FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: What Creative Pursuit Keeps You Sane?

Four months ago, I was losing my mind. The stress of performing a very public job that I often didn’t believe in had recently compounded with that of the election, an impressive amount of interpersonal conflicts I’d (at least largely) brought upon myself, and back-to-back illnesses that left me with neck pain I couldn’t shake off, resulting in days when I’d spend more time crying in — and sometimes out — of the office bathroom than fulfilling the duties of my employment.

The aforementioned bathroom. Image via @noraiswrite

In late February, I took a week off in the hopes that my physical and mental symptoms would clear up with rest. I stayed off the internet and buried myself in books, and after a few days, began to feel clear-headed and comfortable. Maybe I could stick this thing out a little longer, after all! Then Friday came, and with it, the neck pain and crying jags.

One big reason I’d been afraid to leave my job was health insurance, but in that moment, I began to fully grasp how toxic internalizing my work-related stresses had become. What if my job was, if not causing, then at least aggravating and prolonging my ailments? I gave my notice that Monday, leaving early to pick up my shiny new prescription for the apparently acute anxiety I’d spent the majority of my life understanding as nothing more significant than somehow willfully bad behavior.

Working on it. Image via @noraiswrite

I can’t believe how different I feel today. Somewhere between the fake Zoloft and the CBT and the self-help books and the commitment I made to learn what I truly wanted and actually ask for it (now that I’d kicked out from under me the corporate ladder I’d ascended as quickly as possible without ever actually considering my path), it can feel like I’ve grown more in 2017 than in my previous three decades. I have, I think, repaired the relationships I’d previously stretched to a breaking point. I’m giving people boundaries and using “I” phrases instead of “you” ones. My neck pain has mostly subsided. I’m cooking for myself and visiting friends and walking any reasonable distances (sometimes unreasonable ones, too). I’m working on my photography skills, and cleaning my house multiple days a week. I’m pitching publications as if I know what the hell I’m doing. I’m making videos with my friends about important social issues! I’ve rekindled my love of thrifting, and am considering how to support myself while making fashion more accessible for low-income people and people of size. I have a legit good podcast idea! When I’m feeling really brave, I even ask people if I can pet their dogs instead of trying to use interspecies ESP. I still have reasonable anxieties, but overall I’m learning what I need to be both a sane person and a person who can pay rent.

That’s better. Image via noraiswrite

Of course, I come from an exceedingly privileged position; I recognize not everyone can up and leave their job, no matter how “The Yellow Wallpaper” they’ve been feeling of late. I guess what I’m asking is, what activities have you found are necessary for maintaining your mental health, whether or not you do them for a living? Writing poetry? Painting nature scenes? Fishing? Building circuit boards? Maybe it’s gardening. Maybe it’s attending the symphony. Maybe it’s just making yourself a particularly special lunch. Maybe it’s softball. It’s softball, isn’t it?

Whatever the case, tell me what you do, and what makes it so crucial to a happy, healthy you. Okay, love you, have a great weekend!

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Nora is a writer and shoot producer living in Brooklyn. Send her links to weird clothing and dog videos to nora [at] autostraddle [dot] com.

Nora has written 52 articles for us.


      • My wife and I just blazed through this because we were both home sick. She liked it a lot, I left it feeling like they could have spent way more time on the wrestling training sequences and matches. But then again I watched Kinky Boots and was disappointed they didn’t spend more time explaining how the shoes were made, so that may just be me.

  1. Hi Nora!
    You were close, it’s not softball, it’s rugby. Which being a winter sport leaves me floundering over the summer. So last week i started some exercise classes to keep me ticking over until rugby preseason starts in late august. Its not the same, but it’s a step in the right direction to getting some routines before my summer holidays from uni start in two weeks.
    Also, did everyone hear that Germany introduced equal marriage and adoptions today? I’m pleased because its awesome but also because my safety/EU membership wife lives in Germany. Back up plan is panning out!

    • Where do you live? In most places in the US we have 7s leagues over the summer. Idk about other places. I know 7s isn’t everyone’s favorite, but, as a wing/fullback type, I definitely prefer it to 15s.

      If, by any chance, you live in Philly, you should come play 7s with us this summer! :)

      • Thats so kind! I live in scotland but thank you. I am a hooker and sevens really isn’t my thing at all. But my team have entered a few competitions this summer so ill give it a bash anyway. Feels good to just run. But because its a uni team we dont do training because wouldnt have the numbers.
        We are going to Colonsay island at the end of july for a 7s tournament and we get camp and party and play rugby. Im so excited!!!

        • My post-gradschool goal is: get back into rugby condition (and then don’t play rugby). I got hurt, what. I played on the club team in undergrad and we often had to spot our opponents a couple players, or cut down to a 7s game- which was okay as I was a wing but wasn’t as fun. Camp + party + rugby sounds pretty great though, have tons of fun!

          • Safety/EU membership wife is a relationship status option they somehow missed out in the autostraddle survey.

    • I have absolutely zero experience in rugby, but yes, so glad about Germany! Can you and your safety wife adopt us all, please?

  2. I go to the lake :)

    Side note: you mentioned that anxiety medication has helped you. I have a bottle of Lexapro sitting on my kitchen counter that I’ve not even opened… even though it was prescribed to me… because I’m afraid of the potential side effects. Have you had side effects? What are people’s experiences with Lexapro?

    • Lexapro didnt work for me personally, but worked well for my sister in stabilizing her acute anxiety. It just made me really tired. I’ve had massive success on Abilify, Luvox, Lithium, and Lamictal (yeah, all at the same time, but I’ve got some issues)

      Its worth trying, especially if you get some relief xox

      • I really should just get over my fear of side effects and try it. Thanks for your comment!

        • I’m on lexapro and I haven’t noticed any side effects. I was on effexor and that was awful but lexapro seems to be fine for me. Everyone is different. There is an adjustment period to any new med so if you do decide to take it, make sure you give it time to start working :)

    • Oh, you said CREATIVE pursuit! Haha ok, one creative pursuit that keeps me sane is editing the Wikipedia articles that no one else will. I work in a library and feel like if I have access to info that not everyone does, I have an obligation to share it

      • That’s an awesome hobby! Ill think of you next time I fall down a wikipedia spiral.
        With your meds, Ive never taken lexapro, but i have taken antidepressanta and other prescription meds. Your prescription should come with info about side effects and they should have also been considered and explained to you by your prescriber. And its different with every person, so you wont know what,if any, side effects you will get without trying. But if you get a side effect you can’t cope with you can always stop taking them (safely, check you wont need to taper off). Your doctor obviously thinks the possible benefits outweigh the possible risks. If you disagree that’s fine, but you won’t know if they help you if you don’t try.

    • I’ve been on Lexapro since January, but more as an antidepressant in combination with Effexor XR, although I do think it’s helped my anxiety as well. I haven’t really noticed any side effects, but I do tend to have lower energy and some orgasm issues from the Effexor (sorry if that’s TMI!) so if the Lexapro made those issues worse, I probably didn’t notice. Lexapro absolutely made a difference for me mood-wise though, and I hope that if you do choose to try it, it works for you as well!

    • My mom has been taking Lexapro for over 10 years (though I think she has the generic brand now) and never had any side effects. It has worked well for her :)

    • I ahd terrible side effects with Lexapro. Like, let’s just cut to: hour four, vomiting, kinda terrible. I got started on a high dose, though, and it turns out that clinical depression/anxiety isn’t actually what’s wrong with my brain (it just has nearly the same symptoms), so ymmv.

    • I don’t know about Lexapro, but I’ve been 95% super happy with the results of my Sertraline, aside from some weird dreams lately.

  3. Take my meds, get as much sleep as possible, pet my dog. I need to find some more hobbies that get me out of the house and enable me to make some friends

    • Same.
      But… I live in the desert now. It’s too hot to go outside! Dog has been settling for Night Walkies.

      • Same! (I’m a fellow Nevadan! Up in Carson) Its not as hot as Vegas but holy schnitzel its still really freakin hot! I have a pug, so shes snorty anyway, but the heat is really tough on her

        • Are there any doggie meetup groups near you? Preferably somewhere with shade/air conditioning?

  4. I have summer SAD and this is the first summer I’m trying to be proactive about it and like make goals and plans that could help. I have about two months of time before starting grad school, during which I have to move so that’s a big helpful, yet scary, goal to accomplish. Otherwise I’ve set some smaller goals to fill my time and keep me a little more balanced this summer. I’m read at least one book every week, spending time with at least one friend at least once a week, putting together a 2500 piece puzzle, embroidering macaron patches for my best friends here before I move, and lots of baking (esp. macarons). I’m about two weeks in at this point and have only had a few bad days. Saving my rain sounds/watch christmas movies/bake christmas cookies/pretend it is christmas season day for late July when the weather is absolutely unbearable and I’m a mess.

    • Ugh, I’m sorry to hear about your SAD! Winter affects me terribly, but to be honest, I didn’t realize Summer SAD was a thing. Also, that puzzle sounds great. Also also, tell me more about these embroidered macaron patches, please!

  5. Happy Friday, hot funnel cakes and crunchy snow cones!! Oof do I know that feeling of needing a work break. I’ve been grappling with a fibromyalgia diagnosis and my whole body feels like it’s full of cement/on fire/been hit by a truck. My neuro doc is trying to get my migraines under control with huge doses of steroids and I’m just trying to not fall asleep in the work bathroom. I love me some good self care. I pet my kitties (and we just started taking one to the park!), watch so much tv, cuddle my girlfriend, take walks in nature when i can and just go find some grass and sit in it when I can’t, color in this rad coloring book my sister mailed me that’s filled with words like FUCK OFF and EAT SHIT (oddly therapeutic), borrow my dog from my mom’s house and take her to the park and watch her roll in the dirt and revel in the small wonders of life, blast music through my headphones and give side eye to the haters, make milky cups of decaf black tea filled with honey and sip it slowly. I’m trying! Anyone else out there with fibro or migraines or crushing chronic pain with any suggestions?

    Happy weekend, pals! Gentle hugs (if you want them) <3

    • You sound like we could be best friends ever <3 You pretty much just described like my ideal day.

    • Gill you’re already doing such a great job of this coping/ life thing. I may have to try profane colouring books (mandalas seem a bit too nice when the world’s falling apart, no?) I’m working on chronic pain and migraines by hoarding pillows (still have to remind myself I’m worth enough to carefully arrange them like an old lady to support the sore parts of me *really well* and hold less pain.) Also fiercely elaborate knitting (can be done in bed, unlike garment design. Sigh.) Also finding and prioritising the tiny things that might actually slightly soothe my frightened, dissociated, completely unable to relax-self. Like a hypoallergenic face mask, or putting a wild flower in my room. Or swimming when I’m well, or finding incense I like to burn. Or weird sensory/ soothing stuff like mending broken crockery neatly.
      You’re doing great.

