Surprise! The Hope Street Cards Book Club has been taken over! It's Trudy here. Huzzah!
This month I finally got my life together and finished reading a very special magazine, that I received after backing it on Kickstarter in October last year (I’m a sucker for merch - and just check out that pin!). Anxy is produced out of the US, but takes global contributions to create a publication for:
'culture makers and the people inspired by them who are tired of feeling ashamed of their emotions and mental health...who crave open discussions about coping with anxiety, depression, fear, anger, trauma, shame, and all those other wildcards that alter the direction of our work and our lives.'
This was the first edition and its theme, Anger, curated such a variety of submissions - stories, photographs, illustrations and poetry. And Anger permeated through the articles in as much diversity - experience with racial stereotyping, gender issues, emotional abuse, family, relationships, work and creative expression.
There was a huge emotive wave throughout the publication, and each of the individual stories felt so considered and different. So much of the content touched on really important topics, however for me I experienced two serious peaks reading the the magazine. And the early stream occurred with 3 solid pieces. The first from Claire Fitzsimmons’ article Lose Her, Recover Me.
Claire Fitzsimmon's story, Lose Her, Recover Me.
Claire’s story recounts an extensive relationship with her mother (who lived with severe mental health issues throughout her life) and her mother’s ongoing recovery - but Claire’s too, as her mother’s key support. Claire’s experience with her mother’s recovery gives the reader a linear journey incorporating how surprises soon turn into familiar developments. The developments are shared - in many ways - but it’s sometimes a blurred boundary on where her mother’s recovery ends and Claire’s own well being is pulled in. Caring is a ride, and sometimes it feels like you’re playing the positive role for two. It sometimes feels like an endless cycle of solutions, and that can be testing to faith in recovery. It feels like a lot of reinforcement, that initially feels like you’re giving to your loved one experiencing the mental health problem, but soon enough you realise you might be saying it for yourself too. Claire’s Anger (and perhaps exhaustion too) can often come from fighting the battle for faith and belief in recovery, and keeping that flame alight for more than yourself.
Similar in relationship definition, You Have Nothing to Worry About is a visual exploration of Melissa Spitz’s portraits of her mother (with short story), that depict a lifetime alongside diagnosis. Melissa’s photos are so beautiful and the words that support them reveal the in-situ anger across the selection. Living with and loving someone dealing with a number of mental health diagnoses, permeates life and relationships, and Melissa’s experience reveals the way in which she lived in a space of anger, whilst trying to protect herself and still love.
Melissa Spitz' visual essay, You have nothing to worry about.
Kate Speer’s When My Fury Set Me Free reveals the deep anger of her own experience with mental illness, with the ongoing presentation of solutions, over and over again, plaguing what seems like a never-ending recovery. Kate’s anger comes from doing as patients do. Following the lead of the experts. Going along for the ride. But then one day losing the faith (and perhaps rightfully so). Calling out that the path hasn’t worked. What to do now? Kate breaks it off with her long-term psychiatric support network, and embarks on an alternative treatment process that is huge, hard and heartbreaking. But she does it. Her anger propels her so much into this new management plan, which is how she now leads her improved life today.
And whilst the magazine provides links into mental health support it does so only after ticking all the right boxes. Because magazines should always end on activities. Anxy has me again.
Now, I’m not the friendliest person in the world (well not in comparison to our MD, Sam), and whilst it is not necessarily anger that propels this, but rather a tasty mix of sarcasm and irritation, so it was as if the activities included here were written just for me.
My irritation, in particular, can be pinned often to my inability to deal with overhearing people eat.. swallow, gulp, chew gum, clear their throat, any weird jaw noise - you get the picture. And I fully grasp it’s me, not them. So hand me a cartoon such as Why The Fuck Does The Samsung Ringtone Piss Me Off And Other Important Life Questions (Words by Kevin Braddock, illustrations by Teddy Hose) and a fancy activity such as The Anger Mismanagement Workbook (Catherine Weiss) and you’ll instantly win a fan. It also makes me feel incredibly happy to know that I’m perhaps not the only one out there. Hear that, Sam? Better get our range of cards tailored to those experiencing misophonia underway!
Catherine Weiss' activities, The Anger Mismanagement Workbook.
You can pick up the first edition of Anxy (or one of the cute pins!), look out for their second (the next theme is Workaholism!) or maybe even subscribe online (because from this review, wouldn’t you?) at anxymag.com (final comment inside brackets. I swear.)