Autoimmune Disease Acts Like Demonic Possession
Susannah Cahalan started feeling a bit off. Numbness on one side of the body, losing sleep, crying hysterically one minute and laughing the next. She went to get MRIs but they showed nothing. Things were getting a bit more strange.
Her boyfriend told her how at one point while they were watching a show together she started grinding her teeth, moaning, and biting her tongue until she finally passed out. He took her to the hospital and they found out it was a seizure. Her first of many. Things got worse.
She stopped eating, became paranoid and delusional, had more seizures in which blood would spurt out of her mouth. She was hospitalized (one nurse recalls that in the middle of the night while she was getting blood, Susannah sat up straigh and slapped her). Numerous tests were done and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
That is until Dr. Souhel Najjar came into the picture. He asked her to draw a clock. When she showed him what she had drawn he knew exactly what was wrong with her. All the numbers were written on the right side of the clock face, and no numbers were on the left side.
She had anti-NMDAR encephalitis. The receptors in the frontal lobe, responsible for cognitive reasoning, and the limbic system, or the emotional center of the brain, are under assault by the immune system. In other words, her body was attacking her brain. Nearly 90% of people that suffer from this go undiagnosed and it is more common in women.
Oh, and she wrote a book about it called
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness