I can offer you a mixed bag of Q&A. AMA about my mental hospital stay, why/how I wrote, illustrated & self-published a book or how I became a successful IT consultant with chronic anxiety.

Nena Anne Sorensen
Mar 10, 2018

Hello everyone, thanks so very much for joining me.

My name is Nena and feel free to AMA about a pivotal moment in my life; in 2001, I had a breakdown and admitted into a mental hospital. I do have some funny/ scary storied of my time there.

I used to be so embarrassed about this part of my life, but I have learned a lot during my recovery time, which I wanted to share with others in a simple straightforward format. So I wrote, illustrated, designed and self-published my first book Living with Little Chicken (called anxiety), a book to get you through the tough times. Ask me anything about the process of writing and self-publishing a book, and what I would do differently.

I now work full time as a successful IT consultant but my mind and I are still in conflict however the difference is; I now have the tools to keep on keeping on, or resting when need be. In the past the workplace has been a difficult for me because I have been bullied after I told my manager I was having a challenging time and was on medication (my work was not suffering, just me). His behaviour was devastating to my self-acceptance and recovery. If you would like to know more, AMA! J

Ps. you may also ask why I never sent my manuscript to publishing house before self-publishing and what I am doing about that now.



Best regards,

Nena Anne 

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You mentioned that your breakdown was in 2001, do you have better control over your anxiety now or does it still affect you the same way?
Mar 17, 5:55PM EDT0
What's your favorite past time to unwind and relax?
Mar 13, 5:14AM EDT0

Hi Oljavera

I love to draw and create on my iPad, however I have to be in a specific mood to do this.

My main way of relaxing is reading before I go to bed. I collect graphic novels and l can read regardless of my mood. 


Mar 13, 6:33AM EDT0
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Mar 12, 2:39PM EDT0

Hello Biljana

I got a lot of the information from 20 years of reading heaps of books and podcasts on anxiety and depression, plus years of seeing psychologist and councillors. I spent two years putting the book together of things that worked for me.

The illustrations are direct representations of my thoughts and feelings.


Mar 13, 6:30AM EDT0
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
Mar 12, 10:50AM EDT0

Hello Anas

I am not sure if I am happy with the cover design because people think that it is a kids book. So I will be doing some redesign work for my ePub version.

Doing more marketing, however it was as much as I could cope with at the time. So my next book will be an opportunity to do more in this area.

Otherwise I am very please with what I achieved.


Mar 13, 6:24AM EDT0
How does your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
Mar 12, 9:25AM EDT0

Hello Danijela

They are very proud and supportive. And they keep asking when I am doing my next book.


Mar 13, 6:20AM EDT0
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Mar 12, 6:05AM EDT0

Hello Tasana

Jon kabat Zinn is definitely someone who I deeply respect. John has done a lot of study and practice in the field of stress reduction and mindfulness . I love that he is has a scientific approach and proves that his technique work for people with cronic stress or pain. However in saying that his books are very intense  and alot to tackle if your head is not in the right space. His books and meditation are available as audio books. 



Mar 12, 6:31AM EDT0
What do you think is still left undone for you? What's your ultimate career goal that makes you often think a lot?
Mar 10, 4:07PM EST0

Hello Jostan

There is so much left undone. There are so many book I could write about living with anxiety as it is an epidemic in the 21st century. I am particularly motivated to create a mindfulness learning program for children because I believe that if I was taught how to deal with my anxiety as a child my life would have been a lot easier. Most of my lifelong struggle has been because of internal dialogue, fear and lack of self worth which has been there as long as I can remember.

It took a lot of energy to write the first book and I think I am ready to put back on my authors hat. I even have the title, so I just need to get on with it. 

I am currently focused on getting Living with Little Chicken converted to a eBook which I am tremendously excited about. 

Don't laugh, I would also love to design wallpaper and flatware.


