wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

I prefer art attacks..

I’m a creative person, that’s one of the few things I can say about myself with certainty… along with; I love both champagne and Kit Harrington in equal measure, Mexican food is my favourite and I HATE Tuesdays. (I don’t care what anyone says, the Tuesday blues are worse).

When I was a kid I used to write stories all the time. My topics of choice weren’t exactly you’re typical happy go lucky stuff. I mainly wrote about danger, ghosts and death. I recently flicked through an old notebook, probably from when I was around eight. A few stand out classics are – ‘Drugs Kill” – “The ghost who visits my dreams” and “When a cigarette ate our house” (it was a story about fire, I was trying to be clever). Any psychiatrist would have a field day with that material I’m sure!
For the record, nobody in my family smokes or takes drugs, so I must’ve seen that type of thing Casualty or something. Casualty really used to freak me out actually, it’s where my fear of internal bleeding came from. Seriously even now when I bang my head I automatically think; “omg what if my brain is filling up with blood?”

ANYWAY – Yesterday afternoon the ‘Sunday night butterflies’ arrived much earlier than usual. Normally they wait until the evening to surface, but yesterday it was around 3pm which took me by surprise and I reacted badly. To be clear, when I say butterflies I mean piranhas which gnaw at my stomach, and when I say badly I mean I sat on the bathroom floor desperately sniffing lavender oil and blasting music in my ears. I figured Taylor Swift can drown out any bad thoughts right?
I’ve had a long weekend doing lovely things with Dan, friends and Rigby of course. It was perfect actually, I haven’t felt so happy in months. I think that we (all humans) create a bubble when we have time away from work or school, It’s like a safety blanket of sorts. So when my happy bubble burst yesterday the thought of returning to normal life filled me with dread. It was all completely irrational and I know this, but when has that ever stopped the tiger’s claws?

  • Your new colleagues will eventually find out what a freak you are. You can’t hide forever.
  • They probably already think you’re a disappointment. You won’t pass the probation.
  • You’re going to get ill again and this time it will destroy you.   

The tiger doesn’t pull any punches!

So I sat there for a while and let the waves of panic crash over me. Then suddenly out of the blue I had an urge to do something that I haven’t indulged in years. (No, sadly not hard-core S&M). Actually I’ve never shared this aspect of my personality, so please try and keep the sniggers to a minimum. I like to make collages or mood boards. YEP, you heard me! Most teenage girls had posters of boy bands or actors on their walls, but not me. Pictures of beautiful women, pages from books and sometimes even dead flowers were plastered on mine. It sounds weird I know, but I took great comfort in collating things that I found beautiful. Yes I realise this all makes me sound like a pretentious prat, but it was never for anyone else, only me. In fact I think it freaked a lot of people out, (including my mum). I remember she asked once, “is it the clothes that you like in the photos, or the women?” Her very sweet way of asking if I was a lesbian.
I have this habit, whenever I see something in a magazine that I find beautiful or inspiring I rip it out and squirrel it away in my desk drawer. I also have old birthday cards, book covers and postcards from loved ones.

So yesterday without pausing to ask “I’m I too old for this shit?” I began putting the pictures and items up on my pin board. It took over an hour and it felt good. Not only was I engrossed in the task, but I felt as though I was embracing something in myself that I would normally chastise. I really enjoyed EVERY second of it and by the time I finished the butterflies/Parana’s had lessened. Make no mistake, they were still there but at least we had coexisted in peace for a while.

Here’s my advice to you this week. Find something creative that you love and make time for it. Baking, drawing, music, football, gardening – as we get older hobbies are often the first thing to fall victim to father time, and ironically they’re so important for the soul. (Sorry for the BS word, I tried to think of something less cheesy but failed – so soul it is)!

Maybe one day I’ll express how my anxiety makes me feel through collage. But in all honesty, I’m not ready for that because I’m afraid of what it might look like. But for now, please find a photo of yesterdays’ effort below. Do be kind as I’m not an artist, I just do It for me. But hopefully it will inspire others to get crafty this week!

collage 3Btw I would encourage everyone to sign the Equality For Mental Health Petition –http://www.equality4mentalhealth.uk/
“As ministers make final decisions on the Spending Review, we urge them to treat mental health equally with physical health. We ask for the same right to timely access to evidence based treatment as those with physical health problems.” This quote sums up my beliefs exactly. Like a damaged limb, the mind also deserves equal treatment.

Categories: Anxiety

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8 replies

  1. Claire. Exactly what I needed to hear the moment and I agree 100%. I’m struggling badly at the moment in some ways, but at the same time I can see the beauty in things, so that’s a kind of progress. I recently had a conversation with my AA sponsor when I referred to so eone I know as “the good looking gay guy” and my sponsor then told me that that he had come out before his 2 sons were 12. The point isn’t about sexuality, it’s about the beauty that is all around us. Whether for you (in the widest sense) it’s books, music, the outdoors, films, TV (I am LOVING house of cards at the moment), people, photography, the outdoors again, a sunset or crocheting, or whatever it is floats your boat, just do it. The thing is that people who have mental illnesses cut themselves from the things they love, or the things they could love if they tried them. It may be difficult at first but one thing I know for sure is that you will feel better at the end. And I signed the petition 🙂

  2. It looks amazing Claire! Thanks for the reminder and push to do this. I make collages with a friend over Saturday night or New Year’s drinks. However, I live a flight away now. I have been hoarding magazines, which are stacking up on the coffee table to create a vision board. I need visual reminders to fight the distorted thinking and anxiety with “no cause” as I call it. Speaking of which, why do so many people (even qualified) ask people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks what “specifically it is that is causing your anxiety”? Honestly, frustrating. I get that there are causes and factors, but even with taking away an anxiety factor I still have anxiety that comes out of nowhere or even after or while having a wonderful relaxed time.

  3. Never too old to be creative, in whatever form … that amazing feeling of flow when you lose yourself in creativity, whatever the activity. And Extremely Rude Words to whoever it is that you feel is judging you for liking whatever the hell you like, Claire. You have a perfect right to be yourself.

  4. Collage looks great. Why even begin to apologise?

  5. Art attacks sound great! I’ve been reading about anxiety a lot lately, and have been finding people who say that hiding from it is the worst thing you can do, even going as far as to say that using distractions is bad.
    But how can distractions that are “good for the soul” (cheesy or not, it’s spot on) begin to be bad. I prefer to see it as a choice to not be completely knocked down by anxiety. Maybe you can’t be productive on exactly what needs your productivity (homework, cleaning, errands, work, etc) but you’re still getting something done.
    Last week, I planned to spend an entire day cleaning up the apartment. Something about trying to tackle it sent me into the closet — my safe place — with loud music and deep breathing. But it didn’t take long for me to realize it was a crap way to spend a day. Instead, I spent four hours organizing a random clutter of paperwork (organizing is my anti-drug). While I didn’t achieve my original goal, I at least got to say that I accomplished something at the end of the day.

    You collage looks wonderful, but the most important thing is if it made you feel wonderful. You may have felt you are too old for art attacks, but you’re never to old to do something that makes you feel wonderful!

  6. ……………………I cannot believe someone else does this. After tons of posts you still manage to take me by surpise 🙂 Sadly I cannot include the picture of my own board and I have to write this comment quickly because my eyes are filling with tears.I have done this since I was little and no one understood. Thank you for helping me to discover that just because people thought/think I am a freak because I do things differently doesn’t automatically mean they’re right. Thank you!!

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