Susannah was a totally normal 24-year-old woman. She had a job she loved at the New York Post, a boyfriend that adored her, and an apartment of her own. Life was great. Then she noticed odd dots on her arm, and numbness on one side of her body. Despite efforts to conceal her condition, new symptoms began to appear – inability to concentrate, wild mood swings, paranoia, and finally seizures, which put her in the hospital.
The book title is a bit misleading, as it gives the impression that everything occurred in just one month. The “month of madness” refers to the month that she has no memory of – the month she was hospitalized while specialists tried to diagnose her. Susannah was able to piece together that month from her doctors, medical records, her parents’ journal, her boyfriend’s recollections, and the hospital surveillance camera pictures. The tale is almost too bizarre to be believed. Recovery was slow, and stretched out for more than a year. Reading this book will make you thankful for a normally functioning brain.
[Kristy said] “How are you?”
I struggled to conjure the loquaciousness that had once been a primary aspect of my personality, but in its place found a deep blankness. My inner life was so jumbled and remote that I couldn’t possibly summon up breezy conversation; instead, I found myself focusing on how flushed my face had become and the pool of sweat forming in my armpits. I realized then how great a skill it is to be social.
“Gooooooood.” I drawled out the word like I had enough marbles in my mouth for a game of mancala. My mind continued to circle around that great emptiness. Say something! I screamed inside, but nothing came. In the silence, I felt the sun beat down on my shoulders. Kristy stared at me with concern. After an awkward moment, she waved her hand and explained that she was running late.