Is it just me?

Okay.  This isn’t a funny post so feel free to skip it.  I just need to know something and I need you to tell me the truth rather than just make me feel better, so please be honest.

I realize that I’ve accomplished a lot in life and deep-down I know that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I only have a few days a month where I actually felt like I was good at life.  I know I’m a good person (as in “not evil or intentionally arsonistic”), but I’m not very good at being a person.  I don’t know if that makes sense and it’s not me fishing for compliments.  Please don’t tell me the things I’m good at because that’s not what this is about.  It’s just that at the end of each day I usually lie in bed and think, “Shit.  I’m fucking shit up.  I accomplished nothing today except the basics of existing.”  I feel like I’m treading water and that I’m always another half-day behind in life.  Even the great things are overshadowed by shame and anxiety, and yes, I realize a lot of this might have to do with the fact that I have mental illness, but I still feel like a failure more often than I feel like I’m doing well.

My pride that Hailey is the best speller in her class is overshadowed by the embarrassment that I don’t have the energy to be a PTA mom.  I’m happy my first book was so successful, but I suffer with writer’s block so much that I’m always sure I’ll never write again and that I’ll never finish my second book.  I feel like from the outside looking in I seem successful and happy, but I can’t help but think that if people looked closer they’d see the cracks and the dirt and shame of a million projects that never get done.

Part of this is me.  I have depression and anxiety and a number of personality disorders that make it hard for me to see myself correctly.  Part of it is that I judge myself by the shiny, pretty people I see at Parent-Teacher meetings, or on Facebook, or on Pintrest who seem to totally have their shit together and never have unwashed hair.  They never wait until Thursday night to help their kid with the entire week’s homework.  They don’t have piles of dusty boxes in corners waiting to be opened from the move before last.  They have pretty, pastel lives, and they are happy, and they own picnic baskets and napkins and know how to recycle, and they never run out of toilet paper or get their electricity turned off.  And it’s not even that I want to be one of those people.  I fucking hate picnics.  If God wanted us to eat on the ground he wouldn’t have invented couches.  I just don’t want to feel like a failure because my biggest accomplishment that day was going to the bank.

I just need an honest assessment to see if this is just me (and if I need to just find a way to change, or to increase my meds) or if this is just normal and people just don’t talk about it.

Please tell me the truth (anonymous answers are fine).  How many days in a month do you actually feel like you kicked ass, or were generally a successful person?  What makes you feel the worst?  What do you do to make yourself feel more successful?

Please be honest.  Because I’m about to be.

I feel successful 3-4 days a month.  The other days I feel like I’m barely accomplishing the minimum, or that I’m a loser.  I have imposter syndrome so even when I get compliments they are difficult to take and I just feel like I’m a bigger fraud than before.  I feel the worst when I get so paralyzed by fear that I end up cowering in bed and fall further and further behind.  To make myself feel more successful I spend real time with my daughter every day, even if it’s just huddling under a blanket and watching Little House on the Prairie reruns on TV.  I also try to remind myself that most of idols struggled as well, and that this struggle might make me stronger, if it doesn’t destroy me.

I’m hoping that by writing and posting this it will make me face this head-on and make some changes, either by forcing myself to change the way I see success, or by forcing myself to get shit done and stop feeling such dread and anxiety every day.  I’m hoping that I’ll get hints from you guys about what you do to feel like a good, successful person, or what you avoid that I can try to avoid it as well.  I’m hoping to stop the voices in my head.  At least the ones who don’t like me very much.

Your turn.

PS. For those of you who are new here, I’m already doing cognitive therapy and I’m already on a lot of drugs for anxiety, depression and ADD, but I’m really fine.  Honestly.  I just want to be better.  I’m just struggling with being human and I could use some pointers.  My guess is that a lot of us could.

PPS.  When things get bad this song helps me.  It might help you too.  Put on your headphones.

PPPS.  The Oxford Dictionary says the word “arsonistic” doesn’t exist, but it totally does.  It’s the same thing as being artistic, but instead of being sensitive to or good at art, you’re just really good at arson.  Then again, this is is the same dictionary that just added “twerk.”  I question everything now.

PPPPS.  Sorry.  This post is all over the place.  My ADD drugs haven’t kicked in yet.  I’m failing at writing a post about how I’m failing.  I think I’ve just set a record.  A bad one.

3,664 thoughts on “Is it just me?

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  1. Jenny,
    It’s not just you–I feel the same way. What’s hard about it is that I Pin kick-ass stuff, my house is really neat and tidy, my kids are always perfect in school and never leave the house with a hair out of place or a lunchbox that doesn’t have a kick-ass lunch in it. People are in awe. It’s such a lie though. To keep it all up causes so much stress and anxiety that I’d love to be able to just let all that shit GO. But I can’t. I can’t leave the house with a single dirty dish in the sink. Or with a single bed not made. And if one little thing isn’t where it belongs, I feel like a failure. For the whole day. And then I yell at the kids and get pissed off at everything and everyone and then I feel even more like a failure for THAT.

    Sucks. But at least know you’re not alone.
    Hugs.
    C

  2. Well, yesterday in a burst of actual hopefulness I suggested ways to improve things at work. This desperately offended my immediate senior, so I burst into tears, and was sent home for the rest of the day. This was by no means my least professional day.

    Even on days when I accomplish a lot of things, I feel super panicky about all the other things to do.

    Most people – including those who are not mentally ill – definitely feel like they’re faking it, and everyone else is doing so much better. You actually look brilliant and successful to me (which I know must sound crazy to you, but it’s true…..for one thing, I’ve written 13 unpublished novels and not even my friends generally read the blog that I wrote daily for four years).

    I have had depression and anxiety issues, and I’m doing pretty well now – but yes, I’d say I feel like I’m sorta okay 3-4 days a month too. Mostly I try not to think about it, or I wallow. In actual reality I shower almost every day, and my daughter is almost always dressed and fed – and not afraid of me. My marriage is pretty impressive (mostly of course because my husband is a saint…but I picked him, so I get some credit for that). The rest is details, and not actually important.

    Louise Curtis

  3. I have depression and anxiety as well and everything you’ve said resonates with me.

    Truthfully, I cling to two things: my co-worker’s mantra that “you can only do what you can do” and a Facebook/Pinterest thing that says “don’t judge your life by someone else’s highlights reel.” Those shiny people have something else in their life where they are failing and we’re not going to see it.

  4. Sure. I often feel like I’m “not good enough,” “not accomplished enough,” “not working hard enough,” etc.

    But you know what? I brought the leftover cake from this weekend’s Labor Day picnic into work today, and emailed my office friends to come eat it so I didn’t puree it and drink it like a milkshake. And not a single person picked up a piece of cake and ran. Everyone wanted to chat, catch up. One even brought me milk so that we could enjoy our cake together. And the fact that 6 people came for the cake and stayed for the conversation is good enough. I *mean* the chances of me dying penniless are not all that high, but the chances of me dying alone are a lot lower. Unless I get attacked by a rabid wolverine while hiking…

    Anyway, rabid wolverines and hikes aside, you know what…2000 people came for your cake and stayed for the conversation. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. And if it takes you 10 years to write the next book we’ll still read it. 🙂

  5. I’m pushing 40 and live with my parents. College dropout, mentally ill, stunning job failure rate. No seriously, I could medal in the Getting Fired Olympics.
    I don’t know if “failure at life” is a thing, but it’s a thing I have and so do the vast majority of my friends, so if it’s not a thing, we need to contact whoever writes that huge ass dictionary of everything that could possibly go wrong with you and tell them to update a bitch.
    And I’m not lazy, or privileged (not any more than the average American, anyway) or any of the other reasons one might have to suck at life. I just pretty much suck at it.
    So what I did, was decide to start my own business doing something I’d never done before, that I’ve never been trained to do, and learn how as I do it. I decided to be an artist, do art shows, make art (whatever that is). Historically, I’m as about artistically inclined as a pregnant yak on roller skates. But since I suck at everything else, why not? At least I’ll have fun sucking. Unlike waiting tables or answering phones, or any of the other things I’ve done that I suck at but also wanted to kill myself if I had to do for one more hour.
    Build confidence by sucking sounds like a weird way to go about it, but really, how could I do worse? I’ve already sucked a whole lot at all the things you’re supposed to do to not suck, so why not do something I totally know I suck at, have a good time, and whatever happens at least I sucked in a spectacularly colorful fashion.
    This project is about a year old at this point. My first two art shows went extremely well. Not financially, but I got all sorts of positive feedback. I promised my partner I wouldn’t tell people I wasn’t really an artist, and they didn’t seem to notice so…
    I dunno. I still don’t feel successful at life. But I’m having more fun sucking than I ever have. So maybe the secret isn’t trying not to feel like a failure, but to try to have fun feeling like a failure.
    And glitter. The secret is also glitter.

  6. You are not alone. And it’s not limited to mental illness. Behind every single happy looking life there is strife and feelings that you’re useless. We all feel worthless in our own ways. For our own reasons.

    How I cope- i tell funny stories about the unusual things I’ve done. I make lists and put on them things like ‘brush teeth’ and ‘feed cat’ so I can check those off. I go out and buy craft kits and make things for friends, silly bits of frippery, to bring them joy. I actively concentrate on helping others, which allows me to be social while doing a job, which is less scary. And Somedays I stay in bed all day, only getting up to grab water or pee or get more chocolate and ask my partner to leave me alone for the day so I can wallow. And Somedays I put on my headphones and listen to music or an audio book as I run errands and pretend all the people in the stores are those cars in that frogger game and not actual people at all. And Somedays I order things online so I don’t have to go out. And Somedays I go around being actively kind to everyone I interact with no matter how annoying they are . Because Somedays I need to be reminded that others are struggling as much as I am, and that many more have been through worse and made it to old age and while they may or may not have wisdom, they have survived.

    Cause Somedays, that’s what it’s about. Survival. And if the best you can do is stay alive, then you won. Even if winning looks like Cheetos stains on your nightshirt and great hair. You’re still here. And that is a fucking accomplishment!

  7. Okay, I should have read my comment before I posted it – I didn’t realize how preachy it sounded. I’m sorry about that – I guess I just wanted to rush in and do something to help you, because I think you are awesome and I really want you to know in your heart that you are a wonderful person and THAT is success. It isn’t about how much you accomplish. It’s about the fact that you seem to always want to improve yourself, and that you care so much about others. Your sense of humor is what brings people to your blog, but your caring heart is what makes us stay with you. That is success! That right there is what being a successful person is! A lot of people never manage that.

  8. I haven’t read all the previous posts – too many and too little time, so sorry if this is redundant.

    Let me tell you a little secret about the people on Pinterest and facebook. the reason they (it, whatever they post) looks so good, is because it’s entirely separated from the rest of their life (room, car, brain, kitchen, closet). The things that are posted look special because they have been removed from the rest of their true surroundings (the piles of paper, books, miscellaneous crap) and have been photographed to make them look precious and special (sprecious – it IS SO a word – I just made it up).. And then it has been photographed as if there is nothing else in the world so unique/cool/etc. Nobody on earth is as organized/”together” as they look on facebook. NOBODY. NOT EVEN ME.

  9. Also Amy Cuddy’s TED talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” illustrated how science shows standing like Wonder Woman and other power postures help, but the most poignant part of her talk was when she broke up about her own impostor situation following a traumatic brain injury from a car accident and how she helped others who felt the same way.

    Her mantra stuck with me: “It’s not fake it until you make it – It’s FAKE IT UNTIL YOU BECOME IT”.

    That also gave me hope. 🙂

  10. I don’t follow you regularly, but I’m glad I saw this one and I hope I can say something that makes sense, or at least helps you to see that you’re not alone. Nearly every day of my life is spent wishing it wasn’t such a failure and a waste. I feel like I’ve been blessed and robbed all at the same time. I know some of it is my fault, and I am always analyzing myself and trying to figure out how to be a better person. I’m very hard on myself, as you are, and always trying to be (or feel) worthy. Some of my circumstances cannot be helped (mainly systemic disease, poverty, not meeting goals or expectations because many days I can’t even manage to take a shower and put on real clothes), and it is those things which I cannot control that throw me into a spiral of anger and sadness and self-hate to the point that I wish I was never born. Not the right way response, obviously, but I have days like this often.

    I’m glad you have sought medical care. A lot of people don’t, even when they have the resources (financially) to do so. And they never get better, they spend their lives fighting what they can’t face by pretending they’re fine and that any unfortunate events or bad feelings are everybody else’s fault. You don’t do this, and that is worth commending. Concerning your peers and their perfect lives, I believe we all relate very well to that. We see things as they should be and not as they really are. We have the mindset that there is an “ideal”, even if we’re not made for it, and then we wonder why we are such failures at life. The normalcy of the “ideal” life is a farce. If we could only be a fly on the walls of our friends and neighbors, we would most likely see that their lives (and their characters) aren’t as perfect as they appear. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to the facades of others, but we do. Grass is greener on the other side, keeping up with the Joneses, and all that crap. It’s a part of who we are as imperfect humans observing the outer layer of those around us. Shrek’s donkey was right…we are onions.

    I ran across this article the other day and thought I’d share. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201308/why-some-people-hate-receiving-compliments

    I also recommend Toni Bernhard’s articles on Psych Today, if you’re not already following her.
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold

    I don’t (and can’t) have children, but I read where someone asked a popular Author and TV personality what kind of legacy he wishes to leave the world, other than his daughter. His answer: “She’s enough.” It’s high time we stop judging ourselves by someone else’s ideal or expectations. Create your own, and your daughter will follow suit. From where I’m sitting, you’ve already succeeded in this.

    I know you’ve said you’re not a particularly religious person, but I hope you’ll accept my prayers for peace and better days anyhow. You could benefit from taking your own advice that I’ve seen you give others. Don’t knowingly allow anyone or anything lie to you. Be kind to yourself, and continue to reach out. Take care.

  11. You are not alone. I think we all get to feeling like this – well, at least smart people do – people who realize there should be more to life than what we experience day to day. I learned a cool name for it in college – self actualization (yay! thousands of dollars well spent). The thing is, most people don’t ever reach self actualization and that’s why we, as people, are miserable a lot of the time. We know there is more out there and it feels out of our grasp.
    I don’t know where out there “it” is, but gosh, if anyone finds it, please report back here on the double!

  12. I’ve never posted here before, despite reading your blog frequently. This one really resonates. I also have depression and anxiety and take medicine to keep myself getting out of bed each morning. I also have impostor syndrome. Here’s how I look on paper:

    * I have a graduate degree
    * I live in one of the wealthiest suburbs in the country
    * We can afford for me to stay home with the kids, which was my preference, and my husband supports that

    * We travel internationally every year
    * I am studying two languages and taking a writing class, just sort of for the hell of it
    * People *tell me* I’m attractive
    * I exhibit at a local art gallery
    * I have some very wonderful friends
    * Despite me being home, we have a housecleaner come once every two weeks because I’m too lazy to clean my own house
    Yet, every single day, every SINGLE HOUR, I am doubting myself, upset with myself, struggling with body image, struggling with what never gets done, with the lack of time I spend doing things I should be doing…In other words, every single word you wrote, every single feeling you have, I have too. All the time.
    My own doctor tells me not to be so rough on myself. I have two children who both have special needs, and taking care of them is exhausting. THEY are exhausting. We have a wonderful bond, though, and they are the sunshine in my life. And sometimes the clouds.
    We went on vacation for three weeks this summer, and ate everything I saw, and then I spent every single moment not being able to focus on the wondrous sites we were seeing, because I was sure everyone was looking at how fat I am. I am not fat, I just feel fat. I actually have no idea what I look like, because my body image is so messed up. I doubt 5’7″ and 140 lbs is fat, but I feel fat.
    So no, it’s not just you.

