Susannah Cahalan had a great life: she was a journalist for The New York Post, she had a loving family and boyfriend and she was independent. One day everything changed and she almost lost it all, including her life.
“Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” is an autobiography about Cahalan’s struggle with a rare brain disease. She slowly started showing symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia and other non-life threatening diseases. The crazy thing is, all her blood tests, MRI scans and other tests came back 100% normal. She was in the hospital for about seven months when Dr. Souhel Najjar figured out what was wrong with her.
During her stay in the hospital, her parents kept a journal of all her medical information which later helped piece together the time she lost. This journal along with surveillance footage from her hospital room and her friends’ and family members’ personal experiences during this time helped her write “Brain on Fire” and learn about what happened to her since she didn’t remember anything from this time.
Cahalan writes like she is talking directly to the audience. It makes the story more personal to the reader. She explains the events in great detail, even though she didn’t remember anything from that time and she used her resources mentioned above to make a truly beautiful piece of writing.
Usually, the public hears the doctors’ side of the event through the news and other published media, but this is a special book since it was written from the patient’s point of view. We are able to get a feel for how traumatizing this event was for her and her family.
Her ability to write this book is amazing because the doctors on her team thought she would never be the same as she was before the disease. Cahalan made a full recovery and was able to use her revived journalism skills to write this story.
She first wrote her story as a featured article for The New York Post. She received so much positivity and was able to help many families suffering from similar circumstances. The overwhelming positivity leads her to adapt the article into a book. This truly shows how powerful her writing is.
I recommend this book to everyone. It’s easy to understand and provides a new perspective on how fragile life truly is.