This is a dangerous post to write.

Updated 4-24-17:  Holy crap, y’all.  I love you.  Not only did you listen but you gave me honest advice and reminded me how incredibly difficult but also how worthwhile it is to keep looking for the unique treatment that works for each person.  You also reminded me that I’m not alone in continuing to search for tools that will make my mental illness more manageable, and sometimes it’s enough to know that so many of us are fighting this battle together, even if it seems we’re doing it alone.  Here is my plan as of today:  I saw my doctor and this afternoon I had many vials of blood taken to rule out hormonal issues, deficiencies, etc.  If nothing physical turns up then I’ll try to get my insurance to cover TMS and see if it works.  From what I can see the overall verdict is that it depends on the person and that it’s either incredibly helpful when it works, or it doesn’t work at all, or sometimes it works for a while but not forever, which is sort of the exact same verdict I’ve had with every other medication and therapy I’ve ever tried, so I suppose I should be used to it at this point.  Nevertheless, thank you.  I will always feel broken but you continue to remind me that I am so not alone.  I’ll keep you posted.

Original post:

This is a dangerous post to write, mostly because I’m opening myself up to something that every person who deals with mental illness dreads…well-meaning advice from others.  But this is specific and I’d really like to hear from you.  Not about how I should “just cheer up” or “stop eating anything but air” or similar.  What I want to know is this…have you ever had Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and if so, did it work for you?  My doctor has been recommending that I do it for years but I’ve always been worried about the side-effects.  It’s supposed to be a good option for people like me with major depressive disorder who have tried multiple antidepressants but still have long periods of depression.

I’m lucky because, as a writer, I can often work around the schedule my depression sets for me…sometimes working long days and nights full of inspiration and sometimes just surviving weeks where my mind is a fog and I can’t get out of bed.  I have a support system of family and of strangers-who-are-like-family around the world.  I could probably continue to live like this for the rest of my life, and I’m prepared to.  Although depression can be hell and I know that it lies and I could continue to live through the bad weeks waiting for the good to inevitably come back.

But what if TMS works?  It’s not as invasive as electroconvulsive therapy.  Some people my shrink has treated with it have been able to get completely off their meds, which is something I can’t even imagine. I’ve been on so many different medications, regimens, vitamins, compounds, injections, therapies, etc. and some were helpful and some weren’t and some were until they weren’t.  Some saved my life and others made it miserable.  That’s the thing about treating chronic illness…different things work for different people and the exhausting process of finding a cure for your symptoms usually never completely goes away.  So after this latest bout of depression I’ve been thinking more about trying TMS.  Victor is not a fan but he respects that it’s my decision ultimately.  I still need to research more and to make sure my insurance will cover at least some of it but I thought maybe one of my first steps should be to ask here.  Have you had it?  Did it work?  Was it worth it?

And if you haven’t and you just want to share something that actually did work in treating your mental illness feel free to.  I know that just medication and therapy aren’t enough.  Music, meditation, exercise, sun, vitamins, sleep…they all can make a difference.  If something in particular makes a difference for you, share.  (But if you tell me to stop taking meds and take up jogging I will find you and punch you in the junk with a cactus.  Just saying.)

PS. Turnabout is fair play, so here’s a small tool that I use when I’m feeling anxious.  It’s just a gif.  But whatever works, right?

Thanks.

Sometimes you can go home again.

This weekend Victor had to work so Hailey and I drove to my parent’s house where my sister and her kids were visiting from California.  And it was lovely and funny and weird and exhausting and fabulous – all the things you want when you go home again.

My parents house was busting with eight people sleeping under one roof, but in a good sort of way where everywhere you turn you see people cooking or helping or playing or laughing, and every spare minute was filled with games and exploring caves or camping.  My sister Lisa and I had gently laughed at Hailey exclaiming how much better the air was in the country (as we reminded her that we were within smelling distance of a pig farm, a taxidermy studio, and a rendering plant) but at night we’d go out and look at the stars in a sky that is never as big or bright as it is outside the home we grew up in, and we breathed in and reluctantly agreed that there was a sweetness to the air that didn’t exist anywhere else.

