MY INSTAGRAMAfter a week of haunted hotels and castles With no sign of ghost VICTOR gets an unexplained picture in the Paris catacombs. Two photos taken a moment apart. He says the Tunnel was empty when he took the photos. Seems a bit too substantial to be a ghost but it’s the closest thing so far. #parisLondon train stationLeaving London. Next stop, France. Very worried about not being able to speak the language. Victor says it’ll be fine since he knows Spanish. I’m pretty sure that’s not the same thing.
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If you like true crime podcasts then you already know My Favorite Murder because it’s the best and you should listen to today’s minisode:
Or if you are totally creeped out by true crime then you can skip that and look at this series of selfies I tried to take that for some reason didn’t turn out well at all.
On second thought, they turned out pretty perfectly after all. Good dog.
I don’t even know how to spell the thing that I’m going to do to myself but I still feel good about it so don’t freak me out, okay?
So if you read here you already know that I deal with a host of mental issues and you can probably tell that it’s gotten a bit worse lately and that sucks. I go to sleep not knowing if I’ll wake up depressed or “normal” and when I do feel normal I’m so damn jealous of the rest of the world…people who can be around others without feeling exhausted or who can concentrate enough to finish basic projects or don’t spend thousands of dollars a year on medication that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. People who don’t deal with intrusive thoughts and anxiety and who don’t struggle in vain to stop their minds at night and restart them again in the morning.
In the last year I’ve done all the things. I did extensive blood work and took 32 pills a day to fix all the vitamin deficiencies and anemias and treatable disorders. I ate low carb and cut out gluten. I went 9 months without alcohol. I lost 50 pounds and started walking and swimming and I tried to write goals and make myself do normal things and honestly I do feel healthier than I felt a year ago. But I still feel fairly worthless at least 25% of the time. And if this is as good as it gets I’ll still consider myself lucky and I’ll just wait for the darkness and dread to pass on those bad weeks, but it’s really…not comfortable. That’s an extreme understatement but you get what I mean.
A few years ago my shrink told me that I’d be a good candidate for TMS and it sounded really scary so I ignored it like any sane person would because transcranial magnetic stimulation seems like diet electro-shock therapy. But turns out that I was totally wrong. I’m going to try to explain it and I’m super going to fuck it up so maybe look it up yourself but here’s the way I understand it:
So part of your brain sort of stops working properly when you’re depressed. And a different part of your brain goes nuts and works crazy overtime when you have anxiety. And your anxiety part of your brain can hijack the rest of your brain that already isn’t working and that’s how you get…me.
TMS sends electromagnetic impulses through your skull into small parts of your brain and it stimulates the part that isn’t working, like physical therapy for your brain tissue. There’s also a way to use it on the over-active part that can slow it down to normal. Supposedly it feels like a woodpecker tapping at your brain for 30-40 minutes a day for 6-8 weeks which sounds not fun but more than half of people with treatment-resistant depression (like me) see improvement, and around 30% go into full remission. I can’t even imagine what full remission would feel like but I suppose if I’m willing to have an invisible bird drill into my brain for months it’s a pretty good indication that I need help. I’ve spent the last month researching it and doing consults and last week after a million pages of paperwork and an interview a local psychiatric unit accepted me as a patient. I start treatment this month.
I’ve talked to others who’ve done it and some said it was a miracle and some said it didn’t work at all so I don’t know if this will be an enormous waste of time and money but I’m willing to do what it takes to try. And I feel lucky to live in a world where we are slowly – too, too slowly – figuring out how to treat these terrible things. I had a great grandmother I never met who had such terrible rheumatoid arthritis she was in a wheelchair at my age. Currently (knock on wood) my injections have me in remission from what was debilitating RA. I’m lucky.
This is my other great grandmother.
It seems like her terrible secret is that she has a horse head for an arm but that’s just a trick of the light. Her real secret was mental illness, and she spent the last part of her life in a mental institution where she died from a “heart attack related to psychosis and chronic brain syndrome” which is probably 50’s shorthand for “electroshock therapy” because that was one of the only treatments available for her. Again, I am lucky.
I keep Lillie’s picture on my desk top. It reminds me that it’s not my fault that my brain is sometimes broken. It reminds me that you can be broken and still love. It reminds me that some of us get better and some of us don’t…but we all leave a trace behind. Maybe it’s light and kindness and gentle touches. Maybe it’s dark and bitter and angry. For most of us, it’s both. But I’m fighting for more of the former…any crazy way I can.
I’ll keep you posted.
PS. Several people I know have had good results on electroconvulsive therapy now so no judgement if that worked for you. It’s a very different animal than it was in the 50’s. Anything that works is magic. 🙂
This weekend I was at the 10th annual Mom 2.0 Summit and (as usual) it was wonderful and filled with fantastic people and also terrifying anxiety attacks. I spent a lot of time hiding in my room but I did speak with these wonderful women about Imposter Syndrome.
And I had a panic attack before the panel and small anxiety attacks during it and I babbled and I brought a sack of hair to wear because I get sweaty when I’m scared and my hair is too thin so I needed more hair to soak up the sweat so I wore a fake hair head band but then defeated the whole purpose of having fake hair by pulling it off numerous times in the panel to show how it works and I doubted everything I said and I felt like a fraud even being up there but that really just proves how well-suited I was to the topic.
