Hi.

I’m an anxiety-riddled, grass-eating cat mom happily engaged to a transgender man.

I work as an engineer in New York City, pretending to be an adult and spending a solid 20% of my time trying to remember to not reply all.

I wanted a platform to share my wealth of equally positive and negative experiences as I attempt to navigate my twenties, and maybe get a little preachy here and there about veganism, mental health and LGBT rights.

At the very least, I hope to make you laugh.

My Five Stages of Anxiety

My Five Stages of Anxiety

1. Lists

It's Wednesday morning. The express train finally reaches Grand Central and I slowly detach my thighs from the seat. My skirt is probably too short for work but the heat and the sardine packed subway give me flashbacks of passing out on the port authority bus and it overrides any dress code. The hot air immediately pours over my entire body as the sliding doors open to the platform. I trudge through the beating sun up to the my cool, grey office. I am the first one here and I slowly exhale as I shut the door behind me.There's something incomparable about the immediate relief that follows the escape from a large crowd. I slide into my swivel chair, flick on my overhead lamp and brush any microscopic lint off of my desk that may have accumulated overnight. I've been awake for three hours now and my mind has already begun to form an anthology of anxious to-dos and what-ifs. I reach toward my file organizer and pull out a notebook labeled: "Mind Clutter." A therapist once told me that I will feel more at ease if I take things out of my head and put them on paper. He forgot to mention that I'd end up giving Staples half of my paycheck every month. I write in all caps at the top of the page: "TO DO TODAY/EVENTUALLY." He also told me that giving myself strict deadlines causes further anxiety. I fill 1.5 pages with tasks and I feel 1.5% better.

2. Manic  

After making my list, I pause for breakfast. If I don't eat every few hours, more anxiety creeps up.

Will I pass out? Am I getting enough nutrients? Am I eating too much? 

I scrape the bottom of my oatmeal bowl and head to the break room to wash it out. I try to grab two paper towels to dry the bowl. I get one and the second one rips. I compulsively reach for two more; if it's not perfect, they're unusable.I take exactly 27 steps back to my office and put my bowl away in my overhead cabinet. I rearrange it three times and sit back down. I cross my right leg, then my left, then my right again. One last time, I switch to my left and it feels right. I open up my "Mind Clutter" notebook again to the list from this morning. I need to see all of the tasks at once, but they are spread out across the front and back of one sheet. I rewrite the back side on the next page. I place the two sheets of paper side by side. I take a few minutes to line up the edges. I label each of the 32 items by priority level 0-3. 0 is must do today, 3 can wait indefinitely. I have 9 priority 0s, 6 priority 1s, 10 priority 2s and 7 priority 3s. I glance down at the bottom right-hand corner of my monitor and see that it's already 9:31 am. I have to complete 9 tasks today and it's already 9:31 am. I take out my planner and begin to prioritize today's must  dos. I search for the set of colored pens and I start to color coordinate tasks. I write all work related items in green, all errands in orange, all personal to-dos in pink. I accidentally write a personal item in green and I rip the page out and start over. I decide that the second item on the list is actually more important. I rip the page out and start over. I am writing furiously at this point, realizing I am losing time rapidly. I begin to think of all the things that could happen if I don't complete these tasks immediately and my minds spins out of control. I start opening windows on my computer; e-mail, Chrome, calculator, documents, Excel, Powerpoint. I compose the first sentence of an e-mail and remember that it's only number 4 on the list. What's number 1? What time is it? When is my first meeting today? I feel a little light-headed and my forehead is starting to throb. I notice that I have been compulsively sniffing for the past 30 minutes. This is a new tic; and it comes with a painful side effect. 

