Cahalan’s symptoms worsened to the point where daily life became difficult. The Times Square lights, for example, induced throbbing migraines, while everyday objects suddenly seemed sinister. In fact, Cahalan later wrote that it seemed as if the walls at work “were breathing visibly, inhaling and exhaling all around me.” And then, at her boyfriend’s apartment, she suffered a seizure that, alarmingly, caused her to foam and bleed at the mouth. Hence, she went to see a neurologist, and yet he could find nothing wrong.
When a neurological cause couldn’t be determined, Cahalan was referred to a psychiatrist. And because the 24-year-old was exhibiting both manic and depressive episodes, she was given anti-psychotic medication and sent her on her way. But her family refused to believe that there wasn’t anything more to it.
As a result, the family sought a second opinion with a renowned New York neurologist. This time, Cahalan was diagnosed with “alcohol withdrawal syndrome,” given more medication and told to tone down her social life. But none of it ever really added up. Moreover, the symptoms continued to get worse.