Mar 11, 6:29AM EDT0
What’s the healing process like when you were in a mental hospital? Would you say that your stay there actually helped in making you feel better?
Mar 10, 2:04PM EST0

Hi Aminah

The healing process did not happen till years after being in hospital.

The time in the hosipital was more about getting the help I needed to stay alive. During this time I was deeply damaged, so think of this time as being in intestive care... once you are stable you can then start on the long road to recovery and heal. 


Last edited @ Mar 11, 8:09AM EDT.
Mar 11, 6:12AM EDT0
Do you wish to contribute to the social aspect of the chronic anxiety where you help educate and spread awareness among people about this condition? Any plans?
Mar 10, 11:42AM EST0

Hello Tom 

Yes, I definitely want to do more work promoting that anxiety is not a dirty word and can be managed so that people can live full exciting lives, it just takes ownership, hard work and accepting the ups and downs. 

The last few years have been a bit of a stuggle work wise I have been focusing on just keeping on, keeping on however things are better now so I have the extra energy to create and educate!!! So let the planning begin. 

Nena x

Mar 12, 6:17AM EDT0
After all that you have observed and gone through in life how do you keep yourself motivated and confident to keep moving on?
Mar 10, 11:03AM EST0


After all that you have observed and gone through in life how do you keep yourself motivated and confident to keep moving on?

I am very motivated not to slip into that dark place again so I have to put the hard work. The best thing I ever did was to own my anxiety and understand that I am the only one that can do anything about it. I notice warning signs in my thoughts and behaviours such as when I feel angry it is often because I feel out of control about something. I rarely feel angry so it is a bit of a shock when I do and all I want to do is squash it down… but I force myself to sit with the feeling and work out what is going on and then put a plan in place to address it.

I have a few close friends that are fantastic sounding boards, and they also keep me honest by challenging my thought process so I can get to the bottom of what is going on. It is often not what I was reacting to but something deeper such as not feeling good enough, the situation was just a trigger for those feelings.

Confidence… I fake it.


Mar 11, 6:03AM EDT0
How do you spend your days normally? What's the routine like?
Mar 10, 10:30AM EST0

Hello Maja

My days are all over the place, I am not one for routine with the exception that I always have to read before I go to bed. Reading is a form of meditation for me and it helps me unwind and get ready for sleep. I love that time of day and have to be careful that I don’t stay up too late. And I like to have all my closed washed, dried and put away by Sunday evening so I am ready to conquer the week.

During the week I am typically at work by 7 or 8 am and leave around 4ish. I have a small group of friends, so I might catch up with them after work for a drink or dinner or on good days go to the gym and lift heavy things.

After months of a creative dry spell I am now spending my weekends being more creative instead of chillin and watching Netflix. I have learn not to try and force my creativity because I just get frustrated and disappointed in myself.

Regardless of what I am doing, I do have to keep my mind in check. Lots of positive self talk to get through the day. I often feel scared, but say to myself…”you can do it”, or “one step at a time” and push on.


Mar 11, 5:45AM EDT0
What are some of the funniest moments you remember from the time you were living in a mental hospital?
Mar 10, 7:58AM EST0

Hello Clement

It was a rather difficult experience so not much joy, however there was a time where I was talking to a cleaner telling them I did not belong there, I was ok… I think they were like, “oh right, sure!!!!!!!”. Afterwards, I thought I wonder how often they hear that from the “crazy” people, and have a little chuckle to myself because one does not get admitted for being sane. Unless you were a woman in the early 1800 hundreds and your darling husband wanted to get rid you so he had you committed to the asylum!


Mar 11, 5:30AM EDT0
Among all the hats you’ve worn, would you say that you enjoy being in the IT industry the most?
Mar 9, 5:07PM EST0

Hi Vasilijeluka

I do enjoy working in IT but I am hopeful that one day I can be a creative full time. 

IT is great because no two days are the same and I get to problem solve, which I love to do. Typically the people are great and very interested in what they do. 