  13. It’s not just you. We all have our variations on this. I think your phrase “definition of success” is key. Comparison is a crock. Don’t go there. Something that helped me was being at the bedside of my 52 year old brother as he died of ALS. He did not go to college; his career was mostly manual labor at an aluminum factory. There he was on his deathbed, and what mattered? His relationships – his love for others and his love for God.

    His co-workers at that aluminum factory were some of his most faithful visitors. They paid for a wheelchair ramp for their house and they did all they could to support my brother’s wife. My brother actually enjoyed all the time he got to spend visiting with the many family and friends who visited him during that end of life period. His motto during that time was, “His grace is sufficient for me.” His faith in God just grew stronger and stronger.

    Moral of the story: Love your friends and family. When you look back on your life, that’s what matters. And you’re already doing that. Success!

  14. You are SO not alone. I’m impressed that you feel competent 3-4 days a month. I’m lucky if it’s 1.
    I think there are two reasons for this:
    1: we compare our insides to everyone’s outside. We don’t know what’s going on in their life behind the scenes. If all you saw was my public persona, you’d probably be impressed as well.
    2: we compare our accomplishments, not to a baseline, but to what we dreamed. We dream big, so everything we accomplish seems small. But if you look back to where you started – it’s actually huge.
    How to fix this – NOT A CLUE!!!
    For what it’s worth – I look up to you as a person who accomplishes a lot. Just by being honest, you improve life for SO MANY of us.

  15. Nope, not just you. I am convinced that everyone feels this way, they just don’t say anything about it so everyone thinks they are alone.

  16. Megan is right. EVERYONE is faking it. They talk a good game. Comparing yourself to the people whose lives you’re not personally experiencing will perpetually make you feel inadequate. And you wanna know why? You only see what they want you to see.

    Fuck ’em.

    I feel like a complete fraud even saying any of this, given that I have the very same thoughts as you, but it’s one thing I KNOW to be true academically even if I don’t believe it most of the time. I can’t say what thoughts or ideas might make you (or me) feel more accomplished or successful, but I can say that crawling into bed with a loved one and watching a show (sorry–I kinda hate LHotP) is a lot more fun than giving a crap about other PTA moms. Do more of that. Hailey will thank you for it.

  17. I suffer from the same problems as you. DBT helped me a lot and I moved back to a place they don’t have a group so I am missing it. Those vampires in your head are just that: Make believe monsters that when you were a kid you thought were under the bed. Hard as it is, stab those bastards in the heart with a stake. You have done so many marvelous things. Hang onto one that makes you happy when you are having a crappy day. If you have to, lay in bed and think about that one thought for hours, if need be! I may have a few days a month I feel great, usually at work, interestingly, because I feel more in control there. When I come home to the boxes and the dust bunnies and the OCD crap I have collected over the billions of years I have been alive I feel powerless. I work at it slowly, getting the kids and the husband to do shit they don’t want to do. I fail often. Many nights I come home so tired from work and my kids need all my attention and my husband is at school nights these days and I just want to scream. You are so not alone. And, for the record, I really appreciate your posts. This one in particular, that you were honest and open about the mental illness angle, really struck me. It is hard to be there. Those shiny pretty people at the parent meetings? Don’t buy it. They all have problems, too. Hang in there, I think with the issues you are fighting, you are doing an outstanding job. Love and hugs, Lisa

  18. You need to stop comparing yourself to posts that people make. It isn’t the whole picture of them or their lives just as your blog isn’t a full picture of you and your life. They post the good things. The things that are fabulous. the funny things. The days that suck and the projects that failed… not so much.

    Quite often when I start a new project that is outside my comfort zone, I think I’m gonna fuck it up. That if I don’t even cut into that special fabric, knit that beautiful yarn, whatever… that it can be anything. That I won’t waste it fucking it up. And it gets put away. And then I buy more less special materials for less ambitious projects. The special projects get put off and very often don’t get made.

    Oh, and yesterday I told someone that I was awesome. Today, not feeling it so much.

  19. So this is my third comment in a row and you are totally going to think I’m a stalker, BUT…

    I just wanted to add that Facebook, Pinterest etc…these are lies also. I mean, NOBODY posts pictures of the homework they didn’t help their kid with. Nobody posts pictures of the dust pile in the corner of the dining room (ahem). No one posts pictures of themselves sobbing as they sign divorce papers. It’s just the nature of social media…or even our own photo albums, really. My life isn’t nearly as fabulous as it may look on Facebook.

    There have been studies about how Facebook actually diminishes people’s happiness. You can google that and you will see a bunch of reports about it with titles like “Study: Facebook Use Predicts Decline In Happiness”.
    Just another example of what a lie it is to compare ourselves to others.

  20. Wow. I’m not going to go through all 1,946 comments – I don’t have that much time. I imagine you don’t either. If you get through to my comment, then I’m incredibly impressed with your accomplishment for the day.

    I would just like to preface this by saying I do not have anxiety, nor do I suffer from depression, and I feel the way you do practically all the time. Right now, I have laundry that needs to be done, a sink full of dirty dishes and a carpet that looks gray because I haven’t vacuumed the fur from my very sheddy black dog and white dog. However, I know it is not going to get done. Maybe it will get done this weekend, but probably it won’t. Then, I will get angry at myself for having pissed away another potentially productive weekend by doing…what? What did I do? I’ll have nothing to show for it come Monday morning. Well, come any morning, actually. I constantly feel like I am treading water and I never make any strides towards being productive. I long for a solid week off from work (which I haven’t had in four years) in which to magically accomplish everything. But who am I kidding? I would piss that time away too, and then I’d feel really bad right before I have to go back to work.

    So, to sum it all up. No one has all their shit together. NO ONE. Everyone has something they need to work on, or feel they need to accomplish in order to feel whole. Successful. Complete. I’m not telling you this to make you feel more depressed, honestly. I’m just letting you know that you are not alone. Far from it, sister. Far from it.

    And one thing that I did years ago, that I will never regret doing – is that I learned how to accept a compliment. By struggling with the voice inside that wanted to say, “No, you lie! How can you possibly think I look good in this outfit? What is wrong with YOU?” and instead just said, “Why, thank you.” It was the best acting job I’ve ever pulled off. And eventually it got easier to say it to the compliment-giver.

    I think this might be a generational thing, too. I don’t remember hearing about my parents or my grandparents saying they felt like this. Maybe they did and didn’t talk about it? Or maybe modern technology has freed up our time so much that the time that was once spent doing time-consuming chores is now spent doing more leisurely activities, and we are feeling like we all do because we need to be exerting ourselves physically in order to feel productive? I don’t know.

  21. It’s not just you.

    What I hate the most is when I’m having a good day, and someone says something–it can be anything, really–and suddenly I am convinced that I have fucked up my entire life and am completely worthless.

    I don’t think I even know what percentage of days are good and what percentage are bad, because when I am having a bad day, it feels like it’s always been that day, and the good days were just a delusion.

    But then, I have a good day, and nothing happens to shatter it, and I know that I’ll make it through the bad days, even when it feels too much to bear.

  22. You aren’t alone, but honestly, I think about 90% of the people here don’t really get it, even though they may say it’s not just you. I’m 31 and have accomplished jack shit. Days a month I feel successful? Hardly. I’m lucky if I have a couple of good days a *year.* And this is my happy place.

  23. Not to be flippant at all, but I personally think that if I haven’t kicked the cat or set the dog on fire, I’m doing okay! I have struggled with depressive episodes in the past, and what helped me was finding a mantra that resonated….my mantra used to be: I ain’t so big, I ain’t so bad, I ain’t so ugly…..and now, I’ve gotten a bit more optimistic and say: You’re doin’ okay….you’ve got a house, a job, and people who would care if you were dead. (yeah, I’m working a broken soul here, but you get the idea I’m sure!) Chin up lil’ bucky-it will get better, and GOSH DARNITPEOPLELIKEYOU!

  24. How many days in a month do you actually feel like you kicked ass, or were generally a successful person? Honestly, maybe once a month.
    What makes you feel the worst? Being constantly surrounded by Japanese Stepford Wives
    What do you do to make yourself feel more successful? Still trying to figure that one out.

    I have lived in Japan for ten years, felt pretty successful in navigating around the culture but now that my son has start grade school and the stress of it has really brought me down the past year and a half. Most times I find myself hiding at home, avoiding the many responsibilities required of Japanese mothers. Lots of required “volunteer” work as well as weekly non-mandatory meetings that everyone says you must do anyway. The few time I have felt good about myself was to get away from the Stepford wives and find my Japanese friends who think and act more like I do. An hour or so with them and I feel somewhat normal and happy. . .but then back to the circle in hell where my daily life is spent with the Stepford Wives and I find my self hiding again from them.

    I guess, what I am trying to say is that I force myself to get out and be with people I am more comfortable to be around, where I feel good being myself and am accepted for who I am.

    I do not know if this will work but I found the following advice for expats who suffer from depression. Keep a journal everyday, Every morning write down three things that you look forward to and in the evening write down three new things that you are grateful for. It has been hard to think of three things to write every morning and night. . .harder still to do it everyday but when I do, in the evening looking at them makes be a bit happier.

  25. Honestly, you are doing okay. Some days are just shit and all one can do is brush ones teeth. Some days? Not even that much. Therapy worked for me, but it was cognitive therapy. What is that anyway? Being forced to confront the things that freak one out? Being forced to relive the trauma? Better to practice comforting oneself; the child you and the current you.

    Anyway. I feel your pain. Read that with Bill Clinton’s voice. You’ll laugh. I feel as if I did my best work 20 years ago and I am not creative worth a damn anymore. But I still try, for some reason.

  26. Jenny, I must reiterate all that has been repeated here–we’re all trying to keep it together and some days it is easier than others. Life is Very Very hard and your daughter matters most. Keep loving her as best you can. Compare yourself to No One, you are the best you can be on any given day and that’s what the world will get from you. From all of us. Our best on that day. You are loved by thousands-look at all the fugging comments….

    You Rock, Girl.

  27. Getting shit done doesn’t make me feel more successful, but less anxious, allowing me a clearer mind & “more oxygen” to approach life. Over time this can contribute to a feeling of success AKA having one’s shit together.
    I’m talking about the little things like the dusty unpacked boxes that weigh heavily in their unfinished-ness. It might sound lame & incredibly basic, but just start with one simple task per day & tick it off. One box per day – empty it. Find homes for everything or recycle or discard them. You will feel so much lighter and each day you accomplish one seemingly mundane task the better it gets. Then you have room in your mind to think about bigger things like parenting & career.
    No-one truly has all their shit together – promise! Including the loathsome shiny people. And most women and some men feel like total frauds. Lately I’ve been reading over my CV (not for fun, for job hunting) and realize everything on there is true. I did those things. They really happened. How much of an imposter am I REALLY? I may not be the best or a genius but I have done some good shit. You, My Dear have done some very good shit. None of it is made up. Perhaps a regular review of the facts regarding your accomplishments would be helpful?

  28. *HUGS* You are not alone. I was relaxed, and happy in my shorts and tshirt yesterday. Then I had to go to the nursery school mandatory open house night. I met those people last year, when my toddler was in 1 day a week. They looked down their noses at me, as I scurried in, having helped at my older daughter’s school for a bit, or was tackling Mt. Laundrymore. I threw on a nice pair of slacks, a pretty paisley blouse, and my saddle shoes. Saddle shoes rock! Those women still looked down their noses at me. What made my evening was that I saw, as I was leaving, a potential friend – dressed in capris and a tshirt. Hopefully I will see her again. The other thing that made my evening was one of the first grade teachers from the elementary school – a woman who had seen me with a teething, drooling, runny-nosed toddler on my back as I have trudged down the hall delivering books to classrooms in a tshirt and a pair of sweats, while my kid wipes her nose on my shirt and chews on the collar. She made a point to come up to me and tell me she hoped our girls were in the same class. Turns out, they aren’t, but she told me she’s hoping to see me at future functions. Sometimes, when you’re feeling totally down, something like that can make you feel better. If not, there is always chocolate!

  29. How many days in a month do you actually feel like you kicked ass, or were generally a successful person?
    Honestly, I’ve never dared to count, because the answer would probably make me more miserable than ever

    What makes you feel the worst?
    Thinking about all the things I haven’t done, or the things I should have done, or the things I wished I’d done

    What do you do to make yourself feel more successful?
    Even if I shout out loud that I don’t believe in making lists, etc, I make a mental list of things and chores that needs to be done each and every day. Someone wise once told me to not focus on the things that haven’t gotten done, or haven’t been accomplished and instead focus on the things I have actually gotten done and accomplished. It actually do help, but it isn’t easy – or at least it isn’t easy for me. I have practiced and am slowly getting better at it.

    PS! If that doesn’t help, you can practice viewing yourself as you would view a person with the exact same issues and health problems as you. I bet you would shower compliments at that person for merely surviving the day, let alone getting stuff accomplished. You would be in absolute awe if that person had enough energy to show love and care for her daughter. Then go look at yourself in a mirror and tell yourself these things out loud. (put on loud music if needed, so nobody else hears you). Tell them and mean it. Tell it because you deserve it, because, Lady, you do!

    PPS! Don’t mess with your meds too much. I hear that can wreak havoc on your system more than you’d think possible

  30. I think you are lucky to feel useful for those 3-4 days. Even on days where I have multiple people assure me that I kick ass, and I have people telling me that they love working with me and how good I am at what I do, I feel useless. I feel like I just floundered my way through. I also wait for the day they all find out that I really have no clue what I am doing. How do I make myself feel better? I read your blog. Seriously, I am finally getting on the right path and getting the help I need because of you. You have proven to me that I really am not alone, and that I can overcome this. So when you think you are nothing, remember how important you were to me and all of your readers, and how you have saved so many lives just by being yourself.

  31. I had a good conversation with a boss once who told me that we should think of days on a bell curve. Most days are just in the middle, kind of chugging along. Some days are on the tail end of suckage and some days are on the tail end of awesome. That helps me when I feel like I’m not being the best I can/accomplishing as much as I should/being a nicer wife who cares about icky chores. A few days I’m awesome, a few days I’m crumby, and most of the time I’m just doing what I can to keep chugging.

  32. You’ve got nearly 2K comments that probably say the same thing, but: it’s not just you. I think 3-4 days a month are pretty much where everyone I’ve ever known is at…whether or not they dealt with mental illness. The single most capable, most organized person I know would tell you the same thing–I know, because she’s told me enough times!

    Is it time to up or switch the meds? Maybe. Or maybe it’s time to figure out how to let this particular hangup go. Hell, maybe it’s both. Been there, done that,…I’m *sure* I got the Tshirt, it’s probably just in a pile here somewhere… 🙂

    Hang in there. You’re not alone, not by a long shot.

