Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness Review

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This book was loaned to me as a recommended read, “It’s great story. I know you’ll like it,” my friend said as she handed me the book. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to it right away. Recently, she asked if I had finished it. That statement catapulted me into action. I started it Sunday night finished it today. I couldn’t put it down.

I found this to be a fascinating book. I saw many similarities with my journey through schizophrenia with my child. Parts of the book were extremely difficult to read as I remembered the emotions I had as I watched my child endure many of the same symptoms. At one point when Susannah shared her perception of body image later in the story, I had to stop and have a good cry. My daughter must have some of the same feelings and it’s hard to read it in black and white.

Susannah did a fantastic job of explaining how the brain works and what happened to her when her brain broke. I couldn’t help but wonder if part of my daughter’s illness could be explained as part of an autoimmune disease. Was that what triggered it for her?

After reading this book, I felt enlightened, encouraged, and in awe of her courage to write her story. It left me with renewed hope in science as it works to unlock the mysteries of the brain. I applaud those around her for their support in the midst of complete confusion and devastation.

I’d recommend this book to those who want to learn about rare illnesses, those who want to read a good memoir, those who want to learn about how our brain functions, and last, but not least, those who want to read a book with an ending that leaves the reader filled with hope.

I’m glad I read it. My friend was right.


Author: Virginia Pillars, author

I'm a daughter, a farmer's wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a sister-in-law, an aunt, an author, a part-time musician, a part-time businesswoman, a part-time gardener who loves to talk with people. I have a passion for my faith, my family and my friends. I love to learn and teach others what I discovered. In 2004, we discovered our daughter suffered from a debilitating disease - Paranoid Schizophrenia. I knew nothing about mental illness, but we didn't have the luxury of learning at a pace we could absorb. We had to dive in and hope we learned to swim as we came up for air. Our daughter is now in recovery and I work as a volunteer for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) to support others who battle mental illness. I wrote my journey in the book: Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child's Mental Illness. Ask for it by name at your favorite bookstore or purchase it directly from the publisher, or from the Amazon or Barnes and Noble website.

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