My friend Amanda is going through some rough shit. Her best friend has cancer and she’s taking a leave of absence from work to be there with him while he battles it. It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved, but what makes it even more complicated is that my friend is Amanda Palmer, and that means canceling her upcoming year of touring. Which sucks. For her. For her friend. For everyone who was hoping and expecting to see the wonder of Amanda.
If you’ve been reading long enough you know that I went to see her a few months ago and was struck with one of my biggest panic attacks ever. Amanda read my tweets about not knowing if I’d be able to leave my hotel room and she did two things for me. She emailed me and told me that she’d arranged for me to watch in a treehouse so that I could avoid the crowds. She also left me a backstage pass so that I could go behind the scenes and visit. It was amazing and incredible, but it took every ounce of my strength to just be there, and when the concert was over I looked at my backstage pass and I knew I didn’t have enough left in me to go and meet Amanda. People without severe anxiety disorders will think this insane, and it is. I simply didn’t have the ability to walk 100 feet to just say “thank you” to someone who has changed my life. I felt like a failure, passing up such an incredible opportunity that would bring me such joy, but I knew it might also send me over the edge into the abyss of mental illness that could take me weeks to climb out of. I sat alone in the treehouse for 20 minutes and thought about my daughter and what it would mean for her to see her mom in bed for a week recovering from a breakdown. And that’s when I decided that sometime being “strong” meant giving myself permission to protect my weaknesses. And my weakness isn’t just my mental illness. It’s my daughter. Who is also my biggest strength. (People without mental illness might need a decoder ring for this line of reasoning, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense.) So I stuffed the backstage pass in the bottom of my purse and I left. A little regretful. A little inspired. A little confused at how such a devastating weakness had just made me give up meeting an idol all for the sake of a little girl who needs her mommy.
Amanda’s post today reminded me of that. She was giving up so much for the sake of knowing that her weakness for her friend who needed her ultimately outweighed everything else.
They say that sometimes your biggest strengths are also your biggest weaknesses.
But sometimes it’s your weaknesses that become your greatest strengths.
For those of you who are new here, my favorite Amanda Palmer song which has pulled so many of us off of our own personal ledges:
228 thoughts on “On knowing your weaknesses, and loving them”
Read comments below or add one.
Beautiful blog post!!
This is such a good way of looking at things. Weakness or strength? It’s all in the context of the situation. Amanda sounds like a good soul. You’re lucky to have her as a friend.
I have just recently met Miss Anxiety and she is a fucking bitch. I quit a good job thanks to her, and now I’m digging myself out of the hole I built. Posts like this are very inspiring. Thank you.
I have just recently met Miss Anxiety and she is a fucking bitch. I quit a good job thanks to her, and now I’m digging myself out of the hole I dug. Posts like this are very inspiring. Thank you.
wow. as someone who has struggled with severe depression i find this post absolutely beautiful. not only do you make me laugh on a regular basis but you seem to put the way i have felt at times into words in a way that i never could. you cant know how incredible it is to come to a place like this and have you understand exactly how i feel in a way no one in my life ever can.
What a beautiful blog post!
I love Amanda fucking Palmer and I love you. You are two women I really look up to, respect and admire. You’re both way younger than me, but it doesn’t matter. You both inspire me so much, I can’t thank you enough.
It is always good to know when to say when for the now or the later sanity of yourself.
I really couldn’t imagine. Some people have so much strength, but they still feel weak. Yes, I mean you, as well as everyone else that struggles without giving up. Hey, I didn’t swear or anything. Fuck. There we go.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
FUCK CANCER. Fuck it right in the fucking ear.
And good for both of you for doing what you needed to do.
I am so very impressed you put aside that opportunity for the sake of your daughter. It’s a beautiful example of love. I am off to read about Amanda now…
Wow! Yes, you have to be good to yourself and that includes letting yourself be yourself. I am sorry though for the lost opportunity and for what Amanda is now going through.
What an amazing friend! You’re very lucky to have been able to revolve in her orbit!
Right now I’m in the process of figuring out my weaknesses, and the next step, I suppose, is loving them. I’m so happy to have both you and Amanda (I’ve loved her music for years) as role models in this. I’m grateful for the internet because it allows me to see other people struggling with the same things that I’m struggling with, and winning. It’s a beautiful thing.
Could not agree with that last line more. Beautiful post!
Bravo to you and Amanda both!
Life isn’t about what happen to you-it’s about doing what works for you WHEN it happens. And the only person who knows that best is you.
Protecting yourself is the best thing you can do. If you don’t, then you can’t do anything else. We all need to learn that.
Jenny, I love your writing. Just when I think you can’t possibly write any funnier, you switch gears and write something straight from the soul, which is equally as wonderful. You inspire me… as a blogger and as a human. So thank you.
You do not get that time back. She will not regret the decision!
Truth: Many medications given to people for things such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety also suppress creativity. You’re right that it’s a fine line between a strength and a weakness. Some of my darkest moments have produced (what I believe to be) my best writing.
Thank you, I really, really needed this right now.
I am sitting at my desk bawling, so THANKS FOR THAT.
Also, I am so, so proud of you and inspired by you. I get so frustrated sometimes when what I want to do, that other people could do without thinking about it, would cost me more than I can afford to pay.
I’m also really proud of you for going in the first place. You’re a total fucking badass, Lady.
Thank you!!!! I am going through struggles of my own right now and as I told my friends who I hadn’t seen for a while who said they missed me, i replied me too…I miss me!!!! I will get through this for myself and my son….And all my lovely friends who miss me!
This is a great reminder that I WILL be ok!!!!!
There’s nothing wrong with knowing your limitations. People who don’t know their limitations burn out.
I can relate to this on every fucking level, and I appreciate you more than you could ever know.
A mote of dust must have gotten in my eye reading this.
I’m going through a bout of anxiety/depression/mania right now, so this makes sense in particular right now.
As for Amanda, bravo to her for having her priorities in order. It’s easy to forget the celebrities are people, too, and they have as much right to show “weakess” as anyone else.
What I love about you, Jenny, is that you put everything out there and you don’t give a f^%& what anyone else thinks, and yet there is a sweet soul behind the bravado. An intelligent, honest, and strong person; beautiful post.
This reminds me of Fiona Apple staying home from a tour to care for her dying dog. I mean, not that Amanda’s friend is the same as a dog – at all, but just about the loving committments we make to people and things who are important in our lives, at the expense, sometimes, of personal success.
(warning: you’ll bawl your eyes out)
maybe it’s because i’m just more aware of this topic (anxiety/depression/panic) since reading it here, but i’m finding more and more folks posting about their own bouts with the dreaded trio. a lot of these people are young (20somethings) and i believe it is real and different for each person.
i’m blessed to not have these issues, but i know people who do. i think reading this blog and watching other’s vlogs has helped me understand, even just a teeny bit better, what happens when someone enters the spiral.
depression lies, but it doesn’t have to win.
Thank You for the post. As another anxiety disorder ridden wife and mother, I often have to make life fit around my weakness, but I find my strength in learning how to adjust. Every minute I learn about what I can and can not do. Finding perspective can be bit you in the butt, but we still know how to sit. Love you.
I suspect that everyone who is a Mommy or a Daddy completely understands exactly what you’re saying…. and likely anyone who has someone they care about more than they care about themselves. Well said.
I really appreciate when you post about your anxiety and those experiences. As someone with bipolar, borderline, and PTSD, your posts really hit home. The weakness/strength thing is so true. It’s impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t have a mental illness how you can be strong by giving yourself permission to not be strong in the moment. Thanks for your candor; it means a lot.
