s no longer hiding in the closet memorizing classic literature that has been made into film.  And she loves her husband again.

And she really really loves her sisters and parents who rallied around her, put their lives on hold, to make sure that their sister/daughter who lives a thousand miles away was okay.

Now, I must go to sleep.  My meds have kicked in and Susie needs her rest.

P.S.  All grammatical, typographical or other errors are the result of the Ativan making me not give a crap.


22 thoughts on “Please Check This Brain for Rabies

  1. I am under going treatment for breast cancer. I fully understand the funk and the ativan. I will keep you in my thought and say a prayer or 2

  2. Reading your blog was the best part of my maternity leave with my second child. I think I might have gone insane a few times without the humor you brought to my life. Hang in there and keep writing! The ability to make someone laugh & gain perspective is a very special gift!

  3. I love this… It is so honest and real and at the same time incredibly clever and funny. I miss you so much. I am so thankful for your family too.

  4. Dear Supervillian Mom,
    A few months ago I found your blog by way of your Pittsburgh blogging sister and read every entry. I was thoroughly entertained, and filled with empathy and other emotions. I love your candor. It’s so refreshing. Your unique brand of honesty and humor is endearing and I cannot help but empathize. Like so many others I have had comparable experiences raising children and warding off various demons that tried to wreak havoc with my emotional stability. i marvel at the equilibrium I manage to maintain (within a scale of ups and downs) with the combination of medication and therapy. I am so glad you chose to share your current situation. I hope you continue to thrive and cope with life’s challenges with grace and humor. Most of all, I hope you continue to blog when you have the needed combination of time and initiative.

  5. My Dear Cousin,
    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love you and I am so proud of you. You’re a strong woman and you’re gonna come out of this even stronger. The LIES you were believing about no talent, etc… are from the pit of hell!!!! You’re an amazing woman, great mom, beautiful wife, sister, cousin and friend! You bring so much joy to all of us! I pray you will know that Jesus is with you in the storm, right along with all of your family and friends!

    I know you have your immediate family for you any time, but you also have me any time you need to talk, vent etc.

    OCD and anxiety etc. do not define WHO YOU ARE! It’s something that’s going on inside right now but it’s now WHO you are. You’re a beautiful, funny, talented, loving, generous loving woman. You are so loved!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t ever for get that. Don’t ever feel like you have to “suffer in silence”. That’s what the enemy wants you to believe but the truth is bringing things into the light will bring you peace!

    I love you and can’t wait to see you next time you’re in town. Until then, stay our of the closet! 🙂 Love you girl!!!


  6. This is so beautiful, and you are so brave to share it. ❤ The world would be a better place if more people were willing to talk about personal struggles like this. I am certain you are not alone.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad that you were able to ask for and accept help. I’ve enjoyed your writing for a while now, and I wish you the very best.

  8. You are wonderful, your sisters are wonderful your parents are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your courageous story….it is inspirational. Keep up the good work…take your meds….hug your family often..and I’ll be praying for all of you~~~

  9. Hope you are doing well. I’ve found your blog many moons ago via your sisters blog. Sending well wishes your way

  10. I wanted to reply to this so that I could tell you THANK YOU. I read this blog when you first wrote it, and then about a month later, while checking to see if you had written anything new, I read it again. That time it really hit home that while you and I have separate issues, I also really was in need of help; and I couldn’t do it on my own. I broke down and called the VA to get the counseling/meds that I needed. I’m doing much better now (some days better than others of course), and it all started because you were willing to open up on this blog and share. Thank you so very much I know it probably wasn’t easy, but because you did it, I’m here to write my thanks. You are now one of my heroes, Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

  11. You are incredibly brave to be open and share this, when I’m sure it’s difficult just to get through it. My husband had a breakdown about 18 months ago and it ended with a (luckily failed) suicide attempt. He’s been under the care of a psychiatrist, therapist and group therapy since then and the medication and therapy have made him a happier and healthier man.

    I’m glad your family was able to help you and that you allowed yourself to be helped. The world is a better place with you in it.

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