3. Shower

It's 5:30 pm and I'm fumbling through my bag for my house keys. I feel like I just ran a mental marathon. I often wish I could place my brain on my nightstand every night to charge right next to my phone. I slowly walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment and drop my bag immediately after opening the door. I squat down and pet my cat for a few minutes, appreciating his lack of urgency and his unconditional love. I stand back up and make my way to the bathroom. My first therapist I ever saw instructed me to designate a safe place in my life. "Where do you go when you need to close off the outside world?" she would ask me. The shower. I set my glasses on the counter, slide open the glass door, and walk blindly into the steam. Standing directly under the water, I hold my breath, and let the lack of oxygen and scorching hot water distract me from the circus in my head. I exhale and sink slowly to the floor, bringing my knees tightly up to my chest. I rest my face on my kneecaps and wrap my arms around my legs. The water is hitting my right shoulder harder than my left. I slide a little to the right in hopes of evening it out. I scoot back and forth for a few minutes until it's even. As the water runs down the side of my face and falls onto my thighs, everything feels calm. I hear no noise over the sound of the shower and there are no lists here. I don't know how long I've been in here, but I start to smell dinner coming up through the vents from the floor below and know that it must be getting late.

4. Parachute

It's 10 pm and I know that tomorrow is another early day. I crawl into bed and tuck my blanket underneath me on all sides. I measure visually to make sure that the blanket is placed evenly over my body. I stare up at the popcorn ceiling and struggle to take a deep breath. I sit up in an attempt to open up my chest more. I try again and it feels as though I'm breathing through a straw. With a mild panic, I stand up and pace between the bedroom and the kitchen. I remind myself that it's just me. It's just my head. There is no gas leak, I'm not having a heart attack, my blood sugar is not low. It's me. I try to take several deep breaths in a row and I can't get enough air. Frustrated, I feel tears start to gather behind my eyes. My uncle once told me that you just have to let anxiety happen. You can't force a deep breath, you can't eradicate chest pains at the snap of your fingers, you just have to let them be and they'll diminish on their own. I lie back down and close my eyes. When I was little, my favorite days were when we played parachute in gym class. The gym teacher would sprawl out this beach ball looking sheet across the shiny hardwood floor. Everyone would circle around it like we were waiting for it to perform a trick. When she said go, we'd all grab the ends and lift it up as high as we could. One after another, we'd take turns sprinting underneath to the other side. When it was my turn, I didn't run. I walked into the middle of the circle and I sat down. I stared up and saw the big multicolored sky floating right above me. Not too close to make me claustrophobic, but just close enough to protect me. I'd close my eyes and pray that I could stay there. That the whole class would forget I was underneath and the bell would ring. That all 40 little hands would let go and run back to class. That the parachute would collapse on top of me and keep me safe eternally. I would stay under that parachute with no to-dos, no what-ifs. The fabric would fall perfectly over my shoulders; I wouldn't have to situate it or move it a little to the left or to the right. It would drape down the side of my face just like the hot water in the shower. I sat under that parachute until 5 am when my alarm startled me awake.

5. Lists

It's Thursday morning. The express train finally reaches Grand Central and I slowly detach my thighs from the seat. My skirt is probably too short for work but the heat and the sardine packed subway give me flashbacks of passing out on the port authority bus and it overrides any dress code. The hot air immediately pours over my entire body as the sliding doors open to the platform. I trudge through the beating sun up to the my cool, grey office. I am the first one here and I slowly exhale as I shut the door behind me. Something about the immediate relief that follows the escape from a large crowd. I slide into my swivel chair, flick on my overhead lamp and brush any microscopic lint off of my desk that may have accumulated overnight. I've been awake for three hours now so my mind has already begun to form a collection of anxious to-do's and what-ifs. I reach toward my file organizer and pull out a notebook labeled: "Mind Clutter." A therapist once told me that I will feel more at ease if I take things out of my head and put them on paper. He forgot to mention that I'd end up giving Staples half of my paycheck every month. I write in all caps at the top of the page: "TO DO TODAY/EVENTUALLY." HE also told me that giving myself strict deadlines causes further anxiety. I fill one and a half pages with tasks and I feel 3% better.

Meeting your Neighbor (& Their Mental Illness)

Meeting your Neighbor (& Their Mental Illness)

CAT POTW XII

CAT POTW XII