Truth. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I am blown away that Amanda is taking time off and would like to think that this act of love will fill her with inspiration for many years to come. Amen.
I think that knowing your weakness and being able to decide that you need to do what’s best for you and those who love you is the biggest strength one can have.
I’m in tears reading this. Such horrible news to have to deal with for her and her friend and wonderful insight. I don’t suffer from mental illness and I understood your sentence perfectly. No decoder ring needed. Although I have family who suffers and sometimes I feel like I am suffering with them. Hugs to you and to your friend and your friends friend!
Duh. Read linked post first, genius. Amanda herself made the Fiona Apple connection. Sorry!
What an amazing friend Amanda is! We should all be so lucky to have someone in our lives like her.
I’ve been telling people that it’s not that grey clouds have silver linings, it’s that grey clouds are silver clouds. I firmly believe that our weaknesses ARE our strengths. Keep up the good work, my friend.
Ah, Jenny – such a beautiful post. You put someone else above yourself, that is being strong – even if it meant missing out on an opportunity or two. I’m sure the opportunity to meet Amanda will come round again, and I’m also sure she will hear about this post and know that you love her. Loads of love to all of you, keep on being strong but vulnerable, weak but immensely considerate – you make the world a better place xx
I couldn’t even get through her post about Anthony because my eyes started leaking. She, and you, are good peeps.
You are a wonderful inspiration yourself! Your honesty is refreshing.
Thank you for posting this. I need to hear from others like me, those of you in the public eye, that have mental illness (mine’s depression) and both function and deal with all the difficulties. Thank you. Thank Amanda. And FUCK CANCER.
My daughter and son both break my heart and make it bigger and stronger every day.
Cancer should go die. I survived leukemia when I was little, and I barely remember it, but I know my family suffered far more than I did, that respect. They all remembered it, they all knew what was going on, that I might be gone at any minute. I’m incredibly lucky to be here today. It was only a long string of absolute miracles that allowed me to survive, and I am so thankful for that.
This post is beautiful and inspiring, and you are such a dedicated mom. I haven’t had kids yet, but someday when I do, I hope I can be as wonderful a mom as you. And my mom. I’m a lot like my own mom, and she’s the best, so I wanna be a great mom like both of you two. : D
There have been days (too many) when I couldn’t set foot out the front door no matter how much I wanted to. Those days seem to be fewer now but the door always requires effort to pass through. Choices made to embrace anxiety, confront it, deny it, ignore it, are all as difficult as walking through that door. The choices you have made, and that Amanda had to make, are never easy – but the greatest thing we can learn is to trust ourselves and know the choices we make are right. Strength in weakness indeed. Thank you, Jenny. Hugs and love.
Kelly Clarkson “Stronger (What doesn’t kill you)” came on my Pandora as I read this. Appropriate (even if not your favorite song style).
Keep on keeping on. We love you.
I’m so glad to know I’m not alone with my anxiety disorder. Thank you for sharing. There have been several times when something just tells me I can’t do it – usually in crowds – and I just say nope, gotta go. Thankfully my husband never questions me or makes me feel bad about it. My anxiety caused him to miss out on his cousin’s wedding reception, but he never once made me feel awful about it. It’s rare with me, but has happened. Thank you.
Much love, thoughts and prayers (and yes, one or two tears) for both you and ms. Palmer Jenny. I know the pain, I know the fear, I know the weakness, and God alone knows how i have ever been fortunate enough to know the same strength.
Oh, gosh. Now I’m crying – for Amanda and her friend, for her bravery and yours, for my own anxiety and especially for my little boy’s anxiety, which far worse than my own. I can SO relate – especially through his eyes – about not being able to go backstage. I get it, because I know when he says he can’t do something – even if people don’t understand because it’s such an awesome thing – he really CAN’T. DO. IT. It’s my job to honour that as his mom and not push him too far. I hear you, and I think you knowing yourself is the very best thing you can do for you and your daughter.
Your strength is in knowing yourself and your limits. Amanda’s strength is in her love and priorities. Both of you are bright stars – not because of the accolades, the talent, the recognition – but because you are so very human despite it all. Thank you.
Thanks, Jenny. No decoder ring needed here. It’s so nice when we have these little epiphanies that allow us a little more room to breathe. A little more room to live. A little more room to appreciate our weaknesses.
Most of us come here every day to laugh. To forget. But sometimes, you come here and inspire us all with your beautiful stories.
And I also now love Amanda Palmer, after being somewhat jealous of her marriage 🙂 Bless her beautiful soul.
I lost the dearest woman in the world to cancer five weeks ago.
She struggled with anxiety and depression for most of her life.
Your posts helped me help her.
What you call weakness, I call love. Amanda loves her friend enough to make him a priority over her job. You love your daughter (and yourself!) enough to know your limits. Never apologize or feel guilty about that! I just went through a similar thing over Thanksgiving. I was supposed to sing in this once-in-a-lifetime concert, but when my CFS reared its ugly head (with good reason – work was horribly demanding that week), I chose to skip the concert in favor of resting up so I wouldn’t end up overtaxing myself even more and being stuck in bed for a week. It sucked. It sucked bad. I was hugely disappointed. But I know myself and care about myself enough to make the hard choice. FUCK CANCER AND MENTAL ILLNESS AND PHYSICAL ILLNESS. FUCK ‘EM RIGHT IN THE EAR.
Yes, it makes perfect sense.
Wow, this so strikes a chord with me. It’s so hard, to know that being strong sometimes means protecting your weak spots. sometimes it feels like giving in, and other times – like you mentioned here – it feels super empowering to just realize “that’s the way it is” and move from there. I’m working on the ‘move on from there part’, but I still know I did what I had to do.
You make me laugh when I need a laugh, but your uncanny timing often send inspiration when I’m struggling the most. You are fabulous. We are all fabulous.
PS- Found my decoder rings in lorazepam and bupropion bottles! Sorta like crackerjack! ..crazyjack?
I know what you mean. I have experienced that place. I’ve sat on that ledge. I’ve inched forward on that ledge…I’ve even flailed around on that ledge, tempting…no… taunting catastrophe. And you are SO right. Sometimes, in fact more often than not, the hardest and strongest thing to do is go back in the window or climb back down on the balcony and go sit inside with our little people. They need us inside. And being inside is really nice.
I am glad for you and Hailey. And I am glad for Amanda and her friend. Thinking of him and her and sending them both love and strength.
Love this post.
Thank you for putting it that way. Since I lost my parents, I have been unable to attend funerals for my friends’ parents. Many of them I had relationships with outside of my friends, their children. But I can’t go. It is a given that I will be unable to control my emotions and make a spectacle of myself during an occasion that is NOT about me at all. Most of my friends understand – not attending is not any sort of brush-off. It’s a gift of not having a crying jag and they don’t have to relegate me to a corner far from the alcohol.
What beautiful demonstrations of friendship and strength. It takes courage to protect our weaknesses – I too live fighting that battle everyday. Thank you for sharing. We aren’t alone.
I cried when I read Amanda’s earlier announcement, and I’m crying again reading yours. How lucky we are to be able to be vulnerable and embrace that – it makes us more human. Let’s hopw our kids understand this, too, when they are older. Thanks, Jenny!
I’ve newly discovered your blog, so I don’t know if you’re always this frank about mental illness, but it makes a refreshing change, and is very brave, in my view.
love this, Jenny.
You make perfect sense to me. I get that to people who don’t have anxiety we look crazy. Fortunately your blog has helped me own it with others and in turn they said they realize it is okay to not be ashamed of their anxiety as well. It is a theoretical red dress. I wear it, I own it, and I deal with it. Not everyone has seen me as an anxious hot mess but those who have understand just how much if a volcano of crazy I can be. (and they do what they can to keep the molten hot crazy from spewing out) any how thanks for helping me know I’m not alone.
I really like you, Jenny. You make me feel better about being me, and I really need that, so thank you.
I’m sitting here at work with snot dripping out of my nose because those tears I’m trying very hard to squelch have to come out of me somewhere. And I refuse to wet my pants.
Kids. My kids are my biggest strength and my greatest weakness. And having come within a hairsbreadth of almost losing one of mine, I now realize that ANYONE’s kids are the world’s simultaneous strength and weakness. I know that’s not intuitively apparent, but it’s clear to me so just believe it.
And I love Amanda Palmer, both for her music and for her humanity in just being herself and helping you and her friend and a lot of others, I’m sure.
No, I understand what you’re saying.
You can’t climb Mount Everest in a day. And even if you could, you’d be too knackered to take in the view at the top, or even get yourself down safely. Metaphorically speaking.
Getting to the concert was an incredible thing to do. I’m sure the next time a backstage pass comes into your possession you will be able to make use of it.
Ugh…i know how this feels. I passed up the opportunity to meet you in Gaithersburg, MD. Still kicking myself for it but happy that i was only stuck in bed for 2 hours with a panic attack instead of a week with a total break down.
Also, fuck cancer in the fucking ass. It has taken too many people from me.
Thank you for introducing me to Amanda Palmer. I feel like a total SCHMUCK for not knowing her work, but I live in Stepford surrounded by people who never lose their wallets and have vegetable gardens. In fact, I am ONE OF THEM. But I always thought I would be a successful classical musician living it up in the big city, and this SAHM life in the burbs is a total surprise to me. So I’m still incredibly moved by the words of that song.
Prayers for Amanda’s friend.
I wonder if you mean “vulnerability” instead of “weakness.” That’s what Brene Brown taught me. Vulnerability is a place where you *could* be hurt, where you are open to attack; weakness is a place where you are broken, where you couldn’t withstand an attack.
LOVE….the post and the video!! More often than not, what I expect of myself leads to disappointment. Trying to just Be!!!
Beautiful post – heartbreaking, true, and all the impossible things that make up real life. You have such enormous strength that outshines the weakness. Thank you for sharing that. I’m sad for Amanda and sad that you didn’t get to meet her, but at the end of life, what you gave up won’t matter in the face of what you did do.
I guess i understand. I’m thankful I got over problems in that department and I wish I could give everyone a hand to climb out of it. What helped me was taking my own intuitions and feelings seriously, no matter what. Applause from Germany!
Couldn’t possibly make more sense, and I feel so much less insane after reading this. Stress (good or bad) is an episode trigger in me, and I too have given up epic moments in time to rescue myself and those I love.
Thank you for sharing your life with us, even if from a treehouse.
You’re on my bucket list. 🙂
The internet is an amazing place. You are amazing. Amanda is amazing. Amaze. <3
Thank you so much for this post. It made me tear up. Life is too short and it’s posts like this that make me so thankful for my blessings and for the blessings of those around me. Sometimes its hard to keep that in perspective when the going gets tough. I think the line “sometimes it’s your weaknesses that become your greatest strengths” is my new mantra. Thank you for being you!
Extremely well written.
The fates will get you and Amanda face to face.
Can’t. Stop. Crying.
So much love for you, Jenny.
So much love for you, Amanda.
So much love for all of you who remind me that I was okay, I am okay, and I will be okay.
So a big bear hug with my brain to everyone because there is still no fucking way I could ever be in the same room with any of you. I am still too me to be able to do that yet.
and again…you made me cry…but in a good, I get it kind of way. I love you for it.
Beautiful! Came here from AFP’s twitter, glad i did. You have a lot of courage, and I pray you continue to find the strength in your weakness.
I’ve read Amanda’s blog posts about her friend and just feel for the both of them. You are two of my favorite women, and I’m so glad to have had the chance to meet you. I sat outside of Amanda’s concert here in Phoenix and cried for 2 hours because I couldn’t get up the nerve to go in by myself and I have been hating myself because of it. Anxiety can die in a fucking tire fire and take that liar, Depression, and her buddy Cancer with it!
It’s a fine line between using weakness as a crutch and protecting yourself and the strength you still have. I find that I struggle with it, all. the. time. Sometimes I think, “If you were normal you’d be able to do this.” So I pretend. And fail. And struggle with the rebounding anxiety and depression.
There *is* strength in weakness. I proud of you for sharing and wish you, your friend, and her friend the very best. <3
You ARE strong, m’dear. NEVER doubt it. It’s why amazing people like Amanda love you, and so do we. 🙂
Jenny- a person as giving and caring as Amanda wouldn’t even need a thank you, even though this post is possibly the best Thank You a person could recieve. Everyone has their “flaws” or “faults” but really they are just superpowers in disguise if we let them be. Out of your anxiety the rest of the world gets these posts, and to laugh, and to learn, and to love you , superpowers and all.
As an agoraphobic with bipolar 2, I had not left my house for much in the last few years save for Amanda Palmer shows. I’m a Bostonian who fell in love when Coin Operated Boy came out, my freshmen year in high school. I had finally sucked it up, bought tickets to the last Boston date of the tour, and was in Boston to go to the show. I had mentioned just taking my shirt off at the show if I got warm, and my boyfriend said “Well, isn’t that what Amanda does? I don’t think she’ll mind.” I froze, and looked infront of me. “You mean that Amanda?”, I uttered as Amanda and Neil strolled by us, arm and arm, the rockstar cut out copy of how Alex and I were walking. We both stopped and stared at their backs for a moment, and I had a fan girl spaz out moment as any good fan girl will do no matter how many times I see Amanda or Neil. We poked into the bar of the venue for dinner, and I noticed Alex was much more quiet and fidgety than normal, but I was so anxious and excited that I assumed it was just my personality overpowering his. Eventually, Alex spilled that he got so nervous about merely seeing Amanda and Neil that his anxiety had spiked, and he didn’t think he could even stay for the show. I cried, having for the first time dragged myself out to see Amanda in three years or so since a ninja gig in Boston. But I held Alex’s hand and brought him the hour and a half back home to have dinner and cuddle, because I have been to that low of not being able to swallow fear no matter how hard you try. I knew this was my last chance to see Amanda before she took a break to care for Anthony, but I did not tell Alex. I know the pain of caring for a loved one with cancer, I lost my mum to a six month battle after being her primary caregiver when we lived alone after my parents harsh divorce. I was 13.
Your post is beautiful. And that is also my favorite Amanda song.
I know this all to well and join you in this one of millions of discoveries.
Thank you for sharing and creating a community of ‘us-who-understand’.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE YOU!
Well, I didn’t anticipate that cry, but it was one of the good ones. And I am fairly new here and had not heard of Amanda before today, so thank you for introducing me to her. That is one of the best songs ever.
beautiful post. just read amanda’s blog an hour ago. also, my favorite amanda song ?
There she goes being brave by being vulnerable…and you too. Thank you 🙂 I virtually hug Amanda through this struggle, he friend on his journey and YOU for sharing it all.
Fantastic post, Jenny. It puts things in perspective. I will stop complaining about the fact I had to go on local TV this morning with the stomach flu – my friends warned me if I puked, I could literally go viral. I didn’t.
Cancer sucks. Mental health sucks. I have close family members who deal with one or the other of these daily.
I’m living AFP’s life right now; husband has terminal cancer. AFP’s decision is what I expect to live in 6 months. For now, I share this time in his life with family and friends and I will continue to work and keep in touch with my own life. I wish I had her sense of security; that i could toss everyday concerns aside and stay at home but I must care for myself as well. For I will live on.
Nonononono–that’s not weakness at all, that’s LOVE! You and Amanda both sacrificed doing something you really wanted to do so you could be there for someone you LOVE. You couldn’t do both, because we humans have limits, and you chose to act with LOVE. There’s absolutely nothing wrong or weak about that.
Beautiful post seriously and can only imagine what you have gone through with severe anxiety and my heart does go out to you. And for Amanda, it truly puts one’s life in perspective and am truly sorry to hear about her friend and what they are going through right now. I had a great aunt (my grandmother’s sister) who was diagnosed with cancer in her mid-eighties. She was gone in less than a year and passed away 2 days before my husband and I married almost 7 years ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her or remember her, too. So, from first hand I too know how awful cancer can truly be.
I don’t think anyone here thinks you’re crazy for not meeting Miss Palmer, shit happens.
There is a really incredible book called “Kushiel’s Dart” by Jacqueline Carey. In it is a line (spoken by Hyacinth):
“That which yields is not always weak”.
When I was in theatre, one of my very first auditions in college, they asked: “If you were a tree, which kind would you be, and why?”, to which I replied:
“I would be a Willow Tree, because it bends in the wind, and that bending is it’s strength.
You, Bloggess, are a beautiful Willow tree, bending in the wind, so that you can continue to protect that which is underneath you: Your roots.
How have I missed out on all that Amanda Palmer is all this time? I am a fan and am going to download music right now, after I recover from eating half the chocolate cookie dough raw.
Thank you so much for sharing this.
I’m an introvert who has struggled with mild to moderate anxiety (and a bit of depression, but mostly anxiety) and even though I try to be kind to myself, I still feel like a failure sometimes when I have to miss events in favor of staying home and taking care of myself. But I know that if I don’t the emotional and social consequences will be bad.
So often I read your posts about dealing with mental illness and find that you’ve put something into words so eloquently and clearly, that I’ve tried and failed to articulate myself. Or you’ve revealed something from an angle that I’ve never looked at before, and thus clarified it immensely. Thank you so much for that. Really.
Your daughter is lucky to have you as a mom!
Where was the “You WILL cry” spoiler alert? I love what you learned – it’s a gihugic life lesson which will give you freedom. Two years ago I experienced my best friend’s “dance with cancer” – she had breast cancer and a brain tumor. I was her CFO (Chief Fun Officer) and we worked the shit out of her bucket list together. I did not tell very many people about what was going on – I did not want to be vulnerable at work. In my two hours each way from Virginia to Baltimore two to three times a week drives, I learned that art of car crying. When I finally told people after my friend died, and heard responses such as “oh, did she not get her checkups?” – I found the strength NOT to punch them in the face. The biggest things I learned were that it is fine for me to be on a different plane of reality from other people, OK that they don’t get it and never will, and OK that the sight of a butterfly, or a picture of a butterfly, or a thought of a fucking butterfly can bring me to sobs, even in public. (She said that she would come back in the form of a butterfly to let me know that she was OK. – and as I left her hospice room, I saw one.) To deal with the stress of that last year, I went on nutmeds (for anxiety and depression) and my skin reacted with a sudden scourge of psoriasis. I began having panic attacks in crowded places. Basically, my body went apeshit. So I had to learn that whatever reaction my body or mind is having IS OK – it is what it is and understanding the why is not the reason I am here. And through that whole time, I read your blog and laughed my ass off. I read them to my VERY religious friend and watched her loosen up – it was the f word that amused her so. So basically, your profanity is therapeutic and you should get a Nobel Prize for that.
This is my first comment on your blog – though I have read your blog often and loved your book. I loved this post – it really moved me, and I wanted to share that with you. I am really intruiged by thinking about how our strengths and weaknesses are connected – you gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for being vulnerable.
I also loved Amanda’s song and am about to go download it. Thank you for “introducing” her to me.
This was beautiful, and sometimes I think that you’re in my brain, only you can actually put my thoughts into eloquent words. Which I can’t.
Inspiring. As someone who suffers from depression as well as anxiety all I can say is….bravo
You went to the concert. That’s amazing, and I’m sorry you still felt deficient because you didn’t finish the night, because = wrong.
Amanda is the type of friend I’ve dreamt of and hoped for my entire life.
Thanks to the both of you for showing me a shade of strength I’ve often overlooked.
Makes perfect sense to me.
Thanks so much for posting this. I got to know Amanda’s music through your posts and I immediately felt a kinship with her. I hate to hear she is going through this….but thanks for sharing.
P.S. FWIW? I bought Amanda’s Boston Kickstarter Art Show/Concert package and ended up not going for much the same reason, and felt incredibly stupid. I then convinced myself it didn’t matter, because what she does is significant = right.
So inspiring to see that someone else goes through the same shit and can talk about it with snark and such brilliance.
People without anxiety just don’t understand and I get tired of explaining to people why I can’t go to stuff. So I make up excuses. I stick with jobs longer than I should because it’s easier to deal with the devil you know when you have anxiety disorders.
Sometimes I push myself and attend things and am pleasantly surprised that I can deal with it. Other times, not so much. I feel the most vulnerable and awful when I’m somewhere with a person I love and we have to leave because I can’t deal with it.
So, you do what you have to girlie. We are all weak in some areas and strong in others.
Beautiful. I lost my gram earlier this week. She suffered from a level of anxiety that makes mine look like childs play. Your blog has helped me not only understand my own illness, but it helped me to understand her better as well. <3
I’m in tears, thank you for posting this. My heart goes out to you and to Amanda. I have been trapped in the house for quite some time, partly because of physical injury, partly by anxiety, and your posts help me make sense of things. I tend to pummel myself with guilt and shame over choices or failures or times when my anxiety got so bad I somehow just couldn’t do what I had to or wanted to or would have been good for me. My anxiety has made me rude and ungrateful…because I was so touched and grateful it made me extremely worried. I felt like I didn’t deserve it.
I am another mom who has to sacrifice some things just to stay sane for my kids. It is strangely empowering to know where your mental limits are, and to stay true to yourself. Really, we are taught the wrong message out there in the world. Pushing harder and striving more and pretending to be what we are not is actually crazy making. Love you, Jenny. You bring so much joy to all of us.
Beautiful post. I admire and respect her for that decision.
You make me laugh. You make me cry…
Thanks for introducing so many of us to Amanda. You’ve shared beauty and pain. And puppets made of dead squirrels.
Why? Why do you randomly make me cry? Such a great post! 🙂
thank you so much for speaking so candidly about mental illness. it bugs me that it’s so taboo, and when I bring up my own depression and anxiety people all of the sudden look at me like I’ve grown a nipple on my forehead. I can totally relate to what you are talking about here, and applaud you for doing what was right FOR YOU.
Strive to Thrive,
I’ve not been leaving comments lately because there are so many, it seems unlikely that you read them all, and I often feel like I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said 40 times ahead of me. But I really want to say that this post touched me. And I think you’re right, that sometimes our weaknesses can be our strengths in a different light…the fact that I’ve always been called oversensitive and emotional doesn’t have to be a bad thing anymore because I’m a grown ass woman and I know these qualities make me a great shoulder to lean on, cry on, snot all over, whatever you need. And these things make me better at my craft, too, and that’s worth a whole hell of a lot to me.
And I also love Amanda Palmer now, so thank you. And your daughter is so lucky to have you as her mother.