      • Aw thank you. This made my heart sing <3 sometimes we just need a reminder that we're doing a good job, or as good as we can, ya know? And oh man I totally get the pillow boarding. I surround my bod with so many soft things to ease the hurt and it's so nice, even when it doesn't always help :)

  6. I have been suffering with some PTSD from a couple of surgery gone real bad type events and now I feel like my brain is stuttering/freezing at times. My primary put me on Zoloft but I also suffer from migraines from time to time and I’m on relpax for that, I discovered that a person shouldn’t ever mix the two. Bad things happen I mean we needed a new coffee maker anyway and the storm door never did close right so now we don’t have to worry about them anymore.
    Since I can no longer mix modern chemistry I started learning to play guitar. I have an second hand acoustic I’ve named Larissa and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wrap my hand around her neck and finger her strings. Playing makes me happy and I can share the joy of music wherever I go.
    I have also learned how to replace storm doors too.

  7. Nora I-m glad you found the strength and had the opportunity to start the journey you’re on and I hope things keep going well for you!!

    I NEEEEEEEEED dance to keep me sane. Unfortunately back problems have kept me from dancing/teaching/performing salsa for the past 1.5 years which sucks, but I’m back dancing in clubs with my friends at the weekends, and after summer I start a new treatment which will *hopefully* let me dance again. My friends think it’s funny because I’m always dancing around the house! Today I went to the hairdresser to get my Pride hair and we ended up having a little mini disco party in the hairdresser which was awesome!

    Sooooo guys it’s WORLD PRIDE WEEKEND and I’m beyond excited!!! Yesterday I got made redundant from my job, next week I will have en existential crisis about it but right now I’m just looking at it as the fact now on Monday I get to recover from the weekend!!! ALSO my drum teacher says I can play in the official parade tomorrow with the batucada school and I’m BEYOND EXCITED!!!
    This week we held a chalkwalk against street harassment and LGBTphobia which was AWESOME! Wednesday we had a protest parade against the capitalism/commercialisation of Pride and other things which was also awesome!



    Gay hair!!
    Hope you all have a great weekend! Love and good vibes to you all! xxx

  8. I’ve been going to a figure drawing class every Monday morning for several weeks now :)

  9. I haven’t been emotionally up to my Actual Art recently, if ever, but sometimes I make coloring activity pages for the kids at work (pre-schoolers and elementary aged are my target audience) and I find it very enjoyable

  10. Lately it’s knitting, because I know I can’t really screw it up and it gives me something to do with my fidgety hands. I like to sew, bake, embroider, and paint, but in the last month I’ve been in a perfectionist headspace where I don’t want to work on anything that might not turn out perfect. Gotta get past that again.

    • I love knitting too (though I’m pretty bad at it), and I relate to the perfectionist stuff. It sometimes stops me from doing the creative things I know would help me mentally. I like to mix little doodles and mini projects with more long term but low pressure projects. That helps me get over my insecurities by giving me options of creative things to do when I’m feeling weird about it.

    • Oof, I know that one. Whoever said “done is better than perfect” must have been on a lot of fake Zoloft.

  11. I’ve been writing more. I write for my day job, but it’s much more technical, research based work. I’ve been taking more time to hone my more creative, self-fulling work and trying to actually, actively maintain my blog!

    Oh also spending more time in predominantly black spaces. Emotional labor is just as exhausting as physical labor and since Nov. 2016, spending so much time in predominantly white spaces has been increasingly more draining.

    • This is so great! What do you actually enjoy writing about? And what’s your blog, if you don’t mind me asking?

      • I write mostly about social justice and being a black person in this burning hellscape we call America!!! It’s a great way to get my feelings out. I also wrote about Justin Bieber’s butt once. And of course! It’s a dinky lil wordpress site but it works:

  12. Boot camp, swimming, piano, baking, and reading. Well, I always take my meds and go to therapy too.

  13. For a couple years, I’ve been drawing to relieve depression/anxiety, and then I hit a patch this winter where I didn’t have the energy to come up with drawing ideas, I hated everything I did draw, felt like I couldn’t get any pose right, and felt that my coping mechanism had abandoned me. So I started collaging instead, because it let me create without giving me as much room to be critical of myself. It also lets me create stuff like:

    I also keep succulents who can survive my neglect. I have rocks and gemstones to keep in my pockets that I can hold when I feel a wave of anxiety coming on. I play guitar, but I think any form of music that you can feel vibrations from has a soothing effect. SSRIs. Krav Maga’s been helping a lot too, as a good release for energy.

    Happy Friday!

  14. Well I think I show some of what makes me happy here weekly and that’s me being in nature, in the ocean, or among the flowers with a camera in hand(having mary accompany me doesn’t hurt either). Just being among wildlife, trees, and/or in the water can really relax me and help me block out some of the cis-hetro world. The other would be the queer/lgbtq positive graffiti I do with a marker all over DTLA, hoping maybe someone see the work and somehow improves their day. I hope it’s working.

    How is everyone’s week going? Mines has been actually very good. I got to drive down the coast a little on Sunday and then hang out with a friend who is just soo totally cool and lovely! We got queer up the straight bar next to where she lives(we were like half the patrons at the bar).

