A blisteringly funny yet affecting debut memoir about a young woman’s struggle to overcome panic disorder and agoraphobia.
Podcast host and award-winning comedian Benincasa recounts her adolescent devolution into a “full-on, obsessive, cowering, trembling agoraphobe.” She suffered her first panic attacks when she was 11 and was taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to control her condition by the time she was 16. Her phobias continued to intensify to the point where even short trips to the hair salon became difficult for her. Benincasa, however, ignored the signs that her “weird problems” were getting worse until she got to college. During her junior year, she broke down completely. In the terrible omniscience born from madness, she woke up one day “knowing” that to leave her apartment meant certain disaster. The comedian then began a slow and painful surrender to the phobias that had dogged her from childhood. Her bed became her refuge, cereal bowls her toilets. Therapy, homemade smoothies, “Zentastic, organic, free-range, fair trade, sustainable, sage-scented self-help books” and the timely intervention of friends and family pulled Benincasa back from the edge of her agoraphobic abyss. But she continued to wrestle with her demons through college, teaching jobs and graduate school until she discovered, by accident, the healing power of stand-up comedy. “I subscribe to the notion,” she writes, “that if you can laugh at the shittiest moments in your life, you can transcend them.”
Fabulously quirky and outrageous.