Brain on Fire (2016) Script

Have you ever been trapped?

Lost in your own body?

Lost in your own mind?

Lost in time?

So desperate to escape.

To just... get out.


Morn!!! Help!!!

Dad!! Dad!!



My name is Susannah Cahalan.

I'm 21 years old and here I am at my dream job at the New York post.

Living in New York...

I don't know, we all have dreams, right?

And don't laugh at me, but to work at the post was mine.

Hey Richard, can you check this out for me?


No time for babysitting now, Susannah.

Go annoy Margo.


Go, go.

I had my whole life in front of me.

I was fearless.

And I had absolutely no idea what was waiting for me.


Is that my pen in your mouth?



You keep that now, and email me next time.

Save a tree.

I don't know what's wrong with it, it just feels...

It feels off, you know?

No, this is good, Susannah, but you just need to move the last paragraph to the first.

And for the love of god please find a new headline.

"Rear and present danger"?

"Illegal Russian butt implants."

I mean, really?

Let me tell you, you're better than this.

I'm just paying my dues, you know?

Slowly but surely I'm making my way to the front page.

I mean, look.

At least it's a real story.

Real people actually died from this and I think I can maybe get someone prosecuted.

I wanna help people.

You are so bright-eyed.

I need major sunglasses right now.

Oh, is that him?

Oh my god.

I'm gonna kill you.

Look at your smile.


It's so big!

Is it your man?

Is it your new hot, sexy man?

Margo... you need to calm down.

It's getting pretty serious, huh?

We'll see.

Who knows?

Who knows?

I don't have time to talk to you right now.

Excuse me, pretty lady?



Oh my god, I'm so sorry I'm so late.

It's ok.

You look cute.

Are you nervous?

Thanks, um, no.


I mean, yeah, a little bit.

You shouldn't be.

I like- I like this.

This is- yeah.

This is me dressing up.

You look like a Smurf.

Like a tanned Smurf.

Thank you.

That's really nice of you to say.

I'm kidding. That's me.

I love it.

Alright, you ready?

Come on.


Let's do it.

So, Stephen, what is it that you do for a living?

Uh, I play music, Mr. Cahalan.

Yeah? What genre?

Um, well, it's a bit like...

You know, the Smiths sorta meets Tom waits.

That's what I'm going for at least.

You do that all day, every day?


Yeah, I mean, I work in a record store, too, when I can get the hours.

Which is actually where I met Susannah.

I like it, you know, it's fun.

It's good pocket money.

Pocket money?


Susannah said that you were in banking, is that right?

Yeah, I was, but um...

I'm having a career change at the moment.

We're looking at new options.

Aren't we, Giselle?

It's a new start.


Hey mom, we're on the roof!

I am so sorry that we are late again.

It's ok.

Happy birthday, baby.

Hi, mom.

Oh, my beauty.

Love you.


Heard you got engaged, congratulations.

Thank you.

It's exciting.



Well, this isn't awkward.

How about some alcohol?


600d idea.

Have a seat.

Let's get this party started.

Tom, congratulations.

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Susannah, happy birthday to you.



Make a wish.


Want some help?


Ready? One, two, three.


Happy birthday.

Thank you.


Love you guys... shall I slice it?

Do you want me to cut it up?

Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Can you pass me the plates?

Yes, of course.


It looks really yummy.


Birthday girl first.

Thank you.

Alright, Stephen.

You're totally gonna kill it.


Hey, what's taking so long?

Ok. Yeah, I know.

Stephen, come on.


Alright, alright.

Steps to the right,

take them all night

you don't bother me,

you don't have to leave...

So you didn't like it?

I didn't say that.

I said that it was interesting and I thought it was cool.

Oh my god.



Good morning.

That's quite the look.

Want some coffee?

Uh... oh, no.

I am late.

Very late.




Why are you smiling this early in the morning?

Oh, come on.

Nu-uh, nobody smiles this early in New York City, it's unnatural and disgusting.

Why you got a problem with it, Margo?

You look ridiculous.

Maybe I'm happy.

I know what it is.

It's that budget version of Joey Ramone.


See? He didn't smile this morning.

But you're not hearing me.

Come... come in here.

Yeah, no, I don't give a dirty, smelly shit, ok?

Let me be clear to you.

If it's true, we print it and he has to suffer the consequences.

No. Next time he'll know to keep his dick in his pants and stop handing out underwear like it's welfare.


I'm good. Thank you.

Alright, so you're gonna interview that creepy senator next week.

I don't hear a question mark in your question.

That's because I don't do question marks, Susannah, you know that.