    I also setup an pot luck lgbtq day at the beach for July(which I submitted to Autostraddle and they posted the event), and so far made fb friends with a very nice queer trans woman who said she and her wife will help me plan for the event. Some how I have so far gotten over 1000 maybes, and over 60 yeses for the event. Kind of nervous cause some people think it’s a Pride at the Beach event, vs just queer beach day. Also, what does one do if 500 people show up? Like it’s great if I can get 500 lgbtq people at the beach, but that only works if people bring stuff. All I know it’s I plan to have fun, and be visibly trans queer at the beach! (and also wear my AS they/them pin)

    I’d like to give an update. I mentioned that I thought I was being ghosted. Well turns out the person was just super busy. We finally met up this week & had like a second date(her words). We sat outdoors at a bar had a few drinks & smokes, I got a little too honest(I may have said I have a small crush), & asked to kiss her, she said no. As time passed, & she drank more, she asked if I wanted to hold hands, which turned into consensual kissing, necking, & sitting on her lap. Honest talk, it’s been a decade since I’ve made out with someone & the 1st time since I’ve come out as trans queer, so I was a little rusty(?). She kept calling me cute queer & I moaned at the bar I’m so queer for you cuttie as she was necking me, lol. I may have over asked consent questions, but better to have consent than not know? She’s queer(and polyam) af, punk-ish, experienced a lot, and unapologetically Jewish. Will see where this goes.

    Wow that went a little wordy.

    From my coast drive Sunday.

    Thank you for viewing and reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

    P.S. I am leaving for Toyko with my sister tomorrow so I may not be on AS as much for a week, so if you don’t see me next week you will the week after that with images to share! Thank you autostraddle for existing!

    • Sounds lovely Al ^__^ If you need tips / things to do in Tokyo, please feel free to message me. Lived there for 8 years and could give some amazing suggestions.

      • Thank You! Any suggestions on x mix bar, I.E. one that is for hot in LGBTQ people & straight people?

    • I can’t wait to hear about how your beach day pans out!!! Happy you got some necking in with a cutie, too. :)

  15. I wish I was the creative type, it would give me something to do now that I’ve just had my world flipped a bit upside down haha. Appendicitis? That’s a thing. And now my derby season is shot, and apparently I can’t go to the gym which puts my personal trainer plans on hold. Just when I thought I was adulting well (oh hey moving today too sure?) and things were falling into place, insteax I am sitting on the floor surrounded by boxes I can’t move and stressing out. And I can’t even drink the wine. Ugh. Someone drink wine for me and pet all the cats! On the plus side my appendix didn’t burst and my parents bought me a Carebear.

      • EXACTLY! Fun fact, did you know some of the carebears have fluid/trans gender identities? No joke – some were boys in the early years, and later girls (and visa versa). On another note, I went to my FIRST DERBY last week! My 56 year old Mother joined a few months ago (bless her heart) and I went out to support her. I think I’m in love! They said if I come, I can even wear war paint! Hell yes!

    • Is tea OK? And a dog instead of a cat? I promise he’s very cute (though he does occasionally have delusions of grandeur).

      I’m sorry you’re going through a rough patch. I hope that you’ll soon feel in control again, and that you’ll find something that makes you feel awesome.

    • This sounds so shitty a situation! I’m sorry your derby season isnt going as planned. I find when my exercise has to stop for injury my social life goes too and it’s just so frustrating. On the other hand you have a carebear so it sounds like you are winning FOT.

    • I’m sorry you’re going through that! Having to stop sports/exercising due to injury/illness can be very frustrating and unsettling. But yay, Carebear!

  16. I was just reading the “Pretty Little Liars” finale review, and I saw HH talk about how Emily and Alison just kind of cutesy hold each other. This is why we need queer women playing queer women. So that we get two women who are unafraid to do a sex scene with each other. I had heard the rumor that Emily didn’t have a girlfriend for a while because Shay didn’t want to kiss girls anymore, and this also plays on that. If we’re going to get equal sex scenes, then we need the wlw to be played by wlw.

  17. Yay for you and your mental health and being a whole person! I’ve also recently been figuring out how to figure out what I want and ask for it like I deserve it. Because I do! And So Do You! Yay!

    I find coloring to be one of my favorite go-to destress activities because it’s instantly gratifying and also there is something hypnotizing and calming about the process of filling in thing with color. People have probably written about why it works, but it does.

    Journaling also always makes me feel better, and when I feel like words won’t come, I pull a tarot spread and interpret that in my journal. I recently realized that when things feel too overwhelming to write coherently about I can bullet point my feelings/experiences in my journal, which sounds like – duh of course you can – but it hadn’t occurred to me and it helps so much! At Camp my daily entries were: Stuff I did (list of activities) Feelings I Had/Shit to Process Later: bullet point list of feelings/encounters/reflections It helped me feel like I captured camp without taking the time to write 12 pages of processing every night because there was no time for that.

    I also find that writing personal essays/fiction helps me clear/get out of my head.
    Which is a great transition to….

    If you are doing Camp NaNoWriMo in July and want to be in a cabin with other Straddlers just comment with your NaNo username and I’ll add you to our lovely Straddler Virtual Cabin!! Also, you have to have started a project in Camp NaNoWriMo for me to add you. But let’s all hang out and write stuff and be awesome and queer in a virtual space, k?

    (If you’re like WTF is Camp NanoWriMo you can read about it here: )

    • Lmao Alex the page was loading weird so I was reading your comment without knowing who sent it, and I was like “this is DEFINITELY Alex”

    • Gemini2108. Please add me to the cabin! I want to actually complete the month this year and this sounds like great encouragement and extra fun!

      • @shygemini Yay!!! You have to add a project in CampNaNo before it will let me add you to the cabin. So just let me know via the CampNaNo mail (I’m Lezbrarian) and I’ll add you. :)

    • Congrats on camp nano! That sounds SO FUN! I don’t have a consistent plot that would allow me to participate in nano right now, more like a ton of short stories. hope you win this month!

    • I know everyone loves coloring, but I find it so stressful! How will I ever know if I chose the right color for the right shape?!

      Anyway, glad to hear you’re making yourself and your needs a priority. :)

      • I don’t think any of the art I’m into could have been made without being completely and utterly baked, so I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. (Also, I’m Dutch, so I’m basically an expert by birth).

