Knitting, Plants, a Phobia : Self-Help Steps for Everyone

Swearing in Cursive #3 is an honest, reflective zine on a power struggle between a femme queer grannypunx girl and her phobia, and how she finds solace in knitting, plants, and a routine. She shares 4 steps to control attacks, and 4 steps to tame everyday stress.

And yes, I got her zine in the mail. (Letters aren’t dinosaurs…yet…)

swearing in cursive

Mckenzie Mullen is “a light-skinned latina, a ciswoman, a fat queer, femme, a grannypunx.”

In other words, she’s fucking amazing. She’s been my friend since high school – back when she lived in cookie cutter Santa Clarita with me – and has always inspired me to be my weird self while curating the best indie, grunge, and feminist punk playlists for me. However, during all those years I never knew she had a phobia until I read her zine.

She has a phobia of throwing up or being around someone throwing up, but is centered around contagion rather than because of alcohol or motion sickness (though she doesn’t drink for many reasons.)

Imagine living in the party animal freshman infested college dorms with her phobia….
But she survived (and I’m very proud of her xoxox) by using four steps to combat her phobia that we can all use as a guide when facing a mental obstacle.

4 Steps to Control Attacks

1. Pinpoint the Source

“My phobia centers largely around contagion. This has made dealing with people throwing up because of alcohol, motion sickness, or food poisoning way less traumatic.”

2. Rationalize

“Phobias are irrational, and rationalizing every aspect of an incident helps me a lot. If I know it’s not the stomach flu or I didn’t eat something rancid, then I feel much safer”

3. Calm Down

“When I get triggered, I have extremely visceral reactions: my breathing gets shallow, my stomach hurts, my heart races. It’s essentially an adrenaline rush.”

“I always carry around an anxiety tincture for these times because it slows down my heart beat and soothes my belly and makes dealing with everything way easier.”

4. Exposure

“exposure in small doses is extremely helpful and if I’m feeling mentally sound, I will push myself towards it rather than away.”

4 Ways to Tame Everyday Stress

She still uses these four steps to tame her phobia, but also focuses on four other important aspects within her everyday life.

  1. Pinpointing other stress factors

    For her, it was “the ex,” and being confident in her own skin as a femme queen
    “I have no time for people who see me as less than because I’m fat, femme, queer, and confident. I’m not sorry that I scare you. I’m not sorry that I force you to question the amount of power you hold.”

  2. Maintaining a healthy routine

    Versus destructive habits. Keeping her morning routine is important to her. But ridding of habits are a constant work in progress.

“There are the habits that exist on the larger cycle of myself, like relationship codependence, that I’m consistently trying to avoid falling into. And there are smaller, more pinpointed habits, like not immediately falling into the Internet when I get home from work, that I’m similarly trying to keep myself from.”

3. Hobbies

Such as her loves: knitting, gardening, zines, crafts, and caring for her beautiful fluffy prince Hedwig the cat.

“I didn’t realize how much having a garden would get me outside and excited fro the upcoming days where I could see how much all my plant babies had grown.”

4. Goal setting

She wrote out New Years goals for 2014, but revisits them every month (I just revisited mine last week!!).

“to remind myself of what a good job I’m doing and to help myself stay on track.”


Mckenzie is a inspiration, and I hope you can use the knowledge she’s learned from her experience to help you. You can buy her zine here. 

-Shay of TSIB
She does trades



for those who aren’t fellow zine lovers/zinesters

In case you’re not up to par with today’s trending zine culture, a zine is basically a small, mini-magazine, usually in black and white, that’s photocopied, cut, and stapled together. Zines became prominent during the 70’s punk and 90’s riot grrrl scenes, and are again booming today within the DIY indie and punk scenes in Seattle, Portland, Chicago, and LA . (Pls check out Bikini Kill’s Riot Grrrl, Bitch, and BUST) Also check out LA Zine Fest in February if you’re in town :)

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