Coming back to the home I grew up in is a luxury most people don’t get.  My parents are still alive.  The land and house has changed over the years but the people in it are still the same.  And at night when I stand on their porch and look up at the stars I feel a deep, physical healing.  I suspect it’s like other people feel when they go to a spa or take a vacation, but the raw feeling of being there is like having my heart wrapped up in new, tight bandages…pulling back together the parts that have started to fall away.

My family knows that my mental and physical issues cause chronic exhaustion so often I’d have to go to bed just when the night got exciting, but that’s just a part of being me and I’ve come to accept that if I push myself too hard I might end up in a pit too deep to come out of.  And it was fine.  Disappointing, of course, but fine.  Until Easter Sunday when I woke up and realized that I had no spoons left.  Hailey and I got dressed in our new Easter dresses and I helped my nieces get ready but already I could tell that I could either go to my uncle’s for Easter and visit with a giant house full of dozens of people I love, or I could safely stay awake for the hours I would be driving back home that day.  But not both.  So as I helped my family load up into their cars I told them I had to leave.  And they understood instantly and supported my decision as only people who truly love you can do.  And I felt so lucky.  And so unlucky.  And sad for Hailey whose Easter dress would go to waste and who was so sad but so instantly understanding when I explained that I just didn’t have it in me to do something that normal people could do without thinking.

My family drove to my uncle’s and Hailey and I drove the opposite way, starting our long drive home.  We stopped along the way so I could stay alert and awake.  We stopped at family graves. We picked flowers at a rest stop.  We ate Easter dinner at the Dairy Queen drive thru.  And we stopped at an ancient farm house I’ve seen a million times.  We always pass it on the way home and it’s been abandoned since before I was born.  I’ve always wondered of its history, imagining the ghosts that cling to it and wondering if I’d lived there in a former life because it was the only way I could ever explain my intense fascination with it.  It’s begun a steady decline in the past few years and now part of the roof has collapsed and the old windmill is teetering dangerously.

I realized that this might be the last time I see it so Hailey and I pulled over and stood silently in the shadow of the beautiful decay.

I was pleased to see that Hailey was just as drawn to the place, and although we couldn’t get too close (because it wasn’t stable enough to safely explore) we talked about how strange it was that a broken, ruined thing could be so beautiful.  That sometimes ruin beckons you more than magnificence, telling a story more interesting and important and provocative than you could imagine.  That sometimes broken can be lovely, and that the collapsed roof could be seen as ugly, but it also let the light in in such a fragile and brilliant way, allowing doves to build nests in the unexpected skylight.

I took a few pictures to capture it in case it’s gone the next time I pass it and I whispered a thanks to whoever had built it and to whoever still watches over it.  It’s still important and breathtaking, even if it’s come undone.  It’s just a shell, but with the right eyes it’s so much more.

I think we’re all that way sometimes.

We got back in the car and drove on, and I felt the familiar crack I always get in my chest when I’m driving away from my childhood town.  It always hurts.  It’s always the same.  But the pain – while almost unbearable for a second – is less than the healing I get from returning.  I wish I could do it backward…have the pain first and the healing after…but that’s not how life works, and I remind myself that I still leave with more than I came with.

I am broken.  I am healed.  I am ruined.  I am beautiful.  I am abandoned.  I am beloved.  I am a house that is no longer a house.  I am better and worse all at the same time.  I breathe deeply and smile at my daughter, who smiles back at me.  She tells me that this is a very strange Easter, but she likes it.

A dove flies out of the collapsed roof and catches the sunlight, unaware that its home is anything other than perfect.

She really is a good dog.

First off, thank you.  I’m finally feeling almost not sick at all and my depression is fading.  I never know from day to day how it will go but today is good and I’m so relieved and also so thankful for all of your support and funny cat videos and words that kept me safer.  Thank you!