Then I hated myself for a bit in my room until it was time to go to the Iris Awards but I didn’t have anyone there who could zip me up so I had to wander the halls holding my dress up in front of me until a friend took pity on me. But then I won an award for most entertaining content! And I was utterly unprepared as I’d spent the day feeling terrible about myself so when I got onstage I cried a little and I couldn’t think of what to say so I used the moment to apologize to the women whose boob I’d accidentally grabbed a few minutes earlier when I was pointing behind me and her boob walked into my hand and I yelled “This one’s for you, lady!” as I thrust my trophy into the air. And then I stole a bottle of champagne and went back to my room to stop shaking but there wasn’t anyone there to unzip me so I tried to pull the dress off over my head and it got stuck on my boobs and I couldn’t breathe and I thought it would be totally like me to die with my dress over my head, suffocated by my own front-meat and then I panicked and hulked out and ripped the zipper entirely. So, if I have a brand I definitely stuck to it fully.
And the next morning in the airport I thought that maybe this award is a sign that I need to stop feeling so terrible about myself and maybe have a little more confidence and stop listening to my self-loathing brain, and then they called for my group number and I stood up quickly but my purse strap was caught on the chair handle and so it slammed me back into my seat so violently I involuntarily farted and everyone stared at me because it looked like I’d been tackled by a ghost. And after my breath came back I just loudly said, “Wrong group number” so they’d look away. And as I sat there and pretended that I was in the next group I thought that maybe being body-checked by my own purse was probably a sign too because honestly you can’t fix Imposter Syndrome by just winning an award and it was as if the universe was like, “Take a seat, lady. Literally. Because you’re still totally fucking broken.”
And I am, but also I’m okay. I’m both. And that’s what makes me me.
PS. Thank you for believing in me when I don’t believe in myself. You don’t know how may times you’ve saved me…from me.
And on an entirely different subject, it’s time for the Sunday wrap-up!
Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):
- Wil Wheaton speaks the truth.
- What to read when you want to read funny women
- A ton of you asked where I got my dress and if it has pockets. OF COURSE IT HAS POCKETS. It’s here.
- We were trending on Buzzfeed!
This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by StoryWorth. “This year, give Mom a StoryWorth Book to preserve her stories. Each week, we’ll email her a question about her life – asking her to recount her favorite memory of her grandparents, the best advice she ever got, etc. All she has to do is reply with a story, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. At the end of the year, her stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish!” I did this for my dad last year and it’s been fantastic to read all of his stories that might have been lost otherwise. I highly recommend it and its super on sale now.
I’m too tired to type so here’s what’s happening now:
Have you had this flu? If so, what helped?
Going to sleep on the couch and have fever dreams now. Please send cat pictures.
Last time I googled “Jenny Lawson likes” google auto-suggested “to fart for you” but those auto-suggestions change every few weeks based on what people are searching for so I thought I’d check to see what Google is thinking about me at the moment.
I thought I’d check “Jenny Lawson was” but before I even finished google gave me this:
PS. Hang on. I just remembered that last time I didn’t use my last name. Let’s try it again:
Stop judging me. I’m already judging myself enough. And I’m fine. Except that I’m surrounded by rats. The usual.
This is not a real post. It’s a tiny bit of advice for people like me who have anxiety and depression and sometimes get trapped in their own homes because their brains are being assholes and it’s too people-y outside. I’ve been talking about my own mental health issues for years and I’ve shared so many important things that help: medication, therapy, community, etc. but today I have something even more important to share.
Today I was at my shrink’s office and I told her that I’d found a new tool that’s seemed to help with my anxiety and agoraphobia and she was like, “Is it PokemonGo?” and I screamed “IT IS POKEMONGO! WHAT THE FUCK?” and she was like, “What level are you? Let’s trade tips.” And then we did. Because apparently this super embarrassing thing I was going to admit is helping lots of people because it sort of forces you to get out of the house to play and suddenly you’re at the park at midnight and there’s a live possum next to you. That’s a bad example but it’s going to happen. Get ready.
But it’s nice because my OCD makes me want to collect all of these invisible creatures and that means I end up in parks and in malls and on road rips and in places I would never normally go in a million years. And then strangers who also never go out come up to you and say, “HEY DID YOU CATCH THAT BULBASAUR NEXT TO JAMBA JUICE?” and instead of running away from strangers and small talk you’re like, “OF COURSE I DID. What am I, some kind of amateur? And also, what’s with all the rats?” Because seriously, what is with all the rats? They’re everywhere and I’m always yelling “GO AWAY, INVISIBLE RATS. I’M NOT YOUR MOMMY.” Which gets stares from normal people but empathetic nods from other weirdos playing PokemonGo, and technically I was already freaking out the normal people, so not much has changed except that now I’m the middle of Macy’s while it’s happening.
