Thursday, April 13, 2017

the last book I ever read (Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, excerpt thirteen)

from Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin:

The winter of 1962-63 was unusually cold, with temperatures well below zero—“so terrible that even the vermonters are talking about it,” Shirley wrote. In two days there were thirty inches of snow. Aside from her birthday and Christmas, which both passed quietly, the Hymans did almost no entertaining. Shirley stayed inside. Something new and unpleasant had begun to happen every time she tried to leave the house. She would begin to shake, her legs would give way, and everything would start spinning. If she did not go inside right away, she feared passing out. Her nightmares returned, stranger than ever; she paced the floor in the dark, crying. She suffered from delusions that even she recognized were irrational: she was afraid to go into the post office, for instance, because she believed the postmaster thought she was crazy. When Stanley tried to reassure her that it wasn’t true, she lashed out at him. Eventually her anxiety was no longer associated only with leaving the house: anything could trigger a panic attack, even the phone ringing. Dr. Durand prescribed tranquilizers, which she took around the clock, but “all they did was keep me kind of stupid but still frightened all the time.” She was experiencing, she later realized, “a classic case of acute anxiety.”

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