  33. I’m 18, and I have a couple mental health issues too, though not serious enough to require medication or super immediate help, but bad enough to have a negative impact on my life. I forget to shower or eat, and I hide away and hate myself to not being as successful as other people sometimes, and for being to scared to try. I recently came out of a bad depression spell that lasted about a month where once the highlight of my week was making myself a plate of scrambled eggs. I even developed an irrational terror of going to sleep for fear that I would think bad things and do something to hurt myself if I let my mind be quiet, but that was gone the next day. I felt pathetic, not relieved. I’m better now, at least for the moment, so I’m writing to let you know that I can almost understand how you feel, even on a smaller scale. I look up to you because of your humor, and I love those positive sides of life that you write about sometimes. I’m thrilled to see someone who has problems that are similar to mine, who is an adult with a successful blog and enough money to buy crazy taxidermy animals online and has a family that loves her and accepts her crazy ways. It gives me hope that I’ll be an adult with her own bizarre contributions to life one day, even if I’m not completely “better” by then.

  34. To answer you question about days a month, I am the same as you. Maybe as many as six days a month, but that’s it.

    I often feel like a failure. I stay at home with my two girls. I homeschool, but if I am truly honest, I don’t do everything I should with my six year old. She’s learning, but I keep thinking “oh, if I just worked a little bit harder on this, she would be leaps and bounds better.” Sometimes I consider putting her in school, but then I feel like a total ass and a failure, and I truly do not like the schools in my area at all.

    My house is a fucking wreck. It’s too small, or we have too much shit, or both. My cats have to pee on my laundry to remind me to clean out the litter box sometimes. Our house is NEVER dusted. Never. My first daughter was born in June 07, and my mom came over to help with my early labor. She mopped my floor to help out. The next time it got mopped was when she came back in March 09 with my second daughter’s labor.

    I don’t think I’m entirely normal, but I’m too chicken shit to see a psychiatrist. I’m pretty sure I have ADD. Maybe depression, too, but that seems to fluctuate in severity.

    I often feel like a failure as a wife and mother, but I keep plugging along, trying to do better. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I lay in my bed and watch 10 episodes of Psych on Netflix.

    Now, I’m going to go back and read some of the 2,000 comments and see how normal or not I am.

    And next week maybe I’ll call a psychiatrist and make an appointment.

  35. Dear Jenny,
    I think the number of comments on your post is a testament to your value as a person, but compliments don’t seem to be what you’re looking for, so I won’t blow sunshine up your skirt. When I was getting divorced and was forced to stay in my ex-husband’s house until the courts decided placement so it didn’t appear like I was abandoning my children, even at great personal risk to myself, I would fall into bed at night and wonder if life was worth living. Then a little voice inside me asked, “Did you do your best today?” Jenny, if your best on any given day is only 50%, or 25%, or even just 1%, it’s still your best. OK? Just do your best…even if in someone else’s opinion, including your critical voices, it’s not good enough, it’s still YOUR best. God bless you and yours, Jenny, and thanks for the laughter and happiness your blog brings into a lot of people’s lives. Thanks for sharing. Your best is pretty damn awesome!
    -Christine

  36. A lot of the emotions and thought patterns you expressed were very familiar to me, but they mostly define a bad hour, or a bad evening, rather than an entire day- so probably 3-8 hours of feeling abject failure and crushing self-doubt a month. Except for late February/March, a time period that reliably leads to feeling exhausted and uninspired, which leads to doing the bare minimum to get by, which leads to feeling like a wimp and a failure.

    I rely a lot on my job/school (I’m a grad student in basic science, so working in lab is both an education and my job) for feeling successful and valuable, since progress is fairly concrete in that sphere- I can make a list of daily, weekly, and semester-long goals, and then check them off as they are accomplished or revised. I can see how working in a less structured environment, in a job with more nebulous markers for progress could lead to more doubt. Outside of work, I rely on hobbies that result in visible, tangible progress- I am a knitter, spinner (of yarn), weaver and cook; if I am “just” reading or watching Dr. Who, I feel anxious and start obsessing about everything I’m not doing, but if I knit at the same time, it’s like I’m allowed to relax. When it gets really bad, I make a list of 3 good things, 3 bad things and 3 “neutral” things that happened each day, so that I don’t just focus on the bad things. And all that said with the caveat that I am a baby, only 23, with minimal responsibility outside of work beyond keeping myself (and the cat) alive. I hope the 1963 comments are helping. I certainly find it reassuring to see that the feelings and voices in my head are not exclusive to me- there is not a magic moment when people suddenly cruise through all the grown up bills/appointments/housekeeping without effort.

  37. Definitely not alone in this. You can’t compare yourself to people on Pinterest or blogs or whatever. Most of those people only share what they want you to see. There is no way to know for sure the real, messy, disorganized parts of their lives.

  38. Hardly ever do I feel good about what I’ve done in a day. Maybe a few days a month. Most of the time I feel like I’m treading water and my legs are tired and don’t want to anymore. Going to my weekly therapy appts really helped but I don’t go anymore and I really should but can’t make myself go back. I wanna quit my job daily cause it seems no matter what I do people find something I didn’t do right. I just want someone to come home to everyday that loves me for me. I just wanna be fucking happy, tell someone everything, not feel like it would be easier to just not be, not be afraid to be “crazy” and get help. I have no clue if I said what was asked.

  39. You said it perfectly: “This is just normal and people just don’t talk about it.”

    I’m still putting off grad school and working a silly receptionist job. I don’t make a lot of money and unless I’m writing a rent check (once a month) or paying for my car insurance (usually that same week/day), I don’t really feel like an adult. My roommate even takes care of some of the major “adult” bills (electricity) and we have been living without any kind of internet in our apartment for OVER A YEAR. I mean, talk about lazy and unproductive.

    I hope you are feeling better because just skimming down the Almost 2000 Comments here, I see that almost everyone has something to say like I do. It really is just a whole lot of fakery. We should all be actors. Ha!

    P.S. Thanks for the twitter follow! I retweeted it and instagrammed it like a crazy stalker and THAT was the highlight of that day for me haha

  40. I think everyone feels like the other person has their crap together. I don’t think anyone really and truly looks at themselves in the mirror and believes they are the shit. Life in general is an accomplishment. Daily life is sprinkled with f’ups and roadblocks. I think being successful is redefined everyday. Today I was successful not because I did the laundry but b/c I put it away. It still counts even if it’s just part of the greater whole. Tomorrow might be successful if I submit my work on time. One is not MORE important than the other. Turning in my office work doesn’t make me any better of a person, but my kid having clothes to wear makes me a rockstar! It depends on how you gauge success.

  41. Degree – yes, career at one time yes. Been a stay at home mom for 16 years and no one will even call me back for an interview. I am filled with self doubt. And when they ask me what I did today, I colored my hair and rescued four baby squirrels. My life is just strange–pass me the bottle.

  42. In the prime of my life, I had 1 or 2 good, productive days a week. In 2008, I had 4 “good days” all year. I’m working very, very hard on Getting.My.Shit.Together. and have clawed my way all the way up to 2 “good days” a month, give or take.

    People who have impeccable Hair/Kitchens/Fashion Sense/Pinterest pages/Blogs showing them doing something amazing all the time/Whatever are just good at displaying the highlights while shoving the failures behind the sofa or into a closet. They’ve learned how to market themselves, that’s all. Chances are, the PTA Moms that you hold up as examples are actually very bad at other things, and are using the PTA as a way to have something they can point at and say “Look, I have this and I’m good at it! That makes up for everything else!” (Or they’re using it as a way to hide that they don’t actually like their kids very much.)

  43. I think at least half the population of first world countries feel the same way about not being productive. I certainly do. I’m in my 30’s, divorced and on disability because of anxiety and depression and can’t afford to live on my own, so I live with my parents and have nothing but a car and a cell phone. I have no savings and no uterus. I have no kids and never can and it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted out of life. Ever. Since I was four. I don’t really get depressed anymore, but sometimes wonder what the purpose of my life is, because I refuse to believe it’s only to help my friends out with their kids, which is what I do because there is nothing else for me to do. I’d like to move to a better climate, but can’t see how that’s going to happen. I’d like to get married again, but don’t see that happening either because I don’t meet new people and I refuse to try internet dating again. I don’t see my life ever changing, but I still wake up every morning – or afternoon. Sometimes I wonder if I’m stunted socially because I don’t work and would rather stay at home, but I don’t think that I am. On occasion, when I see how people my own age or friends are doing with their lives and they seem to be so accomplished and I’m not, I figure if some one thinks anything less of me than the truly kick-ass person I am, they can suck it!

  44. I started a blog about houses because I was too terrified to write about anything deeper. I was afraid to open the floodgates and afraid of the judgements and afraid, afraid, afraid. Reading your raw and honest words always inspires me to share a little more of myself. Your words remind us that we are not alone. I wish our words could inspire you right back. You inspire us not to judge our insides by other people’s outsides.
    I have about 8-10 days a month that I feel like I’m on top of things. The other days, I fake it until I make it.
    Sending you big love and gratitude.

  45. If you ever get around to reading all these, I think you’ll find a common thread. NO ONE has it figured out. We plod along, trying to get it “right” but what’s right? Too much emphasis is placed on what a “good” mom does. Do what makes you happy and don’t sweat it. I love that you recognize your depression and still manage to be so damn funny you can make people laugh so hard they pee. That’s your gift. As for the other stuff, NO…NO ONE is perfect. It’s all a game. Played better by some than others. Sorry you’re in a rough spot but you have a special little place in all of these people’s hearts. And a good day is when everyone is still alive and made it to and from school and work. And no one got maimed. 🙂

  46. I read your posts religiously, but I never reply. However, this post made me see too much of what I can see in myself when I’m on the downswing, and your plea for answers compelled me to speak up. So, here I go, real talk and tough love.

    I think you have a very warped impression of other people’s lives. I realize you don’t feel like you have the energy to go to PTA meetings, but honestly, being there makes you see just how fucked everybody is, so not being there is probably leaving you with a bit of a distorted idea of what’s going on elsewhere. Also, I’m a teacher, so I see even more of what goes on in families these days, and it’s not the 50s. So, and I mean this in the most loving way possible, quit trying to judge yourself by what you made up about the rest of the world.

    As a matter of fact, quit trying to judge yourself period. Are these things you’re berating yourself with things you really want, or things you feel like you SHOULD want based on your image of the world (that one we already dismissed in the last paragraph)? You’ve already pointed out you spend time with your daughter and help her with her homework, regardless of when it gets done. That’s more than a lot of kids get. You say you have writer’s block, but I haven’t noticed any huge drought in your posting. Your last book was largely rehashed from your blog, so why wouldn’t you expect it to take a while to build up enough stories to go again? Don’t waste so much energy thinking about something arbitrary that you didn’t do when you could be using for something else that really is important to you.

    The bottom line is… You’re normal. Mental illness and all, you’re struggling through a not-exactly-charmed life just like the rest of us. At the end of the day, you existed, and you existed for your daughter, and that’s what life is. You don’t have a parade of gratified accomplishment more than a few days a month (or even a year) unless you’re paying someone to throw the confetti.

    And for what it’s worth, getting a second opinion on your therapy and medication might not hurt. After all this time, the thing I would most love to see you post is how you made it through something as Jenny who is funny and kind (and BTW has some issues with mental illness) instead of Jenny the mentally ill person.

  47. It’s not just you…it’s most people…if not all of them. And the ones who say they don’t feel this way are LYING.

    Busy-ness is over-rated…our society likes to make us think otherwise…marketing ploy? Someone trying to make me feel bad because inside THEY actually feel worse?…probably… I don’t know…but I do believe this quote.

    Every one puts there best foot forward…in person, on facebook, on pinterest…we all seem to do it…how can we compare our imperfect back side to their “pastel” front side? We don’t always see what goes on behind closed doors…if everyone put all of their problems into one big pot, we’d all pick our OWN problems back out and be shocked at what others really are feeling and dealing with.

    You are too hard on yourself…how about I say this to you and you say this to me but neither one of us will really believe it because we just aren’t programmed to accept positives as humans 🙂 Deal?

    Monica

  48. I feel that way pretty often as a SAHM, and I figure it’s pretty normal. I think 22-yr-old me would be very disappointed. But screw her, what does she know?

  49. 1999 comments all saying the same thing, what more can I add?

    Even if you do have it “together” you really don’t. Life is an infinitely changeable illusion, just hold on and take a breath then follow it with another. Find the space between this breath and the next and know that is what life truly is.

    Cheers

  50. What you’re feeling is normal. And I think our social networking world is making it worse. It reminds me of how my mom was when I was growing up. She had an uber-shitty childhood — abuse in all flavors, lived in a broken-down trailer, had an unloving mother and abusive step-father. Everything she knew about ‘happy families’ she got from TV or from observing people in her town. Guess what? No one shows their shitty parts in public! So she made herself (and sometimes us) miserable trying to achieve what she THOUGHT happy families were like. And you know what? We were totally fine! It was her trying to achieve what she believed others had that made us all miserable. She tortured herself trying to make a clean home, and to this day I hear how ‘behind’ she is. How can you be ‘behind’ in your own life? I decided at a pretty young age that I wasn’t going to let how OTHER people looked or did things affect my assessment of my life. And I am crazy happy b/c of that. My house is disgusting, I only bathed my kid 2x all summer, and I wouldn’t go to a PTA meeting unless there was a gun to my head. I don’t have 1 ounce of guilt about it. I’ve built the life I want and I’m happy in it. And I know that those moms who attend PTA, have clean houses and clean children have shit that they are embarrassed about or wish they did better. There may even be someone who envies something about my life; I guarantee that there are people who envy you and your life. So what I guess I’m saying is the way you feel is normal — I think everyone goes there in their heads. We only ever see the shiny outsides of people’s lives. Everyone has some kind of shit they’re dealing with, and we rarely get to know what that shit is. I think if you remind yourself that the shit is there it can make you feel less bad about your shit. I also think that life isn’t a contest we’re trying to win. I think as long as the people in your life feel your love, you’re doing an excellent job at living. Everything else is just frosting — pretty to look at, nice to experience, but not all that important.

  51. All those people with perfect lives? They’re faking it too. They have a bunch of bills that they can’t pay, they absolutely hate their jobs, and they stare in the mirror hating the ravages of time when it’s the age and experience that has allowed them to have what they have. If you’re honest, if you are loyal and steadfast to your family, you try not to cheat or steal from others…that’s enough to be called a success. But note that I said nothing about arson–burn the motherfucker down if you feel the urge.

  52. “They don’t have piles of dusty boxes in corners waiting to be opened from the move before last.” Heh, oh yes we do. I realize that my comment is nearly number 2,000, so the odds you actually get down to reading this are slim. But I want to say something that I hope will validate your feelings and alleviate your fears.
    PEOPLE FEEL THIS WAY ALL THE TIME! Even people without any mental illnesses. We are so much better at recognizing and treating mental illness these days. Furthermore we’re getting better at removing the stigma associated with mental diseases. It’s not gone, but we’re getting better. So when people say ‘oh yes I suffer from these fears, but it’s probably just because I have mental illness(es) and that’s why.’ They’re falling back on a qualifier that’s not really needed. Everybody feels that way; mental illness or not.

    I will be 29 in 5 days, and I don’t have a ‘real’ job in my chosen career field. I got 80% of they way to finishing my certifications and then spent the next two years dicking around and not working on it. Even now that I’m working on it I’m crawling along at a snail’s pace. Why? No fucking clue. So I’m working in a restaurant, the usual fallback job. I have no mental illnesses to blame it on, just regular general lack of awesomeness.

    I don’t really feel successful most days. In contrast I probably have 3-4 days a month where I feel like a total failure. These rest of the time I figure well I could be doing better but I guess I could be doing worse. Then I say fuck it and cuddle the cats.

    The whole world, media, PTA, whoever perpetuates this stereotype of ‘normal, successful adulthood’ but it’s a total sham. I look at it this way; Leave it to Beaver wasn’t indicative of what real families were like. The same way that this notion of normalness isn’t realistic for today.

    So please, do what you do to feel happy, comfortable and safe. Don’t beat yourself up trying to measure up to a false standard. Don’t freak out about those unpacked boxes, or your lack of position on the PTA. If you feel like there are things that are holding you back from feeling happy in your space or successful, perhaps you could try applying the UnFuck Your Habbitat (such a fantastic website) techniques of 20/10’s or 45/15’s. Maybe the progress would be measurable and help you to feel positive instead of negative.

  53. Honestly this is where I think far more people are then they care to admit. Struggle and flailing wildly just to stay afloat seems to be par for the course. You are not alone in this. On my bad days putting on pants is enough of an accomplishment. I haven’t met a single person who was being honest that didnt feel like a fraud. Humaning is hard. And sometimes it sucks. And then sometimes it doesn’t. This is rambling. You aren’t alone and you are fantastic. Thank you for sharing this and making these societal stigmatized admissions of emotion and personal struggles accessible and available. There needs to be more light shone on these feelings and how common it truly is.

  54. How many days a month? Maybe 4…. maybe 3.

    What makes me feel worse? All those fake people who don’t acknowledge life isn’t one big happy joyride. All those Stepford moms who pretend so hard their lives are much more perfect than my very on display imperfect life.

    What makes me feel better? My two kids who have seen me when I’m down and loved me anyway. Hanging out with them – they can always get me to laugh. Not to mention the two bum cats who laze around and are pretty darn good at recognizing my sad and coming to cuddle.

    Jenny – just as you are is good enough. Getting through the days with the stuff you’re handling is sometimes what you need to celebrate. But find a thing to celebrate – even if it’s just going to the bank. That’s okay.

    I admit – I didn’t read all 1967 responses before mine. I imagine I’m being repetitive telling you how awesome you are. Know that.

    And know days spent with your kid doing anything are better than days spent hiding from your kid. Always.

  55. I don’t know if I have actual, full days where I’m good. There’s ALWAYS something lacking, no matter the accomplishment.

    I’ve got a job I really like . . . but it doesn’t pay a ton of money, so who cares.
    I’ve got THREE advanced degrees [BA, MA, JD] . . . but none of them are from Harvard, so who gives a shit.
    My kid is fantastic . . . but I feel like I’m failing her because I can’t give her absolutely everything.

    It’s not just you. I think there is an issue, for me, of perfectionism and depression that become completely intertwined that I can’t focus on the good thing and just say, “That’s good enough.” I want to be good enough.

    Still working on that. I’ll get there. I hope. And not feel like the time it took was wasted.

    Thanks for this.

  56. I have to respond. I don’t think I am depressed, and perhaps it is just that I recently turned 45, but I feel this way fairly often. If I look at my life as all the shit I didn’t get done, then I would be catatonic on a daily basis. I am a teacher, and every year we get more to do with no more time to do it in. 50 % of my job performance rating now rests on how my students test on one day of the year. They are puking and can’t breath so screw up the test…oh well. I could wallow in the frustration this engenders, but instead I try to focus on the little wins. Like the fourth grader that gazed into my eyes yesterday to say “I hate to tell you this Ms. Larson, but in 4 years I will be an 8th grader and then I will be leaving this school. You won’t be able to teach me then, unless you can come to high school with me? ” That kid is a total win….last year he was throwing furniture across my room and using expletives under his breath, now he makes it through 90% of his classes without having to come have a time out with me. I suck at cleaning my house, doing laundry, making it home at a normal time of day, being a wife, but I kick ass at making it through to kids like him. So, I go to work, I try to be a little bit better teacher every year, and I pray my own children and my husband understand my need to care for my 100+ urban 3rd and 4th graders because of my calling. It works for me…..and my husband hasn’t divorced me yet. 😉

  57. I’m productive at work (though I’m never sure I’m really getting anything done, you know) but some days it’s all I can do to make it through to bedtime. And I think I’m finally beginning to learn that some days it’s okay to just survive. Some days – hell, some weeks – it’s okay to just make it through and count it a success that the sun came up and I got out of bed.

  58. I started reading through the comments and then realized they went on for bazillionty-seven pages… anyway, this is the first time I’ve commented on one of your posts but oh, Jenny, it is NOT just you.

    One of the previous comments that I did get to said that we judge ourselves by our behind-the-scenes but everyone else by their highlight reel. It made me think that yeah, actually, my highlight reel might look pretty good to someone else (graduate degree, job in my chosen career field, supportive boyfriend, fulfilling hobbies…) but the truth is I STILL feel exactly like you describe most of the time. I feel like any day now my boss is going to realize how terrible I am at my job and fire me, my boyfriend is going to realize I’m insecure and not very pretty and dump me, etc. Another previous commenter talked about how the big secret seems to be that *all* adults are really just making shit up as they go along, and I’m slowly learning that that’s the truth. We all just have to take it one day at a time and keep our shit as together as we can.

  59. Honestly, my average success days per month are skewed right now because I’ve had a good past month. But if I don’t have to leave the house, I often don’t get dressed or take a shower until around dinner time. If I do get dressed earlier, it’s always in sweats or other comfy clothes. There’s a ton of crap around the house that I need to take care of, but I just end up doing stuff online or watching TV. I spend way too much time reading random stuff.

    There’s been maybe 4 or 5 days in the past month where I didn’t internally beat myself up for screwing something up or for making something more difficult for my significant other. And oh man…the guilt I have randomly right now for costing him money as I finish up college and don’t work because I’m too mentally fractured to handle a job on top of classes…it’s not even funny.

    The upside is that I’ve been handling my depression and anxiety better. Yeah, I’m not getting much done, but I’m feeling a lot more content than I have for a long time. I still have anxiety attacks about things when I’m out, but thankfully my support system is usually next to me, so we manage. I’m stretching a bit and dabbling in more creative stuff, which is nice. I don’t think I’m great at being a person yet, but I also think that we all have different paces for being a person. And the shiny happy people you see everywhere? They’re just not as open and honest about their stress and worries and the dark sides of their lives as you are. And I know several people that cope with stress by doing things that make them seem perfect. (Which drives me batty.) We’re all faking it somehow.

  60. I am 59. I was always that Mom. I wore pajamas to drive the kids to school, my hair a wild mess. I fed them pizza for breakfast sometimes. I lost, forgot, threw out the paperwork. I was loser Mom and I had and still have depression (meds are good) and anxiety.

    The only thing that has let me face tomorrow is finding the one thing that was right with the day. Sometimes that is so hard. But my kids are going and have pretty good lives so maybe I wasn’t that bad of a mom. And today there was a rainbow. So don’t be so hard on yourself. At least try.

  61. Sistah, you are not alone, I’m not what I’d consider depressed at all, I don’t take meds for depression, ADD or anxiety. I feel like I’m the laziest person in the world. I just finished washing dishes for 25 minutes because I put it off for two days and I LIVE ALONE 🙂

    I work from home and only shower if I have to, LOL. My house is a mess and I never put anything away. Then I feel horrible and guilty for being such a slacker and then go on a spree and clean and shower and blah blah and then am exhausted for a few days. I’m super proud when I finally make it to the post office or pay a bad debt that I’ve had for 8 years. My motto is ignore and put off til you are in big trouble and then do it. I’m always impressed by those on FB who get shit done. But I live a good but lonely life, I love my animals, I love the outdoors and I get that little bit of happiness when and wear I can and I drink too much 😀

    Good for you for being open and brutally honest (you usually are).

  62. Yep, sounds familiar. For me, I feel like I can only be really good at one area of my life. When I’m good at my job, I can’t manage to eat anything that’s good for me or work out at all. If I’m eating healthy and working out, I’m not getting my shit done at work. I live alone now, but when I had roommates, I felt like a terrible roommate. I can’t seem to clean anything on a regular basis or take my dog for a walk even occasionally or get the most basic errands done.

    I think everyone feels this way at least some of the time, we’ve just gotten really good at hiding it. We put all of our highlights on the internet and humblebrag to our friends, but we don’t really tell anybody how hard life actually is. We may admit to struggling in one area, but I think we mostly just do that so that we don’t look like arrogant assholes.

    Therapy helped me deal with issues of shame A LOT. I feel a lot better now about not being good at everything – I am human and I am allowed to make mistakes. Also, spending my day teaching teenagers helps, because no matter how screwed up my life seems, at least I’m not a high school student anymore 🙂

  63. I read like 200+ response and have to agree.

    I feel like a fraud much of the time. I put up a pretty confident front and then something happens at my job and I lose the job.(often not really my fault) This has happened to me 4 times now. And these were the big jobs where I spent the time to get that Masters degree for. Most of my friends think I have it together. Nope.
    I spent 6 months of 2012 packing up and moving 500 miles in the hopes of finding a new job for me and less stress for my husband. I pulled it off with a LOT of help. Those friends who showed up to help are the best I’ve ever had. It took 4 more months here to finally find a job and it doesn’t pay much, but it is a step in the right direction.

    I have spent months feeling like I just couldn’t get it together at all.
    I had a few years of depression and therapy and drugs. I’m down to just stuff to help me sleep- which doesn’t work when the dog wakes you at 2 am to go out. I watched a TED video recently on the feeling like a fraud and their motto was – “Fake it till you Make it”. Sooner or later – you might be good at what you thought you could not do.
    Kudos to you for getting that first book done. That is a serious accomplishment.

  64. I think this means you are normal 28 days out of the month and supergirl the other 2-3. The universe clearly grades on a sliding scale. We’re all riding our own unicycles while juggling cats–some real and some metaphorical. Just keep being who you are. You’re fine. You’re better than fine. You’re the just right Jenny Lawson.

  65. Yeah, 3-4 days a month sounds about right. Actually, that sounds like a good month. I definitely suffer from Imposter Syndrome too. If so many of us are secretly suffering like this, why have we set up society/our lives this way? Ugh. Thanks for the excellent post!

  66. I think you are more of the norm than you think. I am currently not depressed (thank God) but I have been before. I think a lot of people put up a good front. Especially all those shiny people.

    I think it takes a brave person who can look at themselves like you have and realize that you don’t’ necessarily know what you are doing. I think that is human nature. Even for people without depression and anxiety. They just don’t realize it because they are not tuned into themselves. They are all about the outside world.

    Sometimes I feel like such a failure and I will mention something about it to my hubby, and he will give me this incredulous look. and when I say what’s that look for. He will tell me to give myself a break. He will ask did you do your best? if I say yes, then he says then that is good enough for today.

    I have really learned this lesson from him after 20 years together and I am not so hard on myself anymore and I find that I am much more at peace with myself. And on those days I didn’t do my best, well that is okay too. Tomorrow is another day.

    Please realize you are not alone and no one, I MEAN NO ONE, really knows what the hell they are doing. But you can be at peace with that. I hope that you can find that peace.

  67. Have you ever watched Denis Leary’s “No cure for cancer”? He does a riff on happiness the is wonderful. That happiness is something happens occasionally.
    I think I feel worthwhile 2 or 3 times a month. It coincides with gatherings I have with friends. I am a quilter and have created a wonder womb of dear friends to share time with. But at home I don’t feel as if I have any real value. I’m almost 60 and my life has pretty much been fucked up since I was 9. But as Popeye would say “I am what I am.” Best time of my life was raising my kid. I put him on a good path and he is a teacher putting others on a good path and is a kind and nurturing person. Pebbles in the water. I don’t know what I would change if I had the get up and go to do anything different so I observe. I am the narrator of my group and hold the memories for us. I have been shrink, shrank, shrunk and it got me where I am. I’m ok. I do what I can when I can and I know I don’t let people down who need me. Today I was thinking that I didn’t get married to be alone but I am alone 90% of the time.
    Of all the things I know for sure I know that no one feels at home in their skin. That’s ok. You are ok. You do what you do and you are also a pebble in the water,making a difference by making us laugh and admitting to be flawed and frightened. We all are but you are self aware enough to put it in print. You have created a safe space for people that wish with all their might that they could soothe your troubles. We would stand, arms linked in a circle around you, but not looking at you. Not crowding you.But your troubles are what make you who you are. You work through them and prove it can be done. Life is tough. Relationships are tough. You are tough. I am lucky to have diversions during the day and I find I fall down a hole if I don’t play music. It lifts me.
    I don’t so much review the day when I go to sleep. I think about things I want to do the next day and am either happy or stressed. It’s a crap shoot. And when I wake I usually find one of two songs playing in my head.Jackson Browne’s “the Pretender. “when the morning light comes streaming in, I get up and do it again. Amen” Or whatever that song is that says “my head hurts, my feet stink and I don’t love Jesus”.
    Really though, get a hold of the Leary CD.
    Take care of yourself.

  68. Look at these comments. If you threw a party and invited these people, they’d have a great time even if you served them stale Goldfish crackers from under the couch cushion. You might miss the fun, hanging out in the bathroom like you do, but you could hear the cacophony of fun.

    I have humiliating or embarrassing or toxic events from my past haunt me on my long commute. I try to deflect by imagining an alternate scenario. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not.

    You have accomplished a great deal by just reading all this. I have accomplished a lot by scrolling to the bottom of the comments on an iPad.

    See if there is a strategy you can use to stop the judging yourself by others’ facades, and stop keeping score. Is this an OCD thing? I don’t know.

    I try for moments of happiness.. When I get home before the family, the pets run to greet me, and I get to watch The Big Bang Theory reruns uninterrupted before taking a dish or two out of the dishwasher and boiling some tortellini. Floor is not clean, house very cluttered.

    So do your personal best, whatever that might be. Congratulate yourself for doing your best that day, even if you did not put on clean underwear. Lower your standards, put “a moment of contentment” on your success list.

    I hope you can back off on badgering yourself, even a little.

    I have your book in hardback and Kindle. If you write another one, I’ll buy it. If you stay blocked I’ll keep reading your blog.

    Try to think only of your wins for the day, even the smallest thing.

  69. Honestly.. my life has been simply Craptastic. I do not feel like I’m succeeding. I’m stressed out at work, I’m stressed out at home, my personal life is a wreck, and my health is pretty screwed up too. I really wish it would all end some days. I don’t know what to do about a lot of things.

    And yeah.. looking around at those “perfect” people who appear to have it together, even when I know they have their share of problems.. well.. it doesn’t help. I feel completely inadequate.

  70. I don’t even know if i can count productive days as a monthly thing. I know the last 3 months pretty much were getting through the day. And I feel like a failure as an academic and a person.
    I’m a grad student working on my phd in literature. i constantly undercut what i’ve been able to get done and am waiting to be caught out as a fraud at some point but dont know much that would actually make that the case. I am always behind on my work. My grading is always late. My writing hasn’t met a deadline in years. I’m running out of time to finish my degree. I have been trying to get myself to sit down and just reread my latest draft for 3 weeks and can’t bring myself to do it.
    As a person, I keep feeling like I’m a nuissance to others so I don’t reach out to them out of fear that I’ll bother them. I’ve had some serious misadventures in dating and have had only a handful of substantial relationships; none of which have lasted more than a year. And the most recent break-up still knocks me on my ass at least twice a week almost 6 months later. There’s a history of alcoholism in my family and I use alcohol to escape too often.
    As far as ways of trying to get better: I’m part of a goal-oriented dissertation support group (maybe something similar for your writing?), i’ve been on anti-depressants for about 2 years but am not sure if the help i have gotten is enough because i don’t know what i’m supposed to be feeling; i see a therapist weekly; I’m trying to stop isolating myself, I’m trying to be more honest with other people especially my family about what’s going on, i’m trying to workout regularly, I’m trying to look at myself as not being a writer or a teacher but someone who writes and who teaches; my identity isn’t my profession and it isn’t who i’m dating. I’m trying to stay dating but am frustrated by it.
    You sure as hell aren’t alone.

