Unhealthy anxiety coping mechanisms


When I drink, I can’t stop until I black out and pass out. When I start working on something, I find it difficult to stop–no matter how hungry I get or how badly I need to pee–until I’m done. And, even then, I find myself really, really wanting to get started on the next project. In the past, when I started eating junk food, I’d find it to difficult to stop; I’d make grilled cheese after grilled cheese until I was out of bread or munch on cookies until none were left in the bag, no matter how full and sick I felt.

I figured I had impulse control issues and poor self-control, although I’ve been vegan for a decade, studied enough in high school to get a 98 per cent in pre-cal and never handed an assignment in late.

As I’ve been dealing with and exploring my anxiety, I’ve realized these are all coping mechanisms. A early 2017 car accident, resulting in a head injury that I’m still struggling with, took my coping mechanisms away, highlighting how much of a dependency I’ve had on them. Kicking the crutch out from under me forced me to find new, healthier ways to cope with my uncomfortable emotions. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • Write about ’em: In outbursts of complete rage, I’ve sat at my computer and vomited my intense feelings into a piece of writing. In some cases, they’ve actually turned out pretty good and I’ve been able to publish them, giving others some insight into what’s going on with me.
  • Talk it out: I’ve gotten so much better about reaching out to friends and family when I’m feeling like I’m going to snap. I let them know if I’m looking for advice or just need to vent, ask if they’re up for the task of listening and then let it all go. I usually end up talking myself into a place where I can look at the positives.
  • Find the upside: Last year, I moved to the US from Canada. If I had known it would take months, rather than a few weeks, for my cats to follow, I likely wouldn’t have done it. On Christmas day, my little David ended up being hospitalized in our new Montana home town. A few days later, he was transported to another town for an invasive surgery, which was followed by weeks of healing. I was so upset, beating myself up about not having been with him for months, agonizing over whether I could have prevented his suffering. Realizing there’s nothing I could then but care for him, I looked at the bright side. I’d felt like the worst cat mom for months. This was an opportunity for me to love him and nurse him back to health, making me feel like a good cat mom again and giving us a chance to re-bond.

When my brain heals more, I’m going to find more healthy coping mechanisms. I used to love to run and have always loved going for long walks, so I’ll try them out again. I’d also love some suggestions of different things I could try out! What healthy coping mechanisms do you use?


28 things before 29


Last year, prompted by an article in Bella Grace magazine, I wrote a list of 27 things I wanted to do before turning 28. I didn’t get the satisfaction of crossing much off the list because I’ve been concussed as hell this entire year, which I hadn’t been anticipating when I put that list together. Getting and riding a bike, paying for a tattoo of Cassiopeia and finishing my book just weren’t in the cards for me in my 27th year.

But, it was fun to think of the things I could do in my life and I enjoyed having a list tacked above my desk. It reminded me of all the adventure that’s waiting for me when (although, it’s starting to feel like if) my brain heals. So, for my 28th year, I’m making another list. This time, it’s going to be 28 things I can conceivably do even if I stay in this concussion fog until I’m 29.

  1. Finish writing my book.
  2. Start my next book.
  3. Learn to make vegan cheeses well.
  4. Run outside, alone (well, without another human. Miles will go!).
  5. Learn to sew.
  6. Sew curtains for the house.
  7. Sew reusable cloth gift wrapping.
  8. Increase how much I’m putting away for retirement monthly.
  9. Get published in a hardcopy of BUST magazine.
  10. Create a cozy reading nook in my house.
  11. Repurpose my grandma’s broken wedding dishes.
  12. Plant hollyhocks in the yard.
  13. Draw frequently-ish.
  14. Run a craft sale in Montana.
  15. Go to a yoga with kittens class.
  16. Make a vegan ice cream cake.
  17. Make a terrarium for our home.
  18. Go rock climbing with Lucas.
  19. Hug my nephews Leo and Rueben.
  20. Make a zine for Leo and a zine for Rueben.
  21. Make a large braided rug.
  22. Make cards that look nice.
  23. Start a journal of funny and sweet things that happen with Lucas and I so we’ll have the memories forever.
  24. Put photos of friends and family up in the house.
  25. Get a garden gnome (or 80).
  26. Get a scoby to make kombucha again.
  27. Find actual strange things for my Cabinet of Oddities.
  28. Make the yard more comfortable to chill in.
  29. Get a table at the Helena Farmers’ Market.

