PRT277 – A Part of Everything

In this episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable, we discuss scrapbooking about our mental illnesses/disorders.

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  • Hayley

    I loved this episode! I started listening to PRT a few months ago when Jennifer Wilson pointed me in to an episode on scrapping to tough stuff. I have since listened to all the episodes, I have a tendency to binge listen. Some of my favourite episodes have been on estrangement within family (something that really struck a cord), scrapping the tough stuff (the episodes on adoption and infertility were especially touching) and scrapping a special needs child.
    I’m a 29 yo wife and mum of three: my 7yo is on the autism spectrum and she has sensory processing disorder, my 6yo has anxiety and I have a 1yo so lifeis full on at times. I also have mental health issues and sensory processing disorder.
    This episode was so poignant. I’ve been really struggling with some of the symptoms and thought patterns that come with my PTSD and anxiety lately and I was reminded during the episode that I have to remember to celebrate my growth: since falling pregnant with my eldest I set on a path to be as healthy and happy as I can be.
    I’ve been very aware of the fact that I tell myself lies like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m not strong enough’, etc. and I was today reminded, again, that I have the power to choose not to engage with the lies onto challenge them.
    Thank you so much for such a great episode.

  • I loved this chat for so many reasons. But mainly because it’s refreshing in this picture-perfect scrap world to hear some real talk. On the one hand we memory keepers love to look for the beautiful and the positive in our days and record those fleeting lovely moments, but at the same time, when this is all we’re showing others, it might sometimes appear misleading… you know, that we’re all living these lovely lives full of happy, sunshine-y moments when that can’t be true for any of us.

    Well done to you both for being so brave in talking about these things – it’s hard to put yourself out there with such vulnerability. xxx

  • I don’t have sensory processing disorder (have never been tested for it) but I do struggle with several of the symptoms and I regularly struggle with sensory overwhelm, which I think contributes to my anxiety at times. So that gives me a small view of what I can only imagine you experience day to day raising three children, especially when they have difficulties of their own. But yes, those negative statements that about your worth and your strength are lies. Much strength and peace to you, Hayley. Thank you for sharing your own story!

  • Thank you, Suse! <3

  • Tara Lane-Williams

    This was a really good episode for me to listen to & I enjoyed hearing Ali & yourselves discussing mental health. I have a number of health conditions & earlier in the year I received treatment at a mental health facility. I have been using scrapbooking as a way of documenting the time & my thinking but so far I’ve not been brave enough to show/share any of these LO’s. It is good to remember that we all struggle & our lives don’t have to be picture perfect to enjoy this hobby!!!

  • Tara, do you feel it’s been beneficial and healthy for you to scrapbook/document it? I hope so — if so, it’s fantastic that you’re doing it. While I agree that it’s nice when we can share our struggles with each other, but there is definitely no moral obligation to share if it makes you feel vulnerable or if it’s just too private. Taking care of yourself is number one. :)

  • Tara Lane-Williams

    It’s been so beneficial for me especially when I look back through various periods of mental health issues. I had postnatal depression with both of my daughters & I scrapbooked throughout these periods & while my style may have changed, the issues have varied (some have stayed the same lol). I also noticed the more I wrote about my feelings/turmoil/difficulties the shorter the periods of depression. Receiving treatment & medication have also helped greatly but being more honest & reflective with myself & more open about these difficulties has also helped. While I agree some things are to private to share hearing famous scrapbookers like yourselves discussing mental health issues means it’s easier & more acceptable to say hey I’m having an issue or life isn’t perfect & I think doing pages that reflect that is more real at least for me!!
    Thanks again for such thought evoking episode!!

  • Hayley

    I find it difficult at times with my daughter and I both having SPD because she needs a high level of stimulation, so she will self stimulate (stimming), but I am easily over stimulated so I have to go to my little craft room to allow her stimming without me going into overstimulation. For me when I go into sensory overload it can be physically painful or anxiety provoking, so it can be much like anxiety.

