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The word anxiety derives from the Latin angor, and the verb ango meaning to constrict.

Something that takes us space and applies subtle consistent pressure. The stigma of anxiety has morphed into words like “crazy” or “unhinged.” Or maybe those are the words I used to tell myself when I would pace around the neighborhood trying to free the pressure from inside.

A subtle but consistent pressure.

Anxiety was first placed in the Hippocratic Corpus, a collection of Greek medical texts. A man named Nicanor is mentioned as having a phobia of “flute girl.” It seemed each time he…

Friendship, Sleepovers, Family Burdens, and Talk Sex with Sue Johanson

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Tsunami waves become stronger after the first initial wave hits. The first wave is typically not the most impactful.

Emily and I were middle school acquaintances who became high school besties. We both fit the profile of not popular but not considered nerd level. Average height, medium-length brown hair and glasses that we quickly switched out for contacts so we didn’t have the dreaded metal on metal effect: braces plus glasses.

Emily was smart beyond her years. You can credit the fact her biological parents were a chemical engineer and a Mayo Clinic, MIT-educated medical doctor. But she never gave…

My grandmother died 5 months ago, and I still can’t catch my breath.

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I’m not upset that only one friend called me after my grandmother’s death in March.

The swiftness of her death surprised us all. She was fine. She was healthy and then suddenly she wasn’t. This was before the world had shut down. Before hospitals were telling family members, they couldn’t say goodbye in person to their loved ones. The clock was ticking on closures and in less than 12 hours I had booked, boarded, and taken a flight to North Carolina to see her one last time.

She was placed in a medically-induced coma before she departed from us. We…

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In 2010 I joined millions of other bright-eyed and naive college graduates ready to trade in their cap and gown to join the version of “workforce” we had heard about for the past four years. We shook off our routine semester schedules, parted ways with our housemates while deciding who would keep the squeaky futon and other collected furniture pieces.

While we lived in our bubble of ignorance those glorious four years, a recession was happening outside our padded walls. As an English major, I thought finding a job would be simple and didn’t take into consideration the shake of…

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My grandmother died around 7 pm on Saturday, March 21st, exactly 13 days after celebrating her 94th birthday.

Her last few days felt unfairly fast and chaotic compared to the long life she led. She was admitted into the hospital early Wednesday morning, after a night of unbearable back pain. A few hours later doctors held up x-rays under fluorescent lighting, in a small cramped room, explaining to my parents how there was cancer “just about everywhere.”

Six months was the initial sentence. My mom explained to me taking shallow breaths and in between cries. I can make it to…

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It took me five years to accept that I needed medication to help balance my mental health condition.

I did all the right first steps. Scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist, got an evaluation, took his advice on possibly needing medication and therapy. I accepted the therapy only option and went on my way.

Therapy helped but it wasn’t enough. I stuck to the routine and did my best to follow my therapist’s instructions. I thought, If only I change the way my mind works, then I’ll be okay. I was convinced I could cure my anxiety.

What no one…

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I wonder if high school me would have been able to calculate the future. Would she have known that all those nights staying up past her curfew were a long journey into the woman she would inevitably become?

Would she still shake at her head at any imperfection, at every curve and bloat that refused to press down neatly? Tucked down, sucked in, and thin. The way she talked to herself. How devasting and overwhelming it felt at 16.

How that version of me. …

Photo by Nate Neelson on Unsplash
Photo by Nate Neelson on Unsplash
Photo by Nate Neelson on Unsplash

I read something recently that sounded so normal but was rooted in a sense of feeling abnormal for so long.

A woman referred to her partner as someone who treated her like a fully functional human. A fully functional person amidst her anxiety and all the piles of flaws she had trapped herself under.

For the first time in her adult life, she didn’t have to defend her sensitivity or the way she reacted. In short, he treated her like a person.

How simple but so loaded at the same time. The idea of someone treating us exactly as we…

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Almost 20% of individuals with social media accounts, can’t go longer than three hours without checking their feed.

And social media anxiety disorder has become a condition similarly related to social anxiety disorder. The disruption of access to everyone, at any given moment, has created its own anxious monster. And it’s not just the desire to keep up with friends and post our own highlights, it has become the obsessive nature to constantly check in on what others are doing…and ultimately what we’re not doing.

I love celebrating the people I love. I love knowing when good things are happening…

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I wonder what it was like for our parents growing up in a world not driven by technology.

How every interaction must have felt meaningful yet overwhelming. And ultimately so untimely.

There was no guarantee of a second chat, or the safety net of a missed text to follow up after the first encounter.

It was only a phone number to be shared. Those precious numbers to link it all back.

A few scribbles on a piece of paper. No digital record. Just some handwriting and a loose piece of emotional currency, that could easily be swept into the wind…

Bre D'Alessio South

A midwesterner disguised as an Austinite. Freelance writer and content strategist.

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