Book Review by Nesrin Shaheen – This is not a Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan

Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis makes in most cases a very dramatic and frightening entrance, with symptoms coming on fast and furious. Within a matter of days or weeks, the healthy person we once knew, is no longer recognizable and is usually hospitalized for a very long time.

As a result, our community has been blessed with quite a few literary accounts by either survivors or caregivers, who feel the need to make sense and to explain to others, the metaphorical tsunami that upended their life.

We therefore welcome the latest, fantastic addition to the reading list, This is not a Pity Memoir by award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Abi Morgan. Ms Morgan recounts her partner’s struggle to regain his life after he is stricken with anti-NMDA, but also her own struggle to make sense of this cruel and uninvited interloper, as she supports her partner in hospital, looks after two teens, all while continuing her professional work. Thankfully there was a network of family members and friends that supported her on this nightmarish odyssey.

Anyone who has not witnessed the swift deterioration of their loved-one will likely not have a good appreciation of the devastation that the disease causes. Ms. Morgan’s prose manages to capture the details of the battle and struggle, with raw honesty and candor, and incredibly, even some humour.

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