When I was 12 my grandmother died, and suddenly I saw death everywhere.
I’d been an anxious kid before that, with baby-sized panic attacks that had me hallucinating slow, booming voices and strange objects that ballooned into my frame of vision. Later, I’d sit up at night to guard against what felt inevitable: our house burning down, a murderer crawling in a window. Imperceptible rejections could propel week-long crying jags, gentle self-harmings (digging my nails into my palms, slamming my head into the side of a bathroom stall) felt better than living inside my brain. One thought became eight thoughts became an endless, tangled river of possibilities, inadequacies, shortcomings, failures. In bad times, I would go weeks without eating a real meal, feeding myself on the crumbs of my dramas and the odd croissant.