Anyway, he's remorseful, he says he's sorry, he wants to go on the record, apologize to his wife and I think this will be the big one that we need this month and you, you're gonna bring it home for me...

Let me just think about this for a second.


I didn't ask you to come here to think about doing it, you're doing it.

Are you not ready for this?

Margo said you're ready for an assignment like this and I know you're not a cub reporter anymore, so...

Hey. Hey... back here.


Back here.

All I want you to do is fill the paper, get this online.

You got it?

Got it.

Ok, good.

What do you have for me?

Oh, status online with social media.

Yeah, sounds awful.

Our readers will love it.

18 inches in the Friday edition.

You'll have it Thursday night.

I know I will 'cause I can always count on you, Susannah Cahalan.

Now get the hell out of my office.

I know what you did.

What's that now?

I know exactly what you did.

Thank you.

You deserve it.

I just have a loud mouth.


Do I need a sneeze guard?

I'm good, I'm good.

Anyway, what are you on right now?

I'm on the bedbug outbreak and it is so disturbing.


What are you on?

Um, status on the Internet.

Look at us with these hard-hitting stories.

Yeah, they're intense, huh?

Edward R. Murrow is just turning in his grave.

What're you doing?!

Wake up!

Hey Susannah, where are you?

I haven't seen you for a few days, just checking in to see if you're ok.

Hey. Margo?

What do you know about the look of a bed bug bite?

Do you think that you have them?

Because they're everywhere.

They're haunting my dreams.


Does that look like one to you?

I don't know what I'm looking for.

No, I don't see anything.

You're fine.

You... you don't see that?

I see nothing.

Ok, hold on.

Look, ok?

Just look.


Do you not see that?

I do not see that.

I don't.

I don't know what you're talking about.

Margo, it's right there!

I see you need a tan.

Come on, you don't... you can't see?


What is this shit?

You got names that are misspelled, not even a Nexus search to fact check, what the hell are you thinking?

Legal would have a fit!

You said that it would be done by Thursday and it's Monday!

It's Monday.

Richard. Richard, I'm...

I'm sorry.

Ok? I haven't been myself lately, I've been really unwell, I haven't... I haven't been sleeping, I...

Go to your desk and re-write it, ok?

Watch your spelling.

Watch your grammar.

I want it by tonight, Susannah, because this shit is unreadable.

Even if you weren't feeling well I didn't think you could do something this bad.

Now go to your desk and get it done.

Get out of here. Go.

And she's still here.

Susannah, I said leave.


Get your ass out of my office.

I didn't think you could do something this bad...

Are you ok?

Susannah, where are you?

You're very, very late.

You gotta get your ass in here, you're gonna miss the 10:00 meeting.


Susannah, I'm really pissed right now.

You're gonna miss the 10:00 meeting and I don't wanna be doing this, ok?

I'm not your mother.

Get your shit together and come to your job!

I'm not making a call like this to you again.


Are you serious?

You know your career as a journalist is in the toilet when you start pitching stories about your mother.

Come on, man!


Susannah, thank you so much for joining us, I'm glad you could make it.

Who's got something?

Anybody? Anything else?

Those panties, from the senator, they're still really hot right now.

We're gonna find out all that information because Susannah is on that one, right?

Susannah, you got it?

The interview with the senator this week, are you ready?


Yeah. Totally.

Yeah, yeah, fight.


All you. You're good.

Yes, sir.

Ok. We're counting on you.

Alright, let's switch topics and see what we got.

Who's got something juicy, guys?

Give me something hot and exciting.

Who's got something?

There's always the mystery of the missing manhole covers.

Missing manhole covers?

Ok, we can figure that out.

I feel really sick, you know?

My head hurts, my stomach hurts and my hand is numb and my leg is numb and I just...

I don't... I don't feel well, Stephen.

I don't feel well.

I don't...

Are you even listening to me right now?

Are you on... are you on your guitar?


Oh, god.

Yeah, I'm... I'm recording something right now.

So is it like pins and needles?

I don't know, ok?

I don't know, I just... it feels... it feels weird.

I don't... I've never felt like this before.


Are you just hung over from last night?

I don't know.

I didn't even really drink.

You're not pregnant, are you?

Ok, you're unhelpful.



What the hell are you doing under your desk?

You know, Stephen.


You wanna talk about it?

Do you want me to come under the desk with you?


I'm just gonna go get a coffee, ok?

You want anything?

I just wanna sit under my desk and take some personal calls.

It's all the rage with the fussy blondes.

Ok, Susannah, what's going on?

Urn, I don't know.

I mean, I guess you could say I've had these flu-like symptoms.

Um, I've had a lot of numbness in my left arm and leg.

