hugging your anxiety monster real tight: a media guide

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 12.26.37 PMnye 2016. all the anxiety behind that face mask. edith was an all too accurate representation of my own personal anxiety monster. 

hugging your anxiety monster 

that one conversation you had last july (and last night…and three years ago in college…) where you said some weird crap in front of some friends/coworkers/the cvs cashier lady and you’re STILL cringing over it. every time i see the news ticker on facebook or anyone filtering their profile pictures with a different flag. when someone doesn’t text you back and you immediately think, “they’re dead. in a fiery car crash. careening off a cliff. into a big pile of…more fire. all my fault.”

this all is enough to make my anxiety go haywire. which then turns into me living in this nasty mental garbage-filled trash dungeon where i end up just…not feeling like myself for a while and then i…feel even more anxious because i’m not being myself…and then i get more anxious.

it’s really, really cute.

and that’s okay, really. fun (unsurprising) fact: i was diagnosed with anxiety and ocd when i was 7, which meant i got to get out of school to go visit my psychiatrist who brought his dog to work (hells yes!!! NAILED IT, mom!!)

i saw him every few months until i was 17, trying all kiiiiinds of concoctions until he finally “dumped” me, telling me plainly, “i don’t think you need medication anymore. i think you can solve this yourself. you have the tools.”

even his dog was all, “yeah, girl” which he gestured to me by licking his crotch.

whooooooooa, right?!

and i believe that evil genius psychiatrist man. i left his office only feeling bummed i couldn’t see his golden retriever anymore. since then, it’s been a matter of building that tool belt of things that make me feel like myself again (which i know now is this picture of ingrid bergman knitting on a beach  + jenny slate’s instagram) and not weird-anxiety self (an awkward hermit monk  + this leslie knope freak out).

whenever i describe coping with my anxiety, i always imagine myself hugging it so tight that it shuts the hell up. it really does help. on top of that, the most comforting thing i’ve ever had someone say to me is “yes! i have felt this way too.”

so here i am. feeling this way too.  here is my tool box. it has served me well. fly free, little dudes.


music:
you best believe i made a public anxiety playlist on spotify. come on, remember that i lack discretion and also start sentences with “omg this one time at eating disorder camp…!!”

this is also the origin of my new favorite excuse for everything: “don’t blame it on me, blame it on my wiiiiiiild heaaaaaart!” i highly recommend it.


movies:
first, let’s start this off with…

DORIS DAY (’cause she makes me feel the most like myself):
pillow talk doris is a high-powered interior designer and she has to share a phone line with a big ol’ hunk of manmeat (rock hudson) who writes musical theater numbers.  several dropped hankerchiefs later, she not only woos him but she KICKS MAJOR ASS and wears a lady-suit like there is NO TOMORROW.

this is also almost identical to the movie lover come back (also great), where she also takes her time to not be fucked around with by anyone. 

it happened to jane okay, so doris is just a simple lobster farmer from maine and once again, she is NOT FUCKING AROUND, GUYS.  she sues the hell out of a railroad company and if that’s not the most outdated plot line you’ve ever heard, i don’t know what is, but it’s glooooooorious. 

the glass bottom boataside from the fact that this is the movie i based my tattoo on, it’s total hot garbage. regardless, she WORKS AT NASA AND CHALLENGES SEXISM, KINDA. 

calamity jane okay, some pretty egregious sexism here, but homegirl is a gun-slinging, horseback- riding wild woman.  her slacks game is pretty immaculate, too.

move over, darlinghave you ever been stuck on a deserted island for five years, only to be rescued and find out your husband has just gotten remarried?! NO. you haven’t. let’s put all our shit in perspective, guys. and then crash. that. honeymoon.  


others:
muriel’s wedding the beauty of female friendship! toni collette! abba! an australian beach town called porpoise spit! what else do you need? nothing, you monster. stop asking. 

troop beverly hillsshelley long is a shopping-obsessed,  underdog leader of a girl scout troop going down the pooper, while also going through a nasty divorce with ed o’neill and guess what? HOMEGIRL DEFIES ALL ODDS.

roman holidayit’s such a small moment, but when queen anne’s doctor says “i think it’s time you do just what you like for a while” my little 16 year old mind was BLOWN. 

amelie – for me this is a total duh (hope in humanity, whimsy, magic being restored, etc.), but upon consulting my old roommate she said this movie causes her the most anxiety of all because she can’t deal with amelie not making out with nico’s whole face (his.whole.face.) immediately. i also feel this pain. 

starter for 10 (the book is great, too) — if you find yourself feeling awkward and your every word makes your skin crawl, this movie will provide some comfort that you’re truly not that awkward. or maybe you are, but you’re not alone — james mcavoy’s handsome, man-goat features are also very calming.

frances ha as someone who’s lived 70% of this mess before (namely the whole “ah crap, i booked a flight to europe with no planning and no friends” and “casually kinda awful at adult ballet and mildly undateable” part), it’s comforting to watch someone else go through it.


tv:
i think tv is a wonderful escapism tool when dealing with anxiety. i know it’s seen as a toxic form of media, but as someone who was raised in part by a television and still is not a sociopath, i kind of call b.s. on that. i could get real exhaustive on tv that’s healed me, but these in particular healed me in a gross part of 2014. i don’t know why these are all either british or irish series, but let their lilting accents take you over:

father ted i got a bit more obsessed with this show than the others, you could say. 

moone boychris o’dowd plays an imaginary friend to a dopey 11 year old irish boy in 1989 boyle, ireland. if you predicted that this is my fantasy, you’d be 100% right. 

the it crowd  — can you tell i have a tremendously awkward boner for chris o’dowd?