  71. This tribe has awesome insight and togetherness, with a bunch of good advice. You are definitely not the only one who feels like a fake adult fuck-up. I don’t even get 3 or 4 days a month. I get moments sprinkled throughout life. I try to capture those fleeting moments and tell myself, “hang on to that small triumph”. Invariably, I will immediately fuck up something else. I think us cerebral-types are incredibly hard on ourselves and over-analyze eveything. It doesn’t change that even though I know that fact that I still do it all the fucking time. Hell, I still berate myself mentally for something I said in a job interview 11 years ago every fucking morning when I see that company’s commercial on tv while I’m getting ready for work. Every few months, after a few shots of Crown at 2am with my husband, I promise him I will quit being so self-critical and it helps for awhile. I also have a hobby that is my therapy and I crochet in the evenings and try to convince myself that playing with yarn absolves me of my transgressions for the day and if the curls up on my lap, it melts some of it away too.

  72. Right now my hair is TOTALLY unwashed. As in it’s been 3 days. I’m writing a technical paper (little piece by little piece) but the dogs haven’t had a walk, I had ramen for lunch, I work at home (good and bad as you know), I’m wearing the same work out clothes as yesterday (yet didn’t work out either day), there’s a giant empty cardboard box sitting in my living room from a delivery today, I spend way too much money on clothes shopping online, and I am literally years behind on my work project. Did I mention I don’t even have kids?

    My biggest problem is getting overwhelmed with anxiety and paralyzed and hiding in bed watching hulu, surfing the internet, and reading books. Same thing. I’ve learned that my expectations of being “perfect” put me there. I’ve learned to treat myself today like the supportive, loving, parents I should have had. This means that this day today I will completely believe myself to be successful. I wasn’t critical or too hard on myself, and I got some shit done. Not everything, but I’ve learned to focus on my accomplishments and not my failures. 50% success and 50% failure can still be a successful day if you are kind to your self. 95% success and 5% failure can not be if you’re unkind to yourself.

    You know how you feel all you are doing is existing? Well, for thousands of years that’s all we were supposed to do! Wake up, make or find some breakfast, wash some clothes, tend the garden, make sure the kids stay alive, make dinner, build a fire so you all don’t freeze, make sure the roof is still intact, go to bed, repeat. Maybe make a new dress or have some sex if you’re feeling fancy. None of this *produce creative things every day* plus exist.

    I used to think I was successful maybe 5 days out of the month. And even then I couldn’t feel good about it because all I could think was, “but I still can’t make up those other days when I sucked”. Now I think I am successful 20-25 days out of the month. Because I replaced “perfect” or “got everything done” as my measure of success with “improved”, “made progress”, “was useful”. This also lessened my negative/critical/demanding self-talk and gradually reduced my anxiety so that physiologically/psychologically I was way less paralyzed.

    My job is very stressful and very disappointing for a myriad of reasons. That will end in a month (thank god). But writing something out of nothing is very difficult too. I think there’s a reason a lot of writers were alcoholics. And being in a marriage and raising a child? No. easy. tasks. Go easy on yourself, you’re doing some very hard things.

  73. Depression lies. Sounds like it’s doing a lot of lying to you these days. Hang in there, talk to your health care person, and remember that it DOES get better.

  74. I feel like this most of the time. I think your 3-4 days/month average is about right. And I also suspect that almost everyone feels the same way. But it’s a lot worse, I think, for those of us that work at home and so we have very unstructured days. It seems like we should have all this time to do all this stuff, but then it doesn’t get done and that overwhelming sense of failure sets in. We don’t get to come home from somewhere and say “Well, I did that today.” Because we’re always home. I’m always home because I have overwhelming social anxiety, too, but in general, not having a set schedule makes everything very hard. And then when you try to set yourself a schedule? Short route to failure, because you won’t stick to it and then you’ll feel even worse. And then someone helpfully suggests that you join a club or volunteer somewhere or whatever and you want to kill them, because that’s just *one more thing* to deal with in a life that is already making you feel like a failure. Or that’s my response to those suggestions, anyway.

    But, here is what I do. (This isn’t a suggestion of what you should do. it’s just what I do.)

    I take care of animals. I’m a wildlife rehabilitator, so I take in orphaned and injured wildlife and take care of it until it is ready to go back into the wild again. It enforces structure on my day because the babies *have* to be fed every four hours no matter what. (neonates. older babies, obviously, not so often) I have to do it, no matter what I feel like. Sometimes it’s all I do, all I can manage is to get up, feed and clean, and crawl back into bed, depressed, anxious, despairing. But I do it. And then, weeks or months down the road, I take the animals into the forest and if I’ve done my job right, I let them out of their cages and they scamper off, usually without even a backward glance, going off to live the lives they are supposed to have. I’ll have taught them all the skills they need to survive, they’ll be fit and healthy, and they’ll be on the path they should be on. and in those moments, I have joy. Lots of it. I can’t keep up with the laundry, I can’t remember to brush my hair, I am a huge f-ing failure at this thing we call life… but I can give back a life stolen from an animal and give them a second chance.

    So I’m not saying that there is anything at all unusual about only feeling successful or happy 3 or 4 days a month. I think it’s common. But to keep going the rest of the time, I make those days count. and I hold them in my heart and even if I can’t bring up that feeling again, I know that I can feel it again someday.

  75. It’s hard for me to write this in a public space… even anonymously. Intellectually, I know I have accomplished things in my life, but most of the time, I can only *feel* my failures. I think I get about 7 days out of the month where I feel good about myself.

    I do a lot of woodworking and even when I finish a really nice box, a bowl or a piece of furniture, my eye is always drawn to the flaws; the place I didn’t sand enough, the drawer that is an 1/8 of an inch off on one side. No one else notices the flaws except me. My friends all say it looks beautiful and I feel like a fraud.

    I can’t tell you how to beat it because I am still not sure. But I can tell you one thing with utter certainty: You are not alone.

    Keep going and we will all keep showing up here to talk, laugh, commiserate and maybe… just maybe we can all figure this out together.

  76. Okay, so there’s over 2000 posts, but that number alone tells you that you’re not alone out there. Not everyone can be the overachiever mom, and really, who wants to be? Our children will grow up mostly fine in spite of our best (or worst) efforts. Who’s to say what’s normal, anyway? With the growing number of people with mental health issues, maybe being messed up in the head is the new normal. Your success is in the fact that you’ve managed to raise what seems to be a fairly happy daughter, have a pretty successful marriage (no marriages are perfect). You have family and friends who love and support you and accept for the way you are. You’ve created a safe-haven for others with (or without) mental health issues to gather and find support and be accepted for the way they are. I would say, with all the obstacles you have to face every single day, you’re incredibly successful. More so than those who don’t have to battle with physical and mental problems like you do. So, stop being so hard on yourself and start believing what the people who love you know about you: you’re an incredibly powerful successful woman. Maybe, only in your own home, but really, does anything else really count?

  77. I feel like a failure on so many levels.
    As a mother, I have a child who has been declared temporarily disabled because “they” do not believe his mental illness is real. He reached out to his father (who left us for another woman) who has no interest in a son he feels is not perfect, whatever that means. I am a daily failure because I am not able to help my child more.
    I am a good teacher, but more often than not, I am given the children that have the greatest needs. My children thrive and succeed against all odds, but I feel overwhelmed at times by their needs. I question whether I am making a difference or not.
    I am a failure because I truly have lousy taste in men. I divorced a mean one, dated briefly a few afterwards, and finally gave up. My greatest fear when I was young, was that I was going to grow old alone. Looks like I was right.
    I’ve failed at the three things I wanted the most: as a mother, teacher, and wife.

  78. Ah Jenny! It’s so easy to compare other people’s outsides to your insides! A while back I started answering the question ‘How are you?’ honestly to people and I realised that we are all falling apart (some more than others) and that people just don’t talk about it. Some people were taken aback, but most people I know were itching to talk about how they actually don’t feel that great and they want to take off that mask.

    I get depression based on my hormonal cycle, so there really are only about 6 or 7 days a month that I’m not premenstrual or post-menstrual… I’m doing ok, it’s pretty mild, but sometimes it means that I have no idea how my social interactions look from the outside and then I stress about them – what did I say? did I offend anyone? do they think I’m weird? (of course they do! I am weird) – but when I talk to my friends they say that they don’t notice my depression until I tell them the symptoms and then they can spot it if they look.

    I know that this may be different for you, and I can totally see where you are coming from, I just wanted to add that I think most people feel this way – maybe not with the same strength or consistency, but I think it is a very real feeling for most people that I know. You are definitely not alone. You also have to remember that depression lies – and it lies about your accomplishments and also about other people’s accomplishments. Many people out there feel the way that you feel, I think.

    In any case, we love you – not despite your messiness, but because you are who you are, which includes all that messiness inside. And posts like this show the world that you are not a fraud, not matter what your depression is saying to you. Chin up, lovely one xx

  79. I think that I would be one of the people you would think had it all together, but I feel like I’m a big mess most of the time. I can pull it together pretty well when I have to be around other people. Otherwise, I do the minimum to get by. I usually don’t feel like I do any of it well.

  80. i feel this way sometimes and i do my loving kindness meditation and gratitude journalling. over the years, i learn not to judge myself when i feel this way. feelings are temporary and they will pass only to be replaced by something else.

  81. Well, I am glad to see I am not alone in the way I feel. The only thing that kind of gets me out of the mood is, I know there are people out there are are worse off than I am . Then I feel guilty that I was depressed or felt sorry for myself, so it is just a cycle with me. Glad to read about the e-mail thing but come to think of it I sent you a text on Tweeter that never got answered. I just figured you get a million of them and just didn’t have time to answer. I gather you never hired an assistant? I hope someone can/will give you some words of wisdom that will make you feel better. Just know you are not alone because there are a lot of us right there with you.

  82. I had to scroll through about four miles of comments to be able to post this one, so I might go unnoticed. But I run. I dread it every day and the time it will take up. I hate going out in the heat, and I hate the way my lungs start to tighten and my stomach starts to cramp and all I want to do is stop. But once I’m done, I never regret having done it. I walk in the door after running my 5k or 8k and I’m able to tell myself that I accomplished something that used to be impossible (for me). I beat my lazy mind and my out-of-shape body, and all those reasonable-sounding voices in my head that tell me to give up. I feel accomplished when I run. I feel like a whole person.

  83. I can have anywhere from 0-5 good days in a month. I can’t think of any day this summer that I felt proud of myself, and this first week back at school has been a fresh kind of hell. I know what it’s like to have your biggest accomplishment of the day be going to the bank. I’ve been thinking about just spending the weekend in bed because pretending to be OK this week has been exhausting. Even with all the medication and therapy getting through life feels impossible some days.

    We’re not alone, Jenny. It just feels that way sometimes.

  84. THE CAT curls up on my lap, geez I had to over-analyze my freaking previous comment and correct it. Fuck.

  85. Find someone you greatly admire and whose opinion you tremendously respect. Realize they feel the same way about themselves. Have them tell you your balance between good-and-shitty self-perception is way off, and that you should see yourself how they see you. Now you do the same to them. Repeat.

    If you think so highly of the other person (and vice versa) you’ll eventually get tired of trying to prove how worthless you are to the other person. The tiredness is your mind telling you the self-loathing obsession has weakened enough (for now) you can go onto other things.

    Works for my wife and I anyway.

  86. Jenny,

    You are not alone. I feel like this all the time (not depressive, but thanks to crohn’s, little anxiety-y) and it was actually because of you that I don’t feel so bad when the only thing I did that day was dishes or laundry. I think it’s a measure of illness, and it’s a sucky one at that. But you are not a failure. You, you beautiful woman, are one of my role models. You’re a good mom, you’re successful and you’ve taught me so much. You are one of the reasons why my bf and I got together, and it’s been a whole year of freaking happiness. I am so grateful to so many inspiring people, and you’re at the top of the list.

    thank you.

  87. I would say I’m a fairly accomplished individual. I’m working on my second doctorate at the moment. After my career shift my Ph.D. basically serves to cover a hole in the wall and as a punchline to jokes. I keep waiting for someone to ask if there’s a doctor in the house. Even with all that I regularly feel unproductive, useless, worthless, exhausted, burnt out, run down and very broken. I make long to-do lists with often meaningless little things just so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something, anything (sometimes I put things on those lists after I’ve done them just so there’s something else on the list). I get great joy and entertainment from you blog and I can often hear my wife’s voice in your conversations with your husband and my voice in his place. I think what I like most about reading your posts is the honesty, life is crazy, people are crazy, things go wrong, and if we don’t find some way to laugh about them they only get worse. I do what I can to take joy in the little things in life and I hope that you continue to do the same because your blog certainly brings joy to a lot of people, as evidenced by this massive cavalcade of comments. There will be bad days, more than likely the bad days will outnumber the good days, but it’s the good days, however few they may be, that keep us going.

  88. Jenny, darlin’,

    Somewhere along the line you were seriously lied to. To my knowledge (and I have just a few years on you) life does not come with a progress chart. I looked for mine once – nada. If you wake up in the morning, you have won. If you are not here, it doesn’t matter. Lost two siblings to the illusion of failure. Pretty sure that the flowers and birds don’t get report cards. I’ma share somethin. Just being, is enough. Here’s my full on 2 cents.
    “Sometimes who you are – who you think that you are, is not who you were meant to be. And a course correction occurs. A shift of a magnitude previously unfathomable. In some horrific way you are challenged to begin again. There is no guidebook here. There is only the deep knowing that you are not alone – and that too can become suspect. You are forced to confront fear. Forced to recognize that fear is just an illusion that you are willingly or unwillingly participating in. It becomes time to let that go. You must begin consciously honoring the deepest parts of your soul that you have been forced to abandon to fit someone else’s vision of reality . The way to do this is one breath at a time. You will find the support that you need. You will have the resources that you require. You will move – even if it feels that the movement is imperceptible. If you reach out, support will appear. If you believe even an infinitesimal amount it will be enough. It will be more than enough.

    9/1/2013 Robbin Skinner”

  89. Be honest? No problem. I’m *always* extremely honest when I’m asked to point out my own flaws. And since we’re sharing, I’ll be up front and say that I do not have anxiety, depression or anything else that the people on this board fight SO. DAMN. HARD. that I’m amazed and awed by when they share their stories and/struggles.

    So.. how many days a month do I feel like an awesome, take no prisoners, I totally rocked life today and was super successful woman that I’ve been told that I am? Um… 4? Maybe 5? (And no, I don’t believe people when they tell me that, either. Why they persist I’ll never know 🙂 )

    I’m aces at putting on and wearing a mask. Kind of an expert, actually. Ask my friends. They have *no* idea. And since we’re getting honest, I’ll also confess: People close to me think I have high standards when it comes to dating and commend me for it. They believe I’m single by choice. Which, to be fair, they are partly right. It IS my fault. The reality is that if a man pursues me; they get to know me and are actually interested? I have zero interest in them. The fact is, if they are interested in ME there must be something seriously wrong with THEM. And if there is something that seriously wrong with them? I don’t want them.