I feel like my head is really fuzzy all the time.

I don't know if it correlates to any of this but I have these... these bed bug bites on my arm here...

Let me look.

Do you see them?

Uh, any history of Lyme disease?


Ok, sure.

Ok, look at my nose.

Can you hold your arms out, straight in front of you, palms up please?

Ok, and push against my hands.

Ok, good.

You can put your coat back on and have a seat.

I'd like to draw some blood and do a routine work-up and I'd like you to get an MRI.


Urn, everything looks normal but I'd just like to be safe.

There's a place down the street that can do one right now.

That's it, you're all done.

What? What?!

Why won't you stop?!

Do it again!

Say it!

Didn't think so.

Hi, Susannah.

I do want to let you know we got some good news, the MRI came back normal and we've eliminated the possibility that you had a stroke or a blood clot, two things that, frankly, I was worried about.

But the results are all clear, that's what matters.

Thank you.

Oh, uh...

Hey, it's me.



Are you gonna let me in?

Yeah, um... I'm really tired.

Uh, I think we should just do another day, ok?

It's fine.

I can just... I can figure it out.

Susannah, I just drove all the way across the city.

Now is good for me.

It's really dirty.

I need to clean up.

I wasn't expecting...

What the hell is that smell, Susannah?

Dad, I said it's really dirty.

This place is a mess.

Susannah, what have you been doing in here?

That's Stephen's, it's not me.

I don't really drink.

You have got to get yourself together.

You can't live like this.

You're an adult now.

You're not in college anymore.

Look, in between work and everything I barely have time, dad.

Ok, let me take a look at this leak and then we'll clean it up together.

Is it here or here?

It's on top, dad.

Where a normal drip comes from.

It's fine under here, it's all dry.

There's nothing going on here.

Let me see.

There's a drip.

It just happened, dad.

You didn't see that?

Susannah, there is no drip.

There's a drip.

Is work going ok?

Yeah, it's good.

Hey, listen.

Don't let the place get like this again.

It's nice for me to know you live in some kind of cleanliness and comfort here.

So, this... Stephen.

You really like him, huh?


Yeah, I mean, he's a... he's a good guy and I think...

I think you'll really like him once you get to know him.



Sure he's not just some place-holder?

'Cause a lot of guys, they don't like to stick around.

Like you did.

Ok, I'm gonna go.

Ok, goodnight.

I love you, drive safe, ok?

Buy some trash bags.

I will.

Love you.


Susannah, he's ready.

What? Who?

The senator.


Oh god.

Uh, oh my god.


Ok, uh... I'm not ready for this.

Just take a deep breath, you have this.

Good luck.

What's up?

Good meeting you.


Urn... ok, what are you... um...

What do you have to say of your actions and what do you have to say to the good people of um...

New Jersey?

Obviously I'm... I'm deeply regretful for what has happened.

I've let myself down, my family down and...

And let your pants down.

Um... sorry, uh... keep... keep going with what you... with what you were saying.

Um... sorry.

As I was saying, the people of New Jersey who elected me are fine people and...

I'm sorry, it sounded just like you said "erected".

I mean, you gotta admit, it sounded pretty much like that.

Are you alright, young lady?


Yeah, no, I'm good.

I'm good.

No, um... um, I'm sorry.

I have... I have more questions to ask... no, I'm sorry.

This interview is over.

No. No, no!

I can't believe Richard let this happen.

Did Richard put you up to this?


No, we should finish this!

This is totally a joke.

Sit down!

I'm not done with the interview!

I'm not done with it!

You're not... no, ok, fine.


Oh my god.

No, I'm good.


Let me make this clear to you.

The publicists that represent that senator, it's not just about him.

They represent celebrities and athletes and everybody else.

And with all of those people, people that we might want to talk to, we can't even get them on the phone because of what you did here!

That is gonna be a problem for me!

That is gonna be a problem for my boss and that is a problem for this paper!

You should be fired!





Get out of here.

Get out, now!

I honestly don't know.

I... know that she's been acting strange for sure, for like a week.

Is she uh... drinking a lot?

She looks hung over.

Yeah, I don't know.

I mean, I don't think so but I don't know what she does with her boyfriend.

Is she on drugs?



I don't know. I'm asking.

I don't think so.

You sure?


I'm definitely sure she's not on drugs.

I don't think she's acting normal but I don't think she's on drugs.

Just let me keep my eye on her.

Just for a little while.

Alright, but I'm gonna tell you this.

You keep me informed, because if this keeps up she's gonna have to start working from home.

I don't know what's going on with her.

I'm serious.

Yeah, I understand.

I understand.


Susannah? Susannah?