I was supposed to go visit family last weekend but I was too sick so instead I’m going this weekend, which means that I’m sharing my Easter pictures early.  Because they are magic:

Victor, on the other hand, disagreed with the magic and said something about how we agreed not to spend money on frivolous things and I was like, “Yeah.  ‘frivolous’ things like shoes that glow in the dark, or organic fruit.  I’m not sure what’s so frivolous about this” and Victor was like:

…but that’s his normal sort of look and then Dorothy Barker gave him this look…


…and he laughed in spite of himself.  AND IT WAS AN EASTER MIRACLE.

PS. If you’re following me on twitter you know that Dottie has been a bit out-of-sorts but her blood work came back and she’s fine and probably just has allergies so we’re treating her for that. Yay!

Please force me to be less terrible.

Are you guys as goddam crazy as I am right now?  Because I’m fucking losing it.  I think it’s a combo of full moon and mercury in retrograde and depression and running out of pudding and crazy drama bullshit and it sort of seems like everyone is nuts right now.  This is what it looks like in my head:

And then Hailey came downstairs crying because her lizard (Lizard Borden – aka Lil’ Pumpkin) was dead and so I checked on her she wasn’t breathing and I was like, “Honey, lizards don’t live forever” but then when I reached in Lizard Borden took a sudden breath and looked at me like, “WHAT THE FUCK, LADY?  I WAS SLEEPING.”  And then she ate and ran around and was fine so I went on a lizard chat group and I was like, “What does it mean when your lizard stops breathing?” and they were like, “It means your lizard is dead” but then I explained further and they were like, “Oh yeah, sometimes that kind of lizard goes into a deep, non-breathing sleep.  If it stops breathing for a couple of days though then your lizard is dead.”

Long story short: I’m totally feeling that lizard.  Not physically.  Just…the idea of being so tired that people accidentally think you’re dead and then people start poking you and all you want to do is just eat some crickets and watch Doctor Who.  Also, I just realized that maybe the lizard is now a zombie.  So good news, bad news, I guess.

Sorry.  I got distracted.

Anyway, my head is a pile of broken right now and so I need something happy to fix me so can you share something happy with me?  Maybe it’s happy news or a funny video or a suggestion for a book or show that makes you laugh.

Here’s one for you:

Also awesome?  The first comment on this video which is “These cats are stupid.”

Your turn.

Happy #NationalSiblingsDay, y’all.

Twitter informs me that today is National Siblings Day so I thought I’d share the message my little sister (Lisa) sent me today.  If I ever die she can just take over this blog and no one would ever know the difference.

Happy siblings day, y’all.

Let’s just hope spiders don’t read the newspaper.

So…yeah.  In incredibly repetitive news, I’ve been sick.  And I’m getting better but so. fucking. slowly.  The pneumonia is now just bronchitis and exhaustion but being sick for over a week kicked in my natural inclination for depression because my body is an asshole.  Today I made myself eat lunch and told Victor that when things get this bad for so long I start to think that I should have died a long time ago and that my body wasn’t meant to last this long.  Or that maybe I died a long time ago and I’m just too stubborn to realize it and that’s why my immune system is basically missing.  Then he was like, “Well, that’s bleak” and I said, “I am a hungry ghost who has forgotten she died” and he looked at me and said with the same intonation, “I am a horny goat who has something in his eye.”  And it was so ludicrous and ridiculous coming after my overly-dramatic statement that I started laughing in spite of myself.  And then I said that probably ghosts don’t laugh and Victor went back to his soup and was like, “Probably” and I felt better.

This doesn’t lend itself to a blog post very well but I still wanted to share in case right now you’re feeling the same.  You are not a hungry ghost.  Or a horny goat.  You are going to be okay.  And so am I.

