Sweaty Palms Potion

I'm doing incredibly well at the moment, really. So well, that were my life a terrible action movie, I would be saying "I'm doing well... too well."

I'm thinking about reducing my medication, perhaps in a couple of months' time once I've settled into my new job properly.

Of course, some days are better than others. I still get anxious, over the most ridiculous and inconsequential things, which I'm sure no one else notices, no matter what I may assume. But I feel I've reached a point (partially thanks to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) where I can almost ignore my anxiety, and just get on with life regardless.

Which is why, this week, I have embroidered the words "Anxiety is just one small part of me and I won't let it run my life" on sumptuous orange velvet ribbon for #secretsofselfpreservation.

Why orange? Simply because Judy Chicago wrote in Autobiography that orange is the colour of anxiety, and I agree with her. Louise Bourgeois appliquéd the words "The cold of anxiety is very real" on to a white garment reminiscent of a lab coat. Anxiety has never struck me as cold, other than the clammy sensation felt in the aftermath of a panic attack. For me, anxiety is hot and prickly, bubbling up like lava in the body and overflowing into erratic and panicked behaviour. Orange, therefore, just makes sense as anxiety's colour to me, though I am aware this is entirely subjective and doubtless many people would have a different association.

I have filled the potion bottle (which, fortuitously, has an orange lid) with orange tic tacs, which are pill-like, reminding me of how far I've come in my medicated journey and that one day I may be able to live a "normal" life without medication.

I wrote part of the (orange, naturally) potion label with my right hand to get the shaky, juddery characteristic of anxiety across.

I really like the use of uniform colour and will definitely be exploring this in future potions.


















Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

"Here Is My Heart" at the Pharmacy of Stories

Tonight I went along to the Here Is My Heart private view at the Pharmacy of Stories gallery in London Fields, Hackney. The Pharmacy of Stories describes itself as "a little storytelling Laboratory and gallery where we explore links between narrative and healing and how performance, installation and the art of making books can be combined."

Arriving at the gallery I had no idea what to expect of the evening but was very pleasantly surprised. As I arrived at the gallery a musician was playing a miniature keyboard and singing a song about Argentinian cows producing milk that is good for your heart! A "triage nurse" greeted me with a friendly "What's your emergency?" I told her that I had a heart to donate, and was immediately categorised as a high priority case. This meant that I could jump to the front of the queue for my "consultation".

The triage nurse then asked me to fill out a form on the condition of my heart;


and write a message in a bottle on my emotional state. Armed with bottle and form I approached the first curtain at the A&E, behind which was a "Flaminian accorn cardio therapist" (no, I have no idea what that means either... apparently the Via Flaminia was an ancient Roman road). The therapist asked me and the two other "patients" to do a number of exercises for her in order for her to assess our hearts' health. She asked us to copy her movements and tell her what we felt as we copied them. I felt excitable and anticipatory. Next, in an effort to "detox bottled up feelings" we began a collaborative dance and then threw our messages in bottles into a wishing well and made a wish.

After detoxing, I made my way to the X-Ray room.


Firstly, the radiologists asked me to drink some "heart contrast dye" (a shot!), as the previous x-ray of my heart was "cloudy" and they wanted to make sure that this time it showed up. They then ushered me into the X-Ray Centre and blindfolded me so that the radiation from the machine wouldn't blind me! Finally they encouraged me to press the "x-ray chalk" to the film and see how the x-ray of my heart turned out.


(I tried to write that my heart was "hopeful", but being blindfolded and attempting to write back-to-front conspired against me!)

(I promise it says "hopeful"!)

The radiologists compared the x-ray of my heart with my previous x-ray and concluded that my heart was "misplaced" (and possibly on the opposite side of my chest!)



The final stop on my trip to the A&E was to be to the "Marine Gastropod Molluscs" and "Cardio Memory Screenings" Departments. At this point, however, I met a "heart psychic", aka Tina, the night's organiser, donated my heart to the exhibition, and discussed a possible collaboration.


Tina the "heart psychic"

All in all, a very interesting, off-the-wall (but of course I'm used to that sort of thing, being a product of Dartington!)and relevant evening, and one which will, fingers crossed, bear fruit.

Stitch Therapy's My Heart Sings Like A Caged Bird, the piece which first introduced me to the Pharmacy of Stories and Here Is My Heart. Cheers Stitch Therapy!