Tag Archives: happy


No SSRI for a while… again! But I’m really proud to post the latest guest strip, this time by my boyfriend, Mitchymuss Alexander. Here he’s very openly portraying something I struggle with daily; RUMINATION (click the image to embiggen).

Rumination (from The Free Dictionary):

Noun 1. rumination – a calm, lengthy, intent consideration

cogitationstudy – attentive consideration and meditation; “after much cogitation he rejected the offer”
consideration – the process of giving careful thought to something
meditationspeculation – continuous and profound contemplation or musing on a subject or series of subjects of a deep or abstruse nature; “the habit of meditation is the basis for all real knowledge”
meditation – (religion) contemplation of spiritual matters (usually on religious or philosophical subjects)
introspectionself-contemplationself-examination – the contemplation of your own thoughts and desires and conduct
retrospect – contemplation of things past; “in retrospect”
2. rumination – (of ruminants) chewing (the cud); “ruminants have remarkable powers of rumination”

chewingmasticationchewmanduction – biting and grinding food in your mouth so it becomes soft enough to swallow
3. rumination – regurgitation of small amounts of food; seen in some infants after feeding

disgorgementemesispukingvomitingregurgitationvomit – the reflex act of ejecting the contents of the stomach through the mouth

It’s actually sounds fine, eh (apart from maybe the last two!)? A bit of meditation, self-reflection, surely that kind of thing’s good for the soul, and for self-awareness?

Well the psychological definition is a bit different (from Wikipedia):

Rumination is usually defined as repetitively focusing on the symptoms of distress, and on its possible causes and consequences.[1] Extensive research on the effects of rumination, or the tendency to self-reflect, shows that the negative form of rumination interferes with people’s ability to focus on problem-solving and results in dwelling on negative thoughts about past failures.[2] Evidence from studies suggests that the negative implications of rumination are due to cognitive biases, such as memory and attentional biases, which predispose ruminators to selectively devote attention to negative stimuli.[3]

As Mitch’s strip today demonstrates, rumination can make even the most simple internal decision a minefield. It affects problem solving because we’re predisposed to think of all the times we got problem-solving wrong, and to completely reject the (often magnitudinously larger) amount of times we got it right… And we often become the only people in our lives who don’t trust us to do the right thing.

I do wonder if the last definition from the dictionary is somehow the most appropriate one – that instead of self reflecting, we endlessly chew over and regurgitate useless thoughts…


So I’m back after a fairly long break, and I thought it’d be nice to come back with something positive. I’m still anxious, I’m still avoiding some things, but over the last three or four weeks of going to therapy I’ve been using CBT to stop rumination and I’ve practised being mindful – stopping and using my senses – listening, smelling, seeing the things around me, to bring me out of my head.

I’ve also been kind of re-patterning – hence the strip today. One of the biggest vicious circles with my anxiety has been putting things off then struggling to get them done. Basically, one of my biggest enemies has been disorganisation. You could say that anxiety is the product of a disorganised mind, but I’m not a psychologist, so I can talk about my own experiences with any certainty.

Realising that, I’ve transformed the space in the house I use as a studio, and have everything mapped out in calendars and planners, giving myself realistic deadlines and always re-checking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still struggling with deadlines and things, it’ll take a while; but I’ve been ten times more productive because I’m spending far less time worrying about not getting stuff done.

I’ve also set myself a routine of relaxing, meditating and exercising, as well as, believe it or not, cooking. Rather than waiting till the last minute to decide what I’m eating, which usually resulted in me realising I didn’t have the proper ingredients for a particular meal or whatever and relying on fast carbs instead, I’m planning my meals, and the result is that I’m cooking much more.

All of this is stuff I’ve tried before, but at different times and without properly planning for it. This time I’m doing it gradually, but as one massive big lifestyle change.

I gave up coffee, dudes… COFFEE.

Caffeine, sugar, all that stuff that causes more anxiety, and all that stuff I rely on for comfort, which has helped me get fat, is getting cut out. I figure that if I remove the majority of anxiety-causing influences from my environment then all I’m left with is me. I can work on that. But only when it doesn’t feel over whelming. So I’m hoping that as all this stuff becomes habit, I can focus even more on the therapy and CBT and try to bed in some of this stuff.

It’s precarious – I’m aware that if something “bad” happens I could go back a few steps, but I’m hoping the routine thing will help me to get back on track if that happens.

Also, I’ve given up the citalopram… So in one sense, this strip is now wrongly named! I never wanted to stay on anti-depressants – they were a means to an end for me, and that end was getting to therapy and starting to make the changes in my life I needed. But I was left with a residual physical anxiety by the tallys, and it was affecting my libido too. I was getting to that stage of mediocrity a lot of people report on anti-D’s, where you’re neither up nor down, but in some middle place.

It was a bitch coming off them – I had a rollercoaster week last week, major highs and really, really deep lows, the worst I’ve had for a while. But luckily I could talk it over with Mitch, which meant I never felt like I was on my own.

If you’re going through something like this, I can’t stress how important it is to be able to communicate it. Even if you don’t have people close to you who you can talk to, find a therapist, or at the very least, find someone else who’s gone through it and talk to them. A lot of the difficult stuff you go through is a necessary part of the process, I think, but it can be enough to put you off track if you don’t know how to cope, or even if it’s normal.

If you’re out there on your own reading this and need to talk, feel free to drop me a PM – there’s not just me here, but all the other people I know who’ve experienced it too, and we can all offer our advice and encouragement.

