I Hope This Helps

by Deanna Kreisel (Doctor Waffle Blog)

I had my first panic attack at age sixteen, which was (deargod) over 35 years ago. It happened during school, much to my teenage mortification. Some friends and I were hanging out in our high school newspaper office during a free period, sprawled on one of the crapped-out couches under the blinking fluorescent lights, just shooting the shit. All of a sudden, a wave of horror swept over me—no, that’s not the right word. It was a feeling of fear mixed with a kind of existential dread, washing over me in waves, and then my heart was pounding, the walls were closing in, and I was gripped with an intense feeling of unreality. (This is something that people with panic disorder don’t often explain—or maybe it’s different for everyone. But for me the worst part of a panic attack is the feeling that the world is unreal, that you’re trapped in some kind of cruel simulacrum and everything around you is fake. You yourself are fake.[i]) Apparently I was also gasping and sobbing, and saying over and over again “I want to go home. I want to go home.”

The next thing I remember clearly was my father carrying me out of the room in his arms. This part seems so incredible to me—How did he get there? Who called him? How long did it take? Why did he leave work in the middle of the day?—that I sometimes wonder if I’ve misremembered it or mixed it up with another memory. But I have corroborated this detail with semi-reliable sources, so I’m going to leave it here for the sake of my narrative. (I would do a lot for narrative.) The truly odd part is that once we got home, I didn’t stop saying “I want to go home” over and over again, even though my dad kept reassuring me that I was indeed home now. Clearly he was not on board with The Narrative, or he would have recognized a Metaphor when he saw one. Read more »

Chantal Joffe, Victoria Miro, Mayfair, London

by Sue Hubbard

ScreenHunter_1687 Feb. 15 10.27“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, Leo Tolstoy famously wrote in Anna Karenina. But what Tolstoy might, actually, have been implying is that the effects of happiness tend to be bland, the results ubiquitous. It’s those who are not entirely comfortable within the all-encompassing duvet of family life that prove to be interesting. Their quirks and idiosyncrasies lead them to become artists and writers or simply that awkward, interesting child who doesn’t want to join in but rather watch clouds, read a book, draw or make up stories. Tension and a degree of discord between siblings, between mother and daughter, father and son are meat to the creative juices. As the essayist and psychoanalyst, Adam Philips writes: “From a psychoanalytic point of view, one of the individual’s formative projects, from childhood onwards, is to find a cure for….. sexuality and difference, the sources of unbearable conflict… Adolescents,” he goes on to say, “are preoccupied by the relationship between dependence and conformity, between independence and compliance.”

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