Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Worry Wart Update

Hi everyone! I get quite a few messages from people who suffer from anxiety. Sometimes they ask 'what worked for you?' 'Are you OK now?' But usually, they are from people who are just happy to have someone to relate to! If I had someone I could message back when I didn't know what all this was about, I sure would have been grateful! I answered a question not too many days ago and I thought it would make a perfect blog post! It details some of the things I have been trying lately, what I think worked the most and also where I got a lot of support from. It is particularly relevant to the people of Bristol because I name some great initiatives, but I do like to share. You never know what might help someone in a similar position.

I always try to answer, please get in touch if you just want to talk to someone! Anyway, here is the question and letter I wrote back, with names and personal details removed of course! I hope it helps :)

I was reading through your Worry Wart blog again last night and wondered if you wouldn't mind if I asked you what out of all of the things you tried has been the most helpful for you?

Also do you have any recommendations for CBT courses/therapists etc?

Hmmm, it is such a tricky one to answer but I am sure happy to try. I feel like I've tried everything. Honestly, the biggest break I had from it was on anti-depressants (Citalopram) If you need even a month or a 3 month break from Anxiety, just so you can experience a lull in your symptoms and a bit of a mental break, it really is no bad thing. If it is driving you insane, please consider it! I had to be on it twice overall, and many others too which I won't mention as some where very strong and mind bending and some did nothing. I think Citalopram is a subtle, easy drug that just takes the edge off and they'll start you on a small dose.

But that's just taking a 'break.' I didn't want to be on them forever.

I think then, in hindsight, the second greatest thing I did for Anxiety was Hypnotherapy. I saw a wonderful man who taught me an awful lot about the human brain and it's processes. Once you recognise the signals and triggers and actually feel the releases of Adrenaline and Cortisol and really *understand* their affects on the body - there is not much more to be scared about. It is chemicals tripping and it is not your fault. He also taught me how to think more clearly and positively in situations that made me panic. It might sound simple, but once you know what's going on, you really can logic your way out of negative thought patterns.

The real, successful step forward I took is regarding very personal circumstances and will or might not apply to you but - well, since I don't know for sure, I'll tell you anyway because you never know what might help! I developed Anxiety very quietly about 5 years ago, infact the same year I had been on antibiotics for over a month. I didn't know this at the time but the antibiotics stripped my body of all good bacteria. My body started to rebel, and with it my mental state. I can understand why so many Doctors chose to treat the anxiety symptoms and give me anti anxiety and anti depressants, because I would often see them at my wits end and absolutely distraught... however one of my main 'anxiety' symptoms was really bad diarrhoea, multiple times a day and in public and often in embarrassing circumstances. At the time, I thought my brain was in the driving seat. It is kind of a chicken and egg scenario.. I can't remember what came first. I saw a Nutrition Therapist when I got back from Ireland because I was so close to a meltdown. It was actually Ian (two years ago) that made me go to a doctor and tell the truth because I'd lied about it the whole damn time. It's so embarrassing right!? Well, seeing the Nutrition Therapist was definitely the BEST thing I have done, because I now have a cause, and a problem and proof and most importantly: something to actually treat. I don't think my Anxiety can ever win again now that I know what's going on inside! I had some amazing tests done that tested the function of every organ and had some horrific results, but I'm working on it! Which is the most amazing step forward I have ever taken!

If you feel there is something else, no matter how embarrassing, please don't lie like I did! Human bodies only have a few outlets from which to scream for help! Listen to it!

I can whole heartedly recommend Lift Psychology at Knowle Health Centre. You can even refer yourself without a GP and it's completely free! They'll invite you to a day group course and then they'll have a talk with you over the phone for a complete assessment. Whatever support you need - they will offer it. They are so SO good!

I couldn't not mention Bristol Mind as I am their social media volunteer! They offer great support and support groups! I go to one, a women only social anxiety group. You can pop in, or ring them! They know aaall about it!