      • Yes, have you seen some of the art work, creative pipes designs, joints, and food that is out there? It’s wild, we know have like 5 course fancy dinners that are artfully made and can get you super medicated during each course.

  18. YAY! Congratulations on doing the difficult work of taking care of yourself and making scary choices that are right for you! <3 I'm glad you're feeling generally better/more yourself/like a whole person.

    As for what I do… I'm kind of trying to figure it out. I'm self-employed and I have the sometimes useful/sometimes awful habit of trying to turn everything I do into a job, or at least job-adjacent. My therapist has been encouraging me to find a hobby, just something I love doing and that's not tied to obligations or to how I earn my living, and it's been hard! I've been trying to get into knitting, which I generally find relaxing, but it ends up being a way for me to feel less useless when I'm just watching Netflix in the middle of the night, and the whole point of finding a hobby or a non-job-related creative pursuit is to not have to link it to ideas such as productivity/usefulness, so I'm not quite there yet.

    • Thanks, Sofia — I think I have the tendency to try and turn everything into a job, too! I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Being self-employed is scary, though; I can’t fault you for trying to find as many revenue streams as possible!

  19. I used to play roller derby but I had a career-ending injury. Never even got to play an actual game. It took me two years to get good enough to scrimmage and I busted my knee in the second one I ever did. Boy, do I miss it. There was something so exhilarating about the… consensual brutality? I don’t know. It felt like I got to celebrate and utilize all of the qualities I loved about myself but was told I shouldn’t because I was a girl. I’m tall and broad and heavy and that was a really good thing in derby, I got in the other team’s way and I was hard to move and when I hit people they went down hard.

    Not having that sucks. It sucks. It’s been over a year and it still sucks so much.

    I’ve been writing instead, and reading, and playing video games. I love those things and they make me happy, they soothe me, but they don’t fulfill the same need that derby did and there’s an edge to me again that I was able to soften for the two years I was playing.

    I am really glad I’ve got my writing though. I love it, I love thinking about it. It keeps my mind occupied… it can’t drift into anxieties as easily when I have *that* plot point or *this* bit of dialogue to think about. It definitely helps me feel sane and collected. If there’s one upside to losing derby, it’s that I have the time to write again and write consistently. Silver lining!

    • Sending hugs if you want them Alecia <3 I just went to my first Derby (watching) last week, and I know exactly the magic you are talking about.

    • As I was reading your comment my mind kept going to ways that you could maybe experience the buzz that you got from your Roller Derby experience, without actually having to rely on your legs. The joy that you describe in using your body in that sport just opened a window onto a world that is totally unknown to me.
      I expect that there are many others who are as frustrated and disappointed as you because they’re in much the same boat due to injury or disability.
      I wonder if some/one of the Paralympic sports would give you a similar outlet. Most specifically, I’m thinking of wheelchair football or Murder Ball.
      I’m sure that you don’t have to be permanently reliant on a wheelchair to play and that no one is going to be critical of an otherwise able bodied person enjoying the sport but I though that maybe it would be a possibility given your needs.
      If that doesn’t appeal, is there a way that you could develop a similar Roller Derby offshoot using a light wheeled vehicle?
      Just an idea by the way. I hope that you find something that offers you the speed and contact you crave, that’s still doable.

    • This sounds so frustrating — I’m sorry! Would boxing be a good solution, in terms of “consensual brutality”? I truly have no idea what recreational boxing requires of the knees.

  20. Sometimes I make little things. I just did a test run of a button/badge that says “candy-ass punk” in rainbow letters. This year I’ve decided to get back into comics, but I’m focussing on ones with Not Straight White Guy creative teams.

  21. Hi my favorites!

    The timing of this post is just so perfect. I’ve had a couple of extraordinarily rough days at work which have led to a panic attack while driving and a breakdown after I had a nose bleed b/c my blood pressure skyrocketed.

    I took today off to regroup and use the extended weekend to improve my game plan for addressing my anxiety. I’m on Cymbalta, which overall has helped, especially when it comes to day to day anxiety related issues. But where it’s failed is in instances, like this week, where I’m caught off guard with something. I’m starting to recognize that the feeling of being blindsided is one of my biggest triggers for an attack.

    All my coping mechanisms for a situation like that are reactive and not necessarily good preventative or de-escalating techniques that can have a calming effect before an attack is triggered.

    My overal escape from anxiety is comics- I love them. I’ll go read a comic book or watch a comic- based movie and it really helps de-stress me. Unfortunately, that’s only something I can do in a particular environment (at home or where there’s a tv, etc.)

    I have not figured out something that I can have with me at work or elsewhere that can serve as an immediate distraction or coping technique – so I’m really interested in hearing what y’all do. I’ve thought about writing but I’m not sure that’s something that will help as opposed to just something I like to do.

    Happy Friday y’all! ❤️

    • I love to chill and watch kids movies, Zootopia, Monster High, et cetera.
      Write now I am knitting, it calms me down so much. If you make a whole bunch of squares you can sew them together for a simple blanket.
      Do you like roleplay?
      Anyways, those are all of my things. And SOMETIMES cleaning helps me. Making everything sparkle!

