My death.

It crosses my mind every time I get on an airplane, every time I speak before a crowd, every time I ride my bike over the Ballard Bridge. And it doesn't just cross my mind. There's nothing momentary or fleeting about it. I flash on gruesome, high-res images of the plane I'm on exploding in flames, or one of the many assholes who send me death threats splattering my brains all over the lectern I'm standing at, or the city bus that's bearing down on me dragging my mangled bike and lifeless body for several blocks.

Does that sound exhausting? It is. And it must be genetic, because my mother was like this, too.

Whatever the situation, whatever the challenge, my mother would obsess about the worst possible outcome. She never got on a plane without thinking about it crashing, she never dropped her four kids off at the lake without thinking about all four of us drowning, she never ate a chicken salad without worrying about salmonella poisoning. My husband long ago dubbed this affliction "WCSD," which stands for "worst-case scenario disorder." He considers it a mental illness.

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Terry may be right. But here's the thing: WCSD works. My mother believed that obsessing about worst-case scenarios was the best protection from worst-case realities. If you thought about the plane you were on crashing, the plane you were on wouldn't crash. If you thought about your kids drowning, your kids wouldn't drown. If you thought about your chicken salad killing you, your chicken salad wouldn't kill you.

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