As well as documenting my own experience in the world I want to make this zine relatable so I put out a call on instagram asking people to share what makes them feel anxious. Here are some of the replies I had.
“Stuck in the middle of a crowd with no way out, walking home anywhere without streetlights, job interviews, clicking send on a message you know won’t be recieved well”
“If a train is cancelled I worry and instantly jump to a worse case scenario that I will miss whatever I’m travelling for (if it’s meeting friends that they would be upset or if it’s work/uni related that it would mean I fail something or get in trouble)”
“Seeing really great design work online it a huge thing for me; it used to cripple me to the point of being so anxious I couldn’t make anything - super invonvenient”
“Doing adult things without another person that feels the same way. Like food shop on your own, huge store, lots of people, no earphones”
“Getting everything in your bag/change while the cashier is waiting for you to leave”
“Central line in rush hour”
“New situations that I’m unfamiliar with drive my anxiety wild. Starting a new job in retail and coming back from uni have been recent situations for me”
“So I just hate coaches and types of public transport where I can’t get off easily so the fact someone else is in control of what I’m doing for example getting a coach from Bournemouth to London I know I can’t get off which makes me hugely anxious and the fact there’s lots of strangers on the coach too”
“Work parties… last one I went to I got so nervous and anxious cause no one was talking to me I spent the whole time with a straw in my mouth and drank half a bottle of pimms to myself on an empty stomach and made a complete tit of myself because I decided it would be a good idea to make a speech”
“my bus stop was closed and I had to get off at the nect one and I ended up lost in shoreditch with no data and cried trying to get to work”
“When I do venture outside and especially when I’m out on my own, I often feel like an imposter; Like I’m somehow wrong for being there and taking up space in the world. In this moment my vision can feel severe and paranoid, my hearing spaced out like echo’s; my whole brain swims. My chest feels restricted, but buoyant, like an air mattress with a slow leak. I find the only way to cope and re-centre myself is with touch; I will hold my hand to the floor and ground myself (Although more often than not I feel too awkward to do that and just live with the anxiety until I’m back in my safe space).
Another failsafe way I cope with anxiety is to ensure I have absolute control over the spaces and situations around me. It’s hard to tell if my love of interior design is a product of my personality and taste or just my anxiety disorder. They say a tidy room is a tidy mind, but my compulsion to constantly reposition all my furniture and clean every surface goes beyond that, and I will become overly emotional and sometimes angry if I’m unable to make these changes.
My first memory of what I now recognise as anxiety was as a child. I would cry and hide to get out of social situations; even low-key gatherings with family and friends who I liked (even loved), the overwhelming feeling of panic and dread would completely wash over me, and I could think of nothing more than being back home in safety and familiarity.
The reality of the situation was that nothing bad was going to happen, but my brain was telling me that it was; or at least that it could.
My anxiety has always been triggered in social settings, and I think due to these formative memories of panic and fear as a child, I’ve developed introverted coping mechanisms in my adult life. There is of course nothing wrong with being introverted and spending time by yourself, but for me it’s not always a choice, its anxiety controlling my decision making. If I feel particularly agitated or stressed out by something, I’ll often give in and instead of letting the anxiety take over, I’ll avoid that ‘something’ completely, usually by shutting myself away in the solitary confinement of my duvet and Netflix.”