    • Can you give yourself a quick bathroom break and while there do a deesculating relaxation technique? The one where you concentrate on slow deep breaths and the tightening and releasing of muscle groups in order head to toe has often helped me. Or if you’re unable to leave your immediate environment and must act quickly to attend to an emergency, of some sort, try deliberate slow deep breaths and narrowing your focus to the most immediate aspect of the emergency. This always helped me when dealing with cardiac arrests or major bleeds. Once you’ve got your focus fixed you’re better able to widen you attention to other aspects of need. Once the emergency has passed, take yourself off for a brief congratulatory personal emotional debrief, it doesn’t have to take longer than 5mins, then get on with your day and give yourself a small treat later when you’re on home turf. Hope this helps a a bit. Practice and a bit of planning can help too. Along the lines of ..if x happens, can I do y, would that help?’

  22. My manager tried to hold my hand. One of my fellow coworkers encouraged me to tell a higher up manager and I am kind of afraid to go back to work. He already has one sexual harassment case against him. The worst part is he is 36, I could MAYBE have a drop of understanding is he was even close to my age, but he is 36. He attempted this after he gave me an entire scenario of an older man dating a younger woman. I told him some girls don’t care, I like to date people my age so I would never. He asked why, couldn’t take no for an answer, but insisted he wasn’t talking about me. I am knitting to help with this extreme anxiety and it is actually working. I have a special drawer (it’s really small, but pretty awesome) filled with hand dyed and expensive yarns. I pulled out my yarn and needles and just started making squares.
    I finished my summer course, thank god.
    Other than that I bought the cutest strawberry begonia and a cute mini pot to put it in. I also found chocolate mint for 1$! So I bought them for my room as a present to myself. My room does not get enough light, mint is the one plant I should be able to grow because of the light requirements.
    Also found a meditation circle, everyone is in their twenties. There are only 3-4 people in the circle and I SWEAR I felt like I was in the craft wtfusa,kh,kdshmsdfb,zxdhf.
    Totally getting my grandma on planting and knitting.
    Anyone have any simple fun patterns they would like to suggest? I can crochet and knit, I am pretty good at following patterns I just don’t have the patience for complicated crap.
    I am currently watching Preacher and knitting my arse off.
    I am almost done with an autostraddle piece, I am thinking of it’s readability know. Is it interesting enough? I already submitted one essay, I am committed to writing and submitting more essays until an essay is accepted. It hasn’t happened yet so I have to submit more. MUHAHAHA!
    Also trying to convert a short story into a script and it is hell. Working on converting this script and trying to find a plot for this other one. I have a ton of characters, ideas, et cetera. These two will be great for my “production team” we are working on a youtube series ideas for the future after our first short film. I have no idea what the hell I am doing, but I am doing it.
    have a happy sexy weekend everybody.

    • Oh love, I’m sorry a) that your boss is so awful and b) that reporting him has made you feel bad about going back to work. If your colleagues encouraged you to report him then that sounds like they are in your side and will back you up.
      Good luck. I hope you manage to put it out of your mind and enjoy your weekend.

    • Ugh, I’m so sorry to hear about this. Is there any way for you to file a complaint anonymously (and for said complaint to not clearly lead back to you anyway)?

      On a lighter note, I’m excited for you to try out this YouTube series, even if you don’t know what you’re doing! Learning as a grownup is boss.

  23. I relate so hard to this. Only with me it was diarrhoea and stomach aches & in the job before that where the boss expected us to work w a guy who was inappropriate to my friend (she wouldn’t report to police), it was ear ache/tinnitus. Interesting how these things always turn out physically too, isn’t it? Like our brains know the stigma of mental illness so get us to take it seriously by making it physical. I’ve had one paid job in my adult life which was also messed up ethically, I think part of my trouble w that stuff is I won’t let myself do certain things.

    I’m trying milwordy again from tomorrow (guys, camp nano starts tomorrow not Sunday, I forgot the ’30 days’ rhyme!) I lost my memory stick :( it had my life on it. Not literally but almost & not backed up elsewhere which was a bad move in retrospect. I need the routine of writing to a set amount each day or get tempted to go & do anything I want at that moment which isn’t always good for me… I need to stay grounded.

    So writing. Poetry since I was 15 and through everything. That’s my serious one. I dabble in other stuff too, mostly a long sort of fiction which is pretty plotless & fun but not really a novel (tbf though I like novels like that too). And ‘my world’ which anyone who’s aspie will understand. And I make pictures. I guess generally that can all be summed up as ‘I draw’ but I use loads of media to do it with, all traditional but two types of pastels/pens/charcoals/pencils. I used to paint but I only feel comfortable doing that at dining room table where the dog distracts me.

    Art wise I do all sorts, mostly ‘my world’ or soft erotic or political or football. Some of my political/football stuff is more graffiti words than pictures. I did a few in rainbow colours this month but sadly don’t have any ways of scanning to show it off. Lately I’ve done urban landscapes based on my hometown, bits of town the tourists don’t see like younger me in garden of my old flat, & just random imaginary scenes too.

    I’ve also been really torn about politics lately. Not what they are but whether I should talk about them & with whom. Like is it worth wasting energy on semantics w someone who I don’t know & fundamentally disagree with on big things that matter to me? I’ve decided not to, but that just makes me feel like I’m back to just being chicken… I’m just fed up of always backing down but sometimes I know it’s wisest to.

    In a way I’ve been proud of myself as a youth for having the stuff I’m thinking about figured out & being engaged. I’m just learning as a trans masc adult what the best ways to approach these things are now I’m past the laddish phase.

    That’s why I like art. To engage in it, you have to be thinking. It can be used in a more conversational way & I feel more comfortable expressing myself that way than via online prose on forums or open confrontation on the street. My entry into politics or what I call proto-politics was all about the streets & shouting/mostly being yelled at.

    Anyway, here’s to me reaching a million words by this time next year.

    • “Interesting how these things always turn out physically too, isn’t it? Like our brains know the stigma of mental illness so get us to take it seriously by making it physical.”

