08/26/2014 09:35 am ET Updated Aug 26, 2014

My Mother's Death Cured My Anxiety

Chad Springer via Getty Images

his is me as a kid: I sleep in a ball, hugging my knees to my chest. I pull the covers over my head and face the wall. This way, if a murderer comes in to kill me, I won’t have to face him. He can get the thing over with before I know it’s coming. By day, I am restless legs and nervous habits: picking the skin on my lips, peeling back my nails. In third grade, my teacher calls my parents to say that I’ve been squinting in class and might need glasses. But my vision is perfectly clear. The squinting is a facial tic, an outward manifestation of my inner disquiet.

My muscles are wound so tightly that my violin teacher gives me extra exercises to loosen up: “You’ll never learn vibrato if you’re squeezing so hard.” But I excel at track and field, my body like a dormant coil waiting to spring awake in the 100-meter dash. I am safe and fed and happy, but I am worried all the time.

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