Archives for Writing


Sloppy And Scattered: This Is Your Brain On Grief

Ever since my dad passed away three months ago, my brain has been busy. Busy, cluttered, and disorganized.

I've felt so mentally disorganized, in fact, that I've had a difficult time writing. (This probably isn't news to any of my regular readers who have noticed the lack of blog posts lately.)

I have about seven half-written blog posts in my "drafts" folder that just...don't...make the cut.

They're sloppy. They're scattered.

And I, too, feel sloppy and scattered. I'm grieving the loss of my father, handling his estate (and by "handling", I mean "drowning in paperwork regarding"), and preparing for a brand new full-time job that starts...uhm, tomorrow.

That's a lot of slop. And a lot of scatter.
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Anxiety Society: NYC Woman Blogs Anonymously to Cope with Mental Health Disorders

(This is the fifteenth post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.)

She's been hospitalized six times for mental health emergencies.

She's a twenty-something NYC-dweller who enjoys jogging in her spare time.

She's got three diagnoses: borderline personality disorder, bipolar II, and panic disorder with agoraphobia.

She's also got three lovable dogs.

The one thing that's clear from the first two parts of City Panicked's interview is this: it is not easy to manage a double life. In her outer life, City plays the role of a working professional who commutes, drinks coffee at her desk, and excels at what she does.

But in her hidden latent life, things aren't nearly as easy: the subway makes her panic, the panic makes her upset, and the "upset" becomes something to obscure from others.

To ease the tension between both lives, she started an anonymous blog.
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Video: Why Do I Blog About (My Own) Mental Health? #mhblogday

As part of the American Psychological Association's Mental Health Month Blog Party, I've decided to create my first video blog post.

Now, let me qualify the word "first": for the past few months, I have been creating news and feature videos for Psych Central. (If you want to see any of them, check out my archive here!).

But, generally, I plan those videos out pretty well. I edit them nicely. And I don't really talk about myself in them.

Today is different. I wanted to create a very personal video explaining my rationale for writing not just about mental health, but about my own mental health. I wanted to explain why I do what I do and why I feel so comfortable sharing all of my panic and anxiety-related sorrows, triumphs, dilemmas and baby steps with the world.
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Join Us! Blog About Mental Health on Wednesday

On May 16th, the American Psychological Association is hosting this year's Mental Health Month Blog Party.

Pssst -- that's tomorrow! (Or today, depending on what time you stumbled upon this post.)

Anyone with a blog can join. Here are the details:
Join us on Wednesday, May 16, and publish a post on your blog about mental health’s importance, how we can diminish...
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Video From ‘Blog of the Week’ Broadcast: Enjoying the Moment

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Panic About Anxiety was chosen as 'Blog of the Week' on PA Live!, a lifestyle program local to northeastern Pennsylvania and broadcast on WBRE-TV.

And now, you don't just have to take my word for it -- I've got video proof! Check it out here.

I sincerely hope that it brings a few folks within the viewing area to my blog -- especially my posts about my own struggle with anxiety might help someone to feel a little bit less alone.

This is probably the right time to tell you a story about one of my last grad school classes: Intercultural Communication. After a semester of learning about various cultural traditions and value orientations, my professor took a few minutes at the end of our very last class to discuss something personal: living in the moment.

It was May, and graduation was right around the corner. The class was filled with undergraduate seniors and second-year grad students -- most of whom were about to be finished with school forever.

His speech went a little something like this:

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Panic About Anxiety Featured as ‘Blog of the Week’ on WBRE’s PA Live!

First things first: welcome, WBRE viewers! (And, of course, to anyone else who might incidentally be finding my blog for the very first time.)

As you (may) know, I was honored to be chosen as this week's PA Live! Blog of the Week on WBRE-TV. (By "PA", I'm referring to Pennsylvania, my home state -- not "panic attack," which, well, is also my home state. Ahem. Cough. Think about it. Bad joke?)

I'll re-introduce myself: I'm Summer. I get panic attacks. A lot. And unfortunately, the panic (and the fear of panic, which is a different beast entirely) has eaten up most of my early, mid, and now late (yikes!) 20's.

I've tried meds. I've tried therapy. I've tried biofeedback. I've tried lifestyle changes. I've tried it all.
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Your Anxiety & Panic Haiku: Keep Them Coming!

A few days ago, in honor of National Poetry Month, I asked for your anxiety-related haiku.
I love haiku as an art form for describing anxiety. While many of us might think of "anxiety" as a huge and heavy long-term predicament -- and, for some of us, it truly is -- even the largest and darkest mountains of anxiety are built from smaller bricks of haiku-sized worries.

