anxiety

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Annie Doherty

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Annie Doherty, who works in Marketing Production at Abercrombie & Fitch , going jeeping, and finding good Happy Hours in Columbus. 

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Hey! I'm Annie Doherty - a print nerd and paper enthusiast by day, and modern calligrapher by night. I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio- graduated from OSU with an English degree, with a focus on creative writing. Somehow, I jumped into the print industry right out of college and have loved it since. I started in a print shop in Westerville, Ohio learning the ins and outs of printing. Since then, I have worked in Marketing Production at LBrands, Nationwide, and now currently Abercrombie & Fitch. When I'm not at work, I am either in my studio, out getting muddy in my jeep, or binge-watching Netflix. My husband and I eloped in October 2018 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, NC. We love to go on adventures and thought, why not get married on a mountaintop and surprise everyone?! We live in Grandview and can often be found at Knotty Pine since it's a short walk away. 

Morning


I am NOT a morning person until I've had my coffee. People laugh if I show them the number of alarms on my phone because it takes so much effort for me to get my day started! I'm usually running late but refuse to leave without making a giant cup of coffee. Breakfast is usually a quick yogurt or a handful of lucky charms. On the weekends, my husband will graciously bring me coffee in bed before he starts his day. (I know I am very lucky that he does this- but he also knows I may never get out of bed without it!) You can also usually find us brunchin' at Knotty Pine on the weekends (if we're not out camping or jeeping!). They have a killer $5 Bloody Mary bar and $2 mimosas! Can't beat that!

Afternoon

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My afternoons are typical since I work in an office, but my team makes an effort to always take a lunch break. It's easy to get swept up in the craziness of retail marketing - but so important to make sure you're eating and letting yourself recharge for rest of the day. That said, my lunches are usually whatever I can throw together when I'm running late for work in the morning. I'm (unfortunately) gluten-free, so I can't always depend on buying food in the cafeteria at work. Plus, I'm super cheap! My most common lunches are gluten-free corn dogs or gluten-free waffles with peanut butter. I know, you're jealous. 

Evening


Afterwork, I try to get in a quick workout before dinner. I try hard to cook, but I also LOVE finding good happy hours in Columbus. I'm that person you text when you're looking for the best deal of the day. After food, I get to work in my studio. I was able to turn our third bedroom into an art studio where I do my hand lettering, artwork, and writing. I'm currently in the middle of my second 100 Day project which means I'm definitely spending time in the studio every night. Working in my studio is my biggest tool for fighting my depression and anxiety!

However, If I really have no desire to cook and can quickly get my side hustle work done, my typical evening deals week would look like this:
Monday - Woodlands Tavern for Monday Funday
Tuesday - tacos at Local Cantina
Wednesday - pizza happy hour at an undisclosed location (can't give away all my best secrets!!)
Thursday - $5 tank nachos at Ethyl & Tank
And still looking for a good Friday night deal! 

Follow Annie! 

Hand Lettering Instagram 

What Does it Look Like

By Kristen Taylor 

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She asks. A stranger, at this point, since I was initially skeptical about therapy. It is a question dipped in concise innocence that cut so deeply into my vision of anxiety that I felt foolish that I hadn’t thought of such a simple phrase years ago. I spent so much time defining my anxiety, naming it, feeding it and letting it grow into a viable character in my life. I give it a space in my home and it sits next to me while I try to manage a cluster of tasks. It is the monster that lives inside of me. It sticks me into two corners of past and future distracting me from the present moment. The monster creates “to-do” lists and completion checks. Then it slides me into depression like the ocean waves hitting the sand it curls around me as I distantly get caught up in my own thoughts and worries. Everything becomes a reminder of the future – the things I should be doing- the mother, woman, and human that I should be. It reminds me, with past failure to shape my perspective on the future. It is downright exhausting to be in my head some days, making it impossible to visualize a life where the character called anxiety was not the constant antagonist. 