    Basically? I don’t want to belong to a club that would actually want me as a member. How F’d up is that?!?

    I know, I know. Not the same thing you were discussing. But it’s an example of my own issues. And if I focus too much on the other stuff I’ll spend the weekend lying on the couch – not moving, not getting dressed – just thinking about all the ways that I suck at life. Negative self-talk is pretty much the most self-destructive thing there is for me. If I start I can’t stop. Most days I can avoid that pit by not thinking about it. Instead, I just exist. I interact with people at work, talk to friends, and avoid letting anyone know *really* what is going on in my head. Isn’t that what everyone does to a certain extent anyway?

    Music, favourite books and/or movies help when I start to slip. And when I want to hibernate (which I do faaaar too often) I need to get out of the house – even if only for 5 minutes – and if at all possible, talk to someone. Make eye contact with a stranger. Something.

    But that’s just me.

  90. 4ish.
    But I have four boys, two with autism, one with bipolar, one with ADHD. And I home school. Damnit, where’s my f-ing blog. Oh right, I haven’t even had time to update my email address to represent all four children let alone write a blog.
    When things get on the skids and I start giving the pretty mom at the store with the matching pigtailed twin girls the stink eye, I remind myself: Don’t judge your insides by other’s outsides. I know all my darkest moments, my ugliest shit. All I’m seeing of her is her best and brightest.

  91. If I eat breakfast, I feel like I’ve accomplished something grown up.
    Most of the time I feel like I’m failing at life. I can’t even manage to have kids and 15 year old girls manage to every day.
    I don’t think most people ever feel successful. There’s always something you haven’t started/finished, thought about.
    Maybe twice a week, I feel like I’m on top of things. It’s a good day though , (muesli bars count as breakfast), so I could be over stating things.

  92. I just left after dropping off my kid at art class believing I am now Autistic. There’s a new one for me.

    I cried all the way home about my inability to read ‘cues’ when talking to people and told myself I have no value in this world whatsoever. I suck at everything; mothering, friendship, marriage, work…yada yada yada. You get the picture.

    All because some perfectly coiffed 1950’s-esq art teacher asked if we “had found a new school for your son yet?” and instead of saying “no not yet”. I said; “No I looked at school A and for these reasons it didn’t work and then I looked at school B and here’s the problem with that one…”

    Apparently I missed her eyes glazing over and averting from my gaze cues and she finally had to interrupt me to say “I really cant talk about this with you, the kids are waiting and I have an art class to teach.” (well then why’d you fucking ask?) I forget that we are polite in this world. We all say the right things but we really aren’t interested in any answers of depth.

    Seriously. How messed up are you when an art teacher you have met 3 times makes you question your value and the possibility that you have Autism? When you’re feeling like a fuck-up Blogess, remind yourself theres a woman in the world who lets an art teacher define her value as a person in this world.

    We’re all just hanging on by a thread Blogess, you’re doing great.

  93. To quote Leonard Cohen, who knows about this shit: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. We’re all a little cracked, my dear. You have the amazing ability to charm people with your cracks AND profit from them. WIN!!

    I love you dearly (no, we don’t actually know each other but I don’t think that matters). You pull me through my own mess. I think, “Shit, if Jennifer Lawson can dig down thru her shit and become a best-selling novelist, I can certainly get thru this day at work”. Thanks for that.

  94. I think, sometimes, that even people without depression can feel like imposters or losers. I assume they feel it less often, but I don’t really know. I know I feel like you do far more often than I’d like, and it makes me sad. I wish I knew how to brush it off or turn it down, but I don’t. One thing that has helped is that I’ve been trying to take more joy in the small accomplishments. If I can get something done, even if it’s not all that significant, maybe I am a capable individual. Maybe there is some skill and self-control and such there, even when I can’t see it. But it’s hard, sometimes, to keep it from turning into “all you’re good for is the little things” or “but you did so much more the other day” or other such negatives. But I also know I’m not really capable of taking care of the really big things right now, and thinking of them as big is too scary to deal with, so I just tackle little bits of the problems I see and maybe, just maybe, things will get better. If I can’t accomplish something big, at least I can accomplish something little, and maybe that will add up.

    And I’m glad to see that this isn’t just me. I’m glad to see that even those of us who have accomplished something worry sometimes. It means my worries aren’t so unreasonable. It means that even when you fear you’re useless, you can do something that shows that you’re not. It means maybe it’s only parts of me that are broken or abnormal, not the whole. It means there’s still some hope, and we all need that sometimes.

  95. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, you’re certainly not alone in what you think about at the end of the day. I’m mentally healthy and have a very good sense of myself and, yet, at the end of almost every day, I wonder if I actually got anything of value accomplished. It truly is normal. Everyone I know, which is truly a very broad swath of humanity, feels like this. Maybe we don’t physically crawl under the covers, but we do question ourselves. Over analyze. Under appreciate the face in the mirror. All that stuff. And we’re normal. You’re amazing. I’m amazing. We’re all struggling and shining and winning and losing. Every day. And those shining, pastel lives you see when you look at others…well, there are cracks in those lives as well. Believe it. We ALL have cracks and we’re better people for them (mostly, except for arsonists, murders, rapists, etc.). Rock On, Jenny! Just like the rest of us.

  96. I don’t even suffer from depression and I’m sitting in a room full of packed boxes from my last move. I’ve lived here 7 years. No one out there has it all together, despite appearances. Those folks with their clean hair and PTA-organizational skills probably have puppies chained up in their basements or purposely step on cracks in the sidewalk in some passive-aggressive thing against their moms.

  97. I totally get what you’re saying. And I think everyone feels this way from time to time. I had a really hard time with this for a really long time — I also suffer from anxiety, depression and “imposter syndrome”. Heres what I did: •stopped putting so much pressure on myself – knowing when to stop at good enough and when it makes sense to push harder •giving myself a break when I choose not to rock it •stopped measuring myself against other people (everyone cant be on the PTA so why should I do it if I don’t love it) •take that time to do something I do love – spending time with my kids) •doing something everyday that makes me happy •appreciating the tiny victories (I’m not saving the world but that doesn’t mean I’m not making a difference. I focus on the small things – playing with my dog may not move mountains but it makes his day and makes me smile).

    Don’t feel bad that you aren’t magical everyday. No one is. Just do your best. That’s all anyone can ask for. Even if you just go to the bank – make it count.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

  98. Oh and also, you entertain me and make me laugh or think nearly every day. That is highly valuable to me, and I completely appreciate it. I’ve just been luuuuuuurking this whole time.

  99. Spending ‘real time’ with your daughter every day, makes you a success at least 31 days out of the month. It’s the most important thing anyways. All the other stuff is just… filler.
    Also, the peeps on Pinterest definitely do not have their shit together. They are probably not spending quality time with their kids, as they are busy perfecting crafts.
    I think it’s safe to say that all of us feel like we don’t have our shit together, as we are all part of the culture of “internet-life-viewing”. ie: it’s not realistic, and we know it isn’t, but it still makes us feel inadequate.
    You’re doing a fab job, and you wrote a fantastic book. I’ll never write that book, much less do a second (which, I feel pretty safe in saying…you will, and we’ll all love it. )’Cause we think you’re amazing.

  100. Holy crap, I don’t know how you’re going to get through all these responses! But I’ll add one more.

    I felt like a fraud a lot more in my younger years, though mostly at work. (I’m turning 41 next week.) And before I was diagnosed with PMDD and started taking Zoloft to treat it, I had at least 3-4 days each month where I was completely unhappy with my life. But I’ve always given myself permission to slack off in less pressing areas to maintain my sanity. (Dirty dishes in the sink until there are no more dishes left? Ok! Buy enough underwear so I don’t have to do laundry more than once a month? Yes, please.) That said, when I feel bad I don’t feel like a failure because I don’t really compare myself to other people — but I do start to question the point of life if it’s going to be just one endless procession of joyless tasks. Zoloft works for me, thank god. You’re not alone, but only you can decide how much unhappiness is too much for you and how to tackle that problem.

  101. I often think about responding to your posts, but never get around to scrolling aaaaaaaalllllll the way down to the bottom of the page. Just in case you’re still reading after the five billion posts saying “me, too” — me, too. I am considered extremely successful in my chosen career (that I sort of fell into), and yet even though I’ve received the same message for almost two decades, I still feel like a poser and don’t understand how I got this far, or that “they” actually expect me to rise even higher. I have an amazing little girl that demonstrates intelligence, empathy, humor, and actually likes veggies, yet I am constantly thinking about all the ways I am failing her. I consider my day a success if I manage to 1), remember it’s trash day, and 2), actually take the trash out. I feel like I should be taking my daughter to the park every day to get her outdoors time, the dishes and laundry should be done, and my floors should be clean — but I never have more than one of those things done at a time, and even those are pretty rare and wild successes. While I do get to live with the perks of PTSD, I don’t have near the mental/emotional challenges you do…and I still feel like a poser. You are NOT alone.

  102. Well, I agree with a lot of what’s been said above: none of us has it all figured out, we’re all envious of the shiny pinterest people (who has time for that stuff?), everybody has fears and anxieties and grimy corners of their lives. Both normal and common.

    But I disagree with the people saying that your feelings of worthlessness, of being an imposter, of sucking at life, are normal. I am very fortunate not to suffer from depression. I think the feelings you are describing may be very common, but they are not “normal” in the context of your question. I think they are a product of depression. They are a lie. So you are not alone, but you may want to address these feelings as symptoms rather than as the baseline from which everyone else is functioning.

    I’m not saying this to be a jerk or to call you abnormal or ill. But if you think everybody’s baseline is as low as yours, as difficult to get up from … then it looks like they’re somehow “ahead” of you or better able to suck it up and deal, and that’s just not the case. That’s not a fair standard to hold yourself to, it’s another lie. The truth is that those of us who do not have depression have it easier [in that one way] than those who do. The people who truly seem happier, more functional, more confident, whatever — it’s entirely possible they did not start out where you did this morning. In my mind, that’s encouraging information to know. I offer it with positive intentions and I hope others can read it that way.

    I love your writing, your humor, and your honesty: thank you so much for sharing them. You have changed lives all over the world with your writing. You are an amazing, loved, successful, productive, valuable person and I hope you come to know that.

    Love,
    RD

  103. The problem is not us. It’s this world with so many ‘expectations’ that we take on as our own. I am 53, married, no kids. Have worked as a nurse for 32 years. Sometimes it’s the grind that makes me feel so damn tired. There is no time to have the shiny perfect life that so many people seem to have. As I have gotten older, I realize that THEY don’t have a perfect life. Behind the perfect haircut, the make up and cute clothes that cost more than I make in a week, they feel the same way we do. They don’t open up about it because somewhere along the line, someone told them that it was not okay to tell people that you aren’t perfect. It really is okay lighten up on yourself. And when you do, you realize that no one really notices or cares! Breathe….

  104. Life often sucks… I feel like you do all the time, I look at other people my age and see where they are in their lives, and compare that to where I am in mine, and then I feel like a failure, when I shouldn’t. People run in different ways, and are up to different parts of their lives than me, and that’s not a bad thing.

    The way I handle it is, I focus of the stuff I’m doing right, ignore all the shit I’m doing wrong and just focus on the few little things I’m proud of. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I think everyone else feels like their failing at life too, some of them just hide it better.

  105. Google “Dear Human” by Courtney Walsh. It gave me a new perspective on my history of fragmented, broken relationships. I’d really beat beat myself up over it. For you, I’d like to add to this by saying:

    Dear Human (that’s you Miss Bloggess):

    You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to feel successful or even to “be” successful. You already are. You came here to master the messy, beautiful, fantastic journey of being uniquely you and leaving your indelible mark. No one else can do it quite so perfectly as you. Your perfection and success doesn’t lie within your perceptions of yourself. Your success is mirrored in the world around you and the people you touch (or crash into, as the case may be.) Look around you. Look into the eyes of the people you’ve touched.

    Redefine success.

    Do you wonder why so many people read your blog? It’s because your a beautiful, perfect mess of a person. We all are. But you are brave enough to put it out there, and you’ve melted our hearts and made us braver for it, also. You’re not in the PTO? Good God! Really? I’m not either, and have no desire to be. I’m happy to get my daughter through high school without getting knocked up. (I kid, but seriously…success as a mother is hardly defined as a PTO volunteer.) Teach your daughter to be an amazing woman, by being an amazing woman.

    And you are. Divinely so.

  106. You’re not alone. You’re not an imposter, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here being that my comment is in the 2k range, you don’t need to justify yourself to anyone, and that includes your own self. But that last part, is the freakin hardest thing in the world not to do. I live in an affluent community with a large do-it yourself mentality. I go to church with a woman who was admonishing another about how easy it is to composte all your food waste and while you’re at it, you should make your own yogurt and bonus, it’s a science experiment so yummy and educational! And this was has I was cleaning up after I provided coffee hour food of store bought breads and trays of fruit and veggies (already prepared by said grocery store, damn it, don’t judge me!). All my daughter’s friends moms are University faculty or faculty wives so they lead very flexible lives. They can take off when they want to, show up at school during the day to be THAT parent, etc. Hell, as far as this group is concerned, summers are for traveling to Europe or Asia while mom or dad present at a conference. I, on the other hand, work full time for the school district and get to show up at my kid’s school to cover an event because I’m working it. My husband gets a paragraph written about how he’s our daughter’s hero because he’s really smart and helps her with her homework. I get a cartoon drawn with me rolling my eyes telling my kid her arm’s not broken (it was).

    But all of this doesn’t matter. Why. Because my kid loves me anyways. Even when I can’t love myself. She’s the best of me. Since my kid doesn’t know you, she doesn’t love you. But she thinks you’re really funny (like I do) and we all share a common admiration of Doctor Who. Then again, you have you’re own daughter that loves you like that. And whether we believe it or not, we are worthy of that love.

    So, i just read this over. And while I feel better about myself, it certainly appears that I suck at making you feel better. Sorry.

  107. Truthfully, Jenny, I feel like that all the time, too. When I have a down day (which is far too often for my liking), all the things I feel like I *should* be doing or *should* have done by now come pouring into my head and I sit there in a funk, wondering if I’ll ever feel like I’m doing well in life. I’ve had so many setbacks (including three fullblown anxiety disorders and lifelong major depression) that too often I define myself by missed opportunities and insecurities. I mean, WHY the fuck can’t I just go get my car washed like a normal person? Why does it have to be such an ordeal every time, and why doesn’t anyone else I know have trouble with it? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I “network” and “socialize” and do all of those things you’re told to do in order to be professionally successful? Why don’t I WANT to do them? Sometimes I feel like my entire life is just me sabotaging myself.

    But…and this is an important one…sometimes I have moments when I do something well, where I feel accomplished and proud of myself and marvel at how far I’ve come from where I used to be. I hold a job, I do very well at it, I have a stable relationship, and I don’t hate myself as much as I used to. For all the goals I have yet to achieve, I try to remind myself of how far I’ve come. Because fighting your way out of so much anxiety and depression and doubt is fucking HARD, and there don’t seem to be enough people in my everyday life who understand that. Five years ago I felt like I had no future, like I was trapped in a living hell that was inescapable and doubted if I’d even be alive now. But I’m not there anymore, and whatever doubts and feelings of inadequacy I have, I try to remind myself that I’ve actually accomplished a LOT. Even if a lot of it isn’t stuff that most people would think twice about.