Susannah, stop talking in your sleep.










You gotta get me out of here.

You gotta.


You gotta get me out of her.

I can't be here anymore.

No, Susannah.

Come on.

Susannah, we can't leave until someone looks at you.

Stephen, I don't give a shit.

Well, you should.

If you're not gonna help me I don't know why you're even here.

Did they give any kind of explanation?

No, they just said that she had a seizure.

Why didn't you call us?

Why didn't you call me?

I... I didn't have your number.

The whole thing happened really fast... you didn't have our numbers?

Did you not think to look in her phone under mom and dad?

I mean, what kind of idiot doesn't know how to look at a cell phone under mom and dad?

I don't know, I... I just panicked and I grabbed mine and I had to get her an ambulance.

I had to get her... what kind of doctor saw her?

Um, uh, a nurse.

It was a nurse, I think.

You think it was a nurse?

Uh, I don't... I don't know.

The whole thing... I just... they just said that she had a seizure and uh, and that was all... what is wrong with you?

Well... do you care about her or not?

What were you doing at the hospital?

Yes! Of course I do...


Ok, ok, ok.

You know what?

Thank you for taking care of her.

Come on.

Susannah, I think it's best that you come home with us.

I'm sorry, that's really sweet of you, but no thank you.

Susannah, I think it's a good idea.

Oh, really, Stephen?

When the going gets tough, huh?

Susannah, it's not like that.

No problem.

You know what, I think you should go.

It's really hard for you.

Stephen, why don't... why don't you go home and just get some rest.

I'm gonna take care of this.

That's a good idea.

I'm gonna gather some of your things.

No, you're not gonna be gathering anything, ok, because this is my home, alright?

And I call the shots when I'm inside here.

I'm not leaving.


I'm not going anywhere.


Gather some of your things and you're coming home... if anything like that ever happens again, you call me, ok?

Of course.

Where's your toothbrush?

In the bathroom, mom.

Where all the toothbrushes live.

I love you.

Hey, Susannah!

Come talk to me!

Susannah, come on down.

Hey. Honey?

What're you doing?

I'm swimming, mom.

I'm just swimming.

Come on in.

Swim to me.

She's not herself.

I mean, I didn't recognize her.

I'm looking in her eyes, she's looking at me, and I can tell that she's not there.

It's like she's in a trance...



I think so.

Oh no.

I just think you really need to, you know, get some good sleep.

Maybe we gotta think about a trip.


Go to the lake maybe and just unplug...


Read, eat great food.


That's what I feel like.

I could use it.


It's all his fault.

I can't handle it.

It's young love.

I can't handle it anymore.

It's too much for me.

I have to tell him.

Oh, it's the "post".

God, it's the "post".

It's the "post".

I'm unhappy...

I'm so unhappy there.

It's... oh, it's my editor, Richard.

It's Margo.

It's... I'm so unhappy.

I need to go back to school.

I need to go back to school.

I... I have to change it up.

I gotta change the oil.

I gotta find a career that actually has some legs, you know?

I gotta change. I gotta do it.

That's it. That's it.



No, no, no, god, no, no, no.

It's New York.

It's New York.

I'm unhappy... it's ok, baby.

I'm unhappy...

I'm unhappy...

I'm so unhappy there and I...

I can't handle it.



Oh my god!

Oh my god!

Am I ok?

It's not for me to say, but you seem fine to me.

I've seen this dozens of times before, usually with bankers and Wall Street guys who come in all stressed out.

There's nothing wrong with them, it's all in their heads.

Look into my eyes and tell me honestly, because there's no judgments here.

How much alcohol are you drinking a day?

Maybe a glass of wine at night.

You know, when my boyfriend comes over or I go to his we split a bottle but nothing major.

Some beer at gigs.

Any drug use?

Not in a while.

Plain and simple, she's partying too hard.

She's not sleeping and she's working too hard.

I've seen this happen a lot in young adults making the transition from college to working full time.

It's a change in life.

A move to adulthood.

That's what you think this is?

Mrs. Nack, I have nearly 20 years' experience in this city.

I've seen it all.

Just make sure she doesn't drink, she takes the anti-seizure meds that I prescribed and everything should be fine.

Ok, great.

Thank you.

I can't do this anymore!!!!

What the hell?!

What the hell?



Listen, Susannah.

What are you looking at?!

Huh? Huh?

Susannah, sit down.

I don't know why I'm crying.

I'm broke.

I lost my job, I don't know what I'm doing here anymore, Stephen doesn't love me, no one loves me!

I'm lost right now, Margo.

I have nowhere to go.



Honey, you're in the office.

You need to relax a little bit.


I'm so happy... honey.

I'm so happy...

Margo, I'm so happy!

I know what to do!

Yes, goddammit, yes!

This is it!

I'm so happy!



Richard! Richard!

Yes! Yes, Richard!

Come here.

I need to talk to you.

Yes. Yes, god yes!

Ok, goodbye.

Let's go.

Richard, come on.

There is nothing funny.

Go to... get to work. Now.


Richard, we gotta talk!

Ok. I'm here.

Come on.



What the hell is going on with you?

What are you doing?

I was in a meeting.

I need bigger stories.

Better stories, Richard.

I need to be able to be a hard-hitting investigator.

And I'm ready for it.

I'm ready for it.

Susannah, you're screaming through the office, you're talking a mile a minute.

What the hell is going on with you?

I'm excited, Richard.

Have you never seen someone who's passionate and excited about something?


I know all the workers out there are trying to type on their computers and get shit done but I'm not doing that.

Susannah, when's the last time you spoke to your family?

I don't even know why this matters here.

What did they say?

Do they see you?

Richard, they support me.

I'm supported by everyone.

But I'm not feeling it from you, Richard, so that's the question.

Do you support me like my family supports me?

Like Margo supports me?

Or what? Hmm?

I want you to go home.

I'm gonna support you from home.

I want you to go home.

Are you firing me?

No, I'm not firing you, I'm sending you home.


Good talk.

Send me that email.

Yeah, I need Susannah Cahalan's personal file brought up to me please.

Any contacts for her family.

Yeah, thanks.

I'm sorry, say that again.

I'm bipolar.

Tell me why you think you're bipolar.

I googled it.

You googled it?


Over the last two weeks I haven't been able to concentrate, eat, sleep.

I smile, I cry, I laugh, I... I'm happy, I'm sad.

But what I do know, doctor, is that I'm a creative person.

I'm creative, and this happens to creative people.

A lot of creative people are bipolar.

Bipolar is what makes me who I am.

It's just a part of me and I have to accept that.

Have you ever felt like this before any time in your life?

I mean, I've always been... energetic.

Ever suicidal?


I mean, everyone daydreams about dying, but I don't want to die.


So I'm bipolar, right?

It's too early to say for sure.

But, you know, I do see serious signs of mixed episodes, meaning extremely high highs and very low lows.

But, uh, I happen to agree with Dr. Samson.

You have a lot going on in your life right now.

Sometimes that comes across as manic and depressive elements typical of bipolar disorder.

But just because you got a bruise on your face doesn't mean you've been punched.

So I'm going to give you a prescription for olanzapine.

It's an anti-psychotic prescribed to treat mood and thought disorders.

Take these pills, check back in with me, let me know how you're responding, and we'll make a follow-up appointment in a month.

Why are you walking away from me right now?

I looked this up, alright?

I'm not just making it up for fun right now.

Listen to me.

You want to hear the side effects?

Euphoria, fever, general feeling of discomfort, illness, headache, hyperventilation, irregular heartbeats, irritability.

Mom, this is it!

It's making me crazy!

Susannah, you have been on them for 24 hours.

No, mom, that doesn't matter, ok?

They're poison!

They're toxic!

Just take the pills.

You want me to die?

Take the pills for me.

Do it for your mother.

Take the pills!

Give them a chance to work!


You know what?

When I die...

I want you to bury me right next to granny.


That doesn't sound right to me.

Or maybe she's drinking too much.

Are you sure you're not overreacting?

You haven't seen it so you don't know, ok?

I'm not overreacting.

Our daughter is in trouble, and I am exhausted.

And I need you to...

I need you to help me.

I need you to take her.


I will keep an eye on her.

And we will get to the bottom of this if we stick together.


It's intense stuff.

You'll see.

It's really scary.


Susannah? Lunch is ready.

It's a lovely day.

It's nice out.

You want juice or water?

You ok?

Why don't you go ahead and take a seat?

Want some bread?

Thank you.

Want some butter?

Oh, no.

I'm good, thank you.


Just stop chewing.

Are you gonna eat?

It's your favorite.

Giselle put in a lot of effort to make this for you.

It was no trouble.

What did you just say to me?

Susannah, I didn't say anything.

Susannah, she said nothing to you.


No, right there.

Right there, you said it again!

You just called me a spoiled brat.

No, I... You just said it!

You said it again! I didn't say...

Susannah... She said it again!

Calm down.

Why are you doing this to me? Why?

What are you talking about?

Why did you just say that to me?

I haven't done anything to you!

Why did you just say that to me?

She didn't say anything.

I heard you say it!

No, no. Susannah...

Why did you say that to me?

