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Things You Think About When You Bite Your Nails

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“Relatable and comforting and challenging all at once. Don’t be afraid to read this book.”—Jenny ... Read More

Product Description

“Relatable and comforting and challenging all at once. Don’t be afraid to read this book.”
—Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy

A funny and wise guide and workbook for conquering fears, from the existential to the everyday, and defeating the monster those fears can become: anxiety

This is a book about fear. About how it works, how it takes hold over us, and how it dogs us from childhood (the monsters under the bed) to adulthood (careers, relationships, accidentally sending that risky text to the wrong person--all the things that make us want to bite our nails). But this is also a book about that monster our fear can warp into when it grows too powerful, a phenomenon we are all too familiar with and that more and more of us are struggling against: anxiety.

Author and illustrator Amalia Andrade had her own battle with anxiety, and not only did she make it out the other side, she learned sometimes it's the very thing that almost sinks you that can save you. Through the lessons, exercises, and often hilarious personal stories Amalia shares in these pages, together you will learn how to make those feelings your friends and turn your fears into superpowers.

A PENGUIN LIFE TITLEPraise for Things You Think About When You Bite Your Nails

“Available in English and Spanish, this is a beautifully illustrated workbook about fear—how it works, how it develops from childhood, and how it can morph into adult anxiety. Mari Andrew calls it funny and compassionate, ‘a must-have companion that reminds us how much power we actually have over our own lives.’”
—Book Riot

Things You Think About When You Bite Your Nails is a tender and witty examination of fear, in which Amalia Andrade shows us that fear is as universal and useful a teacher as heartbreak. She gives us an empowering opportunity to be observers of our own anxieties, and therefore become better caretakers of them. By the end of this funny, compassionate, and interactive deep-dive into the things that scare us, I was ready to ask my fears to dance! During an era when the unknown future seems especially frightening, this book is a must-have companion that reminds us how much power we actually have over our own lives.”
—Mari Andrew, author of Am I There Yet? and My Inner Sky  
“Relatable and comforting and challenging all at once. Don’t be afraid to read this book.”
—Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy

“Amalia Andrade is back with another book packed full of kind-hearted, relatable, slightly manic, pop-culture-infused personal insight, and reflective prompts. Deeply human, this book on fear and anxiety has already touched many like-minded souls and is sure to continue its impact with this English translation.”
—Adam J. Kurtz, artist and author of 1 Page at a Time

Things You Think About When You Bite Your Nails is a comforting, humorous, and unique endeavor into demystifying fear. Amalia Andrade so cleverly explores universal truths behind anxiety, while making room for the reader's own terrifying thoughts.”  
—Jordan Sondler, author of Feel It Out

“As a fellow artist, I can certainly say that I hate Amalia. I’m deeply envious of her vulnerability, and her clever ability to make me confront my own fears and traumas, all while making me laugh. Can you believe the nerve?! If you’re interested in rediscovering yourself, or just laughing hard, please read this book and hate love her along with me.”
—Timothy Goodman, author of Sharpie Art Workshop
“This book is a comprehensive toolkit wrapped up in a soft warm blanket. It gives you the courage to fight your darkest fears, and it offers you the comfort to quieten your loudest anxieties. It is a safe and supportive space that will encourage you to live a fear free life. Most of all, this book succeeds where most self-help books fail, it actually helps.”
—Lee Crutchley, author of How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad)Amalia Andrade was born in Cali, Colombia, in 1986. She studied literature at Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogotá. She's been drawing forever. She's written for several magazines in both Colombia and the United States. She believes strongly in the power of keeping a diary. When she grows up she wants to be a mix between Sylvia Plath and Tina Fey. She lives in Bogotá with her cats and is the author of You Always Change the Love of Your Life (for Another Love or Another Life).

