The New York Times bestseller that NPR calls "stunningly brave…a kind of anti-memoir, an out-of-body personal account of a young woman's fight to survive one of the cruelest diseases imaginable…An unexpected gift of a book from one of America's most courageous young journalists."
One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, and wearing a wristband that marked her as a "flight risk." Her medical records—chronicling a month-long hospital stay, of which she had no memory at all—showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind?
In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing story of her inexplicable descent into madness, the period that nearly tore her closest friends and family apart, and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that almost didn't happen. A team of doctors would spend a month—and more than a million dollars—searching for a medical explanation before they recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history.
Praised as "captivating" (The New York Times Book Review)and "a fascinating look at the disease that…could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life" (People), Brain on Fire is the account of one woman's struggle to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. Using her considerable journalistic skills, Susannah pieces together the story of her "lost month" to write an unforgettable memoir about memory and identity, faith and love. It is an important, profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.
What an incredible story! This book had me riveted from page one when Susannah first saw the hospital bracelet that said Flight Risk. I first became interested in reading this book when Susannah Cahalan appeared on the nowdefunct Jeff Probst show. What shame because he gave voice to people like her which you dont see that much on TV talk shows as most hosts are so celebrity obsessed and driven for the superficial and not much substance. But I digress.....The book covers her whole experience from the beginning when she was a successful journalist at the NY POST through her battles and recovery and getting herself back into a normal life. We witness her paranoia, blackouts and seizures while she is still trying to work yet not being able to cope and the heartbreak and frustration of trying to find an answer to her illness where she was told she drinks too much, parties too much, is bipolar or schizophrenic until finally a doctor found she had nonNMDA receptor autoimmune encephalitis which means her body was attacking her brain and causing part of it to be inflamed so her brain was literally on fire. It was heartbreaking to read her struggles and what difficulty her family and friends went through during the time she was sick. After finally getting the right diagnosis she was able to get the treatment she needed and she is one of the fortunate ones who recovered because it doesnt happen for everyone and there is still a death rate of 7 percent. Cahalan also pointed out that many who suffer from other metal disorders or physical illness could also be similarly afflicted and cantt get help they need because of misdiagnosis. As simulating back into the everyday world was a painful and difficult process and makes me realize that some people can be well meaning but ignorant and there but by the grace of God go they. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the working of human body especially the brain and human behavior or those who love a gripping memoir. I even learned about teratoma which I had never heard of before but I am not going to soil the discovery here. It is pretty wild!