I really want to carry on and finish Worry Wart properly and with all the above information, but I am so focused right now on putting my body back together that I just can't find the time! It's frustrating because in my eyes, it's a happy ending! And WW at the moment is just dangling, neglected! I realise it helps so many people and I just want to do it forever! But (rather fortunately!) I think I am thoroughly done with Anxiety! I know what it is. I see it! And it's just misdirected confusing, exhausting, useless chemicals.

I hope that helps? Thank you so much for asking! I write back to lots of people who ask! If you want to know ANYTHING else just ask. If you want to scream at someone, scream at me! I will always try to help you reason it all out.

There are also two great books that really helped me when I was at crisis point!

This one for mains: Self Help For Your Nerves by Dr Claire Weekes

And this one for pudding: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Absolutely fabulous and so insightful! I have learned SO much! And you know what? I wouldn't wish the last 5 years away for all the chocolate in the world! It's taught me such a great deal about humans!


Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Weekend Off...

Sometimes you have to recharge your batteries. After a hectic couple of weeks, attending a convention and having Ian visit, I took this weekend to rest, play, read, chat, mooch and draw. I have been experiencing a bit of a 'step backwards' health wise and I have tried really hard not to get too down about it. Doing all my favourite things this weekend has plastered the smile right back across my face. Amongst many things, I started reading some X-Men comics. I've been working my way through all the films I hadn't seen over the last month or so and getting increasingly excited about superheroes. It's amazing that I have been reading and collecting comics all these years and have managed to thus far avoid the 'Big Two.' I don't quite know why, but I am hankering for them now! Just this year, I have been flicking through the classics when in comic shops. Books I'd never dared pick up before now. I had a great time shopping for Ian's birthday pressie. He wanted some Superman comics and I spent ages in FP, sat on the floor, leafing through all the many books they had and chatting to a lovely girl who worked there. It got me so excited! I settled on Red Son (highly recommended) and Birthright (the one I couldn't put back on the shelf)  I had so much fun buying them and spending so much time chatting about them to one of the staff really gave me confidence. I think all this time, it's been a confidence thing. I have just never known where to start. The sheer amount of Superhero comics is overwhelming. And since there is enough good indie stuff out there anyway, it has kept me going, happily, until now. Anyway, long story short, I have picked the X-Men as my starting point. And it doesn't matter if I have many false starts, I have so much to choose from I'm bound to find something I like! I've bought a couple of volumes so far and I'm already eyeing up more!
I spent part of today colouring up a Psylocke sketch. I had so much fun drawing this. It's like having a massage after a sports event! So completely enjoyable and fulfilling and soothing, somehow.

I also wanted to share my love of an artist with you! Just before the Nerdfest con, Heather Sheppard posted a glorious painting on her facebook page. I have never fallen in love with an image so fast! As soon as I saw it, I was immediately piqued! I don't know if it's the colours, the angle, the characters... it's just so thrilling! The composition is gorgeous, the posing is exhilarating and the colours/textures are sumptuous! I took a couple of moments to ponder on it and then set about contacting her 3 DIFFERENT WAYS. I bombarded her facebook, etsy and twitter accounts! I need this Heather, sell it to me! 
Luckily I got to her before anyone else did, and the beautiful piece you see below is lying on my bedroom floor! This iPhone photo does not do it justice. It's big and so inspiring! I think I have been drawing like a loon ever since I saw it. If only I could birth an image as evocative as this one! It makes me feel how Ghibli does, full of imagination and wonder and wide eyed innocence. I will stop gushing now, but only so I can let your eyes sink into the painting itself...

Who is this liddle guy? Is he playing? :D 

Ian and I have also been getting excited about future Razarhawk plans. I can not shitting wait to bring this comic to you! I am absolutely humbled by the response we've been having and so eager to bring you more! My art is getting better and better. I don't mean that to sound big headed, but I am learning new techniques all the time, my colouring is stronger, my line is improving and my joy of it is ten fold! And when you are surrounded by fantastic arty friends like Heather, it's hard not to want to progress, practice and polish as much as you can! GAMBARIMASHO! (I have been reading a lot of Bakuman... basically, you're all my rivals now!) >:P

That's all f'now. I have comics to make and drawings to draw and dreams to dream. Let's all do our best!