I'm Matt, creative, writer and illustrator of the book "Tell Your Negative Thoughts to STFU". This is an anxiety blog where you'll find my ramblings on mental health, with various book recommendations and some chill music thrown in.
I’ve used some lockdown time to study one of my passions – psychology. I’ve just finished a great online Psychology course which is run by Liverpool University in he UK.
It’s part of my plan to get my swiss cheese brain more informed about mental health so I can communicate more about it. Hooray!
The course uses a shitload of really clever words, but essentially it challenges the current discussion amongst psychiatrists and psychologists about the relative importance of social, biological and psychological factors in mental illness.
If you are interested in doing the course on FutureLearn, you can take it here for free.
I think my general conclusion through my learnings is this: Most mental illness is the product of what happens to you (social), how you see the world (psychological) and maybe some genetic predisposition for illness (biological).
Also though, the professor who leads the course makes an interesting discovery through research (done a while ago now in 2005) that the more a person ruminates on negative events in their life, the more they are likely to suffer mental illness effects.
I mean wow, this was particularly relevant in my case. I’m a massive ruminator (for some reason I’m seeing a cow in my mind) … bloody typical in people with anxiety I think. Personally, having social anxiety makes me go over every painstaking shit moment of any social event again and again… forensically inspecting it for a moment where I was a fucking bell-end. Something I personally am working on is to let go a bit more, and be kinder to myself.
Or, in other words, to just tell my negative magnification thoughts to shut the fuck up.
The other day I was sat around sketching. In truth, my mind doesn’t deal with ‘downtime’ very well, and being in lockdown for covid-19 (what week is it now? 10?) has given me lots of it… especially because I’m on furlough. To use another seafaring metaphor, I’m like a rudderless boat adrift in an ocean of time.
Anyway, I started sketching this submarine, probably because I’ve been playing way too much Subnautica on the playstation (goodness how I love that game). And it came to me that going into counselling is scary, in the way that thalassophobia is scary.
You just don’t know what you are going to be confronted by in the murky depths of your mind, and that’s why it’s confronting to enter the deep waters of counselling.
You see your brain doesn’t like being uncomfortable, and dealing with things it deems scary. So it worries, about meeting them again.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try counselling. Like with all things, you just have to get to know what’s under there and then it doesn’t seem so scary after all.
*starts up the playstation for a game of Subnautica*
When I started writing “Tell Your Negative Thoughts to Shut The F*ck Up” it felt exciting, because I knew it was the right thing to do. There are many serious books out there about anxiety, but sometimes the best way to communicate things is to tap into the not-so-serious. Be a bit more human.
So I’m proud to say that over 100 copies of the book are currently flying their way to the book’s Kickstarter backers all over the world – from New Zealand to Malaysia, Italy to America.
Some backers opted in for their own illustration based on a negative thought.
So in the interests of showing other sufferers that they might not be alone in their thoughts, I thought I’d share some (no names included, of course).