As a young girl, Farrah Sgarlata said she had a horrible encounter with a haunted house in Alexandria. All she remembers is her body freezing up and her eyes filling with tears. It turned out her father, a trauma surgeon, had been one of the brave doctors who got to perform a late-night appendectomy on the screaming patients inside. For much of adulthood, the experience haunted Farrah. Then her daughter, 11-year-old Monique Saxton, a freshman at Dakota Ridge, got into the spirit of the thing in 2015. After being taken to a haunted house by some friends, Monique said she started to scream and saw ghostly figures and a yowling, painful wound that put her in an imaginary “web.” And, she said, she didn’t even make it out alive. For months afterward, Monique said, the pain throbbed and a light in her eye flickered blue. For months afterward, the family consulted with doctors. As far as the Sgarlata family is concerned, Monique’s ghastly experiences were, at worst, evidence of a little girl’s imagination going haywire. The Saxtons sought out an expert to see if they could pinpoint the particular condition triggered the pain. “I didn’t know if she was just imagining it, or if there was something more to it,” said Dr. Darcy Ranville, a plastic surgeon and pain medicine specialist. After a lab test that turned up nearly a dozen medications, Ranville zeroed in on bipolar disorder, a common condition that afflicts about half of first-time visits to the doctor’s office. To Wanville, Monique’s symptoms raised enough red flags to jump the gun and diagnose the girl as being bipolar. And because symptoms run in her family — her brother is bipolar — the diagnosis was confirmed by a follow-up test. Now, for the past two years, her family and doctors have been urging her to avoid the haunted house. “We’re afraid it’s going to start hurting her again,” Ranville said. Monique has not had any other serious problems and has gained a well-deserved reputation as a very good liar. Once, a family friend showed her a new haircut and told her she’d look amazing with it. She couldn’t handle it. When a foster mother first began taking her for a day at the haunted house, she and her parents left at the end of the evening to avoid a relapse.