Susannah! Go to your room!

I just heard you!

What is wrong with you?!

Susannah, what... what is wrong with you?


No, no!

Tell me.

No, no, no!

Tell me what's wrong. Get away from me!

I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong! Get away!

Get away!

Get away!

Get away!

Giselle is trying to kidnap me!

She tried to kidnap me!

No one tried to kidnap you, you're safe.

Don't touch me, don't touch me!

Don't touch me.

It's ok.

It's ok.

Don't touch me.

Don't touch me.

It's ok, it's ok, it's ok.

Look, her EEG is completely normal, her MRI is normal, her neurological exam is normal, her blood work is all normal.

It's all clear.

It's all normal.

She's drinking too much and she's exhibiting the classic signs of alcohol withdrawal.

I know this is hard to hear about your daughter.

She needs to take her medications, stop partying, and get some mental rest.

I haven't seen her have a drink in over two weeks.

Now, I have been known to enjoy a glass of wine or two in my day and all I experienced was a bad hangover.

Alcohol withdrawal? Are you kidding me?

Do you really think we're gonna believe that?

She needs to be hospitalized.


Not tomorrow, today.


And I am not leaving here until we have a hospital bed that we can put our daughter into tonight, so go ahead, call the police.

I have nothing to lose.

Morning, Susannah.

How are you today?

Thank you.

Would you sit up for me please, Susannah?

Great. Thank you.

How are you feeling?

Susannah, what is wrong with you?

You're falling apart...

You gotta get me outta here.

I don't belong here.

And they're all saying bad stuff about me.

Who's saying bad things about you?

Susannah, what is wrong with you?


The people on the TV right there.


Susannah, can you tell me a little bit about how you felt before you came to the hospital?

I felt like I disappeared.

Can you explain that to me a little more.



Like I wasn't alive.

Now, Susannah, I'm gonna ask you some basic questions and I just need you to do your best to answer them, ok?

What's your name?

Susannah Cahalan.

And do you know what year it is?

God, can you hear that?

Hear what?


Susannah, I just need you to focus and answer my questions, ok?

...the girl who went crazy...

You gotta get me outta here.

Right now.



Susannah, we're here to help you.

We're not gonna hurt you, ok?

I promise.


Don't touch me.


I want you to...

I want you to hold out your arms like you're holding a tray, ok?






I'm not doing anymore.

Why are you interrogating me?

I'm not interrogating you, Susannah.


Get out! Get out of my room.


We're gonna leave you alone now, ok, Susannah?

I recorded some of my songs.

When you listen to it you'll remember some stuff.

Hey, talk to me, Susannah.


I'm... I'm scared.

I just... god, Stephen.

I feel like everyone here is just... talking about me.

I need you.

I need you.


Listen to me.

We're gonna get to the bottom of this.

And we're gonna get through it together.

Really? Yeah, really.

I have multiple personality disorder.

Have you been diagnosed by any psychiatrists or psychologists?


I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with bipolar disorder but not multiple personality.

And were you taking any medication for that?

No. They tried to but I refused to take it.

I spit it out.

Dr. Khan I need to get out of here.

It's not safe for me here anymore.

Why is it not safe for you here?

They're talking about me.

All of 'em.

I can hear 'em.

The nurses, they're talking about me.

I can hear their thoughts.

You can hear their thoughts?

Yeah. They think I can't hear them, but I do.

I hear them loud and clear.

I don't want to talk to you anymore.





I can assume two possible diagnoses.

First, presentation of schizophrenia versus postictal psychosis.

Now, she is clearly psychotic but the question is where is this psychotic behavior coming from?

I'm going to prescribe haloperidol, it should sedate her enough so that we can do some further testing but if her behavior doesn't improve I think we should look at hospitals that are better equipped to deal with her problems.

No. No.

Our daughter is not going into a psych ward.

How do you explain the seizures?

How do you explain that she has never been like this before in her life?

How... how can you just arrive at this conclusion without all of the facts?

Dr. Ryan, why don't you do that further testing before you threaten us with psychiatric hospitals?

Steps to the right,

take them all night,

it don't bother me,

you don't have to leave,

you don't want to leave,

but you'll never see me,

you don't have to leave,

but you'll never see me...


They have nothing.


She's been here over a week, I mean, they have to have something.

They don't know.

Each of them is giving us a different diagnosis.

One is saying bipolar, the next one is saying schizophrenic then they're saying psychotic.

I don't know.

What does that even mean?

It means nobody knows what the hell is going on, that's what it means.

She's not psychotic.

Whatever it is, it's not that.

I agree, I think it is...

