The Quicksand of Agoraphobia: A memoir of panic disorder, by Diane Mengali, (Print ISBN: 978-0-9996471-0-3; ebook ISBN: 978-0-9996471-1-0) is available at Amazon in paperback and Amazon Kindle (worldwide), Barnes & Noble paperback and Barnes & Noble Nook, and at Apple iBooks. It also can be ordered by your local bookstore.
Follow Diane's Amazon Author Page
Follow Diane's Amazon Author Page
Panic disorders often seem to ebb and flow, but for those who are struggling with them, they are a powerful undercurrent that controls every element of life—the author shares how agoraphobia shaped her life and how she reckoned with her disorder and her past. The most chilling parts of the book are how mental illness hampered the author’s sense of self, her relationships, and her creative spirit. The story is intimately first person focused, but it does not get too claustrophobic and narrow in its view; the author demonstrates compassion for others, even at times outpacing her growing compassion for herself. The conclusion of the narrative balances closure and the open ended nature of a true life story. The author’s voice is clear and unselfconscious; she is vulnerable and demonstrates deep understanding of herself and her past, and deepening healing from all that she has experienced. The back panel copy is quite comprehensive, but gives readers too much summary, rather than an evocative invitation to the book. The title is such a powerful image to help people who do not have agoraphobia understand what it feels like, and the type treatment of the subtitle does the same. The cover design is a bit stark.
~ Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.
The Quicksand of Agoraphobia is a must read for teachers, hospital workers, college students and all staff members working in the mental health profession.
The book vividly describes the challenges brought on by panic attacks faced by the author throughout her life starting at kindergarten.
The book is well written and easy to read. Mrs. Mengali has a very clear writing style which helps the reader understand the serious issues she faced during her career. She faced these challenges and was able to deal with the numerous episodes of panic and its effect on her daily life.
I recommend that this book be on the reading list for teachers at all educational levels due to the numerous mental health issues their students bring to school . Hospital staff will greatly benefit from reading the book as they work with numerous patients on a daily basis. These students not only have physical problems but also exhibit significant mental health issues.
High school students and college students have many pressures as they struggle to succeed in our challenging academic world. Mental health staff members work with very complicated individuals with severe personal problems. Mental health workers frequently have very limited resources and assistance to help them as they deal with large caseloads and growing demands for treatment and documentation. This book provides the reader with excellent information that will help them understand many serious personal mental health issues.
By reading Mrs. Mengali’s “The Quicksand of Agoraphobia”, you will not be disappointed. It will positively assist you as you face the daily challenges in your personal life or work with individuals who need your professional assistance"
~Timothy L. Williams
Retired School Principal
In her telling memoir, The Quicksand of Agoraphobia, Diane Mengali begins by sharing staggering statistics: "...6 million people suffer from panic disorder each year, and 15 million have a lifetime prevalence of the disorder. Only one in four people who experience panic attacks receives appropriate treatment." She chronicles growing up in a dysfunctional family during the 1950s, her marriage and subsequent confusion about her sexual identity, and eventual diagnosis and treatment for agoraphobia. By sharing her story, Mengali hopes to bring awareness and understanding about panic disorder while offering hope for treatment.
Mengali's memoir is well written, professionally edited, and uncompromisingly honest. The book is organized chronologically and divided into five sections. Mengali provides the most insightful account that I have read to date regarding the thought process and sheer terror that those suffering from panic disorder experience. From growing up in a dysfunctional family characterized by alcoholism, depression, infidelity, and intolerance and internalizing her mother's insecurities to being plagued by guilt over an affair, the end of her marriage, and accepting her sexuality, Mengali bares all. Amazingly, she does so without blame. Given her father's controlling and manipulative role in the family, I admire her willingness to forgive, as she concludes: "In the end, before they let go, my parents were capable of recognizing the damage they'd done and asking for forgiveness."
