I recently had the movie “Brain on Fire” recommended to me. Having just finished it, I wanted to get my thoughts on paper. First, if you haven’t seen this movie, available on Netflix, I highly recommend doing so. Although it is not directly correlated with MS, it does address autoimmune disorders. It is crucial to diagnose and treat autoimmune disorders accordingly. In this particular movie, Susannah was the 217th person ever diagnosed with Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis. With that being identified, at the time there was little information out there about this disease in particular. Appearing at times to be something psychological, this inflammatory infectious disease plagues thousands around the world.
Now, I bring this up not only as an informative plug for what I found to be a very eye-opening movie, but also to speak to just how amazing the brain is. It not only signals our arms to move when we want to grab something, or our mouths to move when we want to speak or eat, but it also holds within it the power to influence days and even years of our lives as we know it directly impacting how others see and react to us.
When I was recently at the doctor’s office, he had a great way of explaining how the lesions on my brain affect even the smallest thoughts I may have. For example, say I want to reach for a pen, my eyes see it, process it as being there, while at the same time my arm reacts and moves toward it and I pick it up. If you have a lesion on your brain (roadblock, as I have come to describe it) I could get stuck in any one of those steps, leaving me confused as to what the next step is.
Enter my cognitive dysfunction. It is similar to the condition, often times a symptom of MS, PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA). You know you should be by social norms reacting in one way, like laughing or crying about something specific, but you uncontrollably react in the opposite way.
I can remember times when I was receiving horrible news and my first instinct was to laugh. While this can make people uneasy, of course, it is much more horrifying to the person who is all mixed up inside. Sounds so strange and can make you feel like Kate Hudson says in How to Lose a Guy in 10 days like a “total mental person”. Often times this can be easily corrected or ignored but I can tell you from experience, it is scary, confusing and often times, embarrassing.
I will continue to be an advocate for always treating people kind, as you may never know the silent battles they fight every day.