  108. Well, after a million comments, I am not sure you want one more….

    If your daughter and husband love you, you’ve succeeded enough for the day. If you love them, you’ve doubled your success. Really, what else matters?

    I imagine that your job just sucks it out of you. And gives back an enormous amount. It won’t always balance.

    I don’t know what you are going through in the sense that I know how you feel, but I am having some health issues as well, and honestly it has put me down to one basic goal: I don’t want to die before my 85-year-old mother does because my sister already did that and my mother never got over it. Thinking crap like that is just sometimes the way life is. How successful am I? Well, in all other ways except for staying on the right side of the grass so far, I suck. Wasted time, wasted effort, wasted dreams. That’s life for most of us.

    Those people who seem so perfect? They are not. If it is one thing I have learned it is that EVERYONE is going through shit. Dog shit, cow shit, horse shit, baby shit, cat shit, orangutan shit. It’s all STILL SHIT even though it may be different than the shit in your life, and everyone has to wade through it. Sometimes it’s just hidden, but it’s still there. I have a friend that has three children. Two have serious “invisible” physical health issues and one has depression. Her husband cheated death once so far. You’d never know it unless you knew her VERY well and I am sure MANY people think she lives the charmed life. Nope. She’s wading through the shit like everyone else. I

  109. What other blogger, writer, bullshitter … gets 2000+ comments on their posts? I mean, you can’t possibly be expected to read all of them… which is why I have never left a comment here before. But know that everyone has bad days, everyone feels worthless from time to time, everyone feels like they are a failure at some point. Its NORMAL. Even people that look “perfect” from the outside. Actually, those perfect facebook/pinterest/instagram people are often the most fucked up of all of us, and they don’t even have a sense of humor half the time. No one is a finished product. We are all works in progress, and although its normal to have those feelings, its also important to recognise them for what they are … just our brain trying to trip us up. And let them go, and try to do our best the next day. Its sounds so cliche I know, but its true.

  110. 3-4 days per month sounds fine to me. I’m in that boat too. I get through it with gardening. If I get in the yard once a week and do something productive it seems to help. Maybe it’s all that fresh air.

  111. Depression lies. You taught me that. I know exactly how it feels to look at all the “normal” things you should be taking care of and aren’t, and decide that makes you a failure. It doesn’t. It means that your priorities have to be carefully selected so you get the TRULY IMPORTANT shit done – like spending time with your daughter – and let the normal-but-fuck-I-can’t-be-bothered-with-it-today shit slide. You mentioned you wrote a book, and had it published, and be successful. HOLY SHIT BALLS, THAT’S FUCKING AMAZING. Yes, it is. It doesn’t matter if you never write another book ever again. You wrote a novel, and it was not only published, it was CRAZY WICKED successful. You have done more right there, you have done something so amazing, that those perfect looking pastel PTA moms will likely never do. You. WIN. You don’t need to clean your house every day and make homemade cookies and volunteer for every committee for your daughter’s school to be successful. You love your daughter, and make sure she has the things she needs, and much of what she wants, and that she’s growing up to be an amazing person just like her parents. You have a husband who will stand by you no matter what, even when you’re driving each other completely insane. You have a dozen things that are diagnosed as being PHYSICALLY WRONG with you, RA, and depression, and anxiety, and I don’t even know the whole laundry list. But you’re STILL HERE. You never gave in to the voices that told you to just give up. You haven’t crawled away into a hole and abandoned the people who love you most. You have faced the darkness within, and even when it leaves you quivering under a blanket unable to get up and brush your teeth, you still give your daughter the love she deserves. You. Are. AMAZING. Anyone who wants to give you shit about not unpacking or making sure things are dusted or what-the-fuck-ever can just go jump off a pier. Because you, Jenny Lawson, are MY hero.

  112. Add another day this month, because your post sounds so much like me you accomplished something important today. You reminded many of us that we are not alone, that we are not the only ones who feel like frauds and/or imposters in our lives. I think it’s more prevalent than anyone suspects and that some people just have better masks while others (me included) tend to be more naked to the world in questioning ourselves, our value and our accomplishments. And let me remind you as you often remind us: DEPRESSION LIES!

  113. Thank you for always being so honest. I think more people need to more honest more of the time than not. I’m a big proponent of honesty. Even if the truth hurts, it hurts way less than any lie.

    Lately I’ve found that I have to force myself to want to do anything. I go to work, come home, and all I’m really interested in is SVU and crocheting.

    How many days in a month do you actually feel like you kicked ass, or were generally a successful person? If I’m lucky? Maybe 5-7 days. Hardly ever in a row.

    What makes you feel the worst? That my job isn’t what I went to college for… not even close. That other people, younger people seem to have their shit together and I don’t seem to have anything at all together.

    What do you do to make yourself feel more successful? I hug my dog… then clean something. Two weeks ago I made it a point to buy paint to paint our living room…so, I felt somewhat successful. I’ve started my end-of-life planning, Living Will, Will, and POA. That made me feel accomplished. Reading helps. Reading your blog brings me an extraordinary sense of peace… because it let’s me know that I am not alone. That there are other folks out there who struggle with the same things I do.

    I’ve also realized that someone else’s life always seems more inviting and happier and more successful and more everything. But in reality, it’s not. We ALL have our own struggles, demons, and crosses to bare. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but that’s only because it’s covered with bullshit. True story.

    Thank you again, for just being you. You are wonderful.

    Love,
    Always,
    Rebecca~

  114. At this point in the comments, you probably won’t see this, but if you do, here’s my two cents. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, hopefully to be renamed Emotional Dysregulation Disorder. It is known in some circles as Drama Queen Disorder. I was unable to get any help for a long time, and I coped better than many people I read about, but before medication, there might have been 1 or 2 days a year that I felt like a success. I’ve been on a good mix of meds for a year and half, and my world has completely changed. I am reasonably proud of my accomplishments, which aren’t nearly so vast as yours, and am pretty content except for about 3 days twice a month. I don’t need to remind you of what you expressed in the concisest way possible that depression lies, your illness lies. You know that, but I know how hard it is to believe a lot of days.

  115. Once every few months I get told how I’m not holding up my end of the housewife deal. I get super depressed and try to get it all done. I feel super productive for about a few hours as I kock out what I need to. I even make a list and a schedule so I can keep up. Then as the weeks and months progress I let my life fall apart again. I drink more and gain weight and don’t do my homework or housework and stop taking the dog outside and end up in bed watching bad reality TV about weddings or weight loss or hording while feeling good that I’m at least not a horder or 500 pounds, or bad that I am still not married.

    I end up only getting things done that are specifically asked of me and that means I have about 8 productive hours a week. Maybe 15 if I’m really lucky and feel like I can do the grown up thing. It is super hard sometimes that my partner is self motivated and can work 50 hour weeks while I am unemployed. Sometimes I am sad that I am so bad at being an adult. I will be 30 soon and I don’t even have my degree.

  116. yes, all of this.

    As I said errr typed on the Twitter, maybe 3 or 4 days a month I don’t hate myself…maybe.

    I’m bi-polar and the anxiety/depression/self loathing is overwhelming. I’m sick of people telling me to be happy, to cheer up.

    anyway, you are not only along, but you’re a weird, new kind of normal, for us writers types.

    hugs

  117. You are *so* not alone in this. I’ve struggled with depression my entire life– I mean really, I was depressed in grade school (and, hmm, I’m another child of a narcissist…) and have continued to be ever since. I graduated with my B.A. at the age of 20, after three years in college. At 23 I had my M.A. in hand, and went on to do my doctoral work at a prestigious university. After all that (and two babies) I discovered that paying jobs in my field were rarer than hen’s teeth, so I switched gears entirely and became a registered nurse. Now I’m a certified RN in my area, an educator, and acknowledged as a leader in my institution.

    See? On paper (or a computer screen) that sounds great. Trouble is, I don’t buy ANY of it. Sure, technically it’s all true. I did all those things. I published peer-reviewed articles back in the day. Now I teach my peers. And every single day I wake up positive that this will be the day that I’m found out. The sad fact is that I feel like an actor playing a role– or, more correctly, a con artist who’s bound to get caught someday soon.

    I have no clue what the solution is. It’s comforting at least to know it’s not just me, either,

  118. I’m a faker. I fake it everyday. People tell me they wish they were as strong as me, and I hear this and I’m crushed inside because I know how weak I am and I feel like an impostor for appearing so strong when all I’m trying to do is make it to bedtime without more failures than I can count on one hand. I know how many nights I cry myself to sleep. I know how many days I procrastinate on paying bills, and how many times I have late fees. I know I’ve lived in a new state for a year, but haven’t changed over my drivers license or license plates yet. No reason for it. I just haven’t. Everyday I wake up and I get dressed and I go to work and pretend to be a normal, healthy, happy person, but I’m not normal, I’m not entirely healthy, and happiness is as fleeting as a butterfly on my finger.

  119. I have an extremely difficult daughter, who has a whole list of issues. I often have days where I don’t get a lot accomplished because I am just trying to make it through the day without going mad. I feel like a success if I can get my kids cared for and in bed with minimal yelling. I have piles of stuff from moving that I need to sort thru but everyday life can take over and not allow time for dealing with the non-critical chores. And don’t feel bad about not being a PTA mom – I’ve tried it, but there always seems to be a few parents that run the whole show, want to control it all, then talk about how much they do. They really do not want “outsiders” involved or their “new” ideas, because they can do everything their way, which causes newcomers to shy away from staying involved. I have found it to be like an adult clique. Life is significantly more complicated now than it has ever been, and there is so much that always needs to be done. I don’t think I will ever catch up, so I am happy when I get something – anything – completed/finished/sorted/cleaned….hugs to you for pushing thru each day.

  120. I read this at 7:50pm Central time. There were 2030 comments already. And you don’t feel successful? If success was a mother…she’d bop you upside your head right now and tell you to look around. You don’t always get to see your success…sometimes it’s in a smile from someone reading your post, sometimes it’s in the perfect sammich you made your daughter for her lunch, sometimes it’s making it thru the day without breaking down.

  121. My impression is this sounds like a little from column A and a little from column B. It’s pretty normal to feel the way you do, but the degree sounds like it might be tweak-the-meds time.

    I very rarely feel satisfied with my work on a given day, but I also don’t feel too badly most of the time. Like today. I had my first day of class, and I sucked hard. But on the other hand, I didn’t get enough sleep last night despite reasonable efforts to go to bed early, and I’m rusty as hell after the summer I had. So it kinda works out to, well, I’ve set a really low bar for myself to go soaring over once I figure out my shit in time for my next class.

    It also helps that I can divide the world into “stuff I can do something about, right now, for reals” and “stuff that I can’t really control in any meaningful fashion”. If I can’t control it, fuck it, there’s no point in getting worked up about it because it won’t do anything. If I can control it, then I try to stay on top of it because I’ve learned that if I don’t I start having anxiety attacks.

  122. Oh honey! You are so totally normal! You just happen to be living your life authentically! I have to beleive that everyone’s life sucks to some degree, in some area… or maybe all areas! The PTA super mom doesn’t clean house. The brownie baking stay at home mom is banging the neighbor. The chick who appears to have it all, is so lonely… and on and on. Give yourself a break, every single day. If you can be a good enough mom to your daughter and smile at your husband then you are ahead of the game. Anything beyond that is bonus! It doesn’t help to beat yourself up for not doing more. Try to be satisfied with just doing those 2 things and before you know it, you will be able to do a little more each day. You are perfect just the way you are!

  123. I feel that way just about every day. I’m not on any meds, or been diagnosed with anything. The world (OK, Pinterest) just makes me feel like I should be doing so much MORE than I am. And I always feel like I’m behind. If it helps, my daughter was assigned a project to review a Memoire and she was less than thrilled, until she remembered we have your book, and she’s now thrilled. So add Helped Random 14 year old out with her homework, to your list of accomplishments for the day.

  124. I don’t have time to read all the other comments tonight, but clearly I am not the only one speaking up to say it’s not just you. I would say about once a month I have a “why can’t I do this shit?” day and a few “everywhere I look around here I see things that I need to do and haven’t done” days. It’s so bad when it hits that it’s hard to believe it will ever pass.

    I read a line in a book once that I try to remember: “Never compare your insides with someone else’s outsides.” No one is all put together. Some are closer than others, but there’s a skeleton in every person’s closet. It may be a mouse or it may be a whale, but it’s there.

  125. I’m so glad you wrote this post. I feel like this every.single.day. I keep waiting for that moment when I’ll snap into life right along with everyone else. I’m slowly learning better how to fake it. How to time laughter to jokes I don’t find funny. How to force friendly smiles when they feel wrong on my face. How to always smile when on the phone so the right dash of human inflection is added into the conversation. If left to my own devices I’d probably rarely leave the house and spend most of my time escaping into books, movies, video games — anything that wasn’t the reality I’m in. I too (as I’ve read from many others) wondered when my boyfriend is going to clue in on the fact that I’m a total basket case and he needs to run. fast. I yearn to be caught up in my ‘passion.’ So far my only passion seems to be finding new modes of escape. I’m always baffled that people find me to be motivated, driven, successful — I always feel I’m putting in 10% on a good day. Maybe once every few weeks I feel like a rock star, but then all the insecurities come back along with the lack of motivation, and then I’m back to faking it. Hard.

  126. You just made me feel better. I had no idea that there was such a thing as Imposter Syndrome, but I now know that I also suffer from it. No matter how much I do I worry that it’s not enough, I feel guilty for everything and like you blame all my successes on luck and timing rather than acknowledging that I had anything to do with it. I’m getting a little better about that last bit, but still bad about blaming myself for everything bad and feeling guilty about things that i have no reason to feel guilty about.

    Just this week I was participating in a Psych study on teamwork for a class, and one question that came up on the surveys was about whether or not I felt guilty…. and every time I had to agree that I did … even with the knowledge that I had nothing to feel guilty for. I was just constantly worried/ feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing enough for my part.

  127. Depression lies. You taught me that. I know exactly how it feels to look at all the “normal” things you should be taking care of and aren’t, and decide that makes you a failure. It doesn’t. It means that your priorities have to be carefully selected so you get the TRULY IMPORTANT shit done – like spending time with your daughter – and let the normal-but-fuck-I-can’t-be-bothered-with-it-today shit slide. You mentioned you wrote a book, and had it published, and be successful. HOLY SHIT BALLS, THAT’S FUCKING AMAZING. Yes, it is. It doesn’t matter if you never write another book ever again. You wrote a novel, and it was not only published, it was CRAZY WICKED successful. You have done more right there, you have done something so amazing, that those perfect looking pastel PTA moms will likely never do. You. WIN. You don’t need to clean your house every day and make homemade cookies and volunteer for every committee for your daughter’s school to be successful. You love your daughter, and make sure she has the things she needs, and much of what she wants, and that she’s growing up to be an amazing person just like her parents. You have a husband who will stand by you no matter what, even when you’re driving each other completely insane. You have a dozen things that are diagnosed as being PHYSICALLY WRONG with you, RA, and depression, and anxiety, and I don’t even know the whole laundry list. But you’re STILL HERE. You never gave in to the voices that told you to just give up. You haven’t crawled away into a hole and abandoned the people who love you most. You have faced the darkness within, and even when it leaves you quivering under a blanket unable to get up and brush your teeth, you still give your daughter the love she deserves. You. Are. AMAZING. Anyone who wants to give you shit about not unpacking or making sure things are dusted or what-the-fuck-ever can just go jump off a pier. Because you, Jenny Lawson, are MY hero.

