Page 1

egress

vol. 4: anxious


Table of Contents 1. letter from the editors 2. anxiety descending - patrick allaby 3. note to 14-year-old me - katherine morehouse 4. obsession - antoine goudreau 7. untitled - audrey white 8. cure - colin frank 9. anxious fortune cookies - tim kitz 12. canicular - rachel kabongo 13. it clings to my skin - kasia czarski-jachimowicz 14. just can’t even - oliver flecknell 15. a longing: for greater social interaction - alexis castrogiovanni 18. untitled - amyna alam 19. anxiety at its worst - katherine morehouse 21. crowded - aneeq kalson 22. attack - katherine morehouse 23. three beds - matt griffin

cover and back image: power to the popular - oliver flecknell


Letter from the Editors //

Anxiety - choking - swelling - overwhelming - seems to have quietly imbedded itself into the workings of our present. It’s a word people casually toss off, as well as a reality that can stop someone in their tracks. It’s alarming when you read statistics - of children suffering from anxiety at younger and younger ages, or the number of people who have to take time off work because of it’s debilitating presence. It wraps itself around our personal lives, our communities, our political lives. Anxiety is no stranger to many of us, yet it is still difficult to open up about these experiences. The words and images that you are holding in your hands were gifted to us from brave individuals - people who were willing to be vulnerable, to let us glimpse into their world and show us that no - we are not facing it alone. We would like to thank each and every contributor who shared their stories and art with us; we are forever grateful, and this project would not be a reality without you. When reading through, please use this volume of Egress as a tool to learn and to empathize. Remember that we are all hidden worlds, and that you can never truly know the inner battles being fought by loved ones and strangers. With all of our hearts, Alexis and Emily

1


// anxiety descending - p a t r i c k a l l a b y

2


// note to 14-year-old me - k a t h e r i n e m o r e h o u s e You've just come home from the doctor's. I know you feel like your world is crashing before it even gets the chance to begin. But it's not. Your path has just taken an unexpected turn, but although it's not the yellow brick road, it will still keep you on your way, I promise. From now on your life will be much harder than you expected - even for a teen. Every day will be a struggle; whether it's getting out of bed in the morning, or attempting to voice your opinion in front of others. Your previous history of shyness will become a hindrance to you as you try to connect with others. To them you may come across as an outgoing and funny person, but I know how much you fight not to run home to your darkness and your bed. You need to stay strong. Not only for yourself, but for your Mom who has spent her entire life protecting you and will need your shoulder to lean on in the future. You will learn what works for you. Take that hour long bubble bath. Write your feelings inside a journal that's for your eyes only. Watch a million gruesome horror movies even though people think you're insane for doing it. (Trust me, you'll learn why this helps you in the future) Please remember that your medication does not make you weak. It's helping you feel comfortable again, able to react normally to peer pressure, class tests and upcoming events. Remember that your anxiety should not be a label for others that says caution, handle with care. Your label is the tip of the iceberg that is you. Show them that you are not weak. Show them the kind, funny, and gentle soul I know you are. Do not try to hide who you are, because it will block you from becoming who you want to be.

3


4


5


6


.{--

i waS calm , but only unrobed f il[eci I

oa n i

!vith abstractions of nE rny t ime to my t hought s rl

nd

// untitled — a u d r e y w h i t e

7


Cure: In the evening, colour in each box, slowly and intently, until your shape looks like a building. Imagine entrances, exits, where windows, corridors and closets might be.

Once you're tired, fall asleep. Dream about moving through your building.

// cure — c o l i n f r a n k

8


9


// anxious fortune cookies - t i m k i t z

10


11

// anxious fortune cookies - t i m k i t z


a

{

I

a

)

ql44 rtr-, -n- *f^*

Lt uJU^ l\ and

(*tt-ttq'

otA U t't {-t-

(Li

lr I

rvv..

