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The Best Book for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

As May draws to a close, it’s important, like, really important, to remember that mental health care and awareness isn’t a single-month thing. It’s something everyone, everywhere needs to take notice of all the time, particularly if they or someone in their life is struggling with a mental illness.

There are still way too many stereotypes and way too much misinformation out there. People who declare themselves to have anxiety or panic disorder or OCD or depression are often not taken seriously, ridiculed, dismissed, or even abused. And that is so, so wrong.

Okay, on that terribly depressing note, let me offer some hope to people like me who currently suffer from Panic Disorder, Anxiety (in any form), OCD or phobias. I have generalized anxiety right now, but about two years ago I had such severe anxiety it morphed into Panic Disorder, which brings those fun side-effects of insomnia and agoraphobia with it. I wrote all about that time in my life here, and I’m happy to say I’ve conquered most of my symptoms. I haven’t had a real attack in months, and day to day my anxiety is manageable. Sure, I still have days or even hours when it hits, and my body and mind shut down to deal with the physiological and mental pain.

And truth be told, since it stopped being super bad, I haven’t taken too many drastic steps to eliminate it altogether. (Diet and exercise, I’m lookin’ at you.)

But I have practiced meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and the elimination of negative self-talk and limiting self-beliefs. That’s what got me out of the worst parts of it in the first place.

Now though, with the pandemic going on and anxiety at an all-time high, I wanted to get in ahead of it and start seriously working on some life changes to help me kick it for good. The disorder, not the being anxious sometimes part. Part of recovery is realizing that anxiety is just another emotion that every human feels. The key is to get it back to the realm of just an emotion.

And so we come to the best book I’ve ever read for Panic Disorder/Anxiety/OCD/Phobias. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, PH.D. I’m not even halfway through, but it’s amazing.

It is a workbook, which is why it’s taking me so long, because I’m actually doing the exercises. At first, it outlines what the disorders are and combats myths about them. That’s important, because a lot of the fear about having one of these disorders usually comes from believing something that’s not true about it.

For instance, it took way too long for me to find out that panic attacks are not physically dangerous in any way, especially when the mental side of them make sure to let you know you’re dying.

Yeah, it’s a comforting book. It lays out what each disorder is and plans to overcome them. Next, it takes you through each tool in your toolbox, each weapon in your cache. Things like relaxation techniques (hello progressive muscle relaxation, I didn’t know you were a thing), diet and exercise, and asserting yourself. It even goes into the different kinds of medication and how they work. Although the book does not recommend using medication as a first response, it accepts that it’s a useful and sometimes very necessary combatant for severe cases (as mine was).

Nothing beats a therapist, of course, who can guide you week to week as you fight, but this book does a damn good job of being an at-home therapist when outside is still kind of, like, full of coronavirus.

So in honor of Mental Health Awareness month, buy this book, learn about your own disorder or about the disorder of someone you love and continue to spread the education and awareness.

Let’s end the stigma.

Wattpad Story: I’m Writing Again!

I’m writing again! I’ve been not working for almost two months, and while the first month was spent mainly acclimating, and then getting addicted to Animal Crossing, this month has been all about writing.

Dudes, it’s been amazing. Somehow my creativity and energy for writing are abounding. Maybe because I’m not working, maybe because I’m actively doing so much to help my mental health and that’s making me just more creative in general… who know? Who cares? I’m riding this high while it lasts, baby.

A while back I had the idea for a Wattpad serial story featuring an intrepid bookseller and involving magic and romance and general adventures. I wrote a few notes but left it at that, in my compost file where all my ideas go.

Long story short, I fleshed it out, had a massive back and forth brainstorm sesh with my brother, and got the first arc all outlined. Like, a whole ARC. With character sketches and everything in a nice new notebook. (Ah, my notebook obsession, you strike again.)

If you follow me on social media, particularly Facebook, you’ll know I’ve been working on cover art probably more than is healthy, but good news on that front; I hired an actual artist so I wouldn’t waste anymore of my time trying to be talented. Instead I got back to writing. Smort, Audra Mae.

