In the vein of bestselling memoirs about mental illness like Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon, Sarah Hepola's Blackout, and Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind comes a gorgeously immersive, immediately relatable, and brilliantly funny memoir about living life on the razor's edge of panic.
The world never made any sense to Amanda Stern--how could she trust time to keep flowing, the sun to rise, gravity to hold her feet to the ground, or even her own body to work the way it was supposed to? Deep down, she knows that there's something horribly wrong with her, some defect that her siblings and friends don't have to cope with.
Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in New York, Amanda experiences the magic and madness of life through the filter of unrelenting panic. Plagued with fear that her friends and family will be taken from her if she's not watching-that her mother will die, or forget she has children and just move away-Amanda treats every parting as her last. Shuttled between a barefoot bohemian life with her mother in Greenwich Village, and a sanitized, stricter world of affluence uptown with her father, Amanda has little she can depend on. And when Etan Patz disappears down the block from their MacDougal Street home, she can't help but believe that all her worst fears are about to come true.
Tenderly delivered and expertly structured, Amanda Stern's memoir is a document of the transformation of New York City and a deep, personal, and comedic account of the trials and errors of seeing life through a very unusual lens.
Stern (The Long Haul) courageously lays open her excruciating experience with 25 years of untreated panic disorder in this brave memoir of mental illness. From the time she was a small child growing up in New York City, Stern found terrifying possibilities in everything what would happen if she lost her mother or she herself was kidnapped, what if her family lost their house, what if the constant testing of her intelligence revealed what she suspects: that she is different from all other children. She is eight years old at the time her worst fears are made real in 1979, when six-year-old Etan Patz who lived mere blocks from her family's Greenwich Village rowhouse on MacDougal Street disappears without a trace, and Stern's close friend Melissa dies of a brain tumor. Before she found her considerable talents in the theater and in writing, Stern tried coping through unhealthy behaviors, including an increasing dependence on cocaine. Failed relationships further reinforced Stern's feeling that there was something broken inside her, along with the heartbreaking belief that her constant worrying kept those she loved safe from harm. Readers who have had panic attacks or have experience with a similar disorder will instantly relate to Stern's experiences; those who do not will come to understand the disease's terrifying power and the utter relief that comes when it is finally identified and treated. Honest and deeply felt, Stern's story delivers a raw window into the terrifying world of panic disorders.