Lra) L

I

-v---

// canicular - r a c h e l k a b o n g o

12


// it clings to my skin - k a s i a c z a r s k i - j a c h i m o w i c z 13


// just can't even - o l i v e r f l e c k n e l l My backs tweaked, Maybe its my ribs, Could be the shoulder. Little tweaker in there someplace Tweeting all about, Could be a chickadee Kinda feels like warbler All up in there peck pokin around. It warbles it twitters it scratches about Its got in my head, Like a bouncy ball, In a hamster ball, Rollin down a rock slide. Got me all twisted up In indecision. Tweeting about the things I can’t change, Like how much change is in my pocket, How change is in the pockets of the elite, How this pen will run out of ink, So don’t waste it. Cause waste is the root of all evil And it I take the wrong route I’ll be lost, Lost in a sea of faces looking at me, With their beady little eyes And their sideways fake grins, As if they care… So, I fake it till I make it (I haven’t made it yet). Am I the one with the fake grin? Is the grin that I smile through this gin Genuine?

I am the root of the evil That put me on this route? Its all a ruse And I’m not amused, Cause there’s still this tweak, But its in my head and I just can’t seem to get out of bed, Keep wondering if they wish me dead… With their beady eyes And their little dogs, And their close personal relationships with a god That no one’s really sure exists. They aren’t even human, I’m not even human, What even is human when There are so many other choices To choose to pick to decide To do or not do this way or that. If I move the tweak worsens, The sun is setting, Its time for bed. Good thing I didn’t get up.

14


// a longing: for greater social interaction - a l e x i s c a s t r o g i o v a n n i It’s funny, but given the chance to talk about something that is bothering me with someone I don't consider a close friend, I probably won’t. Even if they are showing genuine concern for how I’m doing, and even if I get this feeling like they might actually want to know, and might really care if I tell them the truth, when someone asks “how are you?” the answer for most of us is a deflection without hesitation, “I’m fine, how are you?” Anxious is one of the slimmer editions of Egress so far. Though our generation knows the extent to which anxiety affects us, given an opportunity to discuss it, it seems to leave us speechless. The incessant steam-valve-like griping online oftentimes stops there. We appear to be paralyzed, stuck at a superficial level of expressing how we feel, instead of digging a little deeper to unpack or expand on what it means, and where it comes from. If the submissions we received are any indication, some of us know what anxiety looks like. We can take a snapshot of a space full of strangers, or of a lonely metro station— a solitary figure moving quickly toward the exit on the opposite platform and you, the photographer, the only ones there. We can take a picture of what it looks like to be in a sea of people at a concert peering through their phone screens at the live music ahead. We can see quite plainly when everyone around us is experiencing something through their screen, “sharing” it on Instagram instead of with the people standing right next to them. When a theme is chosen, it can be an unpredictable thing. Trends float to the surface. The common thread that binds Egress Vol. 4 didn’t turn out to be anxiety, but isolation. “Loneliness,” an article from the Globe and Mail explains, “is distinct from the number of friends a person has or how much time [they spend] alone, but is rather defined by a longing for greater social interaction.” Loneliness is a source of stress, but more than that, the article goes on to point out, it is a lack of feeling loved and cared for, of belonging. Love, care, and a sense of belonging, as the many articles now addressing this very real health crisis we are facing called “loneliness” all echo to each other, are “as necessary as eating, as necessary as eating, as necessary as eating…” If that is true, we are missing something so basic it is no wonder we feel incapacitated. In the writing we received, the same struggle to get up, to go out, and to reach out come back in almost every piece. In Katherine Morehouse’s “Anxiety At It’s Worst” she describes her most difficult experience with anxiety in excruciatingly honest terms. What leapt out at me in all of her extraordinary writing is a particular moment with her mother in a bathroom before catching a flight, the world having almost been eclipsed by her anxiety and panic: “It was as if something told my mom what to do. She got down to my face, gripped my shoulders, and told me that no matter what, she would protect me. She would make sure nothing happened to me on that plane. She would be there the entire time.

