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Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Wow! Not a brilliant literary word, but the first word that flowed from my hand as I started to write this review. Little Panic is a brilliant, articulate, honest, and heartbreaking memoir about living with crippling anxiety. As detailed in her book, Stern exhibited symptoms of an anxiety disorder from a very young age, but was constantly tested and told she had a learning disability. Chapters in this book segue smoothly between her youth, and life as an adult; this ably demonstrates the lasting Wow! Not a brilliant literary word, but the first word that flowed from my hand as I started to write this review. Little Panic is a brilliant, articulate, honest, and heartbreaking memoir about living with crippling anxiety. As detailed in her book, Stern exhibited symptoms of an anxiety disorder from a very young age, but was constantly tested and told she had a learning disability. Chapters in this book segue smoothly between her youth, and life as an adult; this ably demonstrates the lasting impact of generalized anxiety disorder left undiagnosed and untreated for far too many years. As a psychologist, I wanted to scream at every mental health professional and educator who missed what Stern depicts as very clear symptoms. Perhaps the clarity comes from Stern’s growth and insight, as she does share that she did everything she could not to disclose her symptoms for fear of others thinking she was dumb and/or crazy. Yet it really wasn’t until Stern was an adult that anybody even suggested an anxiety disorder. The people in Stern’s life were too busy trying to “fix” her to really look at who she was. As a mother, I understand the impulse to protect one’s child, to make things better and easier, to want your child to fit in, and keep unhappy events from a child who is overly sensitive, even when the manner in which this is accomplished is misguided. As somebody who has a family member living with an anxiety disorder, this book performed open heart surgery without anesthesia. I find Stern’s ability to tell a story impressive. She weaves the cultural events of her life growing up in Greenwich Village into her narrative, showing how they actually exacerbated her anxiety. Ultimately, one of the themes she explores is “normalcy.” What is normal? Is a child who learns differently actually disabled? And does labeling cause even more damage, especially when it turns out that the perceived difference isn’t one of intelligence or ability, but more one of learning style? It is impossible to read, put down, and walk away from Little Panic. Disclosure: I requested and received this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway program.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hanna

    Wow, after finishing this book I feel like I need to take a deep breath. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I found much of what Amanda feels/thinks/experiences mimics my own life. Her story in many ways isn't my own, but so much resonated. Amanda spent years of her life in the depths of panic while doctors searched for the wrong answers. Finally, at the age of 25, she gains a name for what plagues her. It's not a cure, but there's strength in a name. Amanda tells her story alterna Wow, after finishing this book I feel like I need to take a deep breath. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I found much of what Amanda feels/thinks/experiences mimics my own life. Her story in many ways isn't my own, but so much resonated. Amanda spent years of her life in the depths of panic while doctors searched for the wrong answers. Finally, at the age of 25, she gains a name for what plagues her. It's not a cure, but there's strength in a name. Amanda tells her story alternating from past to present, illuminating all of the ways in which her panic shaped her life. A must read for anyone hoping to better understand what it's like inside an anxious mind.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily Housworth

    Thanks to the author for the ARC of this book! Warning: We about to get deep up in here. Growing up, I went through a phase where I had to ask my mom every single night, “Are you going to die tonight?” And she’d say, “Nope, I’m not going to die tonight.” Only after I got this reassurance could I go to sleep. I felt like my asking the question somehow kept her alive. I used to be so afraid that my parents were going to get divorced, even though they got along great, that one time I threw up all o Thanks to the author for the ARC of this book! Warning: We about to get deep up in here. Growing up, I went through a phase where I had to ask my mom every single night, “Are you going to die tonight?” And she’d say, “Nope, I’m not going to die tonight.” Only after I got this reassurance could I go to sleep. I felt like my asking the question somehow kept her alive. I used to be so afraid that my parents were going to get divorced, even though they got along great, that one time I threw up all over my bed. When I went to overnight trips, I would be so afraid my parents would die while I was gone. I literally couldn’t think of anything worse. When my mom left the house to run errands, I used to sit by the window and wait for her to get home, convinced if I stopped keeping watch, something would happen to her. I worried and worried and worried, because if you worried about something, then it probably wouldn’t happen, because people said most of the things we worry about don’t come true. I didn’t want to be caught off guard by a tragedy I hadn’t prepared for. My little brain told me that worry kept the tragedies from happening. All that to say, reading about Stern’s childhood experiences with anxiety was a little uncanny. My anxiety wasn’t exactly the same as hers, but she would mention something that she’d do or feel as a kid, and I’d be like, “That isn’t normal? All kids don’t do that? Because I totally did/felt that.” It was eye opening to realize how much of my fears and choices were a result of anxiety/OCD. I’m so incredibly thankful to God that I was able to treat mine early on and had such a wise and loving family who helped me to do things even when I was afraid so that my situation didn’t escalate the way hers did. Overall, a well-written and interesting read that will help you have more compassion for yourself or someone in your life with anxiety. At times, the metaphors and poetic language were a bit confusing/much for me, but that’s just a stylistic preference. I love the point of the last chapter: if you have anxiety, extend others grace, because many of their actions are coming from a place of anxiety, too. Also, can someone please tell me that Taylor guy is in prison or something?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Jenkins

