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When I was 10, I watched Poltergeist at a friend's birthday sleepover. That night, I feared every rustle or hum of the house was the psycho clown making a move to strangle me. Would anyone hear me scream? Would I be able to fend him off? Should I wake the others?

I lay frozen, heart pounding and breathing in shallow bursts, fervently wishing I had devoted more time to acrobatics than books so I could deftly manoeuvre to the door without risking suffocation by a demonic stuffed toy. You could not have convinced me that my life was not in danger that night (or, to be honest, for quite a few sleepless nights thereafter).

It might seem like a giggle now, but that kind of catastrophising isn't confined to childhood; it's a form of anxiety that can rise up at any life stage. And it can make you feel quite unwell.

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