15


I cannot deny that this theme was chosen for personal reasons. I cannot deny that I too have been searching for peace and happiness, for some reprieve from my anxious feelings. The other day I found myself as I often do in times of desperate seeking, looking to the queen of post-religious American spirituality, the voice who fills the void: Oprah Winfrey. Deep in Oprah videos on YouTube, I came upon one of Oprah visiting The Happiest Nation on Earth at the time of filming: Denmark. Comfortably numb in my rabbit hole, I learned something extraordinary about Denmark which has eclipsed all others for me: In Denmark, it is common practice for parents to leave their sleeping infants in strollers unattended outdoors. While parents work, drink, meet friends for lunch, or grocery shop, their babies nap outside. In 2015, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published a poll of 24 European countries who were asked to indicate where they sat from “You don't trust anybody” to “Most people can be trusted” on a scale of 1-10. Denmark was first, France was last. In a World Values Survey, 66.18% of people in the Netherlands in 2014 had interpersonal trust, while in the United States it was only 38.17%. Five years earlier, in 2009, 41.11% of Canadians had said the same. In New York in 1997, a Danish woman visiting the United States was arrested and her infant daughter placed briefly in foster care for leaving her baby to nap outside a restaurant. In a New York Times article published several days after the arrest, it was written: “Maggie Lear, a spokeswoman for the [Administration for Children's Services], said unanswered questions remain, like why the girl's father, who is from Brooklyn, would follow a Danish custom, knowing the dangers that lurk in the streets of New York City.” I’m not sure how, but the dangers lurking in New York City somehow connect with loneliness. It seems to me that a self-imposed isolation from other people starts with mistrust. If you can’t trust people,—follow me in this spiral if you will,—you can’t open up, and if you can’t open up then you don't feel understood. If you don’t feel understood then you feel alone, and if you feel alone you feel anxious, and if you feel anxious you feel incapacitated, and if you feel incapacitated you don’t feel like doing anything tonight, much less with a bunch of people you don't really trust and who can’t understand how you feel… unless you make the unlikely choice of putting your trust in them, and just seeing what happens. If less than half of Canadians trust other people, am I one of them? Are you? I’m not calling for parents in Toronto to immediately start leaving their napping babies outside unattended, but I am fascinated and enchanted by the nations that do. This custom seemed to me an analogy for something bigger, and the large-scale studies that have measured interpersonal trust in our society at such a low when compared to the places where people begin their lives as sleeping babies in the streets and finish it still trusting people, with the data also showing that they are some of the happiest people on earth to boot, well, that is troublesome to my mind. If what I see in Morehouse’s mother is the remedy to cover artist Oliver Flecknell’s sea of humanity shown in “Power to the Popular,” it is a deeply held belief that another person can be trusted, and that our deepest emotions can be understood—that because of our shared humanity, no human being can be alien to us. It is also a presence and an empathy to someone else’s suffering, which is a lonely place. In life, we need someone to grip us by the shoulders and tell us they are right there with us, that they can see us and they know what it feels like to be alive.

16


In my unscientific fashion, I am formulating a thesis: we are not monstrous, we are not messed up, we are not unclean of mind. We are forgetting that the wild and natural world is full of dirt and difficult-to-digest realities, just like us. If it is true that everyone feels to some degree unfit, unlovable, uncared for, or like we don't belong, then I suggest that we are all quite similar. If this sounded like a litany of criticisms against technology, please think again. I’m not decrying technology and what it has done for our political and intellectual growth, but our own unchecked behaviours and addictions that have slowly, over the years, gotten under our skin and pushed our screens closer to us than our own loved ones. I am asking us to consider what is not being allowed to surface or flourish, what is not penetrating into our consciousness because of the screen. What depth of interpersonal social interaction has been lost? What are we avoiding and numbing when we hunker down to our various screens throughout the day and at night? What opportunities to better know and understand ourselves, as well as others, are passing us by? Perhaps we can catch it by the tail before it leaves us, look into someone’s face and tell them we get it, or simply, as it has been said long before the hashtag ever got attached to it: “me too.” No two words are more precious, and more binding. Bibliography Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser (2017) - "Trust". OurWorldInData.org, 2017, https:// ourworldindata.org/trust Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, et al. “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A MetaAnalytic Review.” Arts and Health South West UK, Association for Psychological Science, 2015, www.ahsw.org.uk/userfiles/Research/Perspectives%20on%20Psychological%20Science-2015-HoltLunstad-227-37.pdf. Leung, Wency. “Why Is Loneliness so Toxic? Scientists Are Exploring What It Does to the Human Body.” The Globe and Mail, The Globe and Mail, 29 Jan. 2018, www.theglobeandmail.com/life/ health-and-fitness/health/why-is-loneliness-so-toxic/article37734381/. Myers, Joe. “Which Is Europe's Most Trusting Country?” World Economic Forum, The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 26 Oct. 2015, www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/ how-trusting-are-european-nations/. Ojito, Mirta. “Danish Mother Is Reunited With Her Baby.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 May 1997, www.nytimes.com/1997/05/15/nyregion/danish-mother-is-reunited-with-herbaby.html. Angelou, Maya. "'I Am a Human Being’: Oprah Presents Master Class.” Performance by Maya Angelou, Harpo Productions, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePodNjrVSsk

17


// untitled - a m y n a a l a m

18


// anxiety at its worst - k a t h e r i n e m o r e h o u s e (this is more of a story about my worst anxiety attack) This happened about 5 years ago. I think I was either in my senior year of high school or my first year of university. My grandmother was getting remarried to a man she met in church back in Newfoundland where she was born and raised. They fell in love and she decided to move back to Newfoundland and marry him. My parents were going to go, and initially they didn’t think I would want to go because of my anxiety so they already bought their tickets. When they found out I wanted to go they purchased one more for me. I wasn’t thinking about my anxiety. I was just thinking about visiting my family in Newfoundland and seeing my grandmother. So the day before the flight we drove almost 5 hours to the city where our airport was. We spent the night at the hotel that was connected to the airport. Everything was fine until the day of, when I woke up. It was as if the realization that I would be up in the air hit me and my anxiety flooded out of me. We were all packed and ready to go, but I wasn’t. It started out with sudden diarrhea. Then my body started shaking. My parents didn’t know this was going on because I had the bathroom door closed. I was so scared I called my mom in. Both of my parents were mad because I suddenly didn’t want to get on the plane, I wanted to go home. My dad was furious, he couldn’t believe that I would make them waste money and miss my grandmother’s wedding. I was screaming, crying, and puking all while sitting on the toilet. My dad was so mad he just left the hotel room. My mom stayed. She tried to calm me down, but she was upset as well. I was crying that I can’t do it. I can’t. Please don’t make me. It was as if something told my mom what to do. She got down to my face, gripped my shoulders, and told me that no matter what, she would protect me. She would make sure nothing happened to me on that plane. She would be there the entire time. I was still very upset and shaky, but her words seemed to help me get better control of myself. I was able to clean myself up and leave the hotel room with my mom. My dad was out by the shuttle car. He seemed surprised that I had calmed down. I was so nervous once we arrived at the airport. Especially during the baggage line. I hate lines. Hate them. And I was thinking, “What if they stop me because of my medication?” Or basically any other reason. I remember one thing. While waiting to board the plane, I was noticing one of the shops. It had a cute Hello Kitty luggage bag. I mentioned how I liked it. I heard my dad whisper to my Mom, “If she’s brave enough to make this flight I’ll buy her anything.” So that distracted me for a little bit, wondering what I could buy.