    I talk about my mental health because I think that speaking honestly about it while maintaining my personal boundaries helps to reduce stigma. I feel this episode does so much to help to reduce the stigma of mental health issues, it opens up a discussion which is such a great thing for everyone.

    Thank you
    Much love and respect

  • Yes, we should all be able to talk about these struggles or ask for help without being stigmatized!! Also, very interesting to see a possible correlation between writing/scrapbooking about the episodes of depression and their length.

  • I can’t tell you how much I related to your experience with stimulation, as I often feel the need to run out of the room and hide from all the chaos. Thank you so much for all the kind words about the show. I do hope it helps, at least in our little community. Maybe it will trickle outward from there.

  • Hayley

    You’re welcome.
    Every little bit helps ????

  • Inkfanatic

    I love that you guys did this episode! I think many of us struggle with like/similar issues, yet rarely does it get discussed openly. I have long been a fan of, and followed both you & Ali, so am familiar with what you’ve mentioned before related to anxiety, but it really helped to hear a more in depth discussion of how this impacts your lives, how & what you learn from it, and how you learn to deal with it.
    I have struggled for awhile, trying to make it a priority to focus on learning how to deal with my own anxieties & obsessive tendencies, and ugh….its just so hard. In fact, I’ve had a hard time even typing this thought, because my family keeps talking, and the dogs are up & running around the room, and I can’t keep my thoughts together enough, I just want time to freeze…just long enough for me to finish my thought. Then life can resume. Argh!
    While none of what’s running around in my head will change by it, just knowing that I’m not the only one who struggles with this kind of stuff, helps. And your discussion reinforced to me, that I need to journal, or document somehow, what is happening. If nothing more than to get it out of my head for a bit. I do think that will help lessen the burden of it. At least in the moment. Then maybe I can be more objective about some of it when not so caught up in fresh emotion with it, if that makes sense.
    Thank You for recording this episode. I agree with SuseFish, and appreciate you keeping it real! The Roundtable Rocks!

  • Anandi Raman Creath

    Wow, this was a great, honest episode. Thanks to both Ali and Noell for being willing to talk about these things.

    For anyone who wants more info about the Pix app Izzy mentioned, this page has more details about what it does and how it works:
    I work at Microsoft and found the guy who created it because I was curious :)

  • Rina Abbott-Jard

    Thank-you for the bonus sound clip. Love Ali.

    Also thank-you for producing this show. Love to hear your voices again.

    Izzy I would love video of my girls but admit it is overwhelming – huh, like thousands of un-tagged photographs aren’t lol. Maybe a course that demystifies that would be a great start i.e. starting with how you store and mark / file the film data etc.

    I also wanted to comment that when we write we write for an audience. I think that we can self censor a little bit when we do that so mixing up the forums / social media channels that we use will bring out different perspectives. I struggle with my Mum’s mental health and realise that I have left nothing to explain it to my children. Given that mental health issues are often hereditary this is a major omission. Thank you for this show, it made me feel BRAVE to come up with a safe, sensitive way to talk about the cruelty and devastation of poor mental health while balancing it with the preservation of dignity for my Mum and the family members who have had it before her.

    Love to you guys.

  • Bookworm9798

    I actually thought your Amazon affiliate idea was a very good one and intended to use it the next time I shopped there, but then forgot about it. (I don’t have a ton of discretionary income, so don’t buy from Amazon every month.) I think it might have been a more successful strategy back when there was a new show every week. Maybe it’s just me, but because we are bombarded with so much information, sometimes it takes a few repetitions before it spurs me to action. If PRT ever increases its frequency of broadcasting again, the Amazon thing might be worth another trial period.

