Today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author is Nicky Johnston. I was so touched by her post because I myself was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder more than ten years ago. Even as an adult, it took me a while to learn how to manage it in order to live a happy and productive life. So I can’t even imagine how a 5 year-old child could cope. What I admire about Nicky was that she didn’t just set out to help her own child, but all children who struggle with anxiety in all in its forms.  Read on to find out how, and give a warm welcome to Nicky!   

The 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge has changed my world.

It has changed my world in ways that even those closest to me really don’t understand. This challenge has forced me to step outside my comfort zone, be proud of myself and acknowledge not only my achievements but my goals and desires for the future.

I am a very busy mum to four gorgeous boys.  I am a teacher, an artist, make-up artist and have always held multiple jobs at any given time. I run my own business “Happy Hero” providing support and education to parents, teachers and workers in the mental health sector. Through my speaking engagements at schools, workshops, meetings and conferences I am able to provide valuable information and strategies to help ‘little worriers’ manage anxiety. My little business is the publisher of my two children’s books and distributes to schools, bookshops and retail customers via my online shop.

Eight years ago, my eldest son was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) aged just 5yrs – it was a very difficult time for us as a family. Back then, it was extremely uncommon for mental health issues to be associated with such a young child – thus the support, information and help for dealing with a ‘little worrier’ was almost non-existent.

Desperate to help my son understand and learn how to manage his anxiety I wrote and illustrated my two children’s books “Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts!” and “Happythoughts are Everywhere…” These books have changed my son’s life and since their release in 2008 and 2009 have also helped thousands of ‘little worriers’ in Australia and around the world.

Of course, it is no surprise that I too battle my own “Mr Worrythoughts!” Taking the 12 x 12 Challenge was my own way of addressing the negative thoughts I had about myself. It has forced me to believe that I AM an author, I AM an illustrator and I AM a successful business woman – previously all three of these statements would make me cringe and hide behind the couch in fear that someone would figure out that I am a fraud….but, I now live by my son’s mantra…“Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts…your thoughts are NOT welcome here!”

My family thinks I am crazy taking on MORE commitments in an already very hectic life. They can’t believe I am writing a picture book draft each month and when I talk about my 12 x 12 friends, they really have NO idea of my new found world! This connection with other amazing, talented people, has force me to become confident in interacting, sharing and believing in myself.  I am sure everyone else still sees a confident, reach for the stars kind of gal, succeeding in everything she puts her mind to…but now, I internally feel that I can take the leap of faith and handle the learning opportunities that come my way.

So far, I have written a PB draft every month (there are even a couple that I am really keen to pursue and illustrate!), I have become involved with a fantastic critique group where I have learned SO MUCH about the craft of writing. Instead of feeling crazy by the stories and ideas that ALWAYS come to me in the middle of the night, I welcome them, writing them all down in my 12 x 12 notepad. I am excited to explore them all further when time allows. (If I can read my own writing that is!!)

While the expansion of my business in developing new resources for kids, and my emotional investment in raising four happy, resilient and confident boys keeps me very busy, I know that I have a lot to offer in my journey as a writer and illustrator. I take comfort in the knowledge that this journey is a life-time goal and doesn’t all have to be achieved right now. Thank you Julie for the 12 x 12 Challenge and for helping me get to a place of peace and comfort (and crazy ideas!) in my life long author/illustrator journey.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” ~ Martin Luther King, JR

Nicky is the author & illustrator of two children’s books “Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts!” and “Happythoughts are Everywhere…” She is a mum to four boys, a teacher, an artist and make-up artist and is passionate about raising awareness of mental health in children. You can find her on her website, her blog, on Facebook and YouTube.


Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Oh, so wonderful to read more of your story, Nicky! I, too, deal with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and so wish that I’d understood that earlier in life, and had had tools like your books to help me deal with the Worrythoughts.

    It is so exciting to read stories of how 12×12 has helped writers build confidence in themselves — you are an inspiration. Thank you.

  2. Ditto Beth, Nicky! And I can add that I’ve seen your illustrations and you’re very talented! Good luck with all your projects!