(I totally read this. And I needed it. Thanks. ~ Jenny)
So sorry to hear about Amanda, hoping and praying everything turns out alright for all involved
Not in the same realm of seriousness, but I remember going to an amusement park with some friends my senior year of college. I don’t like roller coasters. I’ve gone on a few, but am terrified of them. I waited on some lines with my friends, but didn’t actually ride the rides. A girl in our group said,” Come on, you need to go on it or you’ll regret it.” I just stared at her and said, “No, I won’t.” And I never have. To thine own self be true above all.
I love this post. I also suffer from anxiety and I know how terrible it can be. And how long it can take to get over an attack. Thank you for letting me be more okay with this.
Also, I used to be obsessed with The Dresden Dolls and didn’t know Amanda was still making music, so thanks for giving me that as well.
Best of luck to her and her friend.
This doesn’t happen often. But, this post and that song made me cry.
Once again – you have touched my soul. Good karma to you, my dear friend – may you be surrounded by the love and affection that you create and share with us all. xoxoxox
This was a beautiful post.
I get it. I know it. I thank you for saying it so beautifully. Especially the parts about those lucky ones without mental illness not understanding. I need that reminder on a regular basis to help keep me from feeling like dogshit on shoes.
That is beautiful Jenny. I will be praying for her and her friend. And you, my love, are making so much of a difference in the lives of those of us who don’t need a decoder ring. XO
I’m also a fan of Amanda’s and when I read her post I made one phone call. Earlier today my bff Dennison was having a mini-breakdown over his STUPID job that he’s soon going to quit (and get back to acting) He asked if I wanted to have Margaritas with him tonight and I declined because I’m in the final proof reading stages of my book. I’m overwhelmed and told him no.
Then I read Amanda’s post and thought WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? IT’S ONLY A BOOK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I called him and said I’d go for drinks.
I’m not an AP fan, but I do love this video and it’s message. xo
Maybe this will add cheer to everyone’s day.
Two frogs sword fighting:
At our weakest moments… that’s sometimes the moment when you find out what is really important to you. What’s worth fighting for, and whats just icing on the cake.
I have to admit, I didn’t know who Amanda Palmer was until I heard her perform on my favourite radio show, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I’m so sorry to hear about her friend, but it is great for her to take the time out to support him. They are blessed to have each other. The older I get, the more I realize that it takes a lot of strength to admit when we’re weak and that we need support. Our weaknesses are often our greatest source of vitality. Great post 🙂
Jenny, I pray that one day you will realize how incredibly, awesomely wonderful you are – ALL of you, every single solitary bit of you – and then you’ll be seeing what the rest of us know about you. We know this because you are so honest and brave and because you share your story so generously and eloquently. Thank you.
Woman, you can make me laugh and you can make me cry.
Everyone should take care of themselves the best way they know how.
Never apologise for looking after your health and those you care about.
This was a great post, and my first introduction to Amanda Palmer….I’m hooked.
Jenny, your post made perfect sense to me, just so you know.
Those of us with our own mental/emotional illness totally understand what you’ve gone through. You make sense to us! Thanks for sharing your struggles with us….:) You help us all so much more than you know.
My best friend died October 21st from metastatic breast cancer and my mother has terminal sarcoma and this will be her last Christmas. How bad does cancer suck? I can’t even express it and it has made my anxiety disorder unbearably worse.
My friend and I were supposed to go out and do a red dress shoot a month before she died, but she went into the hospital the day the shoot was supposed to take place. Yesterday, I took my anxiety riddled self out with a friend who is a photographer and did a “pink dress” shoot and released balloons in her honor. (Photos are on the Moments with Misty Facebook page if anyone is interested.)
When you have mental illness, it’s so hard to find and keep good friends. I can’t believe I’ve lost my best friend of ten years and now am losing my mother to cancer. How am I expected to climb out of the anxiety canyon and start functioning again? How do I ever find another friend who will understand why I can’t get out of bed or leave the house?
I will protect my anxiety and grief for as long as I have to and nurture my fragile self for as long as it takes. And I think that’s a strength. Beautiful post, Jenny.
This is exactly the post I needed to see today. Thank you.
I totally agree…and what is sad is that very few around me agree with me…they think I am just being pathetic or sad rather than strong and determined. I know I can’t change their minds, but I have to not worry about what I can’t control and concentrate on doing what helps me sleep at night and will ultimately make me happiest, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.
This is just beautiful. Your daughter is very lucky to have you as a mother.
And I understand what you mean about your weaknesses and strengths. After the terrible day I had, this is exactly the type of thing I needed to hear.
Being able to say, “no.” What a powerful thing that is. A few weeks ago I was invited to a work-friend’s bachelorette party which was to be a wine tasting bus tour packed filled with a bunch of women that are her friends and whom I don’t know. I had originally told my friend I’d be there with bells on but when the invite came I ignored it until the last minute. It was only then that I realized I didn’t want to go. I was dreading the forced frivolity with a bunch of strangers. I simply didn’t want to be with a bunch of people I didn’t know even though I love my friend and I wanted to be there for her. In the end, I finally figured out that I could put my mental health needs first and foremost and, when I did that, it seemed like an easy decision to say no. I even told my friend the reason I couldn’t go and she was totally understanding. I’ve been trying to live my life that way lately. Do I really want to do this or that? Or do I just feel obligated? If I feel obligated – I say no. And feel so relieved. The power of no. Followed by a thank you, of course.
thank you. all of you. the bloggess for posting this and reminding me that it’s okay not to be perfect. AFP for reminding me that we are all struggling to do better every day. and the rest of you – the commenters, for reminding me that i’m not alone and there are such amazing people in this world. thank you.
I saw Amanda in concert last month, and it was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. She’s truly amazing. And so are you.
And so am I for doing my best to keep getting better.
Sometimes having had the chance to do something is as sweet as actually doing it.
Hoping your paths gently meet another time.
Beautifully said. God bless,
I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of my idols in the last few years and each time I’ve reflected on your post about meeting Neil: “the only thing more terrifying than the thought of never meeting your idols is the thought of them actually having to meet you.” A few of those times, I’ve had a good day and maybe managed to wait on line for a book signing or sit through a sweaty, crowded concert. A few of those times, I’ve not been so brave, tweeting a timid “hello” from the audience or not showing up at all. Either way, I regret the forced, awkward interaction (did I say something stupid?) or worse yet – the missed opportunity. Reading your AFP concert tweets in real time – and now this post -are a good reminder that it’s okay to be a little scared sometimes. I always say it’s part of my charm. (And this song is my absolute favorite, too.)
Jenny, can we help Amanda’s friend? My weakness was cancer, my strength was beating it…for many of the same reasons you battle it out with your anxiety and depression – I could never leave my beautiful boy without a mom to teach him all the inappropriate things she knows.
Um wow. I love Amanda’s husbeast, but had never listened to her music. Just the thing I needed to hear after breaking up with boyfriend of two years, just cuz the relationship has run its course. I AM the person I want to be.
I love you both for this.
One thing you learn in AA is that you have to watch out for yourself even if sometimes this may upset/offend others. Turning down that birthday party drinks or Christmas ‘do’ if you think it might make you wobble and fall back into the abyss. No one else can judge for you if something could do that, only you – so you have to guard your safety.
Ps please post the two frogs fighting paperweight picture on your site. It is all I want for Xmas. Ever.
no decoder ring needed. that has also been a difficult thing for me to learn how to figure out, my personal limits, when i can push a little more and when i cant. when strength is weakness and weakness is strength. thank you so much for posting about this and sharing so much of yourself!! you are truly inspiring 🙂
It makes perfect sense! Thank you for taking care of you.