Isabella Corletto was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She graduated from Wesleyan University with degrees in English and Italian Studies and speaks Spanish, English, Italian, and Portuguese. She translated Amalia Andrade's Things You Think About When You Bite Your Nails and has published translations in Latin American Literature Today.INTRODUCTION 

Dear reader, this is a book about fear— and as such, it’s very likely that while reading it you will experience some mo-ments of terror. This doesn’t mean that this is a SCARY BOOK. There are no monsters here. Actually, yes, there are some. But their purpose isn’t to scare you. Their purpose is to help you unmask your fears, to take power from them, to conquer them.

This book is like stepping into a Freddy Krueger movie and, in-stead of being brutally murdered in your sleep, realizing that Freddy is actually a lowly modern- day adult who has to fill out his W- 9 and pay his bills again because his payment bounced (for the tenth time), who has just been dumped by his boyfriend, and who suffers from post- traumatic stress disorder from that time his brother— on accident— dumped boiling hot tea on his face when he was thirteen years old, forever ruining his dream of starring in telenovelas.

None of this justifies Freddy’s murder attempts— what I mean is that Freddy is most likely a sociopath and should probably go see a psychiatrist— but after learning all of this he doesn’t seem quite so scary, right? Okay, fine, yes, he’s still a little bit scary, but now that we understand him we think, “Poor Freddy, all he ever wanted was to be a telenovela hunk.”

Well, that understanding is what’s going to happen with this book— not understanding Freddy Krueger, dear reader, but rather understanding your inexplicable fear of rats or your fear of loneliness and rejection.

Fear can either be your ally or your enemy, depending on how well you understand it and on whether it controls you or you control it. In my case, I decided to write this book because, as time went on, my personal list of fears began to grow at an uncontrollable pace. I wanted to understand how I went from being a girl capable of eating sand straight out of the children’s sandbox (I know, this is gross; don’t ask) to being a young adult (this term makes me feel less old) incapable of touching the door of a public bathroom without suffer-ing a small panic attackthinking about the possibility of catching a deadly virus.


Throughout my life, my fear has worn many different masks.

For years, it made itself known through horrible asthma. During the very worst times, I could barely breathe. As a kid my mouth always tasted like albuterol, like medicine, like the urge to cry. I’d chew gum, but the taste would linger, stagnant. I’d pilfer pas-tries. I’d sneak the grape- flavored popsicles that Jenny— my nanny— would buy for me at the corner store after I’d promise that I would eat all my soup, I would be well- behaved, I wouldn’t bite her when I got angry for no reason— because that’s what I was like.

(I don’t remember biting her, but Jenny shows me the scars on her back, the marks of my teeth in irregular shapes— like warm- water lakes— embedded in her skin, and says: “The more I’d ask you to stop, the harder you’d bite.”
“Like a crocodile,” I say, laughing.
But Jenny doesn’t laugh.)

I remember waking up many nights and walking to Mom’s room, filled with fear from my nightmares or overcome by the need to make sure she hadn’t died in her sleep. The asthma attacks didn’t strike in the moment— instead, they would come two or three days later, out of nowhere, for no reason, while I slept or read a book or played in the pool with my brother, pretending to be aquatic detec-tives or rulers of the ocean.

I didn’t understand that my asthma was a mask for my anxiety until I stopped having asthma altogether and the fear stuck around, growing inside me.

As I grew older, the monster transformed into a fear of vomiting. I remember particular moments, like the time I woke up abrupt-ly and threw up all over my Disney Pocahontas rug. I ran to Mom’s room wailing, “Mom, I threw up!” as though it was the most grue-some thing that could happen to anyone, feeling like both a culprit and a victim of some horrible crime. I became consumed with the fear that I’d throw up again and turned to elaborate rituals— refusing to sleep on my side, sticking my head out the window of the school bus to avoid troubling smells, guzzling Alka- Seltzer in secret— to ensure it would never happen again.

