As soon as we learned a new baby was on the way, Mike’s anxiety became more than an occasional visitor: It officially moved in. We recently had bought a family-size home with a yard in Seattle, and suddenly he saw danger everywhere.
When someone you trust starts to act irrationally, it’s destabilizing. There was always a small kernel of truth to his worries. I had no reason to believe the horrible things he feared would happen, but I also couldn’t prove they wouldn’t. And, it turns out, if you look to the internet to justify your fears, it tends to deliver.
As my belly grew, Mike’s anxiety grew more frequent and more powerful. He started seeing a therapist, but it didn’t help. My reassurances were no longer enough; he would spiral deeper into fear, scouring the internet for hours. I started to wonder if we might have to live separately, because he couldn’t seem to bear the fear of living with us.
When Nonna’s memory fails her, she returns to familiar gestures. On a weekend afternoon in winter 2021, she offers me a piece of hard licorice...