This post would be much longer except that so many ridiculous things have happened to me while playing this ridiculous game that it turned from a blog post into a chapter in my next book. But I still want you to know about it. Because it’s awesome and makes you accidentally live life and walk dogs and take your kid hiking. It’s distracting enough to ward off the pre-panic attacks that keep you from leaving your car and suddenly you’re playing a game with the rest of the world. Also, you can rename all of the Pokemons. (Pokemen? Pokemi? Whatever the plural is for things that don’t exist either way.)
Also, Victor loves it too. And by “loves it” I mean that he’s getting used to me pretending to take a picture of him to capture how amazing he is even though he now realizes I’m really just catching nonexistent animals that have landed near him.
Sure, some will say that it brings you away from real life because you’re staring at a screen but once you’ve fallen into a few canals (2 is my record) you learn to stick your phone in your pocket and just pull it out when it yells that invisible monsters are near. Like a totally normal person. Almost. Close enough.
First off, thank you for yesterday. Thank you for listening to me and for making me laugh and for making me feel less alone.
Secondly, today I’m having a rare bout of energy. I showered and took Hailey to camp and facetimed with Victor (he’s traveling with his new job) and finished a few things only slightly behind deadline, and I can already tell that soon I’ll need to crawl back in bed to rest, but before that I saw that today is #nationalselfieday and although (as you can tell from my instagram) I’m not really a fan of selfies I decided that today I would make an exception and post the only sort of selfie that I think people really enjoy, which is a selfie that includes sloths or explosions or David Tennant or cats. I am out of the first three so I made do with Photo Booth and grabbed all of my pets (except for Atticus Fish II and Monster Mash because fish fucking hate cameras and aquariums are sloshy) and did a series of shots at my desk. And it made me laugh. And bleed a little. But that is the price of a good selfie. Or at least one that includes 3 cats and a dog who made me legitimately smile and feel human.
Unless you don’t want to be in a selfie. Then just photoshop your face over Hunter S. Tomcat’s and it’ll be like I’m giving you the biggest sqwunch ever.
I haven’t been quite myself for the last few weeks. I’ve told myself that it’s hormones or my arthritis acting up or allergies or an infection and it’s probably all of those a little, but the truth is that it’s a low level depression that I’ve been fighting off. And that’s harder to admit because even though I know I’ll always deal with depression it’s so much easier to pass it off as something that everyone can relate to and that doesn’t make others feel uncomfortable or nervous. I say that it’s low-level because I’m still able to leave the house and laugh and be functional, but the level of exhaustion (both mental and physical) is so utterly wearing on me. I have so many half-finished posts or stories I want to tell you but I don’t have the energy to finish them or the self-confidence to think that they’re as good as I know they can be when I get my head back. Instead I take my frustrated artistic energy and draw ridiculous things and make notes to myself of things will be fun to write about when I get that part of my head back again.
Depression is a lot of things, but sometimes for me it’s like having people in. In my head. The same way it is when you have people in your house to paint walls or replace a ceiling or rip out the plumbing. You can still go about your life but you always have your guard up. You know that there are parts of your home that you relied on that are now torn up and filled with strangers. You know that in the end it will be worth it and that having people in, or having parts of your home raised isn’t the end of the world but it stops you, over and over. You switch on a light and remember that the power doesn’t work in that part of the house for now. You know it’ll come back, even though you don’t have an exact date when. You move in the darkness, a bit more slowly than ever. You avoid the mess when you can. You switch on the light (again) and remember (again) that there’s no power in that room. You do it again and again and again because even when you feel helpless you know that one day the light will come back. And to not try is to give up. And I can never do that.
So I’ll be here, trying the lights, and hiding in the rooms that are still safe and reminding myself that even when I think you’ll give up on me, you probably won’t. And I won’t give up on you either. I’m still here, even if you can’t always see me.
I’m just looking for the light.
Did you know that if you google your name followed by “needs” it will auto-populate some crazy-ass shit that google thinks you need?
Let’s try it:
Huh. So maybe let’s add another word?
Or not. Whatever.
PS. Am I the only one who got weird shit when they did this?
PPS. Can I borrow $16,000?
PPPS. Hang on. You know what? Let’s try this again to see what Google thinks I actually have:
Jesus, Google. Never mind.
And then that one time on twitter we all just became human and I laughed until I gave myself a headache.
Then twitter came to my rescue and throughout the night thousands of you shared your own cringey moments, which were so awesome that hotel security had to do a welfare check on me because I was laughing so hard the people next door thought I was dying. I tried to convince them I was fine but I had tears running down my face and they were like, “Are you sure you don’t need help? Is someone hurting you?” and I was like, “No, this is what I look like when I’m happy” and they left, as confused as most people who deal with me are. I tried to storify the tweets to share them with you but there were too many and it kept crashing so instead I just decided to do a bunch of screenshots and share them here. I waited until after 5 because you cannot read these at work. You will hurt yourself. In a good way.
Thank you, amazing people for reminding us all how stupid and adorable and ridiculous mankind is, especially as the rest of the world screams “ME TOO” at your mortifying confessions. Also, if you don’t laugh in recognition of doing at least a quarter of these yourself you are probably in the wrong place or just haven’t lived long enough. Just saying.