It breaks my heart every time my 9-yr-old daughter has to see me in bed fighting my chronic illness and depression. As difficult as it is to live with illness, it is even harder to live with the guilt from making my kid upset. Thank you, Jenny, for reminding me that it’s okay to take care of myself in order to be stronger for those who need me. Keep fighting the good fight.
This post could’nt have came at a more fitting time for me,which I find true of a lot of your posts……………
In the middle of one of my worst battles with feeling hopeless and unable to change things,I find myself faced with the same situation as Amanda. Amazingly enough,I feel myself being PULLED out of my self-pity…….someone needs me more than my bi-polar does……
I’ve been reading the medieval poet Rumi and many of the things he says has really struck me.
One of these themes come to mind when reading this post. And it’s a very simple thing, the idea that each friendship is a reflection of the divine. Forget about the religious sense of this – I’m not very religious myself. But the idea that when you reach out to someone, when you make that connection, either great or small, is reflective of a spiritual experience, it really moving to me. The friend is the Friend you see?
The other part of this is that beauty can be found in patience. Patience is Joy. Be patient with yourself and accepting. Be the good friend, not only to others, but to yourself. What would a good friend do when their friend was trapped as you were? They would allow them all the time and understanding in the world. Offer that to yourself. Which you did!
I have OCD and I know exactly what you mean about having the strength to give in the a weakness – sometimes I have to make a choice to spiral a little now so that I don’t spiral BIG later and the anxiety that comes with the abnormality of some of my compulsions is agonising.
I understand Jenny. My kids are what keep me grounded & tethered to this earth. When I suffer, they suffer, and that hurts more than just me suffering. I keep up the best I can, for them. And yes, I had the chance to meet someone once, at a Gaithersburg book fair, and totally lost the ability to speak. I was mortified with myself, but still left there, elated, to have just been there so close.
“And that’s when I decided that sometime being “strong” meant giving myself permission to protect my weaknesses.”
Jenny, this sentence has been comfort and cheer in my head since I read it yesterday. I have a database in my head of sentences that because I read them at the right moment, changed my life. This is one.
I have been listening to Amanda Palmer (and the Dresden Dolls) since around 2004/2005 and like you, she played a huge role in my life and made a definite impact. I also suffer from anxiety, something that has developed/escalated in the past two to three years. I’ve found music to be such an important part of dealing with my anxiety, and finding bloggers like yourself has helped me know that I am not alone. So thank you. And also, I am sorry you didn’t get to meet Amanda — she is truly such an amazing and beautiful person. Maybe one day.
Thank you for your candor about this. I deal with what you deal with also. My POV is that I only have so much energy. I can expend that energy doing selfish things or selfless things, but I will never be able to expend it to do *all* the things.
It was very selfless of you to conserve your energy so as to be there for your daughter.
Being able to see Amanda perform was a victory over your anxiety. Never mind what others could have done in that same situation. They are not you.
Keep on being amazing.
I just love how honest you are.
Love you, Jenny and Amanda. You are both my heroes.
Thanks for writing this. I always seem to end up thanking you. You confirmed to me that it is ok for me to not go way out on a limb and risk my sanity. I am trying to find my next job and I am trying to be realistic about what I can do while others push me to do more and tell me I am cheating myself. Deep down I know that if I did push myself like that I would end up loosing what I built because I would have a break down. It’s a little bit like being the turtle in The Tortoise and The Hare. Slow and steady. As for Amanda, I bet you will meet her another day. She sounds like she gets it and I bet she will really appreciate what you have written here. I hope her friend gets better soon and goes through the least pain possible. And I think we all know that making the decision to forgo meeting her so that you could be all there for your daughter was a stronger move than doing otherwise would have been.
Jenny, once again you are an inspiration. Thank you for this post. To Amanda, if you read this, I am praying for you and for your friend. Much love to you all.
Awesome and inspiring. Love it!
The video reminded me how much I like wearing fishnet hose. The post was good, too!
Yup we aren’t alone are we?
“sometime being “strong” meant giving myself permission to protect my weaknesses”
Thank you for this new insight into what “strength” means. I’m so glad you can share this with others who might need to hear it.
^just bookmarked this post under “inspiration”.
Thank you for this, ma’am.
(for the record: I’m not even brave enough to put my own blog url in this comment, because I look back at my older posts and see just how childish they really are. But I digress.)
A gorgeous read on a morning when I feel I have little more than weakness in me.
You’re a good friend, Jenny. All the best to you and Amanda.
You first this AFP video on your blog awhile back and it is the reason I’m now a big fan of AFP. Thanks for sharing back when you originally did and again today.
Beautiful. Both what you said and how you said it.
Thoughts for Amanda and her friend, in her friend’s time of need.
You know, it doesn’t help everyone. But I used to have panic attacks all of the time and anxiety. Then I had my blood tested and found that I had a problem with my thyroid, which was easily medicated and all but did away with the panic attacks. That may not help you, but it is certainly worth a try. Thanks for the post!
I once admitted in an online fan community that I had panic attacks about an upcoming Amanda Palmer show. The thing was, I was going to be meeting in person for the first time lots of fans I had gotten to know online, and who hence all believed I was infinitely wittier and more fun to be around than I actually am. I thought, everyone here’s going to think I’m a freak for admitting this, but instead I got lots of “OH GOD ME TOO!” One woman even admitted that, like you, she once was unable to leave her hotel room to go to a show she had traveled hundreds of miles to see.
I went, and it was fine … so panic didn’t prevent me from enjoying the show, but it did prevent me from enjoying the *anticipation* of the show. And that really sucks.
“And that’s when I decided that sometimes being ‘strong’ meant giving myself permission to protect my weaknesses.”
I’m going to print that out and hang it on my wall. Thank you. It’s what I needed to hear (read?) yesterday.
Perhaps I am reading this at just the right time. I had a meltdown last night at 130 am because of this new job that I don’t want, and am unprepared for, and all I want to do is stay home with my little Bean, and enjoy my time with her. I panic, I cry, and I decide that even though it will make things a little tight, it’s probably best for me to stay home with my kid, and enjoy her, and work my other pt job. Then I talk to a friend, and I hear “you’re letting this control you. You need to get control back.”
I feel like I have failed everything. Now I drag my exhausted, anxiety ridden butt to this job tonight, so that I can prove to everyone else that I can do it. It doesn’t feel worth it.
“And my weakness isn’t just my mental illness. It’s my daughter. Who is also my biggest strength.”
Yeah, I get this, and I really wish neither of us had to.
One of my favorite Rumi quotes:
“Keep looking at the bandaged place. That is where the light enters you.”
Our weaknesses are simply strengths that haven’t found their proper costume yet.
And yes, I get it. Totally, totally get it.
But Friends are Suck Free Zone.
I was talking to a friend of mine just the other night about you and your blog. She and I both can understand your anxiety and depression issues, as we are both sufferers. I was sharing with her your view on depression and the fact that “it lies.” That resonates with me because I am all too familiar with the never-ending script that runs through my brain telling me that I am not good enough and that I will never be good enough. Since I’ve read those words, “depression lies,” that is what I keep repeating to myself. Every time I want to shirk off some event or call into work, “because who would want to be around me anyway?” I just want to thank you for sharing your struggles because it has helped me immensely.
I have suffered depression and I totally relate to your not being about to walk 100 ft. I compeltely applaud you for realizing the exchange that would require (staying in bed for a wek) and for choosing to be there for your daughter. I remember a conversation with a dear friend who was suffering with depression and her divorce about how it was too much energy to change the fucking britta filter. Which most people would never get.
I constantly admire your honesty, you raw emotion, your willingness to share it with us and your ability to make me laugh out loud for 20 minutes (best. motherfucking.pet.ever! — still cracks me up). Write on!
Can’t add anything to anything above. Except my love. For you, and Amanda, and Anthony. <3
So glad I am not the only one out there. Been so depressed and anxiety-ridden I have been avoiding even family get togethers. 🙁
Thanks for sharing.
Love it. Immediately had to share it with my wife who struggles with similar choices.
She is chronicling her journey at http://pilgrimagegal.blogspot.com/
WE CAN ALL BE THE PEOPLE WE WANT TO BE!
I completely understand the paralytic effect of anxiety. It’s not something that can be fathomed unless it is felt.
It seems ridiculous, if one doesn’t struggle with it, but it exists & it is truly deleterious.
You are so strong to have acted appropriately for your daughter. I am still learning to say no, and I fail often, but the next time I’m in a difficult position, I’m going to remember you.
After I read this post I went and read about Anthony. I heard the story he wrote and I think Amanda Palmer helped me realise myself. You helped me find myself a long time back. Amanda and this post helped me realise myself.
I heard In My Mind through you. That’s how I came to know about her music and this song speaks to me so much that I wish that it would speak to others around me. Like it does to me. But it doesn’t.
And that makes me feel alone. You’re lucky you’ve found your tribe. I am still waiting for mine… <3
What a gorgeous post – I really think strength comes from anything you like. Sometimes I take strength from you, from friends, from music, from the bird eating seeds outside my back door… Stay strong honey x
Just watched the video of John Lennon singing this and it reminded me of this post.
When the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
As someone who doesn’t have much experience with mental health issues, I will apologize in advance if I write something that bothers anyone. That is certainly not my intent. However, I really felt the need to comment.
Those, like Jenny, who have felt bad for not doing something like going backstage, please don’t beat yourself up. I realize it may be your disease talking for you, but your behavior is not really that different from what others do. It seems the difference is that other people just aren’t stigmatized for not doing the activity or maybe they just don’t beat themselves up for it. We all protect our weak spots. I think it’s human nature to do so. We take protective action every day, like washing our hands or not walking in the middle of a freeway. We don’t put ourselves in harms way generally. The difference between those with mental health issues and those without is what is categorized as harm. For Jenny, pushing herself to go backstage would put her health at risk as much as eating blowfish. Maybe that fish is the most delicious food on earth, but it is worth the risk of making yourself spectacularly ill? Jenny made the best decision for her health, just like most people do.
Again, I have little experience other than reading about mental health issues. The way I see it, people who have these diseases are similar to others with diseases. A person with celiac disease really shouldn’t eat that cinnamon roll, as delicious as it is. A diabetic may have to radically change their lives, give up foods they love and alcohol and start exercising because it is what is needed to survive. As much as they may hate eating whole grains instead of French fries. As much as they may hate pricking their finger then giving themselves insulin, they do it or they suffer. A person with cancer doesn’t want to take chemo because it makes them so sick but they do it because it will hopefully save their lives. How is that any different from you guys who make that decision to not go to a party or backstage in order to maintain your health? You are doing what you have to do to survive.
Those without mental health diseases also don’t even consider doing those activities for which they aren’t prepared. Who could run a marathon without preparing themselves mentally and physically? Who can take a test without studying? Is there a difference between a marathon and going backstage or even outside? Sure in details, but the concept is the same. The activity or event still needs preparation and training. And even then, there are tests that are harder than others, marathons are harder than 5Ks. And not all 5K runners even want to run marathons. They are happy just running 5Ks. It’s okay to not want to expose yourself to pain and humiliation when you don’t feel prepared to do something. And unlike running or studying for a history exam, there are no clear cut methods of preparation for battling agoraphobia or anxiety.
We all play to our strengths and hide our weaknesses. We don’t pick careers or jobs that we know we will suck at. We go for those that we can be good at. It may not be our dream job or one we absolutely love, but if it were a job that you were truly bad at, you wouldn’t have it long. Which is why I don’t have a job in math or science. I am focusing on my strengths and shielding my weaknesses, just like Jenny.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that protecting your weaknesses is something we all do, mental health issues or not. It does take strength and wisdom to recognize that you are protecting yourself, then maybe fight against what people consider “normal” to take that action. But it is normal to protect yourself. Forcing yourself to do something you aren’t prepared for just because it might seem odd to other people is not normal. Tell those little voices inside or outside your head to go jump in the lake. You are worthy of protecting.
I don’t have anxiety disorder or anything like that. What I have sudden widowhood, and that, too, makes you want to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over your head. But what I have learned these last three years is that there is no shame is recognizing your weakness and acknowledging that it exists….and that acknowledgment is the first step in getting through that part of the journey.
All the morons who tell you “oh, you’ll get past it/better/over it/etc don’t have a fucking clue.
I suspect that’s why your work resonates with so many of us; you are a voice unafraid, brave enough to speak out and in that, you give us permission to work towards OK. Amanda may have learned that from you.
Jenny, you are an excellent teacher.
I am 22 years old, and when I was 18 found out I had anxiety disorder. After months of not understanding why I couldn’t be close to my boyfriend and feeling awful and pathetic, I went to the doctor. I would get crippling fear and was so nervous to the point of sickness (which happened too many times), I was so nervous to be around him and was just terrified. I’ve been on medication since then, and it’s helped immensely. Reading your post made me remember how I used to be, and how I’m brave and not afraid to try new things or stand up in front of people and speak. Thank You.
I read Amanda’s post the other day, and yours is such a wonderful compliment to it. Thank you. <3
Yes yes yes yes yes.
Thanks, I hadn’t heard this song yet. I get it.
I tell people that having depression or anxiety are not signs of weakness, they’re signs of strength – because if we can live with that, we can cope with anything. And now I need to go, I have something in my eye…
PS Fuck cancer, seriously.
I’ve never heard this Amanda Palmer song before and I completely fell in love with it! Thank you so much for sharing (and Amanda should give you a cut of her iTunes profits because I completely went crazy buying her songs on Friday at work!) Stay strong and know you are loved.
My mom is currently in the deepest, darkest stages of her depression. I suffer from anxiety myself so I am no stranger to feelings you can’t control that suck.
I am embracing mine but yesterday when we celebrated my mom’s bday she kept saying she was sick. She has been “sick” for two months. When the boys left to go get the tree, I told her that it was ok, she didn’t have to lie to me anymore. She was so happy and so sad because she was relieved that she could finally talk to someone about it but it made her so sad for me to have to see her that way. I said “as long as I get to see you…”.
She was much happier when we left because although that depression is there to stay for a while, she knows it will be ok one day and we are happy to wait until it is.
I think there is so much pressure for the mom to be the rock, in this instance I was glad to be the strength that she no longer has. I am glad to help her through her weakness. I would do it over and over because she has done that for me.
Thank you for sharing. It is so incredibly hard to put your own needs first, and I find it inspiring that your weakness for your daughter is also your source of unbelievable strength. Be proud, and know that you’re loved back.
Now I have to go obsessively stalk all Amanda Palmer songs, because I LOVE that song.
I loved the Dresden Dolls in college. I feel like I’ve come of age and grown up a little bit with Amanda’s songs. I also love the song “Sing” it makes me feel alive. Thanks for always sharing all your awesomeness with us, Jenny! You also help talk me down off that ledge too. <3
Thank You for having the courage to share your strength with us. My family has been through a lot in the past few months which has resulted in a bout of depression for me. You just reminded me why I’m still fighting it.
found this and thought you would like it
I already had crazy respect for Amanda,
this just seals it.
