By Pip Williams
Content note: Discussion of anxiety
On Anxiety is the first anthology from British micropublisher 3 of Cups. The press was set up by founder Clare Bogen, with the admirable goal of “providing a platform for voices otherwise unheard in the mainstream.” This means that On Anxiety is a diverse project, full of wide-ranging voice and experiences across its central theme.
On Anxiety was crowdfunded in 2017, in order to ensure all contributors could be paid fairly for their work. This merits a mention, as all too often marginalised creators can be exploited in pursuit of the goals of “awareness”, “visibility”, or “exposure.” Not only were 3 of Cups’ original goals met, they were far exceeded, allowing a stretch goal of additional contributors to be realised. Now, the book is available in eBook form, with physical copies to come later this month.
The anthology comprises 24 works from creators both well-established and new to the scene. There’s something for everyone; fiction, poetry, prose, comics, art. Dr. Rachel Kowert’s informative factual essay sits alongside Nicolo Froio’s heartfelt, painful words on the anxieties she experiences travelling as a woman from the global south. There are essays on horoscopes, jewellery-making, bird-keeping; all metaphors for anxiety, in one of many shapes and forms.
On Anxiety serves to provide comfort and companionship to fellow sufferers, whilst acting as an illuminating introduction for those less familiar. Whilst anxiety is perceived as a more palatable and easy to discuss mental illness than many, it’s still fundamentally misunderstood by many who have not experienced it. By including such a variety of works, the picture On Anxiety paints is diverse, inclusive, and easily accessible to those who may not have a thorough understanding of the illness.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, I saw myself reflected in many of the works in the anthology. I also came to understand how my various privileges – whiteness, Britishness, middle class-ness – cushion me from certain aspects of the anxious experience. On Anxiety introduced me to these concepts gently and without judgement, opening my mind to the breadth I had perhaps not yet considered.
My favourite contribution to On Anxiety is Sophie Mackintosh’s gorgeous personal essay “Alignment”. Sophie – like me, a Scorpio with an Aries moon – finds comfort from her own anxieties through astrology and horoscopes. The familiarity of her thought processes, couched in beautiful, meandering prose, was like a hand on my shoulder as I read. Anxiety can be a horrendously limiting illness, and the people it preys on come from all walks of life, but we never truly suffer alone. There’s always someone whose story reads similarly to our own, and I suspect many people will find them in On Anxiety.