The No Panic Book of Not Panicking – well-being through creative writing. Book Launch with readings from the book, 16 June, 6pm Sutton Library, Saint Nicholas Way, SM1 1EA. The event is part of London Creativity and Wellbeing week. Tickets are free but booking is essential.
Lying in bed,
I hear voices downstairs
‘It’s not our fault that something is wrong.’
They come to be seen
but they don’ t stay long.
They want a quick fix
so they can go away.
But no kind words
at the end of the day.
‘Get out more.’
‘Get yourself together.’
Not ‘how are you feeling?’
I’m looking for someone
who will bring some healing.
Someone who knows me,
and is able to listen.
Not a know it all,
but one who has vision.
No Panic (Sutton & Merton) is run by people who suffer from panic and anxiety. They meet to share advice and give mutual support. The group have found that creative writing is of great benefit in helping their state of mind and sense of well-being. Apples and Snakes, and Sally Pomme Clayton have been working with the group since 2012. After producing a book of poems for the Olympic celebrations with Sally Pomme, No Panic had the idea that they wanted to write a self-help book for people experiencing panic or anxiety. They felt there was not enough literature on the subject, and wanted to write about their own experiences, to pass on what they had learned and help others. The group were committed to the idea. And through the support of Apples and Snakes and funding from Awards for All were able to work with Sally Pomme to create, write and edit the book. Richy K Chandler created fabulous and funny illustrations and designed the book. And participation co-ordinator Daniela Paolucci from Apples and Snakes has dedicatedly produced and edited the book. It will be launched as part of a week celebrating arts and health in London.
What panic has taught me
Opening up and sharing fears
unlocking secrets kept for years
freeing thoughts that hinder and bind
the fear and worry locked in your mind
to live in the moment mindfully
and find comfort and peace in tranquillity
releasing the past can set you free
that is what panic has taught to me.
The book shares courageous personal stories of struggling with panic and anxiety, poems and stories about attitudes towards mental health, and practical and creative strategies for coping. The book journeys from dark to light, it is moving, wise and inspirational, full of testimonies that even in the darkest moments hope can be found. The stories and poems are full of helpful ideas about how to face your fears and begin to find the inner tools to live a brave, calm life. No Panic hope the book will help those who are suffering with panic and anxiety, their families and carers, and contribute towards eradicating the shame and stigma linked to the condition.
The book also contains some of the exercises from the sessions, devised and written by Sally Pomme. No Panic found the process of creative writing allowed them to express their emotions, contact their imagination, and feel the potential that is inside us all. No Panic said that creative writing:
‘Helps in getting my thoughts and feelings down on paper. In some
strange way it is cathartic. The anxiety has gained expression and now
exists on a sheet of paper instead of just inside my head.’
‘It has enabled me to look back and see how far I have come.’
‘Writing has helped me to recognize more clearly where my problems
have come from.’
‘Helps you express what you feel.’
‘Helps me to understand things better and gain a sense of
Freeing the mind – five minutes writing
– Get paper or notebook, pen or pencil, whatever you enjoy writing with.
– Place a clock, stop watch, mobile phone, or egg timer nearby.
– Sit still for a moment. Feel your feet on the floor, let your hands relax and fingers unclench, feel your back supported in the chair, let your jaw relax, and breathing slow.
– In a moment you are going to write for five minutes without stopping – writing whatever comes into your mind. Write about anything: what you have to do; what happened yesterday; how you are feeling. Write about a dream, or what you had for breakfast. Write about fears or joys. Write a poem, or invent a story. Write about the weather. Write bad things or good. You are not going to share this writing with anyone. It is private. So feel safe, and let yourself write whatever comes into your mind. The only rule is – you must not judge what you write. Write as freely and rapidly as possible, without censoring, or criticizing. If you get stuck, or your mind goes blank, just write: ‘and then, and then, and then…’ until the next thought comes. Allow your thoughts to flow out, and accept them, whatever they are.
– Open your eyes and set your start time.
– Write for five minutes – now.
– Stop after five minutes. How do you feel now? Gently put your writing away to look at on another day.
– You can do this exercise before doing any of the other creative writing exercises in the book – to help you relax and open to your imagination.
Sally Pomme Clayton
The book is now available as a free pdf for everyone to use. Click here.
Panic has shaped my life into something positive. Somehow I have evolved into an optimistic hopeful person, which I don’t think I would have, if it wasn’t for the panic. I have learned patience. I have empathy for others, and I feel hopeful for a future, for me and other people. Panic has taught me to look for the rainbow, because believe me it is there.
The No Panic Book of Not Panicking – well-being through creative writing. Written by No Panic; written and edited by Sally Pomme Clayton; illustrated by Richy K Chandler; edited and produced by Daniela Paolucci and Apples and Snakes. Funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.