Good on her.
*That* is what a good friend does.
Great post and song! Totally made my day!
I love that song so much; I wish I’d heard it about a month ago, it would have helped so much. It helped now, though, and that totally counts. Thank you!
Great post and great song. Sometimes I like to listen to Kimya Dawson’s ‘The Competition’ which gives me a similar sense of hope.
Sharon Cole – Having known Amanda and family for quite some time, I’d like to say that you have capeurtd them PERFECTLY! What amazing photos. I think I may have to book you myself x
What a great post and yay for being so strong =) About 3 years ago (just before I got pregnant with our twins) my husband had a breakdown and was diagnosed with depression, and anxiety disorder with panic attacks. I know it’s been a very rough road for him, and he doesn’t so much like to talk about it and what’s going on in his head. Thank you for being so open, it helps me to understand more what my husband is dealing with, and I really appreciate that.
I have been trying to turn off the horrible movie in my ocd brain about things that didn’t even happen to me today. And I just needed something to distract me. And I came here. Because you always make me laugh. Thank you.
I’ve just finished your book today, and now I’m hooked. Can’t wait for the next one. I remeber having mild anxiety attacks during first two decades of my life, and I can’t evene begin to imagine what it feels like increased hundredfold. Best of luck to you (and your husband, wih whom i simpatise being one myself ), from Croatia.
Just wanted to say “Thanks” for turning me on the Amanda Palmer. After viewing the video in your blog i went out and got some CD’s of this artist. She is very inovative.
I have loved Amanda since she was doing the Dresden Dolls thing…back when I was in college. This just makes me love her more. It really all boils down to what you can live with…and what you can’t. I was crippled by shyness when I had the opportunity to meet Carina Round, back when she opend for Annie Lennox…and now I have made 3 necklaces…which kinda makes me feel better…in a way. I’m so nervous about NY Fashion week…I’m scared it’s going to change everything..I’m afraid I’m going to fail..but Im doing this…you know
In a weird and parallel universe. I went to this thing at my local museum in which Neil Gaiman was there. I was so nervous and had one of the worst relapses I had with my drinking in a really long time. I was having a panic attack in the bathroom, since I don’t often do things like go in public, and a girl offered me a cup of wine. Well I disastrously stumbled up to Neil later in the evening, and invaded all sorts of his personal space to slur, “Thank You”. I was so excited about meeting a man that I had admired. A writer that helped me so through many of my darkest times, and my prolific word vomit was a slurred, drunken “Thank You”. I wish I had just left when I still could have. I feel I ruined my one and only “moment”. I applaud you for acknowledging that sometimes, when you make certain strides, it’s enough to get you to where YOU need to be, even if you feel you are missing out on something.
jenny! i found your blog a few years ago through amanda’s twitter, i believe. that’s also my favorite song of hers. i feel like giving you a really big hug right now and i’m really happy you exist and that you write this blog! <3
I don’t really know you, and I am only half way through your book (which I love), but today has been a really hard day for me. My life has felt like one big struggle, at times. I also have an anxiety disorder, and when it has stopped me from doing something, I allow it to stamp me as a failure. I have gone through life believing that I am only half of the person I should be, that I could be better if I wasn’t such a slave to myself and my anxiety. You just made me realize that self preservation isn’t a weakness, it’s a life skill. We can’t climb every mountain. It’s okay to leave something behind in order to focus more intently on something or someone else. We cannot be all things to all people. And my anxiety is not my biggest failure. It’s just something I have.
Very thoughtful post. Amanda will be getting back more than she will know right now by spending the time with her good friend. I had to work as my hubby battled his cancer to keep the insurance and to have a job to come back to once he would no longer be here with me. He insisted I keep going until the last month when I did get off. I regret my decision often as I know I could have taken and unpaid leave for 6 months and spent the time with him. It was his decision and I went a long with it but now, I really wish I had the time with him all day long. He thought it better for my well being, and yes, he was looking out for me during his illness. I wish Amanda’s friend a speedy recovery and all the best. Truly remarkable friend. Keeping yourself well is also the best decision for you and your daughter. Glad you protect your well being. Keep it up… You bring so much joy and laughter to so many and you deserve only the best.
Very touchy post, thank you
I watched this today – saw it on Brene Brown’s blog…and finally remember where I first heard of Amanda Palmer – on your post!
You may have seen this already – but in case you haven’t…enjoy! She seems to be a really amazing person:
So I have to say I am one of those people who does not get anxiety at all. About anything. I am, if possible, pathologically pragmatic. Like this one time, I had brain surgery and I swear my surgeon was more nervous about the whole thing than I was. Which might have been because he’d just graduated from doctor school or it might have been because I told him if he screwed it up and left me a vegetable I would still find a way to end him if I had to flop over on him and smother him with my corpse. Because I had a friend who had promised if I wound up a vegetable she’d come up and smother me. So the threat made sense at the time, though that might have been the drugs. So what was there to worry about? If I died on the table, well there are worse ways to go than during a nap; like being eaten by piranhas slowly from the toes up. And if I ended up in a state where it looked likely that someone was going to have to change my poop-filled diapers, my BF would totally end me because she knew me well enough to know I’d rather die than be pooping myself all the time. All bases were covered. Plus if I did wake up, and was not dead or turnipped, there would be cake. Because I was having brain surgery on my birthday and I told my husband and my mother that when I woke up there better be a damn chocolate cake with buttercream icing ‘cause they didn’t get out of getting me a cake just because there was the slight possibility I’d be zucchini or dead in a few hours. So get a cake. And when I woke up, there was cake (which turned out to be a total waste, because let me tell you, after brain surgery, you couldn’t give a shit less about cake or ice cream or anything but finding the insidious little troll who is rampaging through your skull raining down random hammer blows). So the cake did not get eaten. Which really is a bummer because you should never waste buttercream frosting. It haunts me to this day. But I was never worried. Or anxious. Which possibly means I am a psychopath. Or zen. I’ll go with zen. But I have to say reading about people like you with anxiety/depression issues, I truly am baffled and I can’t say as I will ever understand you or what you are going through. And I am sure it sucks. I don’t really know why I wrote this, except to say I find you hilarious and clever which are two rare qualities these days and even though I can’t ever understand the anxiety, I think I am part of your tribe, because I was on this road trip and I saw this gigantic metal chicken and I SOOO wanted that chicken but I couldn’t get it because it would not fit in our trunk for the thousand miles to home and I don’t think I could convince my husband to ride bitch so the chicken could ride shotgun. And I read your book and you actually GOT the metal chicken so I am a thousand times jealous. (And if Beyonce is looking for a boyfriend, there’s an awesome one in Pella, Iowa). Anyway, I wish you thousands of cage-free days iced with buttercream. And a really good friend who will kill you to spare you the indignity of pooping on yourself. P.S. I should point out that my husband was totally willing to smother me to death but my BF and I decided she should have the honor while he was safely alibied because the husband is always the first person they suspect. Something for Victor to think about.
I don’t cry. This post made me cry.
My best friend is severely mentally ill, and even though she doesn’t like to talk about things very often I know she has experiences like this almost every day. It’s so hard to know that people suffer like this, and also that we judge them for it even though they’re just sick. We don’t judge people for having cancer. My friends who suffer from mental disorders are some of the very bravest people I know just because they somehow keep telling themselves and me that life is beautiful.
And also, I’m 17 years old and I still love love love my mommy and this made me remember that all of a sudden. Please, all of you parents out there, remember that your kids will always need you to be their parents and be there for them as long as you share this earth.