With the all-important cover out of the way, I have now focused my attention once again on rapid drafting, editing, revising and re-revising of the first two parts of the story. Altogether around 5000 words. Not bad. Not bad at all. Now the momentum is picking up I’ll be able to have a much faster turnover.

As of right now, the book blurb goes something like this:

Out with the old, in with the new…world, that is. Tabitha Price, an average bookseller in an average town, doesn’t expect life to get much more interesting than the books she reads. But when a friend accidentally sends her to another world, Tabitha will learn that sometimes, living in a fantasy isn’t all that fantastic.

In this new world, wars rage across the country, monsters roam free, and knights are sent to scavenge from the dead. It’s dreary, confusing, and Tabitha is sure she’s going to die at any second. Her only chance is to find a group of adventurers to protect her. That can’t be too hard, right?

Not bad, eh? It needs polishing, and I’m thinking I’ll host a poll to have you guys help determine what blurb sounds best, but for a first time blurb-writer, I’m pretty proud of myself.

And that’s another great thing. I’m having fun writing and not having any self-defeating thoughts! Like, the story isn’t perfect, even after edits, but it’s good. Good enough. No longer is my perfectionism the enemy of my goodness.

I don’t have a timeline for publishing yet. My artist is working amazingly fast, but I want to have at least five parts prepped and ready to go before I start.

But I am so, so excited to share Tabitha with you guys.

The Limiting Beliefs of Multipotentialites Who Want It All: Guest Post by Gallantly, Gal

I met Gal of Gallantly, Gal in the blogosphere a year or two ago. It started with us commenting on each other’s posts, learning we were very similar, and developing a fast friendship from there. I love her aesthetic and gentle but powerful voice, and she’s here today to discuss a pitfall many multipotentialites fall prey to. Take it away, Gal!


I always knew that there were so many things I wanted to do in life. I primarily consider myself a writer, but I also love to sketch, draw comics, sing, direct, edit, and so much more. All the possibilities make me feel like I am spinning around and around until I am dizzy and confused. It can be overwhelming to have so many interests. What if I only have enough time to be average all-around? I thought that I had to figure out a direction; I also thought choosing one path would close me off to everything else, which brought out my inner commitment phobe.

However, that second part is the limiting belief. Life and the people in it made me think I could only choose one direction in life and go from there. Why wouldn’t I fear commitment, then?

But then I realized they were only half-right for people like me, and it was refreshing to learn what exactly people like me were. Audra was the one to introduce the multipotentialite to me. She learned about it from Emilie’s Ted Talk. And I plan to pass it onto others, too. This type of information has to be shared! A multipotentialite is “someone with many interests and creative pursuits.”

That is me. And that’s totally okay! Perhaps that’s why writers, actors, producers Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling are my role models. The one path for life works for some and it doesn’t for others, like all things in life. There are rules and there are exceptions, and sometimes they even come in 50/50 ratios. I don’t know the percentage of multipotentialites in the world, but I believe that more and more are coming out into the world with some comfort and ease.

However, most of society still expects people to have one goal in mind. Multipotentialites are told, “You can’t do it all.” And this is not entirely wrong. I can’t be pulling myself into multiple directions maniacally. I get that. I am resigned to the fact that some interests will remain hobbies that I won’t ever truly excel at on an expert level.

At the same time, this is a limiting belief. It immediately stops me in my track. I allow it to hold me back. I get scared because I see all these paths before me. This is not a normal fork in the road. This fork has got 1,000 tines laid out before me as multiple walkways of life. I am told I can only go on one, and there may be no crossover with other roads. There just isn’t enough time and opportunity for that. After all, someone who drops their successful law career after fifteen years to open up a food truck is looked at as if he or she is completely bonkers. This is not a game with a reset option that allows me to materialize back at the fork to try a different pathway.

I know that in a way this is my own mindset limiting myself. I am exaggerating on what I am told or even using others as an excuse for my self-limits out of fear, but I am someone who finds words to be one of the most powerful things in the universe. Words are the ones that form limiting beliefs, and these limiting beliefs are the thoughts that dictate every single thing I do.

