Hi, I'm Casee, and this is Blaze.

I write. She mostly just naps.

Blaze and I met when I was two years into recovery from severe anxiety and she was one year into life at the pound. I had spent nearly a decade struggling to leave the house due to anticipatory anxiety and daily panic attacks. Blaze had been found, at six years old, abandoned in the basement of her owners' foreclosed home. We were both a bit of a mess, both in search of peace, and both in need of a friend. As fate would have it, we met one early morning in late June, and we've been besties ever since.

I first became public about my anxiety struggles in 2014, about three months after beginning therapy for the first time. Despite being dogged (no pun intended) by anxiety from childhood, I refused help as the severity of my fear-based thinking grew to the point of becoming outright debilitating. Avoidance was my daily ritual, from driving to answering the telephone or the doorbell. I was supported by a loving family whose patience knew no bounds, and I retreated, much like I had in childhood, into my own inner-world.

I took to writing from the age of thirteen and the passion has not abated since. I would write just about anything I could think of - poetry, FanFiction, short stories, and eventually blog posts and book reviews. I managed a moderately successful fashion blog for several years and a well-received literary blog for a few more, all the while keeping my offline anxiety struggles a secret - even to the people in my life, where I could.

Shortly after my 26th birthday, I resolved to make a change. As a child raised in the golden age of Disney, I was devastated when Robin Williams took his own life in August of that same year. Having been making progress in my therapy practice and learning to see my vulnerability as a strength, I was compelled to speak out about the experience I was having. "This is the most important journey of my life so far," I wrote in a social media post, "and yet when people ask me what I've been up to I shrug and say, 'Not much'." From here, the bravery born of vulnerability - what I like to call "quiet courage" - was born, and I began opening up about life with anxiety through online journal entries, social media, and eventually even through in-person conversations.

Four years later, I regularly tell my story to support groups and personal development workshops, in the hope that I might encourage others to test the waters of their own vulnerability and find the strength that lies just beyond. Through continued therapy, medication, and active self-study, I have made strides I never would have expected. Once fearful of driving, I'm a newly passionate solo traveler; despite having one of my first panic attacks before a major concert, I now jump at the opportunity to attend music festivals and local shows. And although the traumas of Blaze's life have made it impossible for her to go on these adventures with me, she's learned very well what it means to be safe, to be loved - to be home - and we continue to find ourselves partners on a journey to gain the courage to trust in the world and the goodness of life.

Thanks for reading!


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