      I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way! Also, I’d love to see your drawings if you feel like sharing.

      • I’d like to but putting pics online would require me to either set up an account on this device (for some reason it comes w photos per installed but not camera?) or get a camera phone or scanner. Which I’ve not got round to yet.
        When I do, I think putting up pics of my art online will be the main thing I use it for though. I’m not big on (comfortable w) photos of me being out there but I’d love pics I’ve made w traditional mediums to be.

  24. I too have been dealing with recurring neck/shoulder pain and it sucks! Those muscles are used for everything. Glad you’re feeling better.

    Things I do to keep my mind happy and active are writing very intermittently here, and making jewelry. Also sometimes other arty things as opportunities arise. This summer once I’ve finished running off on last-minute road trips (fun!) I’m planning to buckle down and dig into a longer writing project.

  25. I like running barefoot in grassy parks; it feels like childhood nostalgia and is good exercise.

    I thought of you Straddlers when I watched that new movie, Okja, on netflix recently. It seemed feminist to me; the star is an impressive actress, Ahn Seo-hyun, who does a lot of rough-and-tumble outdoor stuff and stands up to authority to save her animal friend.

    Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal have fun roles in it too.

    Have you seen it? Did you like it?

    • Running barefoot in a grassy park sounds great! Not sure if I have the gumption to do it in Brooklyn, though.

      Re: Okja, it looks so intense. I feel like I need to mentally prepare myself for it.

  26. So happy to hear that you’re doing better, Nora!

    Writing is really big for me, I edit and write for stuff, but I’ve always needed to write things down cause my memory is shit (thanks C-PTSD) and its really good for me/helps me calm down/just get to a better me and stay there for a while. I’m really big on repetition too, cause memory, so mantras are good for me/especially when paired with pacing/walking outside.

    I’m also in art therapy! Which was really good for me especially in the beginning of treatment. I tend to not draw as much anymore cause I’ve been trying to avoid the talking that comes out of my not happy pictures, but I sometimes I paint/use pastels.

    I also had bronchitis like two weeks ago and it really fucked me up and when I get fucked up like that (where it feels really life or death), I get super spiritual, so I’ve been praying a lot more and that’s been calming me down. I’m also doing this thing where I try to repress my emotions less/talk myself through them instead of getting overwhelmed by them and that’s also helping a lot (though I did have a bit of a crash earlier cause I just don’t think I’m used to trying to be better all at once and I like had a mini panic attack because people have been proud of me, happy for me and that sent me into super panic mode. But I’ve talked it out with some people (which is also something that’s good??? Who knew??) and now I’m gonna watch movies and like if crying happens, then that’ll be okay, and I’m just gonna do the best I can later. I’m also emotional cause like I have work this weekend and last week someone held a box cutter to my throat (in jest) and like with the whole not lying to myself thing, I’m starting to realize how fucked up a lot of things are that people have done to me and that’s like really overwhelming. AHHH I also really like singing and rapping v badly, I was kind of a theatre kid/my mom and sister and I used to sing Doe-a-Dear in the car to and from school and stuff and it’s stuck with me and so music is super comforting to me. Talking with my best friend is good too, but overall reading has been the best for me. I reread this one Rizzles fanfic turned original story like multiple times a month and it’s so important to me I don’t even have words for it.

    I’m starting this coding bootcamp in like two weeks and I’m taking two writing online classes and I’ve got submissions for projects and stuff due soon and I am fREAKING THE FUCK OUT cause I’ve got to learn to manage my time and I’ve always been shit at that (much better since therapy and meds, but still), but I’m trying to get ahead of it cause it’ll be more disastrous to do damage control and if you are a master at time management please send your magical tips this way.

    So uh to recap: writing, meds, therapy, art therapy, talking to friends and family, reading, and walking/pacing/fidgeting are all good ways to get me to a better me.

    I hope you all have a great weekend!!!

  27. I had a breakup a few years ago and dove back into creative writing projects after that happened. Until that time, I’d been feeling anxious and listless.

    Creative projects and moving back into the work I’d always meant to do have made me a lot happier. It redirected some (but not all of) the anxiety to things that are productive, like plot work. I still have severe impostor’s syndrome and interpersonal anxiety related to being bullied in school — and in my case, negative body language is hard to deal with even when I cognitively know it’s not directed at me. For these things, I need CBT and friends.

    I’m feeling pretty good about my creative projects right now. According to self-help literature floating around the Internet a few months ago, having a meaningful personal project is strongly associated with well-being. I didn’t expect to have as much mental stamina as I do when I write, but that makes sense given that this is something I highly enjoy.

    (I’m dating again, and my girlfriend is also creative. This helps a ton.)

  28. Hey all you lovely people! Sounds like a beautiful week Nora; just reading about it made me happy.

    Creative hobbies? Not much time these days. I don’t want to get up and quit my jobs (yes two, soon to be three), but I do wish they would pay more so I didn’t need so many of them. Transition is expensive, and so is financing the deposit for my own place, but I know it will all pay off if I believe and follow the rainbow.

    I do need to make more creative output time though. I really miss it ever since I sold my cello to pay rent. I still can’t listen to someone play without crying. I also need to get back into writing. So thanks Alex for challenging me to my first NanoWriMo! I’ll be signing up tonight and am super excited ^__^ Sometimes we just need a friend to get us back into the creative flow of life.