My brain is still a rotten mess, so blogging is hard. If you’re interested in guest posting about your struggles as an anxious creative, tips for dealing with anxiety or the science behind anxiety and its treatments, email me at megjcrane@gmail.com.

Build healthy relationships


I used to hold people at arm’s length. I was afraid of letting anyone in too close because I hated who I was and didn’t wanted others to truly see me; then I’d be alone.

I moulded myself to fit the type of friend I thought those around me wanted. In junior high, I agreed with the friend I spent the most time with that female masturbation was disgusting. I went to parties because my boyfriend wanted to go, even though I hated being in houses crowded with strangers and couldn’t stand having nothing to do but drink and look around for a cat or dog I could pet.

In my early 20s, I met a woman about 10 years my senior through a vegan meet-up group. She started inviting me to events at her home, which led to us frequently chatting via Facebook messenger, be babysitting her kid and her helping me out with rides and groceries. She was openly flawed and I still loved her. Even when I fucked up, she still loved me and I became comfortable being vulnerable and real. I knew she wouldn’t ditch me if I had a different opinion than her, as long as I was respectful.

That woman completely changed my life. I learned what a real, healthy friendship looks like and began striving to model all my relationships after what I had with her. I weeded out the people who weren’t good for my mental health; the ones who didn’t understand I needed time away from my phone and expected me to always be there for them, but who were seldom there for me.

I started being more honest and finding ways to be a good friend despite my anxiety. Opening up allowed the people around me to support me in the ways I didn’t know I had needed and that anxiety lessened. On the worst days, I knew I had people who I could talk to, people who cared and would understand.

Relationships of all kinds are difficult when you struggle with your mental health, but they’re incredibly important for coping and recovering. My number one tip for people with anxiety disorders is to find and develop meaningful friendships to help get you through.

I’ve started a private Facebook group for anxious creatives to chat about what’s going on with their work and lives, ask for advice and give support. If you’re interested in joining, send the email attached to your Facebook account to me at megjcrane@gmail.com and I’ll add you!

So many things are wrong with my brain, which is making blogging difficult. If anyone is interested in guest-posting about their experience as an anxious creative, tips for dealing with the struggle or explanations of different types of treatment, email me at megjcrane@gmail.com.

Book review: 100 Days of Mental Health


Full disclosure, I haven’t finished this book. This time, it’s not because I hated it. Actually, I was quite enjoying it when I slipped on the ice. While for most people jerking back in time to prevent a fall would be a good thing, but for my concussion-weakened brain, it wasn’t so great. So, I’m back to being unable to read. Sigh.

When my brain gets itself sorted out again, I’ll dive right back into Paul Green‘s ebook, 100 Days of Mental Health. Each day for 100 days, Green wrote a bit about what he had gone through that day. There are triumphs–like getting out to large public events–and lots of bad times–like feeling unable to get anything done.

For people who struggle with anxiety or depression, I think this is a great read. Knowing others have similar struggles can make those struggles seem normal and okay.

Who I’d really recommend this book for, though, is people who have not experienced mental health issues. It’s a quick read (if you’re not concussed) and Green has a great sense of humour, which definitely shows through in the book. Although it’s just one person’s experience, Green’s book gives some insight into what it’s like to be constantly fighting with your brain and emotions. For anyone who has difficulty understanding mental illness, this book could help.

This book was only available as an ebook, but I’m having trouble finding it now. But Green does regularly blog on his website, so that’s a great place to get a taste of his dry humour and openness about his mental health.

Being flexible for my health


I have a clear picture of what I’d like my work life to look like. I want to wake up early, grab a cup of earl grey tea with a splash of soy milk and sit down at my desk to work. I want to be able to work for hours at a time, but also be able to take a day or afternoon off once in a while to go for a hike or indulge in a little self-care. I want to have lots of healthy snacks around and remember to drink lots of water throughout the day.