So I want to make an adjustment to the “You can’t do it all” decree. I want to turn it into something healthier and more constructive by adding just two words: “You can’t do it all at once.”

What I mean to say is, “You can do it all someday.”

The people telling me to pick one path were half-right. Pick one path for now. Have one goal for now. I also have to give credit to and have trust in the people who advise me that picking something right now is not an end all be all, because there are such wise people in my life, as well.

This is an oath I wrote to myself one day when I found myself drowning in self-doubt:

“I’m always saying there’s so much I want to do that I’m too overwhelmed to do anything. I don’t know where to start. But here’s the thing. If I don’t start somewhere, I won’t be able to get all of that done. Not even that I won’t get anything done—I won’t get ALL of it done. And I want all of it. And so that will be my goal—to do all of it. Not think of limiting myself, but finding a place to start. Then I will keep moving forward, conquering land north, south, east, west, until I’ve gathered and pulled into my circle everything I’ve ever wanted.


It is so easy to forget, to shrivel up, to want to give up, to just wallow in this emotion or that emotion, to compare, and more, but with this promise I will be who I need to be for myself.”


So believe that you can do it–all of it. Whether your dreams are to be an astronaut and professional equestrian… Okay, wait. Yeah, sure, why not? Don’t let the limits of age, education, experience, social standing, or any of that stop you. Especially do not let people’s expectations of what is “standard,” “normal,” “practical,” or “to be expected” stop you, either. They can keep on flappin’ their lips while you dance toward your dreams as starry-eyed as you please!

Embrace all of your interests. Show each of them love and attention. Because they all make up who you are, and I know, without a doubt, you are wonderful and you can have all you ever wanted someday. As long as you start now.


Thanks so much Gal! I encourage you to check out her blog. It’s so pretty, and she has a lot of great insights and fun features.

WWW Wednesday, 20-March-2019

Sam over at Taking on a World of Words recently revived the weekly WWW, and I love it. Of course, when you’re reading literally four or five books at any given time (no, really, check my Goodreads feed), it can be hard to pick which one to highlight. But I’ll do my best.

WWW works by readers either writing a response to the three questions on their blog and posting the link in Sam’s post comments or simply answering the questions in the comments. Either way, it’s fun and a great way to get book recommendations.

The three questions are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

I’m currently reading Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker. I haven’t read a solid, informative nonfiction book in a while, and this one is fascinating. I’ve picked up and put down Pinker’s books in the past, never finding enough time to get through one, and we’ll see how long it takes me on this tome.

In a nutshell, Enlightenment Now considers the world from the point of view of the Enlightenment era values, such as reason, science, and humanism. It decries the popular modern myth of moral and environmental decline in detail, with plenty of charts and graphs to back up Pinker’s arguments.

It’s quite an uplifting book, even to a die-hard optimist like me, who sometimes felt that I was pushing the world uphill with no one to help. Obviously I haven’t finished yet, so I don’t know if he issues any ultimatums while concluding his arguments, but so far it’s been a lot of “hang on, the world isn’t as bad as you, the news, and your parents fear it is.”

Recently Finished

Recently, I’ve been on a long Hamish Macbeth spree. Although, not that long, seeing as most of the books are less than two hundred pages. But I’ve read the first twenty in less than a month, which is probably excessive. Ah, who am I kidding. It is definitely not.

I love these books. I started them for a couple reasons. Firstly, I’m writing a mystery (surprise, surprise) and wanted to get a feel for how clues and red herrings were handled. Also, being so short, the story is really just the mystery, which is great for research.

Secondly, I remember watching the TV show way back when, and though, to me, they aren’t anything like the books, they were still cozy and delightful and quirky. And anything set in the Highlands is going to interest me. And no, M.C. Beaton, you do not deter me from wanting to live there with your tales of dark winters and bitterness and strife.

Next Please

Aside from finishing all the following Macbeth books, I think the next book I’m going to read will be Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I heard someone comment on reading both Harari and Pinker and comparing the two philosophies on life, because apparently Harari is less optimistic than Pinker and a hard determinist. I don’t know at all if that’s true or to what extent, so I’ll be interested to read what he has to say on the human race.