    As someone who deals with severe anxiety and was not able to put a name on it for most of their childhood, this book broke me. Reading Amanda’s story of a cry for safety and to be understood was something I felt deeply in every page, and could relate to with her breathtaking vulnerability. Her early years are spent trying to find her safe person, someone to give her name to all of these consuming thoughts, while her adult years are spent trying to find someone to accept it. Those of us who suffe As someone who deals with severe anxiety and was not able to put a name on it for most of their childhood, this book broke me. Reading Amanda’s story of a cry for safety and to be understood was something I felt deeply in every page, and could relate to with her breathtaking vulnerability. Her early years are spent trying to find her safe person, someone to give her name to all of these consuming thoughts, while her adult years are spent trying to find someone to accept it. Those of us who suffer from severe anxiety are often told we’re just being negative or too worried, but as Amanda shows in this book, anxiety is something so deep in our core and being that the idea of switching it off like a light when we’re engulfed by it is so far fetched. Anyone who has anxiety or loves someone with it should pick up this book because the truth and beauty of someone wrestling with it is felt on every page.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Couldn't put this down. Brilliant, heartbreaking, riveting portrayal of growing up in NYC with an undiagnosed panic disorder. I was completely immersed in Amanda's world. Her descriptions of being a child struggling to understand and interact with the world around her were incredibly evocative, as were her descriptions of life growing up in the Village during the 70's/80's. Strongly recommended to anyone who has ever dealt with anxiety or known someone who has, and to anyone else, because it's a Couldn't put this down. Brilliant, heartbreaking, riveting portrayal of growing up in NYC with an undiagnosed panic disorder. I was completely immersed in Amanda's world. Her descriptions of being a child struggling to understand and interact with the world around her were incredibly evocative, as were her descriptions of life growing up in the Village during the 70's/80's. Strongly recommended to anyone who has ever dealt with anxiety or known someone who has, and to anyone else, because it's a really great read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emily Jordan

    A STUNNING, evocative story about the meaning of living with an undiagnosed panic disorder, LITTLE PANIC grips and discomfits in the best way. Stern's honesty is compelling, her humor always spot on. She is a consummate New Yorker from the last moments when New York was still gritty and still had that thing called a soul and kids ran around unfettered by adult supervision. At turns moving, sad, funny and always entertaining, the book shifts seamlessly between adulthood and childhood. These layer A STUNNING, evocative story about the meaning of living with an undiagnosed panic disorder, LITTLE PANIC grips and discomfits in the best way. Stern's honesty is compelling, her humor always spot on. She is a consummate New Yorker from the last moments when New York was still gritty and still had that thing called a soul and kids ran around unfettered by adult supervision. At turns moving, sad, funny and always entertaining, the book shifts seamlessly between adulthood and childhood. These layers convey a woman who is still an eight year old and a child who is wise beyond her years, sometimes dangerously so. (Sometimes the teacher in me wanted to dive into the book and save her!) Ultimately, the book is an examination of life and loss from two perspectives that show how-- and where-- panic nestles in the crevices of experience and what it means to look back and forth and make sense of it all. LOVED this book!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roryz

