Monday, October 21, 2013
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
This book was terrifying! It tells the true story of Susannah Cahalan's abrupt descent into madness. She was a healthy 24 year old, until she wasn't. Feeling sick, she assumed it was just the flu, but she was so very wrong. She quickly developed seizures and severe psychosis, including paranoia, and outbursts, which was completely out of character for her. She came super close to being locked away in a nursing home or a psychiatric ward, but thankfully, she had a family and a doctor that would not give up on her.
She ended up being diagnosed with Anti-NMDA-Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis, which is essentially a disease in which the body attacks the brain. Recovery is long and difficult, but today she's back working at The Post.
The book was terrifying because this can happen to anyone, and can be difficult to diagnose. The thought of losing yourself for any period of time is scary. I don't know how anyone could cope with something so extreme and come out almost the same person you once were. I was fascinated by Susannah's story, and find myself still thinking about it today.
While this was a medical memoir, it was an easy read. It wasn't completely filled with medical jargon that no one without an MD could understand. It flowed well, and I really enjoyed the medical aspects to it.
Definitely read this if you're looking for a great non-fiction book.