Mar 10, 6:43PM EST0
What’s the audience feedback on your book? What’s the best comment you got from a reader?
Mar 9, 10:46AM EST0


I have been very fortunate that people like my book.

The best comment I got was from a friend who has had anxiety for years and her dad did not understand what was “wrong” with her. She gave him a copy of the book which he read and apologized to her because he had no idea what she was going through and wished he had been more supportive. She finally felt he understood her, which made me so happy for her. 


Last edited @ Mar 10, 6:41PM EST.
Mar 10, 6:40PM EST0
Where can one get a copy of your book? Is this available on print?
Mar 9, 6:26AM EST0

Hello Katnderi

My book is available in hard copy and in two to three months it will be available as an eBook (so excited about that).

If you are interested please contact me via nenaannesorensen.com/


Mar 10, 6:48PM EST0
Were your friends and family supportive all the way — from your mental hospital stint to your IT and writing careers?
Mar 9, 4:11AM EST0

Hello ALexey

My Dad is the best person in the world, I know that he is always there for me. The wonderful man slept on the floor in my bedroom when I had a massive panic attack in my teens, and tells everyone about my book and how it can help them.

I have had some pretty shity friends in my life who were not very nice to me, needless to say they are no longer my friends. In the past I wanted everyone to like me so I put up with a lot of negative behavior. Now that I have more self worth and understand the value of good friends I only have a few fantastic ones. It makes such a difference to have good people in your life. Find your tribe (people who love you as you are), it might be small or large, quantity does not matter but quality sure does.


Mar 10, 6:37PM EST0
Do you still take medications to treat or prevent anxiety?
Mar 9, 12:30AM EST0

Hi Kevin

Yes I do still take medication, and I foresee that I will for the rest of my life. I have tried to come off them but I do not cope and my anxiety quickly partners with depression. There is unfortunately a lot of stigma in regards to medication and I used to feel like a failure because i was on them, not any more. I have a medical condition that needs to be looked after in a number of way, one being medication. I would not expect a diabetic to stop taking their medication so why should i expect myself.

I have always had anxiety (for as long as i can remember) perhaps if i was given the tools as a child I would be able to manage my anxiety entirety differently because perhaps my brain would be wired differently.


Mar 10, 6:34PM EST0
Do you get negative feedback too? How do you handle those negative criticisms?
Mar 8, 9:56PM EST0


I am not sure if you mean, my book, work or in general so I will answer it all :)

Book: I have never received negative feedback on my book.

Me: Throughout my life I constantly receive negative feedback which has left a number of deep flesh wounds which I working very hard to heal. This year I am trying to be kinder to myself when I look in a mirror or see a photo of myself.

Work: If the criticism is constructive I am happy to receive it, I love working in a collaborative environment. But if it is more emotive I tend to get upset, and feel like I oh you don’t like my work… therefore you don’t like me. I have to give myself some positive self talk to ensure that I don’t take it personally (this is very hard to do - but I try.)


Mar 10, 6:33PM EST0
Did your former manager ever know how his behavior towards you has greatly affected you in a negative manner?
Mar 8, 8:57AM EST0

Hello Saramade

Yes, he was completely aware, he was a bully and enjoyed making my life hell. I found out years later that he was actually having an affair with the woman that worked for me, she got my job when I left because I could not take it anymore!


Mar 10, 6:30PM EST0
Why did you never try working with publishers and opted to self-publish instead?
Mar 7, 10:02PM EST0


The terror of rejection. In the past I have been told by teachers, boyfriends and managers that I am not good enough. Also when I step outside my comfort zone I have to be careful not to leap to far because it can flip me out to much. Putting my book out there was a pretty big leap, particularly because it was such a personal book. I am excited to say that a few years later I feel like I am in a good place now to tackle the next part of my Living with Little Chicken adventure.


Mar 10, 6:29PM EST0
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