    I used to really love baking too. I mean, I still do, just haven’t made time. When I knead bread and have that dough in my hands — nothin else exists. I am in my element and can’t help but be happy. Baking to me is this beautiful communion between art and science. Check out some of my amazing creations ^___^

    After watching my first Roller Derby match, my Mom and her new Derby girls are trying to kidnap me into joining… but I kinda need my bones right now >__< A girlfriend wants me to get back into chainmail for her Goddess Fest booth next month… maybe? They might go well with her hemp jewelry.

    And then I've been really into… I dunno what to call it… I like drawing maps, writing character backstories, and designing DnD campaigns. Was thinking about maybe publishing a few on Etsy. I've never DMed, but I want to badly – just looking for that perfect group of girls to join me.

    • Dear god, those baked goods! I’ll take two of everything.

      Also, sorry to hear about your parting from your cello. If you want a good cry, I’d suggest The Tiny; they’re haunting and Swedish and their cello, as someone who knows nothing about the cello, is out of this world.

  29. Being in touch with my body seems to be pretty crucial for my mental health, right now I’m achieving that thru taking up dancing again to the best of my current ability and being a snack mule. Kinda infamous for my well packed lunches but they aren’t enough for a more physically active me.
    Like what was enough when I was just doing free weights and a bit of leg lifts just isn’t with dancing added to the agenda.
    So 4 part snacks and a good meal is where I’m at, also thanking the universe I’m not allergic to nuts.

    Some of my other pursuits that are kind of creative possibly don’t contribute to my sanity but won’t say they detract exactly.
    One of them isn’t something I’d call a pursuit, it’s just a thing that my brain does and there’s no stopping it. I don’t actively try to come up with character and story concepts but once they pop in my brain there’s no escape. I find it better to just go with along them (do some building) until I don’t think about them so much and they just become a part of the library in my brain.

    One is pretty huge with heavy topics the two main stories that have a common thread which is armed indigenous resistance against colonization in a high fantasy-ish setting(basically no magic but long lived elves) they occur at different points in history and other sides of the world. And there are lot of side stories, some of them are porn that happen to add world details. Another are two super hero genre kinda things with a WOC cast. One of them is basically a bulletproof transwoman and obvious my brain’s attempt to cope with the long list.

    Recently, as in last week:
    Post-Earth space age dear god did my brain make a tribute to BtVS, Firefly, Star Wars, Honor Harrington, Alien and Dead Space what have you done brain what have you done.
    I’m up to my ears in military organizational research and uniform design right now

    There’s 3 solidly created characters with full names, hair evolutions, backgrounds, political and governmental bodies too. The names for the characters came so easy (in comparison to others) and make sense. But like I’ve shipped a basically white(she’s not human, but very pale and human looking) and a black character who is extra human(think super soldier) and the world has too much of that. Riese has the statistics.
    It makes me feel weird and it’s a thing I’ve never done before but she’s not a POC stuck in a white world. She’s not periphery to white(looking) characters, they’re periphery to her world.
    She’s got a mom, a little sister, friends, a previous sexual history and her squad that she leads.
    So I think I did ok.

    Other creative and actual pursuit, quality doll makers and character editors. >o> has very varied Harley Quinn with so many options

    These two I think you Nora might like the most

  30. My #1 coping mechanism is kayaking which is kind of out of bounds right now because of health stuff. Well, I could *probably* do it, but…not really willing to take that risk until my GI tract will do solid food at least somewhat consistently and also ensure that isn’t cold is like, really gross, and even with a cooler it’d be hard to keep it cold with how hot it’s been.

    So I’m trying to make do with other stuff. Mostly small exercise stuff I can do while Not Standing (pushups are great! and now i can do 98 of them over the course of 4 or 5 sets and that’s REALLY COOL). I read some, but on bad days I don’t have enough brain for reading. I can usually play some videogames with close to zero functional brain, so I do that. I think I’m gonna try to take up knitting more, but I haven’t made anything other than scarves (and I feel very Done with making scarves rn) so I need enough brain to do that. I’m thinking socks, maybe? And I chill with the cats. They help a lot.

    I’m struggling though because seriously, health issues without a known cause but that are moderately serious are fucking awful and suck a lot.

    • I hear ya there Hollis! If my doctor orders one more test I am ready to just say to hell with the whole thing. I also really enjoy kayaking ^^ The river is my element – used to guide on Idaho rivers for several years and had a blast.

  31. I do find that reading and drawing really help me to relax. But unfortunately I haven’t really felt motivated enough to do either lately.
    On a more positive note, I got a haircut this week which I’m really happy about. It’s the first time I’ve cut my hair this short and I’ve wanted to do this for so long! And I may or may not have taken in a picture of kstew as a reference for the hairdresser… ultimately it turned out looking somewhat like tegan Quin’s hair in the heartthrob era but I’m happy with that :)

  32. Aerial dance keeps me sane! It’s a bit like whatever type of dance you like mixed with weight lifting, yoga and a whole bunch of other things. I’m not all that great at explaining it but here are a few links to people doing it.
    Carlie Hunter–
    Darya Vintilova–
    The first one is aerial pole and the the second one is Lyra. I’ve found that it’s quite easy to find aerial pole almost anywhere, but most other types require large amounts of room and high ceilings. You don’t have to be a superhuman like the people I the videos to start aerial and the aerial community is super amazing, open minded and body positive.

    • This looks AMAZING! I have been looking lately to try dance, but couldn’t decide on a style. If my city has this, sign me up!

  33. I read the headline as “”What Creative Pantsuit Keeps You Sane?” and was v. confused.

  34. Every year I forget how powerful cycling is for me. Getting out and having my body *do* things distracts me from the anxiety of how it presents.

    Submerging myself in fresh or ocean water, reading, cooking new meals and developing photos never hurts.

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