peep show#1 comedy of all time. don’t even question me. just stop it. 

that mitchell and webb look i laugh-cry whenever i think of the queen victoria sketch. 


books:
something i’ve found is it’s hard to find books that straddle that nasty variety of indecision that power-bombs your life at times.  i like those characters that can observe their own indecision and faults and grip them a bit tighter into a sort of friendly choke-hold. these are those special books. also, included is some good, old fashioned, book-flavored escapism:

rebecca by daphne du maurier — crazy bitches, fires, mansions — this book is an absolute escapist’s dream. also, it’s especially good during a romantic drought / break-up in your life, because it makes you immediately think, “uh, no. i think i’m fine by myself, thanks.” 

high fidelity by nick hornby — i’m captain obvious /  high admiral  of “duh”  for suggesting this, but it’s especially good if you’re finding yourself at odds with the old-pizza-crust-and-non-descript-boob-littered world of the straight male brain. 

the uncoupling by meg wolitzer — in the fall of 2014, this healed the hell outta me. and not only because i used the pages as bandaids. the words helped, too. 

how to build a girl by caitlin moran — a new favorite in my rotation. i’ll fangirl caitlin moran ’til the cows come home. and these particular cows are homeless, so…forever. 

zorba the greek  by nikolas kazantzakis — severely underrated and will possibly solve all your life’s problems forever, always, etc. 

why we broke up by daniel handler and maira kalman — okay, i don’t need to explain this. just look at the title. it will tear you apart. it’s fine. you can thank me later once you collect your bowels. 

the pocket pema chodronthis actually-literally fits into any and all of your pockets (please do not attempt to put it in “nature’s pocket”. the resulting paper cut pains me to imagine), so you have no excuse not to read this. this was my little buddy on nyc subways when i found out that the city made me feel so hardened that i actually CRAVED shoulder-checking random people. it’s a phenomena, i swear. #I<3NY  

my berlin kitchen by luisa weiss — sort of a random pick but every single time i’ve moved (boston…chicago…new york…los angeles…okay, i’ve read this book a lot), or felt like something wasn’t quite right in my world, i pick this up.  say “pflaumenkuchen” 5 times fast and tell me it doesn’t cheer you up. i dare you.  

the girl’s guide to hunting and fishing by melissa banks  — okay, so i know this is quite seriously on the shelves of every thrift store currently, but i’ve re-read this every year since i was 17 and each time i get something completely different out of it.  it’s the book i recommend to nearly everyone and i’ve got a 100% success rate with it so far. #humblebrag 


stand-up:
these guys could be categorized as “things i listened to while at an internship/ desk job instead of hyperventilating.”  maybe they helped distract me until i got some clarity or perspective, or they simply made me laugh so hard i had to go to the bathroom to get my breathing back to normal.

mike birbiglia — how does he make me cry and laugh so hard for so many different reasons? HOW?! oh birbigs, you hit me right in the cockles of my heart.  you bastard, i love you.
favorites: my girlfriend’s boyfriend + sleepwalk with me.

bill burr– okay, i’m biased because bill burr’s stand-up is 100% a reading of a transcript of the phone calls i have with my big brother.
favorites: why do i do this  + emotionally unavailable.

maria bamford– proof that it’s more than okay(and even super empowering! scare others with your tears!) to show the crazy.
favorites: ask me about my new god!  + unwanted thoughts syndrome.

jenny slate — okay, so i mostly just lurk her instagram mid-panic attack (super! casual!), but she reminds me of the little core nubbins of my soul and that it’s okay  to be vulnerable.  additionally, obvious child is a must-watch for humans with working brains and hearts everywhere. 

aziz ansari — whether you’ve noticed it or not, it’s fact that my alter ego is “randy”. 
favorites: intimate moments for a sensual evening + dangerously delicious.

tig notaro — i waited way too long to finally listen to/watch tig, and i want to help you escape that same fate. time is so very short. listen.
favorites: good one + live.


social media:
i always like to think i’m the kind of “cool” person who could give up social media, but i’m just not. i’m painfully chatty and i will never quit facebook due to the really intense wine-themed group chat i have going with my aunts (this is a legitimate reason. it’s wonderful…wine-derful…ugh).

i do however take great care to make sure i unfollow + add things in to my social media circle that make me pretty damn glad and not hate-scroll through shit mindlessly.

instagram is my main mode of social media, but if you want to be added to this particular wine-soaked facebook chat, i’m sure i could pull some strings.

instagrams:
okay, i’m kind of obsessed with those instagram yoga / hiking / real as hell girls, but… i’m very picky. these ladies are mad transparent and i harbor very open girl crushes for them all.

homegirls that keep it real / are espresso straight to the heart:
@becomingjolie
@gildatravels
@jennyslate
@because_of_joy

yo-gals:
@upsidedownmama
@the_southern_yogi
@jessicaolie
@erintron

artists that keep it (almost too) real:
@lianafinck
@bymariandrew
@personalpractice – try not to have your own secret dance parties now. i dare you. 
@phoebewahl – goal: live inside of one of her paintings. 
@jessgrippo i used to take her ballet classes at 8am every saturday back in nyc and she is the most bright, shining beacon of dance-power ever.  

bonus:
@prairiedogpackcould you do with a bit more prairie dogs in your life? you bet your ass you do.
@_this_girl_is_a_squirrel – ditto the above sentiment, but with a SQUIRREL named  JILL. 

and finally, some handy-dandy pictures to calm your brain the eff down:

this wonderful series by phoebe wahl.
some jeanette winterson magic.
no bad thoughts. 
because you’re a badass bitch from hell.
also, you look cute as shit. 

love you. mean it. xoxo gossipmack.

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