    I’m an anxious person, and though I’ve never had a full blown panic attack, much of what Stern recounts from her childhood sounds familiar. The anxious, dreadful thoughts that run through little Amanda’s mind made my heart break. Amazing that this girl, who lived in a nice house with a family who loved her, would bob along in panic-filled waters for years, undiagnosed and untreated. How she turned her life around is truly inspirational. Stern mentions the disappearance of Etan Patz, a kid from t I’m an anxious person, and though I’ve never had a full blown panic attack, much of what Stern recounts from her childhood sounds familiar. The anxious, dreadful thoughts that run through little Amanda’s mind made my heart break. Amazing that this girl, who lived in a nice house with a family who loved her, would bob along in panic-filled waters for years, undiagnosed and untreated. How she turned her life around is truly inspirational. Stern mentions the disappearance of Etan Patz, a kid from the neighborhood, as an anchoring event in her young life. Confirmation that bad things do happen. Like the Lindbergh kidnapping, this event must have resonated with many anxious kids and their parents. Stern talks about it a lot in the book and I wondered at times if it was excessive, but looking back, I think not.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    An insightful and incredibly vulnerable look into Amanda's life. Very appreciative that authors like Amanda are willing to share their stories to help those who suffer similarly from anxiety.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    This is a must read for anyone who suffers with anxiety! It is brave, brilliant, and honest. I could relate in so many ways that my dog got tired of me screaming "Me too!". This book should have been written by the the psychiatric community years ago, thankfully Amanda Stern has finally written the book we have been craving. She is so correct that age, understanding, self-acceptance all lead to greater compassion and empathy for those people (and animals) around us. Brava Ms. Stern!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Wow. I have some mild anxiety, and I know and love people who have more severe anxiety and panic attacks, so I guess I thought I had some idea about the struggle of severe anxiety/panic sufferers, but this was a complete eye-opener. Also as a children's librarian (and just as a person probably), her childhood experience just broke my heart. I couldn't stop thinking of all our small patrons and what their internal lives might be like. Highly recommend. Also another note: It becomes clear about hal Wow. I have some mild anxiety, and I know and love people who have more severe anxiety and panic attacks, so I guess I thought I had some idea about the struggle of severe anxiety/panic sufferers, but this was a complete eye-opener. Also as a children's librarian (and just as a person probably), her childhood experience just broke my heart. I couldn't stop thinking of all our small patrons and what their internal lives might be like. Highly recommend. Also another note: It becomes clear about halfway through that this is the author of the Frankly, Frannie series of kids' books! So interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick Stern

    BOOK OF THE YEAR!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    AnnMarie

    Little Panic is a memoir of panic and anxiety. I have generalized anxiety disorder and this book was like a therapy session. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in the world of anxiety.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I'm not going to rate this book, because if I don't give it 5 stars, I'm afraid the author may have a panic attack if she reads this. It's a difficult book to read because she's been through such hell.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Memoirs of anxiety are exhausting to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carolee Wheeler

    As soon as I began this book, I started looking over my shoulder. Never before have I read a description of some of the fears that have haunted me since childhood. Like Amanda, I was afraid to sleep away from my parents; like Amanda, I was ostracized and internalized it into proof of my own deep unworthiness; like Amanda, the bad things people promised me wouldn’t happen *did happen* and it left me thinking that I was the only responsible person around. While this story didn’t directly mirror my As soon as I began this book, I started looking over my shoulder. Never before have I read a description of some of the fears that have haunted me since childhood. Like Amanda, I was afraid to sleep away from my parents; like Amanda, I was ostracized and internalized it into proof of my own deep unworthiness; like Amanda, the bad things people promised me wouldn’t happen *did happen* and it left me thinking that I was the only responsible person around. While this story didn’t directly mirror my own, parts were so spot-on that I had to take notes. And the ultimate conclusion—that those closest to her could not see her anxiety because they had their own, even if it looked different than hers—is the most compassionate realization I can imagine, especially given how many years Amanda went without a diagnosis. This book may not mean anything to you if you have never been a worrier, or an anxious person, but if you have? There’s so much love in here.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liz Willard