  • Anandi Raman Creath

    Or just keep a prominent link to Amazon in your sidebar (I think it’s there) and just remind people every now and then to use it. I know I’ve tried, but my purchases have been minimal lately because we just got back from vacation. I’m sure they’ll ramp back up as the year goes on :)

  • Hannah Brown

    This was one of the most meaningful PRT episodes for me. I struggled really badly with anxiety and depression in 2014, and just went through another rough patch. No clue if Ali reads the comments or not, but Ali, to hear you, you who are easily one of the top ten people who has inspired me the most in my life, talk about your struggle with anxiety and depression, meant the world to me. Just to know that Ali and Noel both struggle with these things meant a lot.
    Scrapbooking has definitely helped me when I’m struggling. It helps me to focus on the good and the beautiful, it helps me to realize and remember that all of my life is not bad. I’ve often found that things are worse when I’m not being creative on a consistent basis. I’m the happiest when I am consistently creating something, be it a scrapbook page, a traveler’s notebook, a project life spread, or just messing with paint.
    And then there’s the scrappy community. I made a page earlier this year about recovering from my depression through 2015, and I posted it on the Studio Calico gallery. ( I received several sweet and supportive comments about that page, which meant the world to me. Occasionally I get comments from people on the SC message boards or on my projects that are something to the effect of, “you are so inspiring”, and those comments uplift me in a way they can never know.
    I feel like scrapbooking by nature focuses on what is beautiful about our lives, even if that beauty comes through expressing the brokenness of our hearts on our projects. The good and bad moments make up a beautiful mosaic of our lives.

  • Jamie Leija

    I’m so happy this was a topic! It’s definitely something that’s been on my mind and lately–in fact super recently even–something I’ve been scrapbooking about.

    2015 wasn’t the best year for you Noell? Well 2016 hasn’t been the best year for me. I got hit pretty hard with the anxiety stick. Even needing to take an extended break from work because of it.

    I’ve been seeking treatment from a doctor and a therapist and things are sooo much better. Like, making me thinking this has been going on for much longer than I originally realized.

    At the worst point, I made a pocket page:

    This was super scary for me to do. Not least because I made it with the intention to share it as one of my creative team projects. A very new to me creative team too!

    It was only after the fact that I realized, that could have been risky. Here’s a new company taking a chance on me and I’m using their products to scrapbook about anxiety and depression! BUT, this industry has so really amazing people in it. And the owner of the company had ZERO qualms about my sharing this difficult story. It was part of my life and what I felt the need to scrapbook about at the time.

    With regards to the creative process, I found it easer to write about anxiety and depression by using the weather as a metaphor. The title of the page is “Dreaming of Sunshine”. Not least because of the journaling card I had to work with in the creative team kit! I just thought it was perfect for what was happening in my life! I included one black and white photo of myself. Sure I was smiling. But I had so much on my mind. I wrote directly on the photo all of the things that were just swirling around in my brain.

    I actually scrapbooked a follow up page just last week. Here’s a sneak peak: It will be available in the Elle’s Studio Design Team gallery on the 10th along with reveal. Check for it here after 08/10:

    Here’s another page I’ve made about depression–
    One that stemmed from an Ali Edwards Story Stamp! Here’s just a bit of my journaling from that page: “I was in the craziest headspace when I decided to visit Matt in Thailand. I went for a week and felt miserable the whole time. We barely left the apartment because I was so agoraphobic about being out in the city. Doesn’t look like it does it? While pictures may be worth a thousand words, it doesn’t mean they tell the whole story.”

    Again, I so appreciate you all discussing this topic! The hard stuff is a part of life too and while I don’t want to spend all my time dwelling on it–or scrapbooking it. Leaving it out of my scrapbooks would make them incomplete–a lie of omission even??

  • Becky M

    Loved this episode–Ali Edwards One Little Word 2015 is what got me scrapbooking after years of not doing so. Today’s episode touched on such personal aspects (for me) as anxiety and depression. From here I listened to episode 274 — the two episodes just fit together perfectly for me. On 274 when y’all talked about “moods and feelings” and their impact on scrapbooking and storytelling the two episodes had a interesting synergistic message.

