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Writers: Inside Out

How mental health is tough for writers.


Podcast Episode #26


My name is Naomi Shibles and I’m here to tell you Why I Need This Author Gig.


With each episode, I’ll share a little bit about my writing journey, sprinkled with some anecdotes so that we can share a laugh.


In this episode, I cover:

  • Anxiety v. Panic

  • Being drawn this way

  • How writers take a licking & keep on ticking


 

I am a tangle of anxiety today. And no matter what I do, I’m going to be stuck in park with the gas revving.


How does anxiety affect you? (If it does; if not, you are one lucky ducky.)


Isn’t it interesting that my anxiety attacks are the opposite of my panic attacks? Anxiety makes me go faster; panic makes me stop and struggle. Anxiety is a constant drip of adrenaline, while panic is a throat constriction. I can’t do anything if I can’t breathe.


Maybe panic is the body’s response to anxiety—like sending itself to its room. You will settle down and be still, then we can discuss whatever you’re upset about.


Although, I’m not sure that one follows the other. And if panic is supposed to be my limbic brain kicking in and keeping me alive, I haven’t evolved properly. The saber-toothed tiger eats the one who freezes from panic. I hate that anything at all in the world makes me do anything. Maybe that’s the Taurus in me.


Thankfully, panic doesn’t pass by my house that often anymore. Anxiety, however, is a houseguest with their feet kicked up on my coffee table. I don’t believe, at this point, that I will ever find a cure for my anxiety. Like Jessica Rabbit, I’m just drawn this way. All I can do is try to channel it into productive motion; focus it with a binder full of lists.

binder and pen
My actual binder

Lists keep me on track. And I’ve used them for so long, that no matter how many thoughts are spinning and crashing into one another in my brain, muscle memory will open my binder, go through my lists, and I’ll know what to do. Even if other thoughts are caterwauling at me, I begin with the first thing on the first list, following each bullet point, until I’ve accomplished enough to feel that I’ve earned a rest. I have lists for the month, as well as to-do lists regarding each project.


Yes, it’s compulsive. Yes, I worry that vibrating this much energy for extended periods of time is using up my life force. Yes, I hope that life force is more like an alternator and that I’m actually generating surplus energy. And yes, I exhaust myself.


Many people in my life ask me what I do all day. I’m a stay-at-home mom and work part-time from home (freelance writing, editing, marketing). While my kid is at school and I’ve finished my job tasks, when the dog is walked, the house is stocked and in working order, I write and work on my author platform.


So I spend a lot of time in my house. Sometimes I wonder if the curious people picture me whiling away the afternoons watching soap operas and napping (I wish I was drawn that way!). For those people, I hope this glimpse into my mind answers your question.


Mental health is tough for writers, I think. Even though we tend to like spending time alone, it can get lonely. Even when we’re successful, our careers are peppered with ‘no’s. You have to tell yourself that you have self-esteem of steel, even if you don’t. And most of us don’t. So I imagine that a lot of you deal with anxiety, too. But all I can be sure of is my own experience.


If you have a different experience with anxiety and panic, I’d love to hear about it.


I’m always saying that we should be more transparent with our lives so that we all know that we’re not so alone. This is me practicing what I preach. Sometimes my life is special and fun, but most of the time I’m worried and trying not to be.



Fun Fact:

I once randomly met Bobby McFerrin when he stayed at a B&B I managed many lives ago. He was nice.



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