    I wanted to read this book because I have several friends who struggle with anxiety, and I hoped this book would provide some insight into anxiety. And wow, did it ever! It was heartbreaking and frustrating to read about Amanda's childhood, as her experiences and struggles were minimized and misdiagnosed. As a parent, I found myself wondering how I would have handled Amanda's repeated questions about the possibilities of things like kidnappings and death, and there is no easy answer. Amanda has I wanted to read this book because I have several friends who struggle with anxiety, and I hoped this book would provide some insight into anxiety. And wow, did it ever! It was heartbreaking and frustrating to read about Amanda's childhood, as her experiences and struggles were minimized and misdiagnosed. As a parent, I found myself wondering how I would have handled Amanda's repeated questions about the possibilities of things like kidnappings and death, and there is no easy answer. Amanda has lived a fascinating life... a child who is terrified that children can be kidnapped by strangers but is repeatedly told "it won't happen" - and then it does, right in her very neighborhood. Her experiences with adults who took advantage of her in many different ways, her experimentation with drugs and alcohol as a method to minimize the worries in her mind, her desire to have a baby but fear of being able to care for it the way she wants to. It was the rare autobiography that left me wanting more.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Mommy Booknerd http://mrsmommybooknerd.blogspot.com

    #FirstLine ~ Time sticks numbers on the world and marks spaces I can't see. Honest, brilliant and eye-opening. Little Panic is one of those memoirs that leaves the readers feeling connected to the writer. One of those reads that captures what is really means to be human, what it feels like when trying to navigate through life...with all the ups and downs. This book will give you the feels from head to toe. Wonderful, just wonderful!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This book was everything I desperately needed to read. I grew up not understanding I was highly-sensitive and anxious and felt crazy and different and alone much of the time, never being able to convey what was going on in my brain. Page after page of this book, my jaw kept dropping, because Amanda was writing exactly how I had always felt, putting into words things I thought only I had thought or worried or experienced. There is nothing more validating than that. I am eternally grateful to Aman This book was everything I desperately needed to read. I grew up not understanding I was highly-sensitive and anxious and felt crazy and different and alone much of the time, never being able to convey what was going on in my brain. Page after page of this book, my jaw kept dropping, because Amanda was writing exactly how I had always felt, putting into words things I thought only I had thought or worried or experienced. There is nothing more validating than that. I am eternally grateful to Amanda for writing this!!!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Stern does a fabulous job of putting the reader inside the head of someone who struggles with anxiety. I felt her confusion and pain and so wished I could tell those around her to pay more attention. How do you get to 25 without someone realizing that you have a condition that can be helped?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Amanda Stern’s beautifully vulnerable memoir is not simply about panic disorder. It’s also about how we treat others when they don’t match our internalized standards, how we have designed our education system to reject human variation, how our society devalues people who take in information about life via energetic channels versus words, and how we cope when it’s all too much for us. Also...it questions our assumptions about how to “protect” children and other vulnerable ones. What are we protec Amanda Stern’s beautifully vulnerable memoir is not simply about panic disorder. It’s also about how we treat others when they don’t match our internalized standards, how we have designed our education system to reject human variation, how our society devalues people who take in information about life via energetic channels versus words, and how we cope when it’s all too much for us. Also...it questions our assumptions about how to “protect” children and other vulnerable ones. What are we protecting them from? Amanda has given us a gift in making her journey thus far accessible and compelling.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Definitely hard to read nearly 400 pages of the internal dialogue of someone with extreme crippling anxiety if you’ve ever experienced any relative degree of anxiety and panic yourself, but this was powerful and gut wrenching and worth the long slow read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    kglibrarian

    If I could give this book 10 stars I would. Amanda Stern pours her heart out and through her beautiful writing makes her lifetime of anxiety fascinating, inspiring, and even humorous. She recounts her experiences as a child growing up in New York City's West Village, from disturbing psychological and academic testing and trying to fit in at her various schools, to coping with the loss of loved ones and understanding her changing body. Delving deeply into her fears and worries and how they affect If I could give this book 10 stars I would. Amanda Stern pours her heart out and through her beautiful writing makes her lifetime of anxiety fascinating, inspiring, and even humorous. She recounts her experiences as a child growing up in New York City's West Village, from disturbing psychological and academic testing and trying to fit in at her various schools, to coping with the loss of loved ones and understanding her changing body. Delving deeply into her fears and worries and how they affect every area of her life as she grows older, Stern provides an intelligent, emotional account of one person's quest for understanding. A true page-turner that could have gone on for another 200 pages without losing my interest!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lesley Kay

    I absolutely loved this book. If you, or someone you love, lives with anxiety - this is a MUST READ. It's incredibly enjoyable and reads like a novel, but it's the best description I have ever read of what it's like to live in my mind and my body. I felt like Amanda articulated feelings I have had for ages but could never quite explain. In short, while reading this, I felt understood. I am so glad I bought this book, and I know I will read it many more times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julene

    This book is a fast read, engaging from the start. In "Little Panic" Amanda Stern clearly shows how one's internal experiences are labeled wrong, by others, by oneself, by psychology tests. In one of her adult relationships, with a man named Javier, he refers to her moods as 'negativity.' She corrects him that it is anxiety not negativity, but he can't hear her or understand. During a scene when she realizes she has to break up with him, she writes, "My body always knows, even when my brain trie This book is a fast read, engaging from the start. In "Little Panic" Amanda Stern clearly shows how one's internal experiences are labeled wrong, by others, by oneself, by psychology tests. In one of her adult relationships, with a man named Javier, he refers to her moods as 'negativity.' She corrects him that it is anxiety not negativity, but he can't hear her or understand. During a scene when she realizes she has to break up with him, she writes, "My body always knows, even when my brain tries to override it." She is now in her forties, she has finally begun to know herself and how to deal with her emotions, in this breakup, here is what she goes through: "I sit on the edge of my bed, trying to breathe. Breakups undo me, and I don't want to come undone. For once, I just want to break up with someone without worrying I'm going to die. When I try to imagine the worst that can happen, I can't seem to see or feel anything. My feelings go dark. The worst that can happen is that I will stop existing. I know I faced the same sense of extinction onstage, but it's never felt like an option in my personal life. Maybe the only way to get through this is to pretend I'm onstage." "I call Javier, trying to keep the image of my bombing but not dying onstage in my head, but when he picks up, I fight back the urge to throw up. I breathe, and tell him, as calmly as I'm able, that I can't do it anymore. He doesn't seem upset. He may even be relieved; I can't bear to think about that. I will write Frankie [his daughter] a letter and send her a package. I'll call her. I just need a few days. As I put the phone down, I wait for the devastation to set in, wait to spiral off into an endless world without a bottom. But the anguish doesn't come. I wait. I am sad and empty, but for the moment, that's all. When the welling in my chest begins to take shape, and the world expands before me vast and frightening, I move toward the panic—although I don't want to. Wait! Wait! I say to the world, or maybe to myself—wait! I am being pulled toward my new stark reality of being without a family, of never getting what I want, when I remind myself how my body felt when I took the baby thing off the table. It was just a decision, a simple choice, but it shifted my feelings. I realize that I have a choice right now. I'm the only one who makes the feelings; the emotions don't already exist in the world, waiting to trap me. Usually, I let the emotion happen to me, following it until I lose control and need someone else to care for me; but what if I just decide I can care for myself, that I know how? That I am not going to die because I'm without Javi. I can believe my feelings are not facts, just as I told Frankie. The groove I've worn into my life is there, I suddenly see, because I've followed it. After every breakup. I have always followed the helpless groove it led me into. But if I made that groove myself, that means I can make another, different groove; and if I keep following that one, maybe I can get myself out of this cycle. The degree to which I fall apart is a choice. I breathe deeply, and I make the choice. I was fine before Javier, and I'll be fine without him. I can want a family and feel sad I lost this one; but, I remind myself, I want a family who wants to be my family in return. I'm saddest about Frankie. She's the person I really need to mourn, and that loss is different. I know I've lost the island, too, that I'll never be able to return because the island is Javier's, just like Frankie is his, and I am still looking for something to call mine. But at least I had it. For four incredible weeks, I had a family." This book is a great example of how psychology tests do little to uncover a mental health diagnosis of anxiety in children. From a child's perspective it shows how adults could relate better with children. She was constantly wanting to know what was wrong with her, and was told a learning disability, which was inaccurate. "From birth to death, we are measured and weighted, plotted on a line of percentile curves and compared against an invisible normal. We are appraised on our ability to answer questions whose responses are either right or wrong, which telegraphs to us that we are either right or wrong. We are tested, examined, assessed, and evaluated, and the numerical-value results become who we are—but it's in the chasm between "you" and that invisible normal where anxiety grows, telling you there's been an error and the error is you." Toward the very end of the memoir she goes into family dynamics and how anxiety is passed down in a family, in her family. "The small things you once overlooked begin to accumulate: your grandmother's agitated voice messages when you don't return her phone call inside of an hour, how out-of-sorts your father gets when someone is sitting at the table he's reserved, your mother's anger when someone makes a mistake. We expect anxiety in others to look like the anxiety that exists inside us, but it often doesn't, and so we don't recognize its sundry forms, even when the distress we feel inside our bodies isn't our own but someone else's." An excellent book about anxiety and feelings and how to understand life through this lense of emotions.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    At 25, Amanda Stern was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. This, after going through stress hell growing up, being wrongly diagnosed with a learning disorder, worrying that her mother would die if she didn’t keep an eye on her, and worrying that the world would fall apart at any second. Her life up until diagnosis and treatment was basically one long panic attack. Shifting between childhood and being an adult, Stern tells a story that is hard to read. As someone with an anxiety disorder myself, At 25, Amanda Stern was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. This, after going through stress hell growing up, being wrongly diagnosed with a learning disorder, worrying that her mother would die if she didn’t keep an eye on her, and worrying that the world would fall apart at any second. Her life up until diagnosis and treatment was basically one long panic attack. Shifting between childhood and being an adult, Stern tells a story that is hard to read. As someone with an anxiety disorder myself, I found myself going “Yes, yes, that’s how it was growing up” frequently. She had it much harder than I, though; I was able to lose the anxiety for periods, where I’m not sure she ever could. As if she didn’t have enough things to fear as a child, a boy vanished from her neighborhood when she was young, proving that horrible things did, indeed, happen to kids. Her mother had some kind of chronic illness that kept her in bed a lot and required lots of bottles of pills, and her father was remote, so even though her step-father was fairly attentive and caring Amanda’s illness sort of stayed under the radar as long as she wasn’t in trouble at school. Intelligent and articulate, Amanda has been able to have a career as an author of children’s books, which was a relief to read, as I found myself wondering how someone this crippled with panic could hold a job! Stern has a sense of humor that she looks at the past through, which makes her story a little easier to read than it could have been. I do think the story could have been edited down some- it does drag in some places. It is the details, though, that make her story come to life. I appreciated reading a book that illuminated a lot of the things I’ve gone through in my own life! Four stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Morninglight Mama

    So much of this memoir spoke to me, intimately, in the deepest parts of my emotions and memories, and I gotta admit, I was alternately relieved and freaked out. While I didn't have experiences that were exactly like Stern's, throughout my childhood, my anxiety went undiagnosed. It may not have impeded my academic performance, but my emotional development was surely messed up in ways that were impossible for me to articulate when I was young, and that I still struggle with today as an adult. Read So much of this memoir spoke to me, intimately, in the deepest parts of my emotions and memories, and I gotta admit, I was alternately relieved and freaked out. While I didn't have experiences that were exactly like Stern's, throughout my childhood, my anxiety went undiagnosed. It may not have impeded my academic performance, but my emotional development was surely messed up in ways that were impossible for me to articulate when I was young, and that I still struggle with today as an adult. Reading this at this time, though, was particularly affecting, because my anxiety is bubbling up more than it has in the last decade or so, as I wait for a scheduled surgery to happen in just over two weeks. Again, I don't know if it was a good idea to read this memoir at this time-- was it affirming or triggering? Who's to say? Specifics that reached me: -her need for a plan for all the 'what if' questions that constantly swirl around -"There is a way to be and I'm not being it, and I don't know how to change." (p.167) -doctor's description of her difficulty with spatial understanding and need to physically experience something vs. trying to read it on a map -her growing anxiety while riding a bus and the stop not being exactly where she expected "Since I was small, I've had one foot in the future, never fully present with the time and space inside which I'm standing." (p.371)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ramona Mead

