In fall 2008, Club One was producing Rocky Horror Picture Show and auditions were set up and Zoë was ready to go onstage and sing her heart out for the role of Janet. Weeks later when the roles were posted, Zoë was ecstatic to learn that she had been chosen for the role of Janet.
“I couldn’t believe that I was chosen out of so many girls to play Janet!!! This was one of the best days of my life. I love singing and I love being in plays.”
“When Zoë told me that she was casted as Janet, I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is my sister and my best friend and I was thinking to myself, ‘damn that girl is freakin’ lucky!’” Claire said. The rehearsals started a week later and Zoë was doing okay, but something was off with her. “I was always tired and I felt sad, but not just sad, sad to the point of not wanting to ever do anything. It didn’t make sense cause I was picked to be Janet and I was so happy to be her, I had the most energy that I’ve had in like forever.” Zoë talked to her mom about how she was feeling and her mom told her to just take it easy and make sure that she was eating and drinking water.
A few weeks into the rehearsals, Zoë was eating right and drinking coffee and water and decided to start taking different supplements and dietary vitamins like fish oil tablets to keep her health stable and her body more functional, but something was still wrong with her. Sandra, Zoë’s mom, was starting to see that something was going on with her daughter’s health. “Zoë was working very hard to be in the production and was also working as a full time student at college. I was so proud of her doing both, but I was beginning to see the wear on her.” Sandra confronted Zoë and proposed that it would be best for her to drop out of Rocky Horror and focus only on her school work.
“I didn’t like the idea about dropping out of my first major performance out of high school and I wanted to do it, but my mom has always had the best interest in me no matter what.” Zoë did end up dropping out of Rocky Horror to take care of her own well-being.
After a few weeks, she started feeling back to her normal self. “A part of me regrets that I dropped out of Rocky Horror, this was my chance to shine and I took the back door out. Yes I get that my health was the issue, but I was fine after a few weeks.”
The spring of 2009 arrived and Zoë was feeling at the top of her game. School was doing great and her social life was amazing. “Claire and I hung out almost every weekend as if nothing happened last fall.” The summer was closely approaching and Zoë had no idea what she was walking into.
May 5, 2009
On May 5, 2009, Zoë woke up with a pain of a thousand needles drilling into her head and felt as if the room was spinning with her bolted to the bed. She called out to her mom for some headache medicine and her mom gave her some aspirin and told her to “lie back into bed and close your eyes and try to get some sleep.”
About an hour or so later, Sandra went to check on her daughter and she was shocked by what she found. Zoë was lying on her bed, but something was very wrong. Her skin was as pale as snow and her lips were blue. Sandra tried to wake her up, but nothing seemed to work, so Sandra ran to pick up the house phone and dialed 911. “That was the scariest moment of my life and I hope to never have to see my Zoë like that ever again. Children are supposed to outlive their parents and my Zoë was going to outlive me no matter what. She is my pride and joy and I was ready to give my life for hers right then and there.” 911 arrived within half an hour and carried Zoë and Sandra to the hospital at the speed of light, or at least as fast as the traffic in Thunderbolt would let them. Zoë was had IV’s in both of her arms just to attempt to get some fluids into her. She was severely dehydrated and if Sandra hadn’t come in to check on her at the time that she did, her only daughter might not have survived.
“I was with my Zoë every step of the way in the hospital. When she finally woke up, she wasn’t
my daughter. I hate saying that to this day, but the girl lying in the bed wasn’t the girl I had brought up from birth. She was dying and I didn’t know what to do.”
A few days after Zoë woke up, she was drinking and eating food, but the hospital still wouldn’t
let her leave and go back to her home. Then it happened. The morning of June 8, Zoë woke up and ripped the IV’s from her arms and tried to escape. In this process she almost killed herself. “She was acting like a wild animal from a cage. I didn’t sleep after that. I was always awake wondering why was this happening to my little girl?”
“I got a call from Zoë’s best friend Claire wondering what was going on because she had received a frantic call from Zoë’s boyfriend. I explained everything that had happened and I could feel in my heart that Claire was starting to blame herself for what had happened to Zoë. I told her that when she got back from her vacation, she would be given rights to see Zoë.”
This never happened. When Claire returned, Zoë was on watch and was allowed no visitors, even family wasn’t allowed. The doctors were baffled on the diagnosis of her symptoms because she was showing bits and pieces of many different diagnoses.
Finally the doctors were able to come up with a diagnosis, Zoë had manic depression and bipolar. After an enormous amount of medication later, Zoë finally woke up and started acting like herself.
“I don’t remember what happened. All I remember was waking up in a bed that wasn’t mine and my mom holding my hand while her head was on the bed asleep. I woke her up and the look on her face was priceless. I love my mom and I never want to put her through that ever again.”
Weeks passed and Zoë was beginning to go back to her regular schedule plus the medication that she had to start taking every day. This was a part of her life that she will never be able to go back and change.
Years have passed and Zoë hasn’t had another episode as extreme as her time in the hospital. Sandra is always looking out for Zoë and making sure that she takes her medicine. Claire is still best friends with Zoë and this year they both plan to audition for the production of RENT. “After everything that I have experienced in the past 4 years, I will always work hard and listen to my body and my mind when they tell me to stop and breathe and take a break.”
As they say in the theater, “The show must go on.”