But, knowing me, I’ll probably be reading five more books after this five, so…who knows.

There’s my three! I would love to hear what you’re reading, so drop a comment here or reply to my comment over at Sam’s blog. I’ll be posting a link there as well.

Happy reading!

Self-Improvement Trap

A while back I mentioned I took a break from reading self-help/self-improvement/productivity books.

I did that because it was becoming quite the problem in my life, but I think there’s a wider problem in the world today as well.

The Self-Improvement Problem

…is that we know we aren’t where we want to be. We know how many people feel they aren’t living their ideal life, or even a very good life. Too many people are desperately unhappy, and it’s evident in the rise (or rise in public awareness, anyway) of depression and anxiety.

My previous situation – always stuck in a book.

Having struggled with both due to a total fear of the future, I turned to self-help books, like many others, in a desperate attempt to figure out how to make my life better, and myself more peaceful. I felt happy often; when I was with friends or reading a good book or making something, but my life itself never gave me a sense of security or the feeling that I wanted it to continue how it was.

I was not content. I am not content. I’m trying to be, because contentment is very important no matter what stage of life you’re at. And it’s hard to live out the fact that contentment and complacency are two different things, meaning you can be content in your life as it is but still actively grow and change it.

I just can’t seem to wrap my head around being happy now and still want a different life. It just doesn’t seem to work for me.

I’ve read Mark Manson‘s work over and over again. I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** twice in the space of a few months, because it was so good. And he’s right – self-help and the self-improvement movement is a trap. You get sucked into that heady feeling of being on the right track.

I love being comfortable. I love baggy clothes and soft fabrics and old blankets the most because they’re comfortable. My number one dating and shopping criteria is if someone or something is comfortable. I crave comfort. So being uncomfortable is…well…uncomfortable.

I’ve always found it difficult to put myself out there in certain ways. I can play D&D with the best of them, wear what I want even when it’s not cool, and not take crap from people (if I don’t know them too well), but there are some things that still put me into freeze or flight mode (I’m pretty sure I don’t have a fight mode, unless you dis Matthew Mercer and then I WILL come after you).

It’s just so much easier to keep reading, right? Read about writing your unique story. Read about building that cool thing. Read about living your best life, while that life passes on.

As that other total badass, Jen Sincero, says in You are a Badass, staying in the track of almost doing something means you’re safe. I could do so much if only I try, you say, and so you’re never tested, never have to taste failure, and never have to do anything uncomfortable.

Almost no one enjoys being uncomfortable, but there are those to whom pushing it comes easier, and I feel like I’m not one of them.

I’ve been called brave. When I went to Korea, everyone said I was so brave. I don’t have a fear of public speaking, and I’m pretty good at making a fool out of myself and not minding. And so people call me brave. But they don’t see the abject fear instilled so deep it only surfaces in debilitating beliefs about money and career and love and happiness.

My question that I’ll never cease asking is how to make peace with being uncomfortable, because in order to move on, you have to be. How do they do it? How does someone make that hustle-schedule and keep at it when TV and games and friends and sleep call so endearingly?

The Self-Improvement Solution

…is not easy. It’s simple, yes, as most solutions are, but never easy.

“It’s always better to be doing.”

Self-help books that tell you you’re on the right track, and the sort of new anti-self-help books like Sincero’s and Manson’s tell you that what you thought was the right track might not be the right track, but they’re all balms and buffers against the fact that nothing but pure action will get you anywhere, and whether you’re reading the fluff or the facts, you’re still reading about having a great life instead of living one.

As the Disreputable Dog* says, “It’s always better to be doing.”

Only action moves you in any direction. Reading is dreaming with your eyes open, as Yoyo says, and dreaming is a nice way to pass the time, but that’s about it.

Stop reading, start doing. Stop dreaming, start acting. And always go gently. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

*Do yourself a massive favor and read Garth Nix‘s Abhorsen trilogy.