So I’m left with “brain zaps”, or head spangs as a mate calls it, which I love. It’s a side effect of withdrawal from SSRIs, little brain rushes when you turn your head or eyes too quickly. But my libido seems to be returning, and the constant anxious stomach has gone – now I just get it when I am anxious. I also feel a lot more clear headed.

So I’m not there yet – there’s loads of stuff still to do, and I have no idea if any of it will be permanent. It could be that I’ll be anxious for the rest of my life and I’ll just need to manage it. Or maybe that some years of this routine will be enough to get rid of it – I just don’t know. But this time round I’m determined not to slip, to just keep going.


First of all, I apologise profusely for the lack of updates recently – I’ve been going through some big changes, and I’ll post up soon to let you know what’s been happening, but they’ve distracted me enough to keep me from SSRI for a while…

Secondly, while I get myself back in gear, here’s the latest guest post, this time from Cosmic Designs’ workshop alumni and Team Girl’er, MJ Wallace! Thanks for such an honest post MJ, I know I can relate to this, and I’m sure many folk who read it will too 🙂

Back soon!!


So this really happened, post-therapy, which was nice… 🙂

I’ve been doing diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, and it seems to be really making a difference. Apparently my general day-to-day level is so strung out that it makes even the wee things in life seem massive.

Interesting thing is, after relaxation I’m this completely chilled person that I haven’t been since I was about 19 or 20. I can remember it, being that groovy and chilled, but it didn’t last. But remembering it has made me realise that beneath all this anxiety and worry, that’s who I really am, and hopefully can be again.


I’m really pleased to show you all this latest guest post from Gill Hatcher. She’s part of Team Girl Comic  and has a Tumblr page where she’s started to post more webcomics about Trichotillomania.

I’ll let Gill explain what this condition is below, but I just want to say how grateful I am to her for letting me use such a brave guest post.

“One of the most visible ways my anxiety manifests itself is ‘Trichotillomania’. Trick-o-till-o-mania is an impulse control disorder that basically means I pull out my own hair, and have very little control over it. I have been doing this since I was 13 years old, but 12 years on it’s worse than ever.

Last week I looked out a diary comic I made about 18 months ago, following my attempts to stop pulling. Interestingly, despite all the difficulties I was experiencing in my life during that time, I can now see that I had managed to gain slightly better control of my pulling through this method. So I’m taking it a step further and going public. There’s a lot of unnecessary shame and stigma surrounding trichotillomania, so I’m hoping that being more open about my struggle to become pull-free will not only help myself, but others too.

Wikipedia page:

Trichotillomania support:


First proper session of CBT this week, and we tackled the cycle of anxiety/depression/whatever. That’s it above, basically. Any of the four sectors can be the activator, and each one can lead to any other and back and forward. For me, the most obvious are ‘Thoughts’ and ‘Physical Effects’, with ‘Behaviours’ being the most obvious outcome, especially avoidance, but I think that might mean that somewhere beneath the surface, ‘Feelings’ is the area I have the most issue with.

My therapist said that my general anxiety levels are so high that even small things were being unnecessarily magnified, and advised that I get on the relaxation trip asap. She gave me a CD with some exercises on it, most of which I’ve done before. But working with a guided CD is so much better than doing it on your own – I did diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation then totally zoned out for the remainder of the exercises, “waking up” to hear the speaker talking about stuff I’d written down, which I’d completely missed.

I got up and Mitch commented on how chilled I seemed – more relaxed than he’d ever seen me. Which was a bit of a wake up call, as there was a point years ago when I was genuinely that relaxed a lot of the time… So obviously I need to work to bring that everyday level of anxiety down, and then work on the other stuff. So expect to see me get totally zen over the next few weeks 🙂

It has totally worked though – last night was a pretty big meeting of the Glasgow league of Writers and I managed to not feel nervous. Also I’ve managed to pull some really good art out of the bag this week, so here’s hoping…

More guest posts on their way too, by the way. Thanks to Neil for his wonderful strip the other day – you must have brought loads of visitors dude – you managed my third busiest day so far!! If you liked his strip, I’d seriously suggest to race over to his Etsy store and buy one of the few remaining copies of ‘Nine Lines of Metro’.

Remember last Monday when I asked everyone to share and RT the blog so I could get to 2000 views? Well it happened really quickly, and this morning I woke to find that we’re now sitting at THREE THOUSAND!

This is insane – it’s mad to think that so many people have read the posts! I’m still interested in keeping changing it and trying new things out, hence the “splash page” today, and next week I plan to try something a little bit different again.

I suppose today’s strip is a play on “pull yourself together”, and also the feeling I’ve had a lot over the last couple of weeks of real lethargy – memory shot, no energy, trying to convince myself to get up and do stuff that needs done. It’s like all the relevant bits of you are there, nearby, but they’re kind of scattered, and you’ve lost the energy to bring them back into some coherent whole.

Luckily I’ve got a little self awareness, and I tend to see these things symbolically too. In shamanic cultures, the proto-shaman undergoes a vision quest where they are often pulled apart and have to reconstitute themselves. The process of recombining is usually completed with the addition of a sacred object i.e. something new they’ve learned about themselves.

While this is an initiatory process, most scholars and practitioners in magic and mysticism agree that initiation doesn’t happen once in a lifetime, but often. So I see these moments of dissolution and fragmentation as an opportunity to “pull myself together” with the addition of some new insight or sense of self.

As for this time around – if I discover what that insight is, I’ll be sure to share… 🙂

P.S. Remember to contact me if you want to do a guest post – I’ve had some interest already so it could be really great to see other folks’ take on this issue. Just drop me a comment or email me at: