To be honest, I’m struggling to write something here. When I was freshly out of the Intensive Outpatient Program, I made a comic talking about my experience there plus reviewed a vibrator, so, y’know, killin’ two birds with one stone there. More recently I made a comic explaining The Stress Response Cycle, which I touch on here but if you’re hungry for more information, well, go read that one. Brains, man! Brains.


Live Book Chats – May 6th & 12th

Matt and I are doing some LIVE BOOK STORE CHATS that you are totally invited to! One of them is just day after tomorrow!!!


Thursday, May 6th @ Third Place Books

6pm PST / 9pm EDT
We are delighted to talk with Clare Bayley, a sex and technology expert and Fellow at the Technology and Public Purpose Project of the Harvard Belfer Center who has just launched The Nectarine Project, which is a sex positive advocacy, research, and lobbying group.

Register for our Zoom chat at Third Place Books.


Wednesday, May 12th @ Charis Books

4:30pm PST / 7:30pm EDT
If you’ve read through our archives or, y’know, pay attention to the New York Times Best Sellers lists, you won’t wanna miss our talk with Emily Nagoski. She is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling Come As You Are and The Come As You Are Workbook, and coauthor, with her sister, Amelia, of New York Times bestseller Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. She earned an M.S. in counseling and a Ph.D. in health behavior, both from Indiana University, with clinical and research training at the Kinsey Institute.

Register for our Crowdcast chat at Charis Books.

↓ Comic Transcript
Erika wooshes by, riding a brain on a rollercoaster track that is going up and down in a loop. She says, “Well, it has been one whole year since I graduated from the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) and DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) programs at the hospital. Those programs taught me a Lot of techniques and practices for taking care of my brain, and there’s a few in particular that I’ve used more than any others over this last year. And I thought, hey, who knows, maybe some’a you could use this stuff too?”

“Today, I present to you all…”

Erika’s Brain Hackz for Crushin’ Mental Health Like a Motherfucking BOSS. (Gucci! Radical!)

Morning Practice: Meditation

Erika sits in a relaxed, cross-legged pose with her hands resting on her knees. “I never saw myself as someone who would buy into meditation, but, well, here I am, a 37-year-old nearly-daily meditator. It really helps stop the churn of spiraling thoughts and keeps me grounded to the present moment. My meditation buddy of choice is…

Headspace (The IOS & Android App)
Erika holds up her phone. She continues, “It has tons of different types of meditations and mindfulness practices aimed at ALL kinds of situations and feelings, like:
  • Depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • sports performance
  • racial injustice
  • unemployment
  • commuting long distances
  • preparing for a difficult conversation
to name a few. My favorite feature and the ones I use almost every day is the guided Group Meditation session, which happens every half hour for just ten minutes. Once a day for ten minutes, I join dozens (sometimes well over 100!) of anonymous people from around the world listening to the same message and breathing in time with them. It’s actually really comforting.”

The following information about the service is also listed:
  • $12.99/month or $69.99/year ($5.83/month)
  • Catch it for less during one of their regular sales

Nightly Practice: Story Time
Erika lies down in a bed next to a sleeping Matthew. A phone nearby plays pink and brown noise in the background. She is still awake, hugging her pillow and looking exhausted with dark scribbles coming from her head. She says, “Matt loves his Pink/Brown White Noise app to lull him to sleep. But for me, my noisy brain needs actual human speech to track in order to drown out my nightly anxiety thoughts.”

Erika reappears, winking and wearing headphones that look like a headband wrapped around her head. She says, “First, you’ll need to equip yourself. After developing actual little abrasions in my ears from sleeping with my regular ear buds in one too many times, Matt found me a cheap-o pair of headphones made specifically to wear while you sleep! Plus, they make you look 80’s aerobics instructor fabulous!”

Info about the headphones are listed:
  • Lavince Sleep Headphones
  • $20
  • Headphone buds rest outside the ear, not inside.

Erika continues, “Now, what to listen to…”

“Audiobooks and regular podcasts are fine… until somebody gets excited and starts talking loudly.”

A drawing of Erika’s face shows her drifting off with the muted sounds of a recording playing on her phone, until the audio suddenly spikes and startles her awake.

She says, “Fortunately, there’s a developing genre of podcasters who speak as boringly as possible, specifically to lull listeners to sleep with their even-metered narration!”

Erika curls up to sleep wearing her sleep headphones. She says, “My favorite is Sleepy Time Tales by David Couto. With his deep voice and South African accent, Couto reads a variety of old-timey public domain stories. While the podcast is free, I’ve used it to fall asleep so often that I actually signed up to its Patreon to help keep it going. lists all the places you can listen to it and also how you can help support production…”

Erika trails off as she starts to snore.

Emergency Practice: Mindful Walking

Erika goes outside looking stressed out, holding her hands against the sides of her head. A giant cloud of black scribbles follow her out. She says, “When my thoughts are bad, I go outside and very intentionally focus on the stuff around me as I walk.”

The scribble gets smaller as she continues to walk, taking note of a fence and house as she passes by. She continues, “I intensely focus on any number of things around me.”

“I count how many phone poles are on the block, how many blue objects I can see, I run my fingers over different textures, I get up close to examine the details of mundane objects that I’d normally not register, I make a note of all the smells and sensations I can feel.”

She stops to crouch down and sniff some lavender next to the path. The cloud is gone and she looks much less stressed.

A drawing of Erika is shown with her brain popping out of the top of her head. The brain looks upset and yells with spirals and stress lines coming off of it. She says, “When my mind is freaking out, it spins its wheels trying to THINK itself through the anxiety.”

Erika starts to jog.

“But you can’t reason your way through a stress response, you have to physically move through it.”

Erika’s brain now breathes a sigh of relief, looking much more calm as it sits inside Erika’s head.

“Going on a Mindful Walk won’t solve my initiating problem, but it will bring my anxiety level closer to a baseline and slow my thoughts down enough so that when I get home I may be able to problem-solve with a non-panicking brain. And, hey, you don’t even need to be freaking out to enjoy this kind of walk. Just try it on a regular day! It’s nice. And you only look a little crazy as you pet your neighbor’s lavender. I dunno, man. It’s rough out there. There’s no way to avoid pain in life… but we can reduce our suffering from it just a little with some practice.”

Erika leans over to pet the lavender bush again as her weirded out neighbor watches in the background. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some neighbor’s lavender to pet.”

This comic was drawn May 04, 2021 by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, then transcribed Feb 15, 2022, by Dennie Park, who can be found at