What do you think?
Rate this book
240 pages, Hardcover
First published April 26, 2016
“Did your throat close up just a little bit reading this? Spine prickle and tighten, stomach twitch, or did you feel the sweat pooling at the small of your back because it sounded painfully familiar? You’re not alone. There are millions of us struggling to fight anxiety in all its forms, every waking (and sometimes sleeping) hour of every day, and we’re suffering silently because we don’t want to be judged or add to anyone else’s burden”
“300.02 is the number of my beast. It’s The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classification code for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and it’s clawed its way into the top slot as the most frequently diagnosed mental illness in the United States of America (USA).”
“Generalized anxiety disorder entails ongoing, severe tension that interferes with daily functioning.”
“It is a wretched thing to be a slave to your body’s chemistry. It lies to you, stoking fear and guilt and horror where none is called for, turning shadows to predators and neutral interactions into mental films played on endless loop so you can dissect the moment that you screwed everything up forever”
“Fear is good. Fear is logical. But the kind of worry we’re talking about is magnified to such a degree that it becomes an act of violence upon one’s own soul.”
“A panic attack may include: pounding heart or chest pain, sweating, trembling, shaking, shortness of breath, sensation of choking, nausea or abdominal pain, dizziness or light-headedness, feeling unreal or disconnected, fear of losing control, “going crazy” (not in the fun Prince way) or dying, numbness, chills, or hot flashes.”
“These were for girls who didn’t pick their skin bloody, double over sour-stomached from fear of going to the mall with their friends, whose mothers didn’t scream in psychic pain then crash to sleep, who’d never stood at the edge of their world and considered doing it a favor by stepping over. They get love and you deserve scraps.”
“You can’t argue with a love that long-lasting—it just is, but at the time I saw it as a failing in me. She had to be prettier, smarter, fundamentally better than me, and I clawed myself to pieces trying to figure out what I was lacking.”
“It’s a form of communication I dread on a good day, but with my level of dependence on his contact increasing by the hour, it felt too risky, too intimate. E-mail, I could handle, take my time and craft the perfect response. But attaching an actual living person to the Sam I’d built in my head was a little too much.”
“He saw me for the flinching, tender soul I was behind my high, hard boots and bloodred lipstick and he wanted to let me know that he liked me despite it—and because of it. Hell, he just liked ME and he didn’t mind that I knew it. That sure felt like a first.”
“I felt gleeful and graceful and settled in my skin for the first time I could remember, tuned into the unfamiliar and wholly welcome bliss of someone whose soul buzzed on the same frequency as mine. He felt it, too—I knew it because he told me. He TOLD me, said the words out loud so I could hear them loud and clear, etch them onto my bones, and run my fingers over them. God, I felt loved and I gave as good as I got.”
"You see why I didn’t let you come over before? If you don’t want to live with me, say the word. Go ahead and do it now and I’ll take everything back from the apartment. Just tell me now, so we can get it over with.”He stepped forward and drew my tear-sogged, hysterical face to his shoulder, wrapping his arms around me to still me. “I love you. Thank you for trusting me. What can I carry home to our place?”
“Even if someone is easy to love, that doesn’t necessarily take the gravity and terror out of the situation”
“And we both braced for impact, all the time. I could see it in the little pauses before our carefully selected words, the flinch before each revelation of a flaw, the almost overeager need to please and serve—as if our presence wasn’t present enough. Is that okay with you? Do you need anything? Do you mind if I . . . ? What can I get for you?
"Is that enough? Am I enough? I’m terrified that you’ll stop loving me. Please don’t.”
“Douglas he could stop loving me now if he needed to. You’ve seen what’s in store. Get out while you can.”
“I would be fine with or without marriage and I would stay so very happily for as long as he’d have me. But the worry that he wouldn’t have me was starting to eat me alive.”
“There was a box. And a ring. And the demon hissing in my ear, “He feels sorry for you because you made such a fool of yourself, asking about marriage that night. He’s just letting you save face. Why would a good man saddle himself with the likes of you?”
“You don’t . . . have to . . .” I stuttered.”
“A friend was laughing at me tonight when I told him about my quandary. “You’re anxious about something that relieves anxiety? This is the Kat Kinsman I know and love!” he wrote to me, but that’s just it. If I’m not bracing for the next bad thing, how will I be ready when it comes?”
“Shhh!” I whispered to the buzzing horde. “Just let me have this moment. This is supposed to be my time to be free of all of this. To achieve calm. Wait . . . why aren’t I achieving calm? Calm down, what’s wrong with you? ACHIEVE DIVINE CALM, FOR KRISHNA’S SAKE!”
