But Nadia doesn’t appear to be the therapy-going sort, which is one of the few things she has in common with Alan, the man who she discovers is stuck in the same time loop she is. Buttoned-up and routine-obsessed, he sometimes snaps into violent anger, and it’s eventually revealed that his loops began when he killed himself. Yet he repeatedly vows that he can handle his mental health without help. Like Nadia, he hates being called crazy. As someone obsessed with surface images—his physique, his tidy home—perhaps his aversion stems from fear of undoing the stolid image he wants to project.
Such aversion might, in turn, be tied to the stigmas bound up in the idea of crazy. The term sweeps together the extreme and the ordinary, the debilitating and the treatable. Its slur-like application in everyday speech renders behaviors as attributes, implying mental illness as necessarily dangerous, congenital, and weak. Seriously threatening conditions are made unduly comic, more commonplace ones are portrayed as bizarre, and in all cases seeking treatment becomes socially fraught.
This holds for many of crazy’s synonyms too. Throughout Nadia’s life, when she has acted with the outlandish mannerisms that make her so charming, one can assume that certain people have called her “whacko.” When she has tried dealing with her traumatic struggles, too, she’s likely been called “nuts” (look at how her ex, John, immediately writes her off when she confesses that she’s terrified and believes herself to be dead). But in Lenora, Nadia has seen a particularly distressing version of what those words can encompass, making it so that a mother cannot safely parent her child. Her great fear is that she shares that condition.
“Is there a history of mental illness in your family?” a drug-world doctor asks Nadia when she comes searching for explanations for her dying-and-reviving. She spits back, “That’s not it. No, no no, it’s not me. All right, understand, it cannot be me.” Yet within a few loops, she’s come to grapple with the suspicion that she’s indeed having a breakdown akin to what Lenora went through. She goes to see Ruth, who carefully asks Nadia to define the scope of what she’s experiencing. Nadia says their psychiatric safe word—“record player”—and has herself committed.
But in the ambulance ride with eerily familiar paramedics, she seems to realize that whatever her problems, this isn’t the treatment. The vehicle crashes, and she’s regenerated back in her friend’s apartment. “Nobody locks us up,” she says into the bathroom mirror.
What is the treatment? The drug-packing doctor, for what it’s worth, has some interesting ideas. Effusing about the ketamine in a joint Nadia smoked, he explains that the horse anesthetic and club drug might be a breakthrough medicine for depression sufferers. Fact-check: true, and an FDA panel just this month recommended a ketamine-laced nasal spray to go to market. At Vox, Alice Levitt described taking an intravenous infusion to treat her suicidal thoughts and ending up in a “K-hole”—an immersive psychedelic experience—that seemed to help her symptoms in the long term. “Users retreat into their minds and experience hallucinations, sometimes reporting religious experiences or even a feeling some compare to rebirth,” she wrote.