I think it's just the most convenient explanation for them so we need to continue putting pressure on them so that they continue to investigate, ok?

It's important.


Well, I just want you both to know I plan on being here every day until they do figure out what's wrong.

I want to be with her, and she needs all of us.

Thank you, Stephen.

I appreciate that.

Excuse us.

We're looking at neurological causes here...




Don't get too excited.

You look great.

I brought you some fake flowers.

Am I ok to hug you?

Oh, I'm just... I'm just gonna do it.

Hey, babe.

So, what?

You don't talk to me now?

I have something for you.

It's very disappointing.

It's a piece of crap ugly card!

And everybody made it in the office, everybody signed it, and a lot of people said some really, really sappy things that you and I would have made fun of.

Even Richard signed it.

I think he really misses you.

You're like his little apprentice.

And I miss you.

And he misses you.

This is...

I'll put this here.

We can make fun of it later.

We've tested Susannah for every infectious disease that we know of.

All of the results are negative, including Lyme disease, Toxoplasmosis, Cryptococcus, Lymphorheticulosis, Tuberculosis, and many, many more.

All of the tests being negative suggest that Susannah has a primary psychiatric illness which I feel is likely schizophrenia.

So what does all of this mean?

Maybe this is not the right hospital to treat her.

Perhaps Susannah should be transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

Ok, look.

I'm going to continue to monitor Susannah on a daily basis for the next three days.

Let's just hope that something shows up and we can figure out a way of solving this and getting your daughter better.


I... I don't understand this.

Our daughter is dying in there.

The tests are not showing us that she is dying, Mr. Cahalan.

The tests are saying that she is a healthy, young woman.

She is clearly suffering and we are...

I want answers.

It is your job to give us answers!

Mr. Cahalan... no, this ain't some kid's club where you get to play doctor.

This is my daughter's life!

Her life is in your hands and I want answers!

Tell me what is wrong with my daughter!

The truth is, Mr. Cahalan, that we don't know what is wrong with Susannah.

We work and make decisions based on facts and, at this point, we don't have any.

We're sorry that there's nothing more that we can do.

Excuse me.

We already have a bed on stand-by and we're just waiting for your decision.

Fully catatonic.


You ok?


So how are you holding up?

It shouldn't be like this, you know?

I know she's still in there.

She's just trapped.

When I look in her eyes I can see her screaming to get out.

I thought, of all people, you doctors, you know, you'd be able to give us some hope, you know?

I mean, that's your job, right?

I wish you all a fantastic weekend.

Thank you.

And please, pace yourself.

I want to see you in my class next week.

Wow, Dr. Khan.

To what do I owe this pleasure?

I need your help.

I teach now.

Leave me in peace.

21 year old female.


Her symptoms began with manic behavior, paranoia, erratic outbursts.

That lead to a general seizure, which lead to another one, which lead to a third.

Her condition continues to regress every day.

Sabrina, I teach now.

What's crazy is that, prior to this, she was completely healthy.

She was on no medication whatsoever.

Her physical exams were normal, her neurological exams were normal.

Infection work out negative, auto-immune tests negative, toxic metabolic work up negative.

All of it was negative.

I admit, it sounds very interesting.

But like I said, I teach now.

She's on the verge of going to a psychiatric hospital.

Dr. Khan, based on what you're telling me, maybe that's where she should be.

No. It would be very easy for me to tell her that she's bipolar or schizophrenic, but the fact is there's just something in my bones that's telling me that that's just not the case.

I know the feeling.

Ok, I will take a peek.


I wonder what he'll be like.


Hopefully competent.

Good day.


Hi. I'm Rhona.

I'm Susannah's mother.

Nice to meet you.


Tom. I'm her dad.

Tom. I'm Dr. Najjar.

And you must be the famous Susannah.

Call me Souhel.

The pleasure is all mine.

So, um, please.

Have a seat.



I will do my best to help you.

I will not hurt you.

I will never lie to you.



Let's begin.

What is your name?

What is the year?

We need to stay strong for Susannah.

I know.

Hey. We'll get through this.

Yeah, I hope so.

Can you touch your nose with this hand?

Very good.


What's wrong?

Is she ok?

Mr. Cahalan.


You know what?

Why don't you call me Tom?

After all you've been through I think you can call me "asshole" if you want.


Why don't you go home and get some sleep?

Now, will you walk for me?

Get out of the bed.

No, no, she can do this herself.

I need you to walk for me in a straight line.

One foot in front of the other.

Ok, ok.

It all looks clear.

It is, it's perfectly clear.

What am I missing?


Would you draw a clock for me?

And fill in all the numbers from one through twelve?

Just as you remember.

Very good.