PS. The news is scary right now and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it but just remember that a new study in the Washington Post shows that the current spider population could devour every human on earth in one year and still be hungry.  And that probably there’s a spider looking at you right now.  That doesn’t sound like it’s a good thing but it’s important for two reasons.  1) When I read this my first thought was that I needed to stock up on flamethrowers to stop the spider horde and that’s a good thing because it reminded me that I want to live.  Thank you, spiders.  I weirdly needed to be reminded that I don’t want you to eat me.  And 2) because it proves that just because spiders COULD eat us, it doesn’t mean that they will.  We’re still alive today in spite of spiders.  The glass is half full.  Of spiders.  But of spiders who won’t eat you.  Probably because they don’t realize that they’d have to join forces to kill us and they don’t know their own collective strength because they don’t read the Washington Post, but still.  The point is that we’re still alive, and spiders live on strings that come out of their buttholes.  We win.  It’s not a great win, but you know what?  I’ll take it.

PPS. I don’t know how to end this post.

PPPS. Tomorrow I’m going to BookPeople to sign some books people have ordered so if you want one personalized just go to their website or call them.  They ship all over the world.  I’m going to tuck a bunch of YOU ARE HERE tattoos into each them as well for as long as they last so be sure to check your book when it arrives.

PPPPS. This post needs a picture.  This is the face stuck in mine whenever I open my eyes.  Dorothy Barker, furry nursemaid, eater of spiders.

Too much medicine. Not enough. One of those.

Victor:  JENNY.  COME HERE.

me:  No.  I’m sick.  I’m dying.

Victor: You’re not dying.   What happened in here?

me:  I think it’s pretty obvious.  A happy ending happened here.

Victor:  WTF.

me: I don’t know.  I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop coughing and they looked lonely and it was 2am and I thought, “Hey.  Look at all these great dead animals going to waste.  Let’s make a family.”

Victor: *

me: I was on a lot of medication.  Or not enough.  I can’t even tell anymore.  But look how happy they are.  Plus, Dorothy Barker is totally into it.  She’s the overly involved Godmother.  Also, she might want to chew on the baby.  Hard to tell with dogs.

Victor: I don’t even know what to say.

me: Say “Congratulations on your beautiful new baby, sirs.”

Victor: I’m not going to say that.

“Never talk to us or our son again.”

PS. 11% less dead than yesterday.  Winning?

WHO LOOKS STUPID NOW?

Still recovering from pneumonia but I’m well enough to look back at the past week and realize how totally sick I was.  I get terrible fever dreams that seem so real they bleed into real life and it’s hard to separate them from reality (is this normal?) and one of the strongest happened Wednesday when I fell asleep reading Ready Player One and Victor woke me up with a “medicine ball” from Starbucks and he tried to explain that it was some drink from their secret menu that he read helps when you’re sick (hot tea, steamed lemonade, honey, heroin probably) and I took it and honestly thought he’d slain some orcs and this potion had dropped when he killed them and I was super impressed for an hour until I fully woke up and realized that I was being crazier than normal.  But I do recommend the medicine ball if you’re sick even though Victor said that he felt like an idiot ordering something that wasn’t on the menu because the baristas always make him feel stupid and what if it was a trick, but then when the barista was like, “Totally.  I can make that” he thought it would be funny to start asking for made-up, nonexistent names of drinks at Starbucks.  Like if he said “Make me a Butthole Surfer” the barista would be confused and then he could say “WHO LOOKS STUPID NOW?” and then they’d be even.  But then the next day he decided to actually do it and he ordered an “Old Wizard’s Beard” in the drive-thru and he said “They asked if I wanted it iced and I just drove off, terrified of what they had back there.”  So, point Starbucks.

Does this make any sense?  Sorry.  I am on a LOT of meds.

In other news, I asked people to share pictures of their finished images from YOU ARE HERE on twitter and I was not disappointed so I put them in a storify right here and now even more are coming in so I’m going to have to do another.  Tag your images with #youarehere if you want to share and I’ll do another round up soon.

I did this one. I’m starting to see the allure of coloring.

Forgive the typos.  I’m still 45% dead.