19


The plane was small. Cramped even. It held less than 100 people. Maybe it held 30 people. I wasn’t sure. All I remembered is that is was very small, hot, and I got the window seat. I was afraid of getting sick so I kept the window closed until we were over Newfoundland. I mostly tried to sleep, but I just ended up resting with my eyes closed because my mind was running a mile a minute. I did try to stay in the bathroom during the entire flight. For some reason, bathrooms are my safe haven. I feel more grounded there. No matter where I am, if they have a bathroom, I’ll be fine. But of course the workers need to make sure you didn’t die in the bathroom so I got a knock on the door after a minute. I was shaky once I set my feet on the ground after leaving the plane. My great-uncle drove us another 30 minutes to my great-grandmother’s house where my grandmother was currently living with her mother until after her wedding. The wedding was beautiful. Time spent there was great. I don’t remember being very anxious until the night before the flight back. I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to get back on that dreadful plane. But I had to. So the next morning, I did. I wasn’t as anxious as the first time I went on the plane. But I did puke while on the plane…so there’s that. The stewardesses were super nice and understanding. They advised me to lean over, and they got me a glass of water and a cold cloth to put over my neck. It really helped me, and I basically stayed like that until the plane landed back home. While in the city where the airport was, my dad bought me a bunch of movies as a sort of reward for braving the flights. I remember specifically that one of them was Dracula Untold. The flight to and from Newfoundland was about an hour to an hour and a half each way. I could barely handle it. My husband’s family wants us to visit South Korea and have a traditional wedding there. There’s a huge obstacle between us and that goal. My anxiety, airplanes (the flight is about 13 hours), I’d have to get multiple needles before I travel, and my pickiness with food…What if I get there and I don’t like anything his family cooks? I don’t want to be that bad person who goes and buys fast-food the entire time I’m there. In the end, the only way I'll be able to figure anything out is if I push myself, one step at a time.

20


21


// attack - k a t h e r i n e m o r e h o u s e It swells up, From an unseen force within, It's crooked claws prodding at your mind, a thousand "What ifs" invading your happy thoughts. It eats you from the inside out. And when it gets out, that's it. Your breath is no longer yours. Your heart and lungs turn against you, fighting to break free of whatever's left of your piece of mind. Pounding and shattering every last bit of control you struggled to hold on to. On the outside you look mildly uncomfortable, sweat trickles down your forehead and chills quake you to the bone. Needles sew their way through your veins, a paralyzing sensation. Someone asks you what's wrong. How can you describe what's darting through your head without seeming like you've lost what's left of your mind? You don't. "I'm fine," becomes an everyday phrase that becomes as casual as "Hello." You smile and force it all down like stuffing an old trunk with too many garments. But it's there. It's there, like another entity living inside you. It swells up...and just when you think you've lost all hope... Just as quickly as it comes...it's gone. And you're left shaken, wondering how it happened in the first place; what caused it. An unpleasant recurring memory.

// untitled - s. a.

// crowded - aneeq kalson

22


// three beds - m a t t g r i f f i n

Anxiety lives within invisible borders, though sometimes the dust from its impact catches the light. It was once manifest in the joinery of 3 beds built over a decade. The first was a gymnast afraid of heights, paralyzed by the thought of meaningful risk. The death of a relative by his own hand and arguments that followed took shape as posts that flared in all planes, and lap joints left a gap between the mattress and frame wide enough to twist an ankle.

The next iteration was conceived and completed during a month-long fury. Each night biking home, the bridge to Jamestown was lit in city silence. The shape and color of the structure was felt by even those long since asleep, and deserved to be celebrated. On the bed itself, no less than cables designed to keep traffic out of ravines hung from the posts in support. 2 years later, the tenons pulled from the mortises and it collapsed, leaving us on the floor. We continued as we had been, and after fell asleep at an angle, laughing.

23


The replacement was made in the image of an entryway window. Pine was stripped from a dilapidated, century-old beach house and carriage bolts pulled from the original frames. At first, thinner saw blades caused the wood to lose its square, but even these were valued as planters. Each decision had weight, though now risk did not cause the fields to turn to mud. Years and states later it remains structurally sound, and in Connecticut is as close as one can get to Jamestown.

24


egress

invites you to submit your -- poetry -- prose --- photographs -- comics --- compositions --- recipes -- art -on the theme of love


deadline: November 1, 2018 submissions can be emailed to: egressmag@gmail.com


Egress: 1. The action or right of going out or coming out 2. A place or means of going out

Egress vol. 4: anxious  
Egress vol. 4: anxious  
Advertisement