Now, fill in the numbers.

One through twelve.

Dr. Najjar, what do you see?

I'm working late tonight.

No, everything is fine.


Dr. Ryan, it's Souhel.

Yes, yes.

Uh, but I think I have something you might be interested in.

Good morning.


Good morning.

How are you feeling?


I may have some explanation for you.

I believe the right hemisphere of her brain is seriously impaired and inflamed.

A broken brain.

When one hemisphere is not working the visual world becomes lopsided.

Like this clock.

No one with a psychiatric problem would draw a clock like this.

So this should rule out schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Now, what is causing this inflammation, that is the question that we have to answer.

My dear, I know you are in there.

I'm going to do everything I can to find you.

Before we move onto treatment we need to confirm the cause of the inflammation.

I think the best thing to do is to do a brain biopsy.

What does that mean?

We have to look at the brain.

We have to take a small piece of her brain to confirm the diagnosis before we can proceed with the treatment.

I don't know.

Once again, I promise you.

If she were my child, I would do the brain biopsy.

Time is of the essence here.

I know it sounds invasive, but we are losing her.

We're gonna shave the front part of your head about four inches in toward the crown.

Then we'll make an incision and take the sample.

I'll be here for you in the morning.

7:00 am.

Please get some rest tonight, and no eating.

Only fasting.

Thank you.

You ok?

I just don't want us to get our hopes up again.

How do you mean?

Rhona, we've been here for over a month.

We've had so many doctors, so many opinions, so many theories, so many ups that unfortunately all had major downs.

Who says this guy has all the answers?

Ok, ok. Look at me.

If this guy doesn't have the answers we will go to the next guy or the next woman until we find the answer.

Ok? But what I need from you, right here, right now, is I need to know: Are you in?

Because I need you and Susannah needs you.

Good afternoon.

Some news.

The result came back conclusive for NMDA receptor antibodies.

What is it?

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is an autoimmune disease where antibodies target and attack very important receptors in the brain.

I... I don't understand.

Can you simplify what it is you're saying?

To put it simply, her brain is on fire and under attack from her own body.


So... what happens next?

We can treat this.

We got this in the very early stages.

I think she will be fine.

She will be getting 90% of her cognitive abilities back.

So... we might get her fully back.

As I said, Mr. Cahalan, there's a serious possibility but let's just hope her body welcomes the treatment.

Thank you so much.

You are going to be just fine.

I found you.

I am the lucky one.

Because, in a system that's designed to miss people like me...

I will start the treatment.

Thank you.

Thanks to Dr. Najjar, I was found.

He found me.

My body was attacking my brain.

It completely destroyed my ability to function.

How many people do you think throughout history were diagnosed as schizophrenic, psychotic, bipolar, or maybe just plain crazy when they had something that could have been so easily diagnosed?

It took you forever to get home.

I brought you this.

I love you.

So much.


You can't say no.

Oh my god, you had a back-up the whole time.

Let's go.

No, no.

You know what?

If we're gonna make the New York City marathon this year, we got a hell of a lot of work to do, kid.

Please don't quit your day job.

Because you're definitely not a comedian.

Well, it's nice you got your personality back.

Come on, baby. You can do it.

I had to learn everything from scratch.

How to walk again, how to talk again, smile, how to be a daughter.

To love Stephen again.

How to write.

I had to learn how to exist again.

So how the hell are you?

I'm good.


Yeah, you know, I'm on... I'm on some medication still but I'm good.

I read your first article since your return.


It... it's not too good.

No, no.

Don't put words in my mouth.

It's actually really good.

Yeah. Better than ever.

So much so that uh, congratulations.

Your first page two.


Yeah. Big deal, right?

Yeah. Thank you.

There's something else I want from you.

I want you to tell your story.

From beginning to end.

I want the people of New York to know what you went through.

I want you to write a first-person feature about it.

It's kinda hard putting your own personal information out there but you should really consider it.

You know...

Why not?


Yeah, I mean, if it... if it helps someone out there, maybe...


It's worth it.

That's great.

It'll take a little bit of time to compile it, I think, but...

Oh, yeah, no, take all the time you need.

As long as I can have it by Friday.

You'll have it by Thursday night.

Don't worry.

Thanks, Susannah.

You ok?

Yeah, I'm good.

I got used to people asking me about my rare and fascinating illness.

I never tried to articulate it, though.

Are you sure you're ok?



I'm great.

Never better.



Stop talking to me.

This new Susannah is a lot like the old Susannah, but she's so much stronger.

Because for the very first time I feel ready to tackle the mystery of what happened to me.

To find an answer.

An answer that could possibly save a life.