Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves
Life With a Bad Case of Nerves
Take my hand.
I hope you don’t mind if it’s shaking a little.
We’ll get through this together.
Kat Kinsman has been nervous for as long as she can remember. Well, not just nervous, but cripplingly worried, anxious, and often depressed—teetering on the terrifying edge of becoming a messy horror show of a person. Most days she can mask her condition pretty well. But not every day. Diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at the tender age of fourteen, Kinsman lives with a secret that manifests itself in sleepless nights, skin picked raw, a somersaulting stomach, or sometimes absence—from social life, from life at all.
In January 2014, Kinsman wrote a blog post on CNN.com that bared her secret to the world. In that post, she described her anxiety in great detail—the feral cat to depression’s black dog. Her words went out like a siren’s call to the thousands who read them: “Anxiety hurts. It’s the precise inverse of joy and blots out pleasure at its whim, leaving a dull, faded outline of the happiness that was supposed to happen. It’s also as sneaky as hell.” The response was overwhelming: “This is how I feel every day”; “You put into words what I’ve never been able to describe”; “Thank you for not hiding anymore. I’ll stop hiding too.” It’s no wonder, because GAD is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness today, affecting millions of people—primarily women—every year.
In a journey through the burrows of her life, Kinsman uncovers an intimate landscape of lost love, lost jobs, lost identity, and the struggle to sustain herself when the voice in her head, the beast shrieking for attention, keeps self-confidence and calm at bay.
Hi, Anxiety is a thoughtful, wry, heartbreaking, brave, but ultimately happy story of what life looks like through the lens of anxiety, and will reassure anyone ever held in the clutches of GAD that they are never alone—and the best way to fight back against the beast is to say its name loud and clear.
Kat Kinsman is Senior Editor of Food and Drinks for Extra Crispy, a food website devoted to the joys of breakfast. She is the former editor at large and former editor in chief of Tasting Table and editor for CNN.com, where she was nominated for the James Beard Broadcast Award in the TV segment category and won the 2011 EPPY best food website for CNN's Eatocracy. Kinsman is a frequent public speaker on the topics of food and mental health. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.