*******

And now…time for the weekly wrap-up!

sid2

 

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Hippo Hug weighted blankets (I have one and it’s like being hugged by your bed).  From the maker: “Hippo Hug weighted blankets are different than any others that you will find on the market. We use a unique and proprietary weighting system that involves specially designed disks so that they blanket has a low profile and doesn’t look any different than a regular quilt.”  They’re pretty bad-ass.  You should check them out here.

The one where I make it up to you and we get matching tattoos.

Hey.  I’m still sick but I’m like 23% less mostly dead than I was and that is a HUGE improvement.  And for sticking around I’m doing something (two things, technically) fun as a thank you.  You’re welcome.

First is something that my publisher is doing to say thanks….they’re giving away 25 Jenny Lawson In A Box prizes.  I’m not actually in the box (which is good because I am way more trouble than you would expect) but the box will include a copy of my new book YOU ARE HERE, a copy of Furiously Happy, a YOU ARE HERE tote bag, tattoos, colored pencils and whatever else they have laying around the Flatiron building.  This stuff, basically:

Just click RIGHT HERE to enter and have a chance at winning one of the packages.  (No purchase necessary.  They don’t spam you or sell your info, fyi.)

And as a special thank you from me I’m going to give out a bunch of YOU ARE HERE temporary tattoos to a bunch of people who bought a copy of YOU ARE HERE for someone else, because I keep seeing people giving them to friends or family or leaving them in therapy waiting rooms like demented Gideon Bibles and that is so awesome I want to give you something in return, but first I’m going to sign the clear cover on the tats so that you can take it off and slip it into your book and it’s like I signed it.  Or put it on your chest and it’s like I signed that.  Or slide it onto your lease agreement and now we’re roommates.  The choices are endless.

I’m not describing this correctly because cold medicine exists but look at this video and you’ll understand.

I don't have a voice but here's what I'm giving away on my blog today. It'll make sense when you read it. Probably.

A post shared by Jenny Lawson (@thebloggess) on

If you want a chance to win the package go to my publisher’s page here.  If you want a chance to win the signed tattoos just leave a comment telling me if you bought the book as a gift for someone who needed it (it’s okay if the person who needed it was you) and I’ll choose a bunch of people at random to get signed tattoos.  (But you won’t get them until next week at least because I don’t want to send you my germs and end up being Typhoid Mary, part 2.)

PS. Speaking of cold medicine, if you’re not on twitter you missed this.

PPS. I have an app now to keep track of my meds so I don’t accidentally die.  No worries.  Unless my phone runs out of battery.  Then we’re all fucked.

PPPS. I’m too sick to spellcheck.  Forgive me.

Not dead yet.

Hi.

I know.

I’m sorry.

And I’m sorry for saying I’m sorry because I know you know you love me enough to not want me to apologize but that’s just how I roll.

If you’ve been watching twitter you know I’ve been very sick.   I think it’s been a week but I could be wrong and I’m too tired to check.  Atypical pneumonia, which makes sense because when would I ever do anything normally.  I’m not in the hospital but I’m on lots of drugs and bedrest and the last few days have been filled with fever dreams and that depression that creeps in after a long illness.  I have stories but I’m too tired to tell them.  I have plans for fun things about You Are Here but I’m too tired to do them.  I’m sorry.  The first month a book is out is the most important, especially for the strange book that it is, so I know I’m wasting golden time to make sure it gets to people who need to see it but I can’t today.  Maybe tomorrow.  Thank you for having my back, for supporting the book.  Thank you if you have a bookstore and you are giving it space.  Thank you if you are a librarian recommending it to people who seem like one of us.  Thank you if you shared it with others.  Thank you to the whole team of people who helped make it a reality and I’m so sorry I’m not doing better at being here for it.  I am here.  Just…sort of trapped inside my chaotic, unreliable body.  And thank you for never wanting an apology but for understanding when I feel like I have to give one.

I promise that one day soon I’ll be back and we’ll color together and share pictures and I’ll tell stories and give away lovely thank you gifts.

Hugs,

me

PS. An unpretty but honest look behind the curtain.  Click the arrows on the image to scroll through and see my ever-present nursemaid: