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Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

Pete Springer/OPB

What happens if you leave your house unsure about whether or not you turned the iron off? Do you think it through, come to a reasonable conclusion, and then act on it? Or does your mind fill with unstoppable, irrational fears? Do you worry: I left the iron on … now the house is going to burn down … my family will be killed … I’ll lose everything important to me … and I’ll die sad and alone.

That’s the kind of thinking that can happen to someone who has clinical anxiety. Daniel Smith, who suffers from this very thing, describes his experience in his new book, Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from anxiety. Here’s how Smith describes it:

Anxiety isn’t a condition like pneumonia or chicken pox. It isn’t something you can eradicate. It’s a state of being, a coloration in the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. It isn’t a disorder, necessarily, though it can be exquisitely painful and it does sometimes stem from trauma. What it is, is a state of mind. It can be reduced, in some cases radically, but it never totally goes away.

Do you suffer from anxiety? What sets you off? What happens? How do you cope?


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