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David Baxter

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Agoraphobia plays a central role in new novel
Friday, March 09, 2007

Tish Cohen's new novel Town House may be of interest to folks with panic disorder.

From a review:

"Jack Madigan is the 36-year-old son of an Ozzy Osborne-like rocker who died a surreal death onstage involving a recalcitrant reptile. Jack has awakened from the rubble of a life on the road in a shambling mess of a four-storey Boston town house, bequeathed to him by his father ... with an acute, and apparently incurable, case of agoraphobia. But the money is running out, and the town house has grown decrepit from neglect.... Tish Cohen has written an original portrait of a pathetic man that is at times sardonically comic and humanly poignant. ... Cohen's Jack Madigan is a three-dimensional, albeit anomalous, lost soul of our modern, twisted, fractured society."​
From the author's blog:

In some ways, my agoraphobic Town House protagonist, Jack Madigan, and I could not be more different. He’s the son of a rock star and a groupie. I’m the daughter of a medical laboratory owner and an artist. He’s passive aggressive with his therapist. I couldn’t appreciate mine more. He lives in my favorite neighborhood on earth - Beacon Hill in Boston - in a four-storey century town home with a groaning dumbwaiter and 12-foot ceilings on a street with cobblestone sidewalks. Sigh. I don’t.

Where we really get similar is, sadly, in our panic attacks. Jack’s started much earlier than mine - he was in his early twenties...

...my own panic attacks didn’t start until I had kids and, for the first time in my life, was petrified of my own mortality...

The panicky episodes came and went, vanishing for a few years then bubbling up again at inopportune times, such as when I was in the passing lane on the highway or atop a dressage horse in front of spectators. Like Jack, each and every time, I was convinced the panic attacks were going to kill me. Unlike Jack, I never experienced dizziness. Nor did I lock myself indoors. My every instinct recommended it, but with two young boys came a life that pulled me outside, day after day​
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stressor

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sounds interesting enough but since i suffered from agoraphobia for way more years than i care to remember, i probably won't read the book. i still have a disabling disorder with panic attacks. that's enough for me. i was diagnosed with agoraphobia 33 years ago when the doctors around here didn't even know what it was. it took a doc from britain to figure it out. i remember years when i couldn't even go downstairs to my parents home, b/c i couldn't step outside. for some reason i deicded that if i didn't eat i could get out. well i become anorexic (i ate once a week except for an apple on the other days) and still couldn't get out. those were the years from hell. there was no support anywhare. my family wanted to lock me up and one psychiatrist out west, suggested that if i couldn't live with the problem then i should jump off the portmann bridge. agoraphobia is the worst. it made me a prisoner in my own home. and it felt like i was also a prisoner in my own skin b/c i couldn't even stand having anyone come around in my space. there was absolutely no where to go.
 

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