“And when she asked if I felt better, I lied, like I have to countless therapists, family members, lovers, friends, and so many well-meaning people who have offered me care and calm.
"... and benzos—like Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, and Ativan—they work well. So well. Too well for a lot of people (some of whom I love very much), who then struggle painfully to kick them. I fear becoming one of them.”
“I felt that way about Effexor for the first few years before it backfired on me, and it gave rise to a few brand-new phobias for me: a fear that the meds won’t work, that the side effects will be untenable, or that they’ll work too well and I won’t be able to quit.”
“Leave them dazzled and breathless, then go home, strip down, and calculate if you’ve earned your keep that day. If not, then no rest for you; work more until you drop from exhaustion. In the morning, your bank is back down to zero and you have to fill it up again.
Other people are allowed to rest, but not me, never me. Not the anxious one. They’re enough, just by the fact of their existence. They can take breaks, go on vacation, have a life, interest, hobbies, friends that don’t revolve around what they do for a living, but not when you’re Mumsie’s daughter, her father’s granddaughter. Let your limbs still for a second and you’ll sink, taking everything and everyone with you."
"My terror has a hair trigger and it can be set off by a long pause from my boss, a side glance from a colleague, a particularly lengthy silence after an e-mail—something that means absolutely nothing real, but which I take to spell my doom”
“I got my work done (though mostly in the middle of the night), met my deadlines, showed up in cute shoes with lipstick on to meet my friends, and no one had any idea what it cost me to get there.”
“For a lot of us who deal with anxiety and panic, it can be an act of courage and will to approach the front door and walk through it. The thought of leaving your little cocoon—be it whatever level of fancy or humble, neat as a pin or as messy as a hoarder’s hovel—can be paralyzing, and that’s completely mortifying.”
"Or just, like me, they may dread it for no rational reason, just a deep dread of crashing into the “maybe” that may dart from out of nowhere [A car, a truck... just anything massive]”
“The stomach roiling, jaw clenching, cheek biting, finger picking, muscle tensing, and headaches take their toll, and my impulse had always been to do whatever I could to make it stop as swiftly as possible.” “Assume guilt, apologize, rectify, appease, even if it came at a cost. Mumsie’s crying? I’m so sorry, what did I do? Boyfriend seems distant? It can’t be because he’s stressed about work, it must be because I’ve been too needy—or possibly fundamentally unlovable. I’ll work on that. Someone else got the assignment I wanted? I suck, I suck, I suck. Must work through the night and not sleep. Ever.”
“If the appointment is on a weekend, that means that I have to be at a certain place at a certain time, and all the hours before it are effectively useless. I can’t start writing, working, relaxing, reading a book, cooking a meal, or doing much but muck around on social media until it’s time to leave my house.”
“Prepared? HA! That’s all I do is prepare. That’s what I’m built for. I spend all of my waking moments (and a good chunk of sleeping ones, too) putting hammer, nails, scratched skin, and blood into constructing the worst-case scenario and armoring for battle against it.”
“Not just the big stuff—love and work and real estate—but everything from the route between the subway door and me to scoring a decent seat at the movies to finding the party host to say good night to how late to work I’d be if I hit the snooze alarm another time.”
“Okay. Okay. Building is still standing. Good. That means I didn’t leave the stove on and burn the place down. Whew. Was worried. Victory number two—key works in the front door, so Ralph hasn’t evicted me for . . . I dunno what. Something. Something bad I did, or forgot to do. Next hurdle . . . oh God, oh God, what’s come in the mail. Maybe the eviction notice is there. Or a bill I forgot to pay. Or final warning on . . . something, the universe, yes, the universe telling me that I suck and everyone knows it. Or maybe that a relative has died. Maybe Mumsie died and everyone forgot my cell phone number and they don’t have my e-mail address and this is how they’re telling me. Oh, whew—just the gas bill. I’ll pay that. Okay, I hope Ralph won’t hear me lugging my suitcase up the stairs. He’ll want to ask me how I am and want to hug me and I just . . . I just can’t right now. Whew . . . made it. One more flight to go aaaand, thank goodness, my key still works. I still live here. OH MY GOD, the light isn’t turning on, did the electricity get “turned off?! Oh . . . just a burned-out bulb. I’ll ask Ralph to bring his ladder and fix it . . . but I have to clean up the hallway first so he doesn’t see how awful I’ve let the place get. I’ll do that tomorrow, I just need to sit down for a little while.”