Brain on Fire is a remarkable memoir of Susannah Cahalan, a twenty-four year old writer for the New York Post. Susannah was just like any other twenty-four year old; spending her time with her friends at night, going to work during the day.
“Maybe it all began with a bug bite, from a bed bug that didn’t exist?” Paranoia.. Susannah started showing signs of paranoia, which then lead to her feeling tired and numbness in her arms and legs. It wasn’t long before she went to the doctor and was told she had Mono. Good- a diagnosis. That couldn’t have been more wrong.
Seizures and outbursts became a norm for Susannah- along with smacking of the lips and strange movements of her limbs. Doctor’s believed that she was psychotic- showing signs of Schizophrenia. As her symptoms got worse, it was clear that Susannah was suffering from something more than psychosis.
In this review I am not going to tell you what the final diagnosis of Susannah’s condition is. I want you to read the book!
“How many children throughout history have been ‘exorcised’ and then left to die when they did not improve? How many people are currently in psychiatric wards and nursing homes.” —- If that line isn’t enough to get your intrigued. I don’t know what else would be!
Brain on Fire is an eye opener on so many levels. Imagine waking up in a hospital bed having no idea how you got there, why you are strapped to your bed, and being labeled psychotic and a flight risk; or was it fall risk? It is scary how real this book is- Susannah may not have much of a memory about what happened during this time, but she does a great job at recalling what she can, getting information from loved ones, and watching some unrecognizable video tapes from the hospital.
I can promise you one thing- when you finish this book you will think twice about mental illness. This book along with being an incredible story full of hope, is very educational. Educational because it gives the reader insight on exactly what was going on in Susannah’s body during her month of madness.
I heard they are making a movie based on her memoir. I look forward to seeing this!
Lots of love, L&A.