A hole in your brain the size of a lemon can cause anxiety, confuse you from telling your right from your left, lead you to misjudge distance, and leave the concept of time incomprehensible. There is a chance you will spend your childhood and most of your adulthood trying to mask your problems, be misdiagnosed with a battery of learning disabilities, cause family strife, and above all require tenacity and spunk to navigate your seemingly quirky self in a chaotic world. Cole Cohen tells you exactly what having a hole in the brain is like with wit and candor in her memoir Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders.
Never before have I read a memoir that so precisely allowed me to experience a host of memories and emotions that are not mine in such a funny, intimate, and educational manner. We follow Cohen from her brain scan in her mid-twenties, back in time through her struggles as a child, her college education, and the difficulty of work and “adulting” when concepts like time and distance are imperceptible. Relationships with co-workers, boyfriends, family, and friends have their challenges and Cohen constantly tries to navigate a balance between allowing people to help her and asserting her independence. Western and Eastern medicine, philosophy and science, and large does of creativity are coping mechanisms and highlights how little we humans know about the science of the brain.
What I enjoyed most about this memoir is Cohen’s highlighting of what it is like to be someone with an “unseen” handicap or differing ability. As one with PTSD, anxiety, and chronic depression I have difficulty articulating to others how I can look fine, but have a brain working against me. Many of the coping skills Cohen details in her memoir like (DBT therapy) I have used to help me function.
With her tenacity and positive outlook Cole Cohen offers so much hope to those who struggle with quirky brains. The writing is effervescent and inspiring; a 5 star read!
This book was released by Henry Holt and Company in May of this year. The publisher provided a copy in exchange for an honest review.