Mengali's eloquent writing style is what I like most about the book. This eloquence is evident in the way she crafts sentences and poignantly conveys her experiences. For instance, Mengali's description of her mother's parenting conjures a stirring visual: "Believing that children, like zucchini, grew and flourished with sunshine and very little oversight, she permitted us to behave like uncaged animals until my father came home from work." In another chapter, Mengali expresses how meaningful it was to be able to confide in a compassionate teacher. Throughout the book, she gives readers a glimpse into her panic disorder by illustrating her fears and irrational thoughts and giving details about the types of therapy she practices to manage them. "It now became clear that running from panic-producing situations or avoiding them had only reinforced the fear."
There isn't anything I dislike about the contents of the book. However, I will note the erroneous page count that is listed as 190 pages on Amazon and is actually 276 pages. The discrepancy may not be an issue for some readers, but there may also be readers like me, who consider page length for a variety of reasons when selecting books. Amazon is usually accurate, hence the note.
I am pleased to rate The Quicksand of Agoraphobia 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the poignant memoir to readers who are struggling with depression and panic disorders, as well as those desiring to learn more about treatment. Mengali discusses her sexuality, but the emphasis is on her initial confusion about being bisexual; there is no explicit sexual content. The book contains a few instances of profanity.
~ C.L. Online Book Club
.LHi. My neighbor Wally Summ loaned me a copy of your book "The Quicksand of Agoraphobia" and I read the entire thing on a recent flight to Minneapolis. I wanted to tell you how much insight I got out of it, and how I wished my sister-in-law, who suffered deeply from panic attacks, agoraphobia, and overwhelming anxiety, could have met you, or at least read your book and spoken to you about it. She unfortunately got hooked on benzodiazepine, courtesy of psychiatrists that didn't do THEIR work, and died of a combination of factors in 2012, at age 67. She was a great reader and conversationalist at one time, but her goblins stole that away. I'm very aware of how a 'normal, middle-class suburban upbringing' can have dangerous and miserable undercurrents; if she had been given to different parents, she might have thrived-but who could've have known, and made that happen? Anyhow, thanks for the great read.
I just finished your book and it was well done. It brought back “reminder symptoms “ of my years of dealing with anxiety/depression. The tools I got from Recovery, Inc were much like your therapy and mindfulness training. We were blest to have the help we needed. I hope many will benefit from your story. P.s. remember you from a year ahead of me at Holy Rosary.
I just finished reading your book. Thank you for writing it. It kept me turning pages while expanding my awareness of your world. To think we grew up in the same town and during the same era, yet our childhoods were so different. I commend you for your courage in writing the book and sharing your life.
My favorite quote from book was: It takes practice to identify feelings and courage to share them, but honesty opens the door to more meaningful communication and relationships.
Thoreau said that man lives his life in quiet desperation. I believe that is true and that only the really brave share their experiences. I was deeply moved by your story, Diane. You are truly a miracle.
In 1993, I shared a poem I had written by reading it on the west steps of the state capitol. The occasion was a gathering of The California Consortium for the Prevention of Child Abuse. I’m sharing it with you.
Little Child Run
Little child run, little child hide,
Little child keep those feelings inside.
Keep all the anger, keep all the shame,
Because you just know…you’re the one to blame.
Now listen for a minute to that inner voice.
It may suggest that you had no choice.
Listen with openness and willingness too.
Embrace the feelings that come to you.
Remember what happened when you were too young to know,
That you had a right to say yes and a right to say no?
When your trust was up and your guard was down,
When voices of anger and rage would abound.
God, please take away that awful sound…that awful sound.
And today that child within you stays,
Larger than your adult in so many ways.
So share your soul with trusted friends,
And know someday the pain will end.
One more thing before I go,
Blind faith I ask you to show.
I will ask you the hardest thing to do,
And that is to remember that your parents…had a little child too.
Take care Diane…and, thank you so much for sharing you story.
Don't know if you remember me - we were in the same class in high school. Just want to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. I also dealt with an alcoholic mother in a dysfunctional family so could definitely relate to so many issues in your book. We certainly lived in a different time!
God bless you for writing your story.