I am living on the razor's edge between success and failure, adulation and humiliation - between justifying my existence and revealing my unworthiness to be alive.
There's a vast encyclopedia of fears and phobias, and pretty much any object, experience, situation you can think of, there is someone who has a phobia of it.
Many nights, I would begin the evening fueled by caffeine and nicotine, which I needed to propel me out of torpor and hopelessness - only to overshoot into quaking, quivering anxiety.
There are lots of things, including changing the kind of inner dialog, that can mitigate anxiety. And yes, there are people who have the glass half full and glass half empty, and I'm afraid the glass is going to break and I'll cut myself on the shards.
I have, since the age of about 2, been a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears, and neuroses. And I have, since the age of 10, when I was first taken to a mental hospital for evaluation and then referred to a psychiatrist for treatment, tried in various ways to overcome my anxiety.
One challenge is trying to extend access to more poorly served communities in rural areas and in the inner city. Sometimes you have kids who are suffering from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and they have no way of getting access to the remedies that are available to them.
The fear of vomiting, which for me is one of the most original and most acute of my fears, is actually fairly common. Emetophobia, it's called, and by some estimates, it's the fifth most common specific phobia.
During high school, I would purposely lose tennis and squash matches to escape the agony of anxiety that competitive situations would provoke in me.
Anxiety has afflicted me all my life.
During first grade, I spent nearly every afternoon for months in the school nurse's office, sick with psychosomatic headaches, begging to go home; by third grade, stomachaches had replaced the headaches, but my daily trudge to the infirmary remained the same.
Even though my mom herself was anxious, I think she didn't know how to deal with it in her kid, and my dad just had no conception of what this was about, and sort of didn't even want to acknowledge it.
My parents were not perfect, but no one's parents are. As childhoods go, mine was pretty comfortable and good in a lot of ways, and yet I still ended up with anxiety.
There's a book that's critical to understanding anxiety, a 17th-century book, 'The Anatomy of Melancholy,' by Robert Burton. I wanted to write something like that.
I wanted to put a human face on anxiety disorders. I thought people who suffer from anxiety might recognize themselves and gain some comfort from my story and for those who don't suffer from anxiety disorders gain some understanding.
I don't want to be in a position that could make me vomit, like air travel. I've purloined airsick bags and stuffed them everywhere, just in case I ever feel the need to throw up. I haven't vomited since 1977, but I think about it all the time. I recognize that it's irrational, but I'd rather jump out of a window than vomit.
When I was 5 and my sister was 3, we went on a family trip, and she ate cheese off the floor at an airport. My mother, a germaphobe, got very upset. My sister, of course, got a stomach virus, and ever since then, I have an aversion to cheese.
Some people say that in stressful situations I can seem unflappable, and I think that's partly because I'm always kind of internally flapped.
I had no trouble with strangers finding out about my anxiety. It was my friends and colleagues I was concerned about.
There is an element in which anxiety co-represents with aspects of my personality I wouldn't want to give up. It allows you to have foresight. I may not be as empathetic. It's hard to figure out the difference between pathology and personality.
To grapple with and understand anxiety is, in some sense, to grapple with and understand the human condition.