I never thought I’d tell this story.

Well, I never thought I’d tell it in writing. I’ve told it plenty of times while swapping stories with colleagues in the advertising industry. Responses have ranged from sighs of empathy to slight horror, but one reaction I’ve never seen or heard from a listener?


Another story that’s been failing to drum up surprise in my industry is one that was published by AdAge this week, detailing Havas Chi’s recent response to criticisms of Jason Peterson and the culture he’s helped create there (Havas Chicago confronts anonymous employee mudslinging with art installation).

Like any good lede, this one says…

There was once a time—a long, long time—when coffee shops were home to me.

In my college town, in every city I visited (often traveling alone), in various cozy spots throughout Chicago — the ambiance, the comfy chairs and wobbly tables, the warm, uplifting caffeine elixirs always brought me back down to a place of calm. I never lost my gratitude for them, but I’m learning now that one can be grateful while still taking something for granted.


That fateful fall of 2015, when panic disorder and depression started demanding so much more of my brain space, I was both…


Oh you. Oh you, thinking video is a cure for my panic disorder.

So, uh. Exactly how much am I dating myself with this gif?

To be completely clear: what keeps the panic at bay is, for me, a combination of therapy, medication, exercise, good sleep hygiene, constant vigilance of intrusive thoughts, adequate hydration, and having headphones on hand when I need to mentally escape the horrors, crowds, and noise of public transportation.

And still the panic persists, sometimes. So it goes.

All of that said, another important weapon in my panic-fighting arsenal is the simple act of making things. When I give into my creative urges — particularly the ones…

My mental illness started getting debilitatingly bad in the fall of 2015.

Of course, thanks to life’s brilliant timing, I was also (1) attempting to start a grad program and (2) fresh into a relationship that, while full of respect, affection, and caring, was wildly unhealthy for both parties and managed to have lasted way too long at the ripe old age of 4 months.

(Side note: Can my twenties be over yet? Please? Pretty please?)

My ex and I both clung to to the relationship for innumerable reasons beyond genuine affection and companionship. And for all our failings as…

The way I think about my diagnosis is not unlike how I think about my Myers-Briggs type (INFP, by the way).

Ever since I first took the MBTI and, years later, got diagnosed, I’ve rolled those letters and words around in my head and in my handwriting, getting a grip on how they felt, how they fit. I’ve read up and down lists of symptoms and personality traits and had innumerable deep thoughts along the lines of “Oooh okay,” “EXACTLY,” “Oof, Christ, yep,” and “Well, that’s … (winces).”

Everything fit together like puzzle that wound up revealing a Picasso-ass painting…

anxiety tip: if you hide among pretty things, you won’t look as f*cking weird (note that this is not true)

I hate the word “anxiety.” HATE IT. Anxiety’s main gift as a word is causing immediate dismissiveness in people who haven’t dealt with it or learned about it. That “anxiety” can be synonymous with “nervousness” is a cruel trick of the universe (and is sort of the equivalent of a paper cut sharing a name with a gaping wound).

Por ejemplo.

In the Notes app in my phone, there’s a list of literally all my anxiety (and depression) symptoms. …

Having a mental illness is weird.

Technically I have a couple — panic disorder being the main beast, with touches of generalized anxiety disorder and debilitating depression thrown in on fun little occasions.

I’m just as distraught as you are.

This will come as precisely zero shock to the people who know me well. I fiercely value doing everything I can to destigmatize mental illness and its treatment. (Fun fact: I do the same thing with the fact that I had my Fallopian tubes voluntarily removed from my body last fall. Let me know if you want a post about that little adventure! No babies for meee!)

Katie Knish

I write, I edit, I sing, I panic. I feel grateful every day for dairy-free Ben & Jerry's.

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