This is something I was so close to having before the car accident. After a second concussion recovery set-back in the past year, I’ve been back to only being able to be on the computer for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time, needing at minimum a 45 minute break afterwards. I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, so if I don’t wake up when my partner’s alarm goes off, I want to stay in bed. If I wake up at 5 a.m., I’ll happily get up, but regret it by the early afternoon. I’m always forgetting to eat until I’m so hungry I’m shaking and I know I’m not drinking as much water as I should, but it slips my mind. As do my vitamins, which are so important for my brain right now.

My ideal work life is lovely and beautiful and I still am working towards it, but it’s just not realistic right now because of my health. So, I’ve been finding ways to work that keep this in mind.

What this mostly looks like for me right now is a gigantic mess of scrap paper, button-making supplies, yarn, paint brushes and wheat paste all over our living room. Between my little bits of time on the computer, I’m making envelopes and buttons to sell in my Etsy shop and knitting scarves to sell at markets.

This isn’t what I want to be doing with my days, but it’s what I can do, so I’m choosing to be happy with my current work life while still working towards the ideal. My health is always going to be more important than my work, so I need to be flexible in order to be able to get shit done and take care of myself.

I’m spending some of my computer time editing photos and listing items in my Etsy shop. Check it out!

How do you alter your work life to your current health needs?

List of acts of love towards me


This year, I’ve been working on a project I’m calling My Kindest Year. Each day, I do one nice thing for another person and one nice thing for myself.

Doing nice things for myself has been the most difficult. I’ve been putting it off until the end of the day and then not doing anything particularly special. Which is okay, but I do want to go a little above and beyond some of the time.

Here’s a list of acts of love I can do towards myself:

  • Go to bed extra early;
  • Take a long, hot bath;
  • Stop for a coffee on my walk home from counselling / biofeedback;
  • Cook myself a nice dinner when I’m going to be eating alone;
  • Ask others for help or to do something special for me;
  • Knit myself gifts;
  • Read for hours without feeling guilty about not being productive;
  • Take breaks from work to cuddle the animals in my home;
  • Bake my favourite pastries and desserts;
  • Do my nails;
  • Ignore emails / social media comments from trolls;
  • Sit out on social events when I’m not feeling up to it;
  • Buy myself nice vegan cheeses and beauty products for no occasion;
  • Be totally okay going out without make-up;
  • Give myself compliments; and
  • Use the things I’m saving because “I’ll probably never be able to afford this again!”, like soy candles and dark chocolate and face masks.

Are you frequently nice to yourself? What do acts of love towards you look like?

The ugly side of self-care


Self-care isn’t always bubble baths, spa days and expensive chocolate. It isn’t always something Instagram-able or costly. When self-care started to be a thing, this is actually why I shied away from it. I didn’t have money to order food in and I was cuddling up in bed early to watch Netflix because the feeling that a giant was standing on my chest and the heart palpitations made anything else impossible.

What I’ve realized is that this makes self-care even more important for me.

Self-care is dragging my ass to the doctor to let her know I’m feeling worse on the new dose of meds. It’s telling my partner I’ve been feeling suicidal and need to change something major in my life. Carrying a water bottle around so I remember to drink water, cornering myself into answering texts from friends so I don’t isolate myself and eating breakfast even when I still feel too nauseous to actively want food at 11 a.m. are all forms of self-care in my life.

It’s important for me to remember this. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’ll buy myself a vegan cheesecake and eat it for dinner in the name of self-care, when really I should be saving that money and eating a big salad instead. Especially when I’m so down it’s hard to get myself out of bed and dressed to go to the store for said cake. That sugar isn’t going to do shit to get me feeling better.

It’s when I’ve got the basic self-care down–getting all the nutrients I need, staying hydrated, keeping active, finding time for connection and play–that the fun, pretty self-care can come into my life in a way that adds something beneficial.

What’s your relationship with the self-care trend like?