  • Jenny Riebler-Großmann

    Thank you SO much for doing this episode! I have had a very rough time since June last year. I was diagnosed with epilepsy, went through a lot of different medications, none of which are working, but suffered all the side effects from anxiety, panic attacks to severe depression and suicidal thoughts because of my meds. My boyfriend is being treated for severe depression, his mum died after a long battle with cancer and I got the heartbraking news of not being allowed to work as a nurse anymore. I have been on sick leave for 14 months and don’t know what the future will bring. So long story short, my life’s a big hot mess right now. I have tried to pick up some feelings on my Project Life and Week in the life (this happened to be right when I got my employment ban) but I also made a recent traditional layout (haven’t done one in years) that simply states I HATE IT! I listed all the negative things that happened and it felt SO good to get it out of my system. I think it’s my best page ever, raw, honest and so me.

    I love scrapbooking as much as everyone else here, but I must honestly say that I often hate the industry. 99.9% of the products is all rainbows and unicorns, everything and everyone is SOO happy, life is sooo great and we life in this Disney-like world. I am so sick of it! Life isn’t that way. Everyone is struggling with something. I was overjoyed when Simple Stories brought two collections out a while ago, one about breast cancer and the other one about death/grief. I was like FINALLY someone gets life! I’d really like to see much more products like these. I’d totally buy them (especially if they cover mental health)

  • HelenH

    Just being a mother is hard. Your time and energy don’t belong to you and that situation lasts for years. I like hearing our strategies for coping and for ways to record the experience without feeling guilt.

  • karenf1

    I was so glad to get the email about this episode and to listen to it. I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression on and off throughout my life. It was comforting to know that I’m not alone in this, that others deal with these issues on a daily basis too. The biggest challenge for me in this last year is my daughter being diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks after an illness, and she’s not been able to return to going to school. She’s taking online classes and getting treatment, but it’s been hard taking things one step at a time, life is so different now. I’ve been avoiding scrapbooking because I’m not sure what to do. It seems picture taking has come to a halt and if I look back at past photos it’s a bit hard right now to think about the way things were and where we are now. I wonder if anyone else has had this type of challenge and how they dealt with it. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for every day and the wonderful girl my daughter is, I just feel like I’m going through a “rough patch” as Ali said and I’m trying to find ways to get through it. Thanks again for this episode and for all you do!

  • Leslie

    Whenever I listen to your podcast, I feel as if I’m with good friends! This podcast really touched me, but from a different point of view. Our oldest son’s mental illness reached a different level last Sept/October and he had to leave college. Watching your child struggle with substantial learning differences and now a mental illness has been heart breaking. We have tried to keep what occurred private to avoid labelling/judgment. Sadly, I don’t feel like scrapbooking, but do find decorating my planner very rewarding! Thank you so much for your honesty! Big hug to you, Noel, Ali and Izzy!

  • Angie Storlie

    I have dealt with anxiety and mild depression at a few different points in my life. While I would probably never scrapbook ABOUT my struggles, I do find that the act of scrapbooking is very therapeutic for me and also, looking back at all the albums I’ve made brings me joy and helps me to keep everything in perspective.
    I discovered this podcast just a few months ago and I’m working on binge-listening to all the old episodes. I am getting a good chuckle out of some of the 2010 shows where you and the guests are gushing over things like the new iPad and “tissue tape” (washi tape, I assume?) that are so common and taken for granted already just a few years later. My how the times they change!

  • TracieClaiborne

    Bravo to you for taking on this topic. It was a very meaningful and heartfelt show that inspired me. Noell, I really loved listening to you and Ali have a deep conversation. Would love to hear more shows with you and just one guest as I always enjoy what you have to say and sometimes you don’t get to say much! :) Thanks again for having me on last month, it was a great honor.

