My friend called me the other day. For purposes of this blog, I shall call her Jennifer, mainly because most women my age are named “Jennifer” and I know a lot of people named Jennifer and therefore you cannot narrow down her identity by this name.
So Jennifer called me. Jennifer had had enough. Enough of what? Enough of it all. Enough of teenage children, enough of husbands, enough of unappreciated work, enough of shifting hormones and sh*tting dogs, enough of dinner to be cooked every night, enough of forty or so extra pounds to be hauled around, enough of everydamnthing. She had gotten so close to the end of her rope that she had actually researched which short term mental hospitals would take her insurance.
“Celebrities check in for stress,” she said. “Why can’t I?”
“You can,” I said, trying to remember the website for my own personal health insurance. “That’s actually a pretty good idea for a vacation.”
“The problem is…hang on…I’m sending you a link…” I heard her keyboard clicking… ”Structure. Group therapy, individual therapy, activities.”
“I don’t actually have a mental illness, unless they’ve tossed ‘done’ into the DSM-V. I don’t need therapy, per se. I just want to complain and be tranquilized and wear a bathrobe and drool over a jigsaw puzzle for a few days until I calm down. What happened to those old-fashioned One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest nuthouses?”
“You mean other than enlightened medical practices?”
“Yeah.” Jennifer let a long breath out into the phone. “Other than that.”
“I have a better idea,” I said, clicking on the link she sent me, and seeing a long list of structured activities accompanied by pictures of bland looking people engaged in them. Urgh. “Let’s pool our deductibles and rent a cabin in the woods somewhere remote without Wi-Fi or cell service.”
“A setting for a horror movie?” Jennifer asked.
“Yes,” I said, “Only without the serial killer. We’ll tranquilize ourselves with vodka. We’ll refuse supportive undergarments of any kind. Or pants. Bathrobes only. Every sentence will have to contain an expletive. If we decide to speak. Big if.”
“Can we have Moon Pies and Ho-Hos?” Jennifer asked. Her voice was small, as if she were afraid to speak too loudly and interrupt the spell I was weaving.
“Of course!” I said. “And Cheetos and Fritos and all of the essential -tos foods.”
“Chocolate cake for dinner,” Jennifer said.
“Uh-huh. And Cheese. All kinds of cheese. Bricks of cheese, slices of cheese, cubes of cheese. Cheese crumbles. Fried cheese. Cheese in a can. Spray cheese. Sprinkle cheese we can pour into our palms and lick up. Cheese dip. Nacho cheese.”
“What is nacho cheese exactly?”
“Does it matter? It’s delicious.” I said.
Jennifer sighed. “I think three days drinking nothing but alcohol, eating nothing but chocolate, cheese, and salt, and cussing up a storm ought to be covered by health insurance. It sounds a whole lot more therapeutic than sitting in a room listening to other people whine in a respectful way under the supervision of a professional.”
“It’s targeted therapy. You don’t have clinical depression or bipolar disorder or anything like that. Those are serious things, and you should never ever ever in a thousand years self-medicate those. Those require professional help. But you? You have Done-With-It-All syndrome. Completely different treatment protocol.”
I heard Jennifer’s keyboard clicking again. “I just sent you another email,” she said. “Airbnb cabin in the woods. I think it will work for next weekend if you’re free.”
Jennifer proved once again that if you really need something done, ask a busy woman to do it. Of course, not either us. We’ll be busy being incommunicado in the woods following a very strict self-medication treatment protocol.
 The DSM-V is the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fifth edition, which is the official book used by mental health professionals for diagnosing mental illnesses.
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