For National Stress Awareness Day 2018, Richy K. Chandler shares the story behind his latest picture book, What the Hell Just Happened?!. This inspirational gift book helps readers overcome troubling times in their lives, through vivid illustrations and positive affirmations. The author provides thoughtful tips to remind us of what we can be at our emotionally strongest and smartest, showing how to face the past and embrace the future.
There are many reasons for creating a book, a comic or any work of art.
My latest book – What the Hell Just Happened?! – came from a place of needing to try to make sense of where I was in my life. At the start of developing it, I was going through a difficult separation, with my life circumstances drastically changing, seemingly out of control. I sought the release and comfort of expressing myself through creativity.
My assumption was that my anxiety and fear would come out naturally in tune. I’ve written hundreds of songs in the past and I always feel better for clarifying my feelings in verse. This time, however, that didn’t seem to be happening.
Writing a book with a co-author, warned my writer friends, is often a clash of egos and can be fraught with problems, especially if your co-author happens to be a friend! Mine was, and so I embarked on writing Forgiveness is Really Strange with a degree of trepidation over a collaboration that for no one’s fault might simply not work out.
I first met Dr Masi Noor in 2008 because of his academic research on the psychology of forgiveness in contexts of past or on-going political violence. He was interested in The Forgiveness Project, the charity that I founded in 2004 which promotes restorative narratives in order to help break cycles of conflict and vengeance. A collaboration in creating The Forgiveness Toolbox followed as we discovered our views on forgiveness were very much in sync – that it should never be pushed or prescribed, that it was complicated and easily misunderstood, but also that it was a skill that could be practised and learned in order to help liberate people from the debilitating power of victimhood.
When Are You Going to Get a Proper Job? features parent and graphic artist, Tariq, who finds himself stuck in a cycle of guilt, torn between quality time with his family and creative time in the studio.
This comic will spark the important debate about the value society places on creative careers, and will raise awareness of the pressures put upon creative professionals and how this career choice can conflict with family life and societal expectations.
Richy K. Chandler discusses the themes of the book and the process of drawing the illustrations in the video below.
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Explaining why parents decide to separate in simple, understandable language to children, this candid graphic story reassures and comforts any child whose parents are breaking up. Fully illustrated, with characters that any child can relate to, this book is a lifeline during a confusing time.
This striking graphic novel gives an insider’s view of the trauma caused by childhood sexual exploitation. It tackles complex issues, including victim-blaming, traumatic memory and dissociation, but is ultimately hopeful, showing how victims can be good parents and come to terms with their past through therapy, art and caring relationships.
To read more about the book, or to purchase a copy, please click here.
When Anxiety Attacks is a graphic memoir about living with anxiety and finding help through a therapist. In this blog, Terian Koscik, author and illustrator, gives an inside look to her experience of drawing and writing about anxiety.
One of the hardest parts about living with anxiety is trying to explain what it’s like to friends and family who don’t experience it. To them, it makes no sense that someone who is usually capable of making clear, rational decisions would have fears and thoughts that are totally irrational. What they don’t realize is that anxious people are often perfectly aware of how irrational our thoughts are. This doesn’t make it any easier to ignore them, though. Dealing with anxiety, beginning to understand it after going to therapy for the first time, and trying to convey my new sense of understanding to others led me to want to create a comic book about the experience.
As a child, my anxieties appeared blatantly silly and irrational to outside observers. I would panic whenever the phone rang, worried about what would happen if we didn’t answer it before it went to voicemail. What if it was an extremely important call, and they needed to talk to us right then? Or what if they thought we didn’t care?
As adults, we have a lot more in our lives to worry and panic about, and the line between what is silly and what isn’t is harder to see, especially if one’s default state is to worry. After graduating from college, my best friend from high school moved in with me, and I was distraught when she didn’t seem as enthusiastic about living together as I was. I constantly thought about what I was doing wrong when she chose to spend her time alone instead of with me, and whether I was capable of making any friends at all. I ended up going to therapy to talk about these feelings. I gradually realized that my worries were based on a general fear of being alone rather than anyone’s specific actions, that I could address them directly by asking others for help, and that there was nothing wrong with me for feeling this way.
In my book “When Anxiety Attacks,” I used dramatically different color palettes to demonstrate the way that irrational anxious thinking separates one from their usual ability to consider facts and possibilities. Other people and possibilities other than the worst case scenario do not exist in this state of mind. This makes it difficult or impossible for well-meaning loved ones to get through to us when in this state. For example, if I felt lonely, someone might remind me that I have many friends and family to turn to for reassurance. However, my anxious thinking would find a way to ignore this advice. Wouldn’t my friends and family have more important things to do than listen to me complain? Did I even deserve their attention?
Through therapy I have found that as anxious people, the best we can do is remain open to facts and possibilities, and not judge ourselves too harshly for the tendency to worry. I hope that my book will help others reach this conclusion.
Terian Koscik has been a reader of comics, a creator of comics, and an anxious person for almost as long as she can remember. Most of her work is autobiographical in nature, and deals with finding humor in feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. She posts her work regularly at http://pineconedoesthings.tumblr.com/. Terian lives in Portland, Oregon with 4 humans and 2 rabbits.
Tweet in a drawing of your anxious self to @Singing_Dragon_ using the hashtag #AnxiousMe to enter the chance to win a copy of When Anxiety Attacks