  • Wendy Elmhorst

    Hugs to you! It is so much harder to watch out kids struggle! My 19yo daughter has struggled her whole life with anxiety, panic, and other mental illness issues! She was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 8, OCD at 10, and has had depression and anxiety and panic disorders! This past year has been the hardest for us. She really crashed this spring and has been slowly working her way back. I have scrapped very little this summer because of it. Things are much better now …she’s even decided she can go back to work…and I’m ready to get creative again! Hang in there!

  • Teri Hartman

    Thank you for this very special episode. I found myself nodding along so many times, especially when Ali discussed the record of growth that scrapbooking (and journaling) affords. I think it’s so important that we scrapbook ALL of our lives (not just the “events” and happy moments), because it is such a poignant record of who we are at any time. And who knows? This documentation of growth may be a gift to others when they view your pages.

  • Curlywiggles

    I just wanted to say thank-you for having this open discussion. It’s refreshing to hear industry leaders tackle issues which affect so many people but which are not often openly talked about. It’s also something I really needed right now. I suffer from seasonal affective disorder and have scrapbooked this in the past on occasion as a type of ‘therapy’ to help me get my feelings out about the condition and how it affects me. Scrapbooking is a great hobby for those of us who suffer with SAD and struggle to find the motivation to do outside activities in the winter, or have low energy levels. Right now I am suffering a period of anxiety and having to deal with panic attacks which is something new to me and very scary. Whilst I don’t feel ready to document this experience quite yet, maybe I will once I am through the woods and I will be sure to revisit this podcast then. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for the reminder that these periods of poor mental health can be short lived and that there is hope for recovery.

  • :) Awesome! :)

  • Kelly Jean

    Hello! Thank you so much for doing this episode! I loved it so much, I listened to it 3 times. One thing I have to comment and praise both Noelle and Ali on is how in tune they are with how they feel and what they’re going through and recognizing it. Literally until this episode, I never thought about the fact that I have anxiety all the time and it’s in the way I think and feel and live, but an anxiety attack is when the anxiety becomes too powerful. I think this type of thinking will greatly help me learn to recognize what is happening and how to control it. Thank you so much to both of you for your amazing insight and having such an amazing episode! xoxo

  • karenf1

    Hugs to you too! I’m glad to hear that your daughter is doing better, and sorry to hear about her struggles. My daughter is 16 and was diagnosed with epilepsy early in life (which she has thankfully grown out of), and had stomach issues for a while that were finally diagnosed as lactose intolerance. I think her early health issues contributed to her anxiety, and it all finally came to a head last fall. She is doing better, and even got her driver’s license recently, but is still working her way back. If something like this were going to happen, I am grateful that it happened while she is still at home, and not away at college, so we can give her all the support she needs to get better and manage her anxiety. Thanks for your kind words and all the best to you and your daughter!

  • Cyndi

    Wow. I just had some aha moments listening to this podcast and reading the comments. I had not thought I had anxiety issues. I thought those feelings were normal and that everyone had them. I’ve just waded through those times and moved on. I am just now connecting the dots to my current situation with my life history. I affectionally refer to myself as “Drew Barymore in 50 First Dates”. Cognitively my head is in a mess. My brain is not talking well with my body, ears and eyes. Anxiety is a huge issue. It’s like I can’t control it. I try hard to make light of the situation. Honestly, it’s scary not knowing what the future holds. I know I have much therapy ahead. My physiotherapist is my rock. I’m learning new ways to do everyday activities so my brain/body can work together again. At some point, I’ll need to address the anxiety issues. Thanks for sharing Ali and Noell. This topic was very insightful.

