006. | Anxiety Is… (Art Journal Tutorial)

Anxiety doesn’t make sense. Not usually, anyway. Having been diagnosed in childhood with several anxiety disorders (social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and hypochondria) it’s about 50/50 that I can figure out what is causing my anxiety and thus, use the appropriate skills – whether it’s CBT, DBT or CPT.

Sometimes anxiety happens for no reason. I call those moments “when the fire alarm [in my brain] goes off for no reason and there isn’t actually a fire but the alarm is going off anyway” or “rogue anxiety”. It just… happens for absolutely no reason. It’s been explained to me several ways, mostly in variations of “your brain just has these random surges of adrenaline which kicks your stress response up”.

Other times I know it’s specific to GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) or hypochondria. Like the anxiety, I’ve had for nearly a week now, non-stop. It’s related to something that triggered this recent episode of health anxiety (hypochondria, but apparently the DSM5 doesn’t like that term anymore), which then turned into excessive worry about everything.

I read through the skills on my diary card and I’m pretty sure I used a few here today. I realised I had three choices:

  1. Stay in bed crying all-day
  2. Attempt to distract (gaming, journaling, reading)
  3. Double up on night meds and go back to bed


I wasn’t going to do 1 or 3 since I’ve done both so many times the last little while that it’s not helping anything and I know this. So I went for 2) Attempting to distract. I picked up my journal – the 400-page dotted Moleskine Expanded softcover that I’ve been using for months – and was going to write about my anxiety but I felt inspired to make a page showing what anxiety is to me.

That’s what this page is: Anxiety Is…

Sure, I’ve written a block of text about how anxiety robbed me of things and it’s mostly ruminating and depressive, but that’s true to my state of mind right now and I would be a terrible artist if I was to lie about it and make it all “pretty for the internet”. No. I’m not like that. So here’s the truth of what goes on in my journal, when I’m not writing pages upon pages of text. I sometimes get artsy.




Back in 2004, I was big into a blogging platform called LiveJournal. I had met a lot of good people there over the years and while I still have my accounts, I don’t use them. I miss the site, yes, but everyone has since left. Of all the communities I was apart of on LiveJournal (LJ, as it’s abbreviated) one of them was about mixed-media journaling or art journaling. It was scrapbooking meets journaling and we would fill our journals with collages and art while writing our daily journal entries on top of the art as well.

It was beautiful. I loved the community and loved taking part in it until it went defunct around 2010. I stayed with mixed-media journaling until the sudden surge of the bullet journal. Suddenly my mixed-media journaling could be part of a planner system that worked for me! Score! I did fall out of mixed-media journaling for a while but came back to it recently, when I realised I wasn’t keeping up with my bullet journal and was too depressed to do so, but I still wanted to use my bullet journal supplies. So I started mixed-media journaling again. I went on YouTube, found out that there’s a whole group of people who still do this only now it’s called a “junk journal”. Signs of the times, right? Even some of the supplies have changed but the idea is still the same.

Today I’m going to walk you through the two-page spread I did on anxiety and how I created it. My hope is that it inspires someone to start becoming more creative in their daily journaling, or even helps them begin a daily journal. I don’t always do this fancy art shite. Most of my journal is just long paragraphs and rambling but the art pages are starting to help me express myself. It’s cathartic.


Images and tutorial below the cut.



So I’m going to attempt to link the items used at the bottom of the post and I will not be using Amazon Affiliate links. I will attempt to link each item from the store I got it from, as well as from Amazon Canada and Amazon US. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find these supplies. Most of the stuff I use can be found at Staples, Michaels, Chapters/Indigo Books and Walmart. In the US, I imagine there’s Office Depot, Michaels, Barnes & Nobles and Walmart as equivalents. I buy nearly all of my stuff during sales, and frequently use the Michaels weekly 40% off coupon to get things like washi tape or my Zebra Mildliners. The only thing I’ve paid full price for is my journal (Moleskine Expanded, softcover, dotted – 400 pages) and that ran me about 30$ CDN. I figure it lasts me long enough to make for a good purchase and I’ve always been a fan of Moleskine notebooks. I love Leuchtturm1917 nnotebooks but the Moleskine Expanded is what I need (a lot of pages, and dot-grid style).

Supplies used:

– Zebra Mildliner (brown, red, smoke blue)

– Scotch washi tape (holographic white, cerulean blue, black, cracked blue)

– Duck washi tape (holographic stars)

– my thin pastel washi (peach, grey, white, pastel yellow and pastel pink) is likely from Michaels, it was a gift so I don’t know the brand; it does come in a tape dispenser and if I find it online I’ll link it here

– Zebra Sarasa Quick Dry X20 0.5mm black pen (lefty friendly!)

– Blue cue cards (used the back of them for the blue torn paper) from Dollarama

– brown paper bag from a grocery store, when I bought some fancy Coke flavours in a glass bottle, but any brown paper bag will do)

– Tru Red Graphed Journal from Staples in pocket-sized (3.5 inches x 5.5 inches) which I tore some pages out to make the graph paper middle of my page that I wrote on

– Elmer’s All Purpose Glue Stick

– Sugar Skull stamp from Michaels (20$ CDN, from the scrapbooking section)

– Lettering stamps from Michaels (2$ CDN, from their clearance)


It sounds like I used a lot but I didn’t. I have a ton more but I only used what was in one single pencil case.




I started out on a blank page in my Moleskine. I used the peach, grey and pastel yellow washi tape to make the stripes at the bottom of the page, and then I took out two pages from the graph notebook so they would be ‘together’ (the graph book is string-bound so I took two pages out that were connected to each other rather than tearing them out in two sheets) and laid that on the Moleskine pages.


I made sure the crease in the graph paper lined up with my Moleskine’s crease and then used the Elmer’s glue stick to cover the back of the graph paper and glued it down. I used the holographic white washi tape across the bottom of the graph paper and the holographic star washi tape along the top of the graph paper. I then used jagged pieces of the black washi tape to cover the ends of both holographic washi tape pieces.


Then I got my paper bag and started tearing strips. I tore one that would be the width of my journal pages and used the Elmer’s glue stick to glue it down.


With this as my base, I took my sugar skull stamp and used the brown Zebra mildliner to colour my stamp (since I don’t have any ink pads at the moment) and I stamped that down on the right of the page – half on the graph paper, half on the dot-grid paper. It didn’t come out even but the whole point of mixed-media journaling (or junk journaling) is to use whatever you’ve got and with reckless abandon! Don’t worry about making things neat. I, personally, love a ripped and collaged look, which is why I have ripped pieces of paper, tape and such.

Then I used my wood lettering stamps from Michaels (clearance bin, not sure if they still sell them) and did the same thing as I did with my sugar skull stamp: I used my Zebra Mildliner, in the colour ‘red’, to colour in the letters for ‘ANXIETY IS…’ and stamped that down. Again, it wasn’t perfect but I don’t care so I let it be.

Afterwards, I looked up a short line on anxiety via healthline.com, quoted that, and then wrote the following using my black 0.5mm Zebra Sarasa pen:


