Thin Slices of Anxiety: Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) illustrated…

300x600An article in The Guardian struck me quite forcefully today. It highlighted the value of a book that I have come across before – its pictures representing a personal struggle against anxiety in a way that speaks to me – and to many others who have to find ways to manage the feelings associated with those generalised anxiety disorder (or GAD). The lack of confidence, indecision and sheer panic. The inability to move forward, or to see a positive future.

Thin Slices of Anxiety by Catherine Lepage is highly recommended for those with direct experience, and those working with clients who exhibit ‘symptoms’. To have GAD is not simply to feel overwhelming anxiety and panic, but to feel guilty about having those feelings. Many with GAD feel judged – their lives, on the surface, can seem enviable; ‘What have you got to be anxious about?’ the question many fear. Rebecca Slater, in her Guardian article says:


Illustration by Catherine LePage: the Periodic Table of the Elements of Response. Photograph: Catherine Lepage/Chronicle Books

“It’s almost impossible to explain the pervasive feeling of all things – all decisions, all possible outcomes, past, present and future – cascading through my mind, folding into themselves, forming a tighter and tighter ball until it feels as though all room to move or act or breathe has been squeezed out.


And on top of it all, that paralysing guilt of being anxious, being miserable and wanting, despite my privilege and comfort in life. Explaining that is hard. But somehow, through her simple words and pictures, LePage has found a way.”

Sometimes those with anxiety just need to feel the solidarity of knowing others have the same thoughts whirling through their minds, often at the worst possible times. GAD can isolate people socially, lower self esteem and confidence and put up a wall between a person and their loved ones.

Do take a look at Catherine’s book if you get the chance. Her imagery captures her own experience, and she offers the comfort that, ‘thinly sliced and illustrated, emotions are much easier to digest.’


Inspiration on your bookshelf: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared…..

100yroldmanAllan Karlsson is sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home on his 100th birthday as preparations are made for a party he hates the thought of, to be attended by a mayor he does not want to meet and reporters he doesn’t want to talk to. So he decides to take control, and climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. …

The One Hundred Year-Old Man is written by Jonas Jonasson, originally in Swedish and now translated by Rod Bradbury and what a wonderful book this is; heart-warming and fun and full of joy. Allan Karlsson is the perfect hero/anti-hero as his getaway becomes increasingly surreal, involving as it does criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and endlessly incompetent detectives.

But even as we enjoy the adventures of the present day, and as Allan enjoys his new-found freedom, we learn that he is not any ordinary man. His earlier life, told in flashback, is a parade of encounters with famous people during famous times as he helps to make the atom bomb, befriends presidents and dictators and quietly influences important twentieth century events.

This isn’t just a funny novel, it is a tribute to the joy of growing old disgracefully and living every moment to the full. It is a prompt to us all to take life by the scruff of the neck and ride it, rather than allowing it to trample us underfoot; to fly, and to make the most of every opportunity presented to us, turning negatives into positives.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Is it simply a black comedy, funny escapism? Or can we learn something from Allan Karlsson and his determination not to let what is left of his life be ruled by the demands of others?

We would love to hear your views…