Now, I may be mixing my metaphors (bricks don't make up mountains!) in that last paragraph, but oh well. Poetry is about what feels right. And for a concept as complex and nebulous as anxiety, a mixed metaphor feels strangely appropriate: anxiety doesn't cleanly fit into any given metaphor. It's always changing.

So, let the metaphor change along with it. Even within the same sentence. To hell with that "don't mix metaphors!" rule that I learned in 11th grade.

There's only one rule we're following here on Panic About Anxiety for National Poetry Month -- we're writing haiku. A haiku is a short & simple poem that's written 5-7-5 -- five syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the middle, and 5 syllables in the last line.

That's it. The rest is up to you.


You've given me some beautiful haiku throughout the past few days. Here's a sampling of my faves:

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April is National Poetry Month: Share Your Anxiety-Related Poems

It's hard to believe that April is here already, isn't it?

Isn't time tricky? Surely I was just lamenting the onset of winter and grumbling about how the lack of sunlight contributes to my anxiety.

And in the blink of an eye, our natural word is glowing brighter and brighter each day. Here is Pennsylvania, March came in like a lamb and left like an even softer lamb. You won't find me complaining.

Nor would you find legendary poet e.e.cummings complaining, either. He's a famous poet who was smitten with the springtime season: spring is "puddle wonderful," he claims, in his poem "[in-Just]".

Remember that cranky English teacher you had in 10th grade? The one who was always correcting your grammar?

Yeah. e.e.cummings is the exact opposite of that English teacher: if you Google a few of his spring-themed poems, you'll quickly notice how quirky and inventive his syntax is. His whimsical punctuation alone sort of conveys the hypomanic beauty of this season:
spring!may --
everywhere's here
( with a low high low
and a bird on the bough )
we never we know

-from Poetry, June 1952
April is the perfect time for warmth, aliveness, and poetry. And so, happy
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Anxiety Society: Meet Larry, His Antidepressant, and His Recovery from Anxiety and Depression

(This is the eighth post in a series called “Anxiety Society” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.)

Meet Larry Nocella: blogger and independent novelist. He sold his first article at the young age of 14 and “has been writing ever since,” he says. By day, Larry is full-time employee at marketing company and a (mostly former) sufferer of anxiety & depression. He lives, writes, and works in the greater Philadelphia area.

Just over a year ago, he “came out” on his blog as a user of antidepressant medication:
Do I tell you something I'd rather keep private? Or do I spill the ugly details?

I've decided to share. Why? Because of you of course. Yes, you. Reading this. You. Or maybe someone you know.

Because there is definitely a time when sharing beats silence, and that's if you can help people. Mom was all about helping people, so while I lean toward her style of privacy, I think she'd appreciate why I've decided to come out.

What I'm trying to tell you is I take an anti-depressant. Were you expecting me to say something else?
Larry and I talked about his anxiety, depression, his medication use, and his optimism for the future.
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Will Writing Daily Blog Posts Help to Kick My Perfectionism?

For reasons I still don't understand, I decided earlier today that I would participate in "NaBloPoMo" for the whole month of February.

Yeah, let me spell that one out for you: National Blog Posting Month. You might already be familiar with NaNoWriMo, or "National Novel Writing Month," which takes place in November. Nablopomo (oh, forget the capital letters) is a bit different in that it takes place every month, and the good folks over at BlogHer pick a monthly theme. (This month's theme? "Relative.")

And you participate whichever month you'd like.

And, for some reason, I committed to February. I committed to write one blog post EVERY SINGLE DAY for an entire month.

At least it's February -- only 28 days, right?

Oh, wait. Outstanding. This is a leap year. Make that 29.

Anyway, the whole point of the project is to stretch your brain and your writing and your fingers in brand new ways. Melissa Ford describes it eloquently:
It's that time again; time to commit to posting every day for a full month by joining in with NaBloPoMo. The point? Well, beyond the endurance factor -- of becoming a writing athlete -- there's the benefit from daily writing. I use it as a way to warm up before getting into book writing. And then there's the community aspect: joining NaBloPoMo is like joining a gym. You're writing in a group and feeding off that for motivation rather than writing alone.
Becoming a writing athlete. Boy, I like that. I sure as heck can't get myself to the gym -- yeah, that whole agoraphobia thing, um -- but I can easily open up my laptop & say something fruitful each day. Right? Right!?!

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