It wasn’t until a few years later, when reading Bart Simpson’s Guide to Life (a book that was foundational for me throughout my teenage years), that I discovered my fear wasn’t just fear but a pho-bia that had a name: emetophobia. The tangled mess of darkness living inside me had a name, and that meant it existed outside of me, beyond me. I wasn’t alone!

A phobia is rarely what it seems on the surface. Often, it’s a disguise for deeper and stronger fears, for unprocessed emotions that find a way to escape our bodies by turning into something else. My emetophobia isn’t simply a fear of vomiting— it’s a fear of losing control, of falling apart, of being violently vulnerable. In time, I came to understand this. But not without first spending too much time locked inside a prison I built for myself, one wrought not of iron bars but of evasion, rituals, manias, and compulsions.

Whether it’s my childhood fears of asthma attacks and vomit-ing, or more recent fears like the thought of going crazy or dying in a plane crash, my fear has worn many masks and dressed up as many things. It has stayed with me, like an enigmatic companion who is difficult to understand. Maybe as a survival mechanism. Maybe as an antiquated biological response. Maybe because of my inherited genetics. Maybe as a friend, one who could teach me lessons about courage and leaps of faith. Or maybe for no reason at all.

Fear is tricky, and it is so hard to overcome. That is why, when I found myself at age twenty- seven, cornered in the sterile and an-tiseptic office of an unknown psychiatrist who looked at me with both pity and concern, I thought it was too late. The psychiatrist explained to me, “You have generalized anxiety disorder amplified by panic disorder with agoraphobia, as well as specific phobia dis-order,” and prescribed me medication that would take two weeks to start working. “You’re probably not going to feel great at first, but that’s normal,” she told me. “It’ll get better soon.”

She was clearly being optimistic when she said “soon” and “not great.” I felt like I was dying. But I made it.

I don’t know where I found the strength. It came from parts of me I had never known before, not because they were invisible but because I had never tried to acknowledge their existence. I man-aged to drag myself up and out of bed, trying to put the pieces of my life back together after every line had blurred. I went to the psychiatrist’s once a week, every week, for five months.

I came to understand that to feel is to heal. And so, I embraced my torments without shame. I felt the pain I had swallowed as a child all over my skin. I pushed through the things that hurt me cruelly, delicately, meticulously. I looked them in the eye. I didn’t avoid any part of them; instead, I roamed their every corner, and I healed. The anxiety disappeared, the darkness lifted from my chest, and I was once again able to recognize the different shapes and pieces of my life.

“It’s time to give new meaning to my life,” I said in one of those sessions. And my psychologist told me: “Write that down and hang it on the wall.” I said I would, but I didn’t.
Instead, I wrote this book.

In this book, I’m going to explore fear: the ins and outs, its com-plexities, its character, how it disguises itself so easily. To under-stand fear, we need to unmask it, and so the whole purpose of this book is to help you do exactly that. We live in an age where fear is always lurking around the corner like a creepy entity, but I think we can invite it into the light, make it a little less creepy.

In the following chapters, you’ll learn about the origins of your fears, as well as how to talk to them and navigate them. You’ll also find a chapter where I explore what it means when fear spirals out of control as an anxiety disorder, how to identify what is happening to you, and how to cope with it in successful ways.

Throughout, I’m going to ask you to draw or write your fears, because drawing or writing your fears helps you become conscious of them, and becoming conscious of them helps you articulate them, and articulating them is important because, as Stephen King said, “If a fear cannot be articulated, it can’t be conquered.”

Dedicating ourselves to profoundly examining our fears can be an intimidating, at times painful, and without a doubt very scary task. But we are NEVER alone in fear. On the following pages, you will find contributions from my brilliant artist and writer friends that I’ve called Support Group so that you never forget that you don’t have to go through fear alone. We got you.

Ready? Good. Let’s start with a quick test.. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Product Details

Title: Things You Think About When You Bite Your Nails
Author: Amalia AndradeIsabella Corletto
SKU: BK0437467
EAN: 9780143134916
Language: English

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