It seems easy enough, right. Create an altered narrative to this story. That phrase will echo over and over, what does it look like? What does a life of minimized anxiety feel like? My answer lately has been this: balanced. I was too afraid to admit what the unbalance looked like until I was laying on my kitchen floor gasping for my breath. I was unhappy in a job that was as equally demanding as figuring out how to be the mother of four. My phone chimed a meeting as I was putting away the dinner dishes and starting the bedtime process. I was going through motions of motherhood, as most of me was still sitting at my desk waiting for management to notice how much I had been slipping lately. I knew that meeting wasn’t exactly the promotion my stack of bills from another childbirth and partially unpaid maternity leave needed, for or the reduction of workload I had indicated in my secret meeting with HR. My work life was like the game of Jenga we played as an exercise in team building. I was the tower, and little by little pieces were being removed. I was toppling and they kept pushing pieces out. Some days it was the workload, or the declining relationships with management and almost always the craving to be present in that photo my husband sent of my children running around the zoo. Everything led up to this, the unbalance in my home life and the stress in my workload. I simply couldn’t handle it anymore; I lost my balance and fell. 

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It is a year and a half later. I am still picking myself off my kitchen floor. I always thought a breakthrough in managing my anxiety would be a sudden burst of clarity; as if the monster would just disappear the way they do in fairy tales. But balance, as I learned by practicing yoga, is built slowly and with focus. I am sitting outside on my patio surrounded by all the sounds of early summer – the soundtrack of birds with a baseline of a distant train and the vocals of neighborhood children. I am appreciative of this moment, it is one of the moments that I craved when sitting in a windowless cubicle. I get my work done in the morning. I tend to my favorite hobby, writing. I am hopeful for a sunset run. I focus on the good things of getting two toddlers to sleep, like tiny kisses and little hands holding my arm for comfort. Then, I can enjoy a glass of wine and finally start season 2 of the Handmaid’s tale. This is what a good tonight looks like. 


The day after I lost my job, I made my mental health a priority. I would never be useful in any job or relationship if was charged by the electricity of anxiety. I started a running routine. My brain is a full bottle of champagne just waiting to be corked and running allows me to pop the cork, no one else. I need an appointment with my own thoughts, but they were so busy they couldn’t fit me in. So it got clogged. I made mistakes, first little ones then much larger ones. Or was it a lot of little ones that made me look like one big failure? Either way, I didn’t have time to organize my (many) thoughts. And the cork blew on me. With running, I am alone in my head, letting it all go. All those analyses, those worries, the funny musings and the downright cliché; it all piled on top of each other, like the laundry I don’t have time to sort. This wasn’t just about something that happened last year or recently; this is a lifetime of bubbling anxiety. I need to get healthy and create my balance. What does that balance look like? A goal of four runs a week that resets every Sunday but understands when things get just so chaotic that routines are broken. It gave me bonus friendship for added accountability that rewards me with mini therapy sessions and sweaty hugs. It gave me legs that could stand an eight-hour bartending shift so that I wouldn’t have to feel financially guilty if I didn’t work a full-time office job any longer. 

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I am starting to accept my anxiety in all its various forms. It can be a burst of negative thoughts that isolate me to my home. It can be a fight with my husband that scares me into words I would rather not say. It is a pouring out of frustration over two toddlers that never seem to listen. It is a bad tip on a large check or a spreadsheet that doesn’t quite tie. It is a deadline that I didn’t plan adequately to meet or a phone call I dread making. It is finally getting the courage to open my credit card statement or asking my mom for help. I have come to know what anxiety looks like. With each of these toxic moments, I am trying to learn and find something pull me off of the floor, the balance I need to stand tall.  It can be a run or a yoga class. It is a long phone call with a good friend. It is actually getting time to hang out with my sister. It is a road trip, with my husband driving and Band of Horses playing. It is how happy my children get when we visit their grandparents. It is Friday night wine and watching true crime stories with my neighbor. It is listening to my favorite podcast “Beautiful Anonymous”, loudly and verbally agreeing with the caller as I clean an empty bar. It is the beautiful shade of dark blue that I painted my bedroom walls. It is the proud little smile I get when someone tells me I am actually a good accountant, or bartender, or Mom. It is an unexpected gift. It is reading a book that I can’t put down. It is writing a verbally eloquent essay. It is random and adolescent conversations with my teenage daughters. It is quoting every line of Spaceballs and still thinking it is the funniest movie ever made. It is realizing the little moments that make me happy, embracing them and using their light to keep the dark monsters quiet. At least that is what balance is starting to look like for me. 
 

To read more of Kristen's writing, check out her blog cassidymarierose.com

Anxiety

By Annie Doherty

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I grew up in a family full of mental health fun. The men on my Dad's side are bipolar and the majority of the women in my family deal with depression--and we all have a large helping of anxiety. From a family viewpoint, things have been an open dialogue for the most part. 

My battle with anxiety began when I was 8 years old. I had panic attacks every time I went to bed and had no idea how to articulate to my parents what was happening, but only that I felt as though I was going to die. Fortunately for me, my Mother has experience in anxiety herself and in dealing with other family members. She helped me through that strange first experience with anxiety by quietly sitting with me and reminding me to breathe. She eventually got me a kitten as an attempt at a therapy animal. I still am highly responsive to touch when I'm in the middle of panic and often reach for strange textures to awaken my senses to something other than the madness in my brain. (my Mother is now a therapist!)

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When my Father passed away last January, my anxiety erupted in a grief and confusion filled storm. I had spent the past 12 years caring for my intensely bipolar Father while he battled kidney failure and kidney cancer. Our relationship was a tumultuous one. After he passed, I had no idea what to do. I had all sorts of time and freedom from my caregiver duties and felt a bit lost. My Father was a writer and a painter, something he also encouraged me to do my entire life. During the good parts of our relationship, we often discussed literature and shared our own writing with each other, we even wrote a book of poems together when I was in middle school. My apartment was littered with his paintings, and my paintings that I created so desperately in an attempt to gain his artistic approval. 

After he passed, I found myself unable to write or paint. His passing created a rainbow of emotions--ranging from relief to confusion to guilt to grief. His mental illness and lack of proper attention to it caused a lot of tension in all his relationships, mainly ours. when I sat down to write and process his death, it felt too intense. My anxiety would shoot through the roof and I'd be left exhausted and with nothing processed, so I turned to a new artistic outlet of hand lettering. I wasn't great at it, but it was soothing practice and something I could do mindlessly without having to create my own content--I could letter other people's words and quotes that meant something to me. 

A co-worker, at the time, knew I had started this hobby and suggested I participate in the #100dayproject that takes place on Instagram. I had already created an Instagram solely dedicated to my lettering, which often talked about my mental state, anxiety, depression, and the loss of my Father. I had no idea what I would do for 100 days but was definitely intrigued. 

The week before the project kicked off, I had one of my top five worst panic attacks. I had been paralyzed by the need to remove and shred a pork shoulder from the crock pot. The task seemed impossible. I had to first clean the dishes in my sink before I would be able to shred the meat, but I just couldn’t do it. I crumpled to the floor in a pile of tears. I remained in the fetal position, sobbing and trying to catch my breath for nearly three hours. My mind raced with thoughts of failure, the inability to be a decent human, and thought of being weak since I had been reduced to nothing because of the simple task of cleaning the dishes and making dinner. I almost got up and threw everything in the garbage several times, but the thought of being like my Father kept me from doing that. you see, when he got overwhelmed with things, he would just throw them away--all of his dishes, his pans, the food he couldn't figure out what to do with, clothes when he couldn't stand to wash them. I was terrified that I was turning into my father in that moment. I was 28 and completely convinced that I was going crazy and never going to make it back to anything that resembled normal life. 

But then something happened and I said to myself, "Annie, take one breath. breathe in, breathe out. now repeat," and I did that for a few minutes, then I said, "Annie, we're going to stand up now. one foot at a time," and I did it and then, "Annie, let's wash one fork. we can handle one fork," and I washed a fork, and then a plate, and another dish, and another, and next thing I knew, the dishes were clean and I was able to move on to making that pulled pork. When I was finished, I took my anxiety medication, emailed my boss that I would be taking the next day off work, and passed out.

It was the first time I ever took a mental health day. and it felt empowering. I didn't even fib and say I was sick--I said I needed a mental health day and I realized at that moment that my 100-day project was going to be about anxiety because we need the freedom to be able to take care of ourselves when the time calls for it. I reached out to 100 people to get their input on anxiety--their experience, their advice for fellow anxiety friends, their advice for people who have never experienced, and coping mechanisms. I wasn't sure if anyone would respond. but then I got all sorts of replies - and I had more than enough material for the project. 

I posted for 100 days the words of people who so bravely shared with me vulnerable details of their life. We worked to open the dialogue of mental health, in this case with a focus on anxiety and depression. I hand-lettered all the words myself, trying to make something beautiful out of something that can be so ugly. I connected with so many people across the country and even across the world. though my following is humble, I am honored that so many people have felt the freedom to share and discuss their mental health journey through the project.

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This spring, Annie kicked off part 2 of her #100daysofanxiety project. She’s currently accepting submissions via the survey link in her profile. The project runs from April 3 - July 11.

Follow her lettering Instagram handle, @pennedbythepiglet