Fortitude Potion

One of my favourite young artists, Caitlin Hazell, once scribbled an illustration which read "I'm sad because I'm not Kate Bush". I'm sad at the moment, but I thought that Kate Bush might help rather than making me sadder still.

Therefore, this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion borrows (or do "great" artists steal?) a line from one of her most beautiful songs, This Woman's Work; "I know you've got a lot of strength left." Because I do, despite what even I may believe. I have been in this place before, and I have come out the other side. I will be happy and healthy again, and I will work at it until I am.

Accompanying the words is a tiny LED light, which I thought made a good metaphor for a kernel of hope. It was gifted to me by a lovely lady at a workshop I was involved in at the weekend. More on that later, possibly. 

The concoction is named Fortitude Potion. Fortitude, I am told, is defined as strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage. It might seem a little contradictory to be talking about strength of mind when in fact my mind is so vulnerable. But buried deep inside me is a stubbornness that won't let me give in. That wills me to keep going, like Sylvia Plath's "I am, I am, I am." A little lightbulb, if you will.








 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.





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.

Sketchy Potion

It's been a horrid day, hasn't it? And I've been feeling very sorry for myself. In fact, I've been feeling so (perhaps literally) under the weather that I spent most of the weekend sleeping. This did not afford much time for stitching, and so I present to you last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion, with apologies.

I am more determined than ever to conquer my fear of drawing. In fact, after writing this post I fancy doing a bit of scribbling in my visual diary. It has languished unloved for months, and I want its pages to be a little fuller.

I have used some potions sketched in the diary over the course of #secretsofselfpreservation thus far shrunk down to fit inside the potion bottle.

The ingredients read "Draw, despite your fear".

This project is a very small undertaking really, a bit of a throwaway thing, but I think as a whole it is rather effective. I can't wait to share it with the public and get them uncorking 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.