  3. Bravo Nicky! You are on a journey with its own unique rewards, and yes, it doesn’t all have to be achieved right now.

  4. You are amazing, Nicky…to think that you could keep the schedule you do, and yet encourage your family, friends and networks with your books is a wonder! The challenges God allows in our lives serve to mold us and make us a blessing to others. Glad you are a part of 12×12…thanks for sharing!

  5. What a busy and very talented woman! Hooray for you Nicky. It is lovely to meet you and I really appreciate you sharing your story. Thanks Julie for introducing me to this multitalented lady! *waves peace sign*

  6. Hi Nicky,
    It is wonderful how you are able to help other children too. That is so great. Glad to know you through the 12×12.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me that this is a journey where things can be taken a bit at a time…with confidence built by past achievements.

  8. It’s wonderful you were able to do all of this. Thank you! And, nice to learn more about you.

  9. Nicky thank you for sharing some of your personal journey with us. You are a talented author and amazing woman. I am so impressed with how your books are helping so many including your son. So glad you are part of the 12×12 gang!

  10. Hi Nicky, so glad you’ve shared part of your journey with us! I am not familiar with the name of this disorder, but I recently read this book: Why we get sick : the new science of Darwinian medicine/ Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams (Publisher New York : Vintage Books, 1996, c1994.), and discovered a new way to view anxiety: as a positive, albeit overactive, survival tool. I do imagine you’ve read ‘everything’, but maybe not from this angle. Not like you have time to read! I look forward to hearing more about your assured (x2 meanings!) success in the near future!

  11. Excellent post, Nicky. I just love that your books have had such a positive effect on so many. Thank you for taking time to share your journey!

  12. I wonder if creatives are the ones more apt to have such health issues, perhaps because of their giftedness. Just wondering … because sometimes ideas and dreams and the frustrations of needing to get them out can be overwhelming.
    Thank you for being willing to share this piece of your life, and for the inspiration.

  13. Thanks so much Nicky for sharing your story. You are so inspiring and so talented.

  14. I’m so glad to know these books are out there. I’ve come across many little worry worts and it’s great to know there’s resources out there for kids like this.

  15. It was nice getting to know you, Nicky! I watched one of your book trailers, and your illustrations are wonderful! I like how you’re touching children’s lives through your books and school visits!

  16. Thanks for sharing your story, Nicky. I’d never heard of GAD before but I can relate to worriers. Your boys are very lucky to have such a proactive Mum! Good luck with all your endeavors.

  17. Thanks so much for sharing about yourself, Nicky! I wish I had your books when I was a small girl, but will check them out now!

  18. Thanks for sharing Nicky. Your book is valuable in the world we live in today. I think more children suffer from anxiety than we know. It’s nice to hear about your success in publishing your two books and conquering your anxieties!

  19. Wow, Nicky, what an amazing gift you’ve brought into the world with your two books. I have a little worrier too, so I can imagine how hard it must be to have a child with GAD. Good luck with 12 x 12!

  20. What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on all your amazing accomplishments. We are not alone.

  21. What an inspiring story!! It’s amazing what we as artists can do (for ourselves as well as others!).


  22. Wow, thankyou to everyone for your very kind words of support and encouragement and for julie the opportunity to share my story. I am unable to respond to individuals a I currently in hospital with viral meningitis ( yes, just throw that into my busy world) all will be ok, just time getting medication into me! My poor worrier of course is beside himself, but this is an opportunity for us all to deal with situations beyond our control. On an upside I have outlined two more stories during the night shifts ( no sleeping allowed in hospitals!) once I get home I will be able to leave better comments! 🙂 thank you again for all your lovely words

  23. Thank you for sharing your story, Nicky. It’s beautiful that you set out not only to give your own child the skills to cope with his worry, but to share those ideas with other kids who have similar anxieties. I hope you can get home and on the mend soon!

  24. Four boys! You must be very busy. I love your positive motivators on your facebook page! Thanks for sharing a little more of your story with us.

  25. Nicky, you’re fantastic, your work is fantastic. Somewhat familiar with GAD as a former educator. Thanks for sharing, and God bless your love and service to kids everywhere in your writing and work.

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