    When I first started this memoir, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to handle it because my own anxiety was triggered. However that resolved quickly and I became fully immersed in Amanda's experiences. My own anxiety during childhood was not quite as severe and more generalized, and I didn't have siblings for comparison, though my relationship with my mother was similar. Even though I'm an adult now, hearing Amanda's story made me feel less alone. I wanted to reach out to comfort her and swap s When I first started this memoir, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to handle it because my own anxiety was triggered. However that resolved quickly and I became fully immersed in Amanda's experiences. My own anxiety during childhood was not quite as severe and more generalized, and I didn't have siblings for comparison, though my relationship with my mother was similar. Even though I'm an adult now, hearing Amanda's story made me feel less alone. I wanted to reach out to comfort her and swap stories while reading! I'm not sure how this memoir will affect someone who doesn't struggle with anxiety, but there are probably more who do than I realize. I also think it would be a game changer for someone who loves a person with anxiety/panic disorders who can't relate. The writing is strong and vivid. Amanda's personality and those of her family are fully expressed and relatable. She captured her inner dialogue well and brings the reader inside herself with humor, grief, and raw vulnerability. I feel so proud of her for writing this, even though I don't know her at all! Many thanks to NetGalley for my advanced copy. You can find my reviews and other bookish musings at www.ramonamead.com

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Parts of this book were so, so good and others were awfully dull. I, like the author, had my best friend in 5th grade die suddenly. We have that in common and it is a huge theme throughout the book. This made me feel connected to the book. Many thoughts Stern explores, I myself, have explored. However, it's the woeful, self-wallowing feel of Little Panic that just rubbed me the wrong way. In the end despite the very good parts, I still thought it was just okay. One reviewer wrote that they too h Parts of this book were so, so good and others were awfully dull. I, like the author, had my best friend in 5th grade die suddenly. We have that in common and it is a huge theme throughout the book. This made me feel connected to the book. Many thoughts Stern explores, I myself, have explored. However, it's the woeful, self-wallowing feel of Little Panic that just rubbed me the wrong way. In the end despite the very good parts, I still thought it was just okay. One reviewer wrote that they too have anxiety (as do I) and read a lot of books about the disorder (as do I), however, reading an entire book about one person's anxious view of the world and the events around her was not enjoyable or cathartic in anyway and I have to say I agree. #smallrantover I did enjoy it though. Partly. Also, who is doing cocaine on the reg at 16?! And detoxs alone for a week without anyone finding out while confined to their bedroom. Some of this seemed a little far-fetched. #littlepanic #bookworm #bookish #bookstagram

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kylah Peterman

    Amanda Stern does an excellent job of taking you inside the mind and life of a child/teen/adult suffering from panic disorder. Her book is an honest, sometimes humorous and often painful look at the many times, especially in children, that adults fail to get them the mental health services they need. It’s hard for me to rate this book. For me, the reader, there was a lot of repetition and redundancy; times I just wished it would move along and go somewhere. HOWEVER, in order to understand the min Amanda Stern does an excellent job of taking you inside the mind and life of a child/teen/adult suffering from panic disorder. Her book is an honest, sometimes humorous and often painful look at the many times, especially in children, that adults fail to get them the mental health services they need. It’s hard for me to rate this book. For me, the reader, there was a lot of repetition and redundancy; times I just wished it would move along and go somewhere. HOWEVER, in order to understand the mind of someone suffering from panic disorder or other mental health issues, their minds do tend to run at full tilt with circling repetitive thoughts and, in this, I thought the author brought it brutally home despite my short attention span at times. I would also consider this a MUST READ for family members, spouses, friends or significant others with a person who suffers from this debilitating condition in their lives. Overall, good book with value and I’m glad I got the chance to read it. As an aside, Busy is one lucky dog (too small, too pointy or not 😉).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Zavala

    Amanda's experiences of growing up with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder is tragically common. It is so impressive that Amanda remembers growing up with the disorder and how it made her think and feel. From the outside it seems obvious that she has a family history of anxiety, it is sad that therapists, teachers, and family didn't diagnose it sooner. I read this book very quickly and I loved her writing style and the flow of the book. I am a true crime reader and I liked hearing Amanda's experienc Amanda's experiences of growing up with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder is tragically common. It is so impressive that Amanda remembers growing up with the disorder and how it made her think and feel. From the outside it seems obvious that she has a family history of anxiety, it is sad that therapists, teachers, and family didn't diagnose it sooner. I read this book very quickly and I loved her writing style and the flow of the book. I am a true crime reader and I liked hearing Amanda's experiences in dealing with Etan Patz's disappearance close to her home as a child. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and I can relate to so many of Amanda's experiences. I recommend this book to anyone who suffers from anxiety or anyone who wants to better understand the disorder. It is not something that you can just snap out of. After reading the book, I understand the picture on the cover. However, I don't think that it will generally be appealing. (just my two cents) Don't let a book fool you by it's cover.

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