ANXIETY IS… “Your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come.” – healthline.com || For me, anxiety has always been an embarrassment: the reason I have to make up an excuse to go home early – whether I’m at my favorite coffee shop, a friend’s place, a social event or family gathering. Anxiety is having GI issues so bad you kept leaving schools often from grades 6-8 that you’re middle school refused to allow you to come back until a doctor ruled out an infectious illness as the cause of near-daily stomach upset. Despite having had anxiety since I was a child, I couldn’t be medicated for it until I was 14 – nine years after a child psychologist diagnosed me with social anxiety, hypochondria, generalised anxiety disorder & panic disorder. Agoraphobia came at 16. || Anxiety has robbed me of so much: friendships, a social life, experiences I missed out on (concerts, school events like dances etc) & has ruined my life worse than borderline personality disorder or depression has. Anxiety has taught me empathy but it has taken more than it’s given. For each coping skill or type of therapy I’ve learned due to anxiety (CBT, DBT, CPT) I can think of a dozen things to list that anxiety has robbed me of. I’m good at masking. I make it seem like things aren’t that bad because no one wants to be around the anxious person. I wish -more than anything- that my anxiety could be treated because I’m 33 years old, and I have spent 28 of those years being trapped & controlled by anxiety – and I’ve run out of treatment options. I cannot spend another 20/30/40 or 50 years like this. What do I do? How do I recover from the impossible? Mental health professionals ask me, “What can I do?” – I don’t know. If I had the answers, I would be doing everything I could to get well. I refuse to accept I have to spend the rest of my life like this, but what else do I do? Suicide isn’t an option. Too many people rely on me – my cat included. Suicide would also let the narcs win. I don’t know what to do and I am begging for help but no on hears me. ||



After writing the above, I started adding bits and pieces to the sides of the text. I used a blue cue card but the backside (lined-side face down) and then more washi tape. I added two quotes on the bottom left:

Today is another chance to get better.


Stop punishing yourself. You did nothing wrong. Love yourself & everything you are.




I added more washi, some more blue cue card and some white cue card (lined-side up this time) and drew a flower. I glued all of this down then used some of the white thin washi tape to hold the flower doodle down. I used some pastel washi tape, more brown paper and such all along the edges until I was satisfied there wasn’t that much empty space left.

Finally, I coloured half of my sugar skull stamp with the same brown Zebra Mildliner I used the first time and stamped it over the top left brown paper bit. I purposely had it cut off and then covered the cut off area with washi tape. To the left of that, I used my little letter stamps to spell “I’M NOT OKAY”.


At the bottom, I’ve used more blue cue cards and some brown paper bits to draw flowers and little leafy tendrils on. I coloured some of the brown paper bits using the side of my black pen to create a rough sketched look on some pieces. I also did the little moth on the bottom left by the quotes. Everything else is from the leftover bits and pieces of paper, washi tape and such I had leftover when I was done.

I don’t consider this page “complete” by any means. Maybe about 80% complete. I’ll return to it later on – days, weeks from now, who knows? – and then add in any relevant quotes or doodles. On the back, I’ll probably do another collage just because writing behind all of that layering of tape, paper and such is going to be a pain.

That’s basically it. If you want, you can click each of the photos in this entry and it will open full-size. If you have any questions, contact me via social media or comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.



ITEMS USED (note, all links are to Amazon.ca or the item’s official website, but you can easily find it on your country’s Amazon site, Office Depot or such):

– Zebra Mildliner – ZebraPen.ca | Amazon.ca (these come in 5-packs but I buy them individually to get only the colours I want)

– Scotch washi tape: 

– Duck holographic stars washi tape (“small stars”) – Amazon.com | DuckBrand.com

– my thin pastel washi (peach, grey, white, pastel yellow and pastel pink) is likely from Michaels, it was a gift so I don’t know the brand; it does come in a tape dispenser and if I find it online I’ll link it here

– Zebra Sarasa Retractable Quick Dry 0.5mm black pen (lefty friendly!) – Amazon.ca | ZebraPen.ca

– Blue cue cards (used the back of them for the blue torn paper) from Dollarama

– brown paper bag from a grocery store, when I bought some fancy Coke flavours in a glass bottle, but any brown paper bag will do)

– Tru Red Graphed Journal from Staples in pocket-sized (3.5 inches x 5.5 inches) – Staples.ca | Staples.com (US)

– Elmer’s All Purpose Glue Stick – Amazon.ca | Walmart.ca

– Inkadinkado® Floral Skull wood atamp from Michaels – Michaels.com | —

– Lettering stamps from Michaels (2$ CDN, from their clearance) —