Life with a Bad Case of Nerves
by Kat Kinsman
I thought reading about anxiety symptoms in the fictional story A Quiet Kind of Thunder (panic attacks, selective mutism) was bad enough, but in this book- a true account- the anxiety is truly debilitating. Author Kinsman describes feeling jittery, worried and out-of-sorts since early childhood- her behavior often earning her taunts from other children, later on making it hard to find or keep a job, travel, make appointments on the telephone, get in a car and drive somewhere, or even just leave the house. The physical manifestations painful, annoying and interrupting her life, the mental unending ragged self-criticism and fearful thoughts wore her down. She describes going through a series of unhelpful and judgmental (or at least perceived to be so) doctors, mentions quite a few different medications, and relates a period of self-induced (and yes very gradual) withdrawl from one particular psychotic med which sounded like a horrific experience. The part about her stint working in a dungeon as a dominatrix took me by surprise (thankfully not too much detail) but I was even more surprised at my reluctant respect for what she did there: giving other people the pain they somehow needed to feel. She tells about a series of relationships that ended badly, and then the sudden wonder of finding a good one- and her life got so much better after that. Not completely well, never healed, always with this illness to live with- but more manageable when she felt loved. Though she questioned and doubted that for a long time. And then she got a better job, in spite of her fears at being inadequate, and then she decided to just tell everyone: I suffer from anxiety: I have a mental illness. To share and get out of the box of silence. I personally don\’t know what it\’s really like to live with debilitating anxiety, but I appreciate that Kinsman could share her story, and she relates the overwhelming response she received from other people who had felt the same fears, and thought they were alone.
It\’s not exactly linear in fashion, but for once that didn\’t bother me in a book. Some parts are from her childhood, others more present in time. It seems that sections describing particular fears intersperse with chapters about life events more or less chronological in order, but it still skips around a lot and I just took things as they came. It\’s not all dark- there\’s quite a lot of humor and overall I did like reading this one.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 221 pages, 2016