What Do You Learn From a Month of Madness? An Interview With Susannah Cahalan

I had heard of the memoir, Brain on Fire, for a while and was very intrigued. I find medical stories to be very interesting, and was reading a good deal of books that hovered around the medical and mental health topics over this past summer.

Once I started reading Brain on Fire, I couldn’t put it down. Compelling, frightening, and at times almost unbelievable, Susannah Cahalan’s story gripped me. The voice in her writing was so particular, I found myself gasping or cringing while reading it on the bus.

Cahalan is a journalist, which one can clearly see when reading her memoir. Her detail and attention to documentation, as if she weren’t writing about herself at times, is candid and honest. This is one point that struck me about her story. She didn’t hide moments in this journey that were embarrassing. As her brain seemingly begins to betray her, she recalls this crescendo of madness through every turn and hurdle.

This, and the eventual diagnosis, left me astounded. Not only was I craving more information on her condition, antiNMDAreceptor autoimmune encephalitis, I wanted to raise awareness about it to others. Story upon story filled my computer monitor as I researched the condition, and I learned about others who had been long misdiagnosed. During Cahalan’s struggle, a doctor named Souhel Najjar unraveled the mystery by having her draw a simple sketch, but it may have saved her life. Other stories can be found here on Cahalan‘s site.

Once again, I am so happy to have the opportunity to speak to and learn from someone so inspiring, and with such an amazing story. Susannah Cahalan agreed to speak to me via phone for an interview, and you can read the full story here on Blast Bombshell.

For more information on Susannah Cahalan’s story, visit http://www.susannahcahalan.com. For resources, check out https://aealliance.org/ and http://www.encephalitis.info/

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