Parents of college students are aware that the stress of being away from home and in a completely new environment can cause underlying mental health concerns to crop up in their otherwise healthy and hearty kids. When Emily Gavigan began exhibiting odd behavior that was out of the norm for her, her parents grew worried.
Emily was a sophomore at the University of Scranton at the time. Her life began quickly spiraling out of control.
Bill Gavigan grew extremely concerned for his daughter Emily when her behavior suddenly became erratic and paranoid. She would ramble and told everyone that something horrible was going to happen to her family.
One afternoon, Emily vanished. Her family couldn’t find her for more than a day!
Eventually, Emily turned up at her grandparents’ house several states away in New Jersey. She had driven there without money and blew through all of the tollbooths.
The college sophomore even thought someone was following her. Her behavior was alarming to her loved ones. They knew they had to do something.
Emily’s parents decided it was time to get their daughter some help. They believed she was suffering from a mental health condition, as did doctors.
She was treated with medication, but that only made it worse. Then they thought it might be a brain tumor, but that wasn’t the case.
Emily’s condition continued to worsen. But it wasn’t until they heard Susannah Cahalan’s personal story on TV when they realized just what might be wrong with their daughter.
It turns out they were right. The root of Emily’s incidents was indeed a medical condition, an incredibly rare one at that.
Discover what Brain on Fire is and how it imprisoned Emily in her own body in this interview with TODAY.