  • Tori

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU so much for discussing this deep, personal, emotional topic. It’s definitely been on my heart for a long time since it’s something I really struggle with personally. I brought this up as a topic a while ago and it means a lot to me that you would discuss it. I struggle with anxiety, panic attacks and have something called agoraphobia. Writing down what I’m going through and seeing the cycles (like Ali said) has given me such a great way of expressing myself and sharing what I’m going through. Scrapbooking about some of the challenges/obstacles and even the triumphs I’ve had has been such a great way for me to process the things I struggle with. I’ve been think that I want to create a mini book of this specifically because I think it would beautiful way of highlighting challenge, obstacles, triumph, growth, overcoming fears – bring light to the dark parts of my life. A focus on the times when I have overcome or did something that scared me or pushed myself out of my comfort zone would be something that I could look back at in the dark, hard times – to remind myself that I can do it. I also really appreciate this topic because mental health issues are often hidden or taboo – as we bring light to it will bring hope to those who feel like they are struggling alone.

  • Tori

    Ali I struggle on airplanes too. Not sure if these things would help but here are some of the things that help my anxiety on planes. I have to fly a lot for work and it causes me a lot of stress.
    – Figure out where the best place for you to sit is. For me personally I need to feel as if I have the freedom to move so I HAVE to sit on the aisle.
    – I also really struggle with crowds so sitting at the very front so I can get out quickly after the flight is better for me. Also weird but sitting at the very back where I have a wall behind me and the empty back part behind me feels a little less stressed.
    – Adult colouring books, a stitching project, a journal or SOMETHING I can do with my hands is SOOOO helpful. I think it is the process of having something to do with my hands helps me really focus on that rather than the anxiety that is rising within me.
    – Music is also a must! I have to have a fully charged phone with head phones and listen to the music as loudly as I can. The music helps my brain from swirling with thoughts and helps take the attention from the pounding in my heart.
    – And my last tip, fly early in the morning rather than mid day, late afternoon, or evening. This way you don’t have all morning to stress and worry about it and build up the anxiety or stress. You basically wake up, go to airport and get on. Personally I find mornings better times for my anxiety too. Maybe it’s the opposite for you.

    Lots of love.

  • Tori

    This conversation is truly inspiring me. I love how Ali said she wants to encourage people to share their story in a more authentic way. As a creator that’s what my desire is to…. to inspire and to encourage. Now my head is swirling with ways that I can share more personally, find my ‘home’ for my story and document my real, authentic life.

  • Tori

    Lots of love dear as you go through these difficult things. You are not alone.

  • Ali Edwards

    Hi Jenny – I also offer products to help document the challenging times. I had a previous Story Kit called Tough, I have a stamp set available called Brave (and that will also be an upcoming theme). I generally try to include nods to both highs and lows in my product offerings.

  • Ali Edwards

    Thanks Tori – appreciate you posting this :). It’s so interesting because I find most comfort in the window (well, with my blood clot issues now I might need to change that – ha). I love sitting near the front for sure – sitting in the back increases my anxiety. I also just got some noise canceling head phones and that seems to be helping too. One of my issues is that I get motion sick – which makes coloring/stitching a challenge (I take drugs for that too).

  • Marie-Pierre Capistran

    Hi guys, I just wanted to tell you that it would be great if you could add an image when you post the shows to the blog so that we can pin the different episodes with description to our Pinterest boards. :) Thank you!!

  • Ana

    Hi…..just got around to listening today……and I found myself asking a question, then realized you couldn’t hear me. So……since both Noell and Ali have anxiety on a daily basis….does your anxiety affect the colors and types of embellishments you use on a layout?

  • This is a great idea!

  • Perfect last episode!

    I haven’t scrapbooked for about 6 months because of several stressful things going on in my life. I’ve recently been wanting to jump back in to scrapbooking and this episode reminded me of how much scrapbooking can help through a stressful time and track the progress of stressful things to give perspective. Hopefully I’ll make a page again soon.

    Thanks for the years and years of quality scrapbooking podcasting!

  • Katie, I’ve been wondering how and what you’re doing since I haven’t seen you around. I’m sorry it’s been such a stressful time. I hope you’re doing well and everything is ok.