Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Calahan

I was browsing through Amazon, looking for some biographies or memoirs to read, and the title of this book grabbed my attention – ‘Brain on Fire’.

It is a memoir reportage written by a journalist Susannah Cahalan, who lost 1 month of her awareness, her ‘normality’ when her brain got effected due to a rare illness.  Susannah is just like one of us. Intelligent, hard-working and driven with ambition, a woman with a solid career.  Within a matter of days, she lost the consciousness that defined who she really was,  and soon she started to lose control over her speech, thoughts, movement and was very nearly committed to an asylum.

The book is brutally honest. She has tried to make sense of the lost time using journals her parents wrote and maintained, hundreds of interviews with doctors, nurses, family and friends, medical records and videos … and the effort in detailing, in understanding the ‘Other Susannah’ shows.

It shows the strength of her family and boyfriend, how they stood by her, believing her that she was not ‘losing it’ when doctors could simply not diagnose what was happening. It shows how she kept trying to battle the ‘other Susannah’, the nightmare she went through when her body attacked her brain.

This book actually brings out a fear in you. One day everything in your life is absolutely normal. And the second day, your life as you know it, starts to spin out of control and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  The one major organ that controls everything, from what we think, do and feel consciously (or even subconsciously), to all the processing of ‘signals’ our body sends us … there is simply no replacement to our brains.

This book surprised me, and I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 9/10

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