The Beginning of Everything: The Year I Lost My Mind and Found Myself

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A real-life neurological mystery—and a captivating story of reinvention—by the author of The Daring Book for Girls.

While crossing the street one morning, Andrea Buchanan lost her mind. Triggered by a sudden coughing fit, she began to choke. She had a lot weighing on her that day. A sick son. A pending divorce. The guilt of failing as a partner, as a mother.

By the time Andrea could draw a deep breath again, a small tear had ripped in her dura mater, the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. What followed was months of pain and confusion as her brain—no longer cushioned by a healthy bed of cerebrospinal fluid—sank to the bottom of her skull. Her “brain fog” was so extreme she could not make sense of even the most basic concepts. At a time in her life when she needed to be as clear-minded as possible, she could not think.

The mind–brain connection is one of the greatest mysteries of the human condition. In some folklore, the fluid around the brain is where consciousness begins. In this luminous memoir, Andrea seeks to understand: where was “I” when I wasn’t there? This is not just the fascinating account of a brain disorder that pushes the limits of medical understanding; it’s a life-affirming story of one woman’s journey back to her own mind.

ANDREA J. BUCHANAN is a New York Times–bestselling author whose eight books include The Daring Book for Girls. Before becoming a writer, Andrea trained as a pianist, earning degrees from the Boston Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory.