The Anxiety Dog





  Last Saturday,  I was sitting in writing class at Bedlam Farm. Jon Katz has been teaching this class for about 5 years or longer. It was originally supposed to be a 4 week course. I’ve been a member for about a year. 

  It was a small class today, just me and Carolyn and Sandy. And Jon of course. Maria come in later from her studio. 

  Today Jon was  speaking about narcissism and how writers need to look outside themselves which is kind of ironic because I was so wrapped up in myself that he might have been speaking in Swahili for all that I understood or listened. 

  I was too busy monitoring my internal anxiety level and it was rising, rising,rising. 

  It was my weekend to work again and I have been slowly, slowly becoming acclimated to it, but I have not mustered the control necessary to keep my anxiety at a manageable level. Not yet anyway. 

  The second part of the class consists of sharing and reading of pieces we wrote the previous week. When it came to be my turn, I was so far away by then, I couldn’t even hear what was being said. 

  The critique was thoughtful and worthwhile I’m sure but I would’ve needed a tape recorder to get the full value of it. 

  I just kept repeating “OK, OK”, like an automaton, just to get it over with.

  Class ended, Carolyn and Sandy left. Maria picked up that I was kind of jiggy and nervous and distracted. 

  I told them it was my weekend to work alone again and I was feeling somewhat edgy and fragile.

  At that point in time, the structures I’ve put up to deal with my anxiety weren’t enough. The series of phrases I tell myself weren’t cutting it. The images of crossing a piece of land to get to the anxiety free side weren’t there.

   Maria ran upstairs and gave me a small stuffed dog. 

  “That’s your anxiety dog,” Jon and Maria both said with absolute certainty; who am I to argue? 

  It’s been years since I’ve been given a stuffed animal. And what’s weird is that I held the softness against my cheek and felt a little better. 



  I put all my worry on the head of that little stuffed dog. He took me out of myself, which is what I needed. 

  Such a simple solution. 

  Needless to say, Saul (his new name) came with me to the hospital and helped by keeping me grounded and calm. He’s been coming with me every day since.



  He is very focused and is all about the work as you can see.  


About Susan Popper

An animal lover, a medical technologist a person trying to live a full creative life.
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10 Responses to The Anxiety Dog

  1. Daryl Bates says:

    I always had a stuffed toy or two in my office. I also liked to collect little signs with funny sayings. Made me, and anyone that came into my office, smile. Some of my favorites were “You don’t have to be crazy to work here. We’ll train you”, “Caution – Senior moment in progress” and “Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. I know I’m crazy so therefore I’m not crazy. Isn’t that crazy?”


  2. Daryl’s comment is hilarious. You are not all alone anymore Susan at work on weekends, SAUL is there!


  3. bonniebic says:

    Very good write up about your feelings, I really enjoyed it …sorry about your anxiety but glad that you’re working on it.


  4. Christine Catherine says:

    Susan! I knew this was the blog for me when the first thing I saw was Saul, the anxiety dog! I like the pictures of Saul at work. Jon and Maria are very generous. I look forward to getting to know you through this blog. Thank you.


  5. vella draughon says:

    Love your entry and comments about anxiety and wityhholding in class. So supportive to hear from others.


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