  128. I feel like that everyday! And I am not depressed… I think 95% of us feel this way but we don’t talk about it or voice it out loud in case someone really discovers we really are imposters. The other 5% are delusional or are not seeing the realities of life.

  129. I also feel like a fraud, an imposter, a waste of air most days. I’d say I feel like a “normal” person 0-2 days a month. I keep waiting for my bosses, my friends, my family to realize what I’ve know all along: that I’m useless and they should stop being around me. I was diagnosed with “clinical depression” as a child and I’m a middle aged lady now – that’s a lot of time with this beast on my back.

    I spend my non-work time fretting about all of the things I need to get done [dishes, cat boxes, bill paying…] and not actually doing anything. I spend my time in bed watching TV because videogames and books are too much effort – forget about cleaning! I can’t find the strength to cook and end up eating take-out constantly and then feel worse because of the lack of nutrition and the ever-tightening waistbands of my pants…. If I get the cat boxes cleaned, well that’s cause for celebration.

    In a world of Great Unemployment I have two jobs – both “crappy” warehouse jobs that give me a pretty terrible schedule, so I spend my time thankful that I’m employed but I try not to talk about where I work because it feels shameful. “Oh, you graduated from a top arts college? What are you doing with your life?” “Um, working at UPS…”

    Yet somehow I’ve had these two jobs for eight years [!] and just keep chugging along. But I can’t seem to get out of this rut and get a “real” job, you know, that mythical job that gives enough money to actually pay your bills.

    Yet somehow I’ve found myself married to an incredible man and have a few, great friends.

    But every minute of every day I’m waiting for them to realize what a terrible person I am and that they should run screaming away from me.

    Sorry this is rambly. I really just wanted to drop by and reinforce that you’re not alone. It may be sad that we all seem to be in a similar boat, but it’s great that we can talk about it and help each other out. It sucks that you suffer, but it’s great for all of us that you talk about it and show us that we’re not alone. Thanks for being you ’cause you seem pretty fabulous.

  130. I’ve never commented before, but wanted to today. I actually do NOT suffer from depression, but yes, I do feel like this a few days a month. It used to be more, when my children were first back in school and I remained a stay at home mom nonetheless. Through the past 3 years I have remained a stay at home mom, however, and have just…changed my outlook. I’ve decided that I don’t need to compete with everyone else. I don’t care if their kitchen is cleaner, or laundry is put away. My family is happy, I did make sure they got fed, no one is grossing out about the bathrooms today, and — the topper– I’M HAPPY. See, I realized one thing. This here is MY life. No one else’s, and I’m not going to get another shot at it. Did I finish all the housework today? Nope. But that book isn’t going to read itself.

  131. Moments, not days. Not even moments for a good many years. Then I got sober and I learned I was not the only one. My story includes AA, it saved my life. The people who are just like us gave me hope. Very, very very slowly I have learned a new way of living and viewing life. But it is still moments of peace and feeling “real”. Not day’s. The moments are random and come in various shapes and sizes. To shut the voices out? I check my feet .. I am right were I am suppose to be right at this moment. Am I trying to do the next right thing? if not .. well try. My gratitude list might just have “I am wearing clean socks” .. but it is something. And I have 90% of the time completely given up on caring what other people think. If I am trying on a daily basis to do the next right thing I am good, it is enough. I am perfectly broken and that is ok, today.

  132. I think a lot of people on here recognize a lot of themselves in you – myself included. I try not to count the days but the instances in when I feel good about myself. Its really hard but I force myself. It’s getting easier.

    I try to quiet that nagging, negative voice inside that I deal with day by day, hour by hour. I get compliments about an outfit, or my hair and I just want to say “fuck off”…that isn’t normal but I’m dealing with it. I can’t accept positiveness when its directed to me and I have to rework the way I think about it. I try and pray, I talk to myself a lot and I look in the mirror and try not to cringe. Sometimes I just want to curl into a ball in the corner of a room and watch a Honey Boo Boo marathon rather than deal with the life outside. I have two good kids (24 and 19) that are good people and I don’t think I totally fucked them up (on my third marriage….I can go on and on about how THAT is the reason they both don’t have boy/girl friends…) But I know, and there are examples that prove, that I AM a good person. I haven’t scared off my third husband…possibly because he’s lived through a roadside bomb in Iraq that ended his Army career and hurt him mentally.
    I think we all have our wars, scars, IEDs we deal with.

    Most of the things you just said I totally relate to …it makes me feel better that I’m not alone. So THANK YOU! (on the off-chance that you will read this far down in the comments)
    I do the “meds” thing….I exercise. I do what I can that might help. And, oddly, stumbling upon your book and blog helps so much. You help me! You help people! I don’t feel so crappy because you make me laugh. Not to put the weight of MY problems on your already -burdened shoulders but you’re my therapy. I laughed so hard when I first read your book I snorted. I enjoyed myself. Are you the sole reason why I feel the day is a little brighter? No, but you do add to it…your honesty about your “flaws” and your candidness about your mental health issues have made me want to peek outside and see that the world is not as scary when you know there are others like you out there.

    (wow, i just rambled and it didn’t probably make a whole lot of sense…..)

    In short, you ROCK..thank you…a million thanks.

  133. no, it’s not just you… I listened to the song before I wrote my comment and I fucking loved it. I have my own vampires.. they are the ones telling me that I can’t do chemistry at 32 and still get married and have kids and have a successful career AND go to grad school… they are telling me that I’m too old and too stupid to do what I want to do… that I’m going to be barren by the time I’m ready to have kids.

    every day I feel like a failure… every day. I see kids in their 20s and I think… I’m a failure. I see moms in their 30s and I think.. I’m a failure.

    some of the worst is that I don’t feel like I have a right to feel depressed … because nothing truly terrible has happened to me.. I didn’t have a horrible childhood.. I have everything I need most of the time… yes I’m in crippling (or will be when I’m done) student loan debt, but I have a roof over my head, food on the table and things to help me succeed like a laptop. Why should someone like me who has so much be depressed when there are people out there who are stuck in the life of drugs, sex crimes, horrible childhood experiences.

    that’s when I have to remind myself that depression lies. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve been… depression is a mental illness…. it’s not like it only picks people with the shitty lives… people could have everything they want/need and still be depressed.

    you’re not alone… and neither am I.

  134. Maybe 5 days? Then when I do feel like I’ve got it all “together” the “mom who does everything perfectly” usually ruins my happy buzz.

  135. Dude, if I can feel successful once a month, that’s a good month. I have ADD and have been reading and trying to learn more about myself lately. What you’re describing is exactly how ADD tears you down. We may start out as decent normal people but by the time we make it to adulthood our self esteem has been torn to shreds. We feel worthless, and like we’re living in a house of cards. Even on a good day I live in fear that it will all come tumbling down if I breath to hard. One of the other ways ADD lies to you is it makes you very UN-self-aware. If you can’t see yourself clearly, you can’t see the good that you’re going.

    I’m sorry, I don’t have a solution for you, but you’re TOTALLY not alone in this.

  136. Yeah, I’m pretty pleased with myself if I can get one of those good days in a week. Sometimes it’s a few weeks and then I might get one or two in a row. Everything in me is either recovering from the last overwhelming experience or preparing for the next one, so the idea of a little a day is terrifying because what if I’m not ready for a crisis?

    Anxiety? check
    Shame? check
    Depression? check
    Lying in bed under the covers? oh hell check
    Regularly count getting dressed as my biggest accomplishment? yeah, check
    Giant dust rhinos eating boxes of things from over a decade ago that I’m now afraid to open? double-fucking-mega-check
    Feeling like a loser for not writing/doing enough? check check checkcheckcheckcheckCHECK!
    Imposter Syndrome?…???…OMG, is that a THING? Probably check.

    Which is to say, you are so very, very not alone. The people who look all polished and capable I like to believe are just trapped in a different sort of anxiety, one where they have to bust ass all the time in pursuit of perfectionism and fear of judgment. They’re both sides of the same coin. Not many of us can just coast somewhere in the middle. The ones who can had normal childhoods. I don’t know many of them. I’m certainly not one. Eight years of PTSD therapy and I’m what, *maybe* halfway functional?

    You’re doing all the right things, it’s just that a) it takes time, and b) you’re just living in an unbalanced world. I read somewhere that indigenous cultures only worked about 20 hours a week. The rest was play, rest, and creativity. That is how our brains are designed. We literally can only exercise so much willpower in a day (no, really: http://www.npr.org/2011/09/18/140516974/resistance-training-for-your-willpower-muscles). When you use it all up on trying not to jump out of a window, there’s pretty reasonably not much left for much else.

    Also, if it will make you feel better, I will totally send you a photo of my kitchen floor, which now has about half of the ceramic tiles chipped up, and is a total disaster, and I have no actual plans for finishing it, but I started it because we had to get our dishwasher replaced and I started trying to make things easier on the installer guy who is coming tomorrow because the flooring is at different levels because it’s an old house, and now I have to wear shoes in the kitchen because it’s covered in pottery shards and the cat is TOTALLY pissed at me, and I don’t even know what my daughter is going to say when she comes home Saturday. Probably, “Mom. What…?”

    But you asked two other questions (yes, I’m still talking): What makes you feel the worst? When Jim starts getting annoyed at me for all the undone stuff. Thanks, bud, I’m doing fine on the shame front ALL by myself. Also, when I let my daughter down.

    What do you do to make yourself feel more successful?: something tiny. Anything. Chip away a single tile. File a single piece of paper. No strings attached, no expectation to do more. Just one little thing. Or I find something else to avoid – I get super-productive then. I kind of have a merry-go-round – no, a slot machine – of avoidance. You just keep pushing the button and eventually something shakes loose. Gotta clean? Try writing. Gotta write? Try cleaning! Or really anything that involves you not having any access to a keyboard. My motivation fucking ADORES irony.

    That’s my pep talk. The most important bit is this: whatever you are doing right now, it is your best, and that is enough. There will be another good day, and that will also be enough. You will move the ball a few yards down the field and that will be fine and we will all cheer for you if you ask. In the meantime, to quote Mary Oliver, you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

  137. I went to work today with dirty hair.
    If I don’t have to go anywhere, I often won’t wash my hair or shower. I will also sleep until noon.
    I often just walk around dried cat puke for a day or two before cleaning it up.
    I almost never wash my makeup off before going to bed.
    Our apartment is a disaster 80% of the time (and we don’t have kids to blame).
    Sometimes, I still eat off of Tupperware lids.
    We cook homemade dinners maybe 3 times a month.

    Wow. Now I’m starting to feel really shitty and ashamed of myself.
    Ending on something that makes me look slightly less losery (?) : On average, during the week, I work about 12 hours a day.

  138. Wow, I’m reading the other comments and I’m thinking, “MY PEOPLE….I’M HOME!!” LOL…

  139. I almost never feel like I’ve kicked ass at something. The fact that I have only had one panic attack in the last 5 years (after years of anxiety so bad that I would wake up from dreams having a panic attack) still doesn’t diminish the disappointment I feel at myself for not being able to attend a party of any sort. Not even a recent going away “party” for a co-worker that would have just been the dozen or so people that I work with every week. Going back to college, graduating and getting a job I love doesn’t change how I feel like a loser because I haven’t been on a date in 10 years. I never know what to say and when I do say something I always feel like I’ve said the wrong thing. If someone compliments me I am unable to just say thank you like a normal person. I have to make excuses or say something ridiculously awkward. I try to remind myself that everyone has a public life and a private life and even all the perfect people who have it all together have insecurities and doubts, but mostly I just want to TP their house. I know I’m fucking it up most of the time. I’m trying hard every day. Some days the hardest I can try is to eat a bag of beef jerky while watching sloth videos on youtube while refusing to hide in the shower and cry. Some days I hide and cry. Some days I think that the light at the end of the tunnel might not be a train about to run me down.
    All that embarrassing rambling to say I know what you mean and you are absolutely not the only one.

  140. Common angst syndrome for above average sentient beings. Question one, are you getting enough satisfying sex? What about natural sunlight? Proper hydration, rest and healthy balanced diet. You got rid of the demon gall bladder so you need to detox your body fully. Look for a proper safe detox regimens.try juicing for a day of two. Sounds to me your chi is totally fucked up. You need balance fast. Find it in nature. Go to a beautiful park and sit in Sun, breathe deeply fresh air. Walk and observe all beauty around you. Only allow pure cleAn energy to influence you. Find psychic who can check your aura and recommend fix to balance. Holy sacred places are also good for recovering spirit. Avoid all sugar and processed food. Get good live food into you. Visit a holistic healer or authentic Asian acupuncturist. Very therapeutic. Must open self to healing. You deserve to be healed and your higher power wants to heal your spirit. So stop cock blockin your own freedom.

  141. All my life I’ve felt this way. I am 53 years old and have never felt “normal”. I could never figure out why other girls hung out and never included me… Not when I was young or even now. Everyone tells me that I’m such a nice person and I’m so blessed, but..I never believed it until I finially decided that I am who I am and fuck everyone else. The cape cod with the white picket fence, 2 perfect kids and the wonder happy doggie running in the yard, was not really real life. Burst my bubble a little, but made it easier too. And…..you just have to let go..let GOD.
    I always tell my kids (incidentally, they all suffer from this same shit too) “how do you eat an Elephant?….one bite at a time.
    Hang in there cuddle that kiddo under those blankets. Embrace you. You are loved by many even when you don’t feel like you are????

  142. Not even sure what to say except that your post made me cry, and the song made me laugh, cry and instantly share it – put it on my blog – and then download the musical even though I am losing my shit about money until the next pay day. It’s another day for me where the best I can do is not rock silently in the corner while my toddler climbs on unsafe things like my desk and then throws herself onto the my computer chair narrowly missing the edge of the desk with the back of her head. Like she wants to go to the ER. I’m not doing well. You always write about it so much more eloquently than I do. I suffer. I feel similarly. I am so so proud of you for sharing because I can’t and that makes me feel ashamed. You make it better for me when days are really bad. And they are really bad. I don’t think about things in terms of months because that scope is really overwhelming for me……. If I have a good hour of a day – I’m thrilled. I fail at life pretty regularly. It’s really hard. Two days ago I printed out the Depression lies bracelet and covered it in packing tape and wore it. I wrote “Never give up” in sharpie on my hand above it because I can’t get it together to order the damned necklace. I drew a heart on the inside of my wrist to remind me that people love me. People love you. I love you. Sometimes the best you can do is write a blog that touches thousands of people.

  143. What stood out to me is your belief that most people “seem to totally have their shit together”; that they don’t have mess, the hair that needs to be washed. Why don’t they talk about it? Because like you, they think everyone else was like that and it’s just THEM. I think people have unrealistic expectations and set themselves up for disappointment. For people like you and me that have depression, it’s even more than disappointment…it translates into failure.
    Pretty, pastel lives only exist in the movies. For every person I know that has spotless house , all their bills paid on time and children with straight-As, I find underneath a life where perhaps underneath it all the termites are eating the house, they’re overextended and kids that hate their parents.
    In the long run your daughter’s not going to remember you weren’t a member of the PTA. She probably wouldn’t notice now. You hate picnics? I’m guessing if you were to set one up for your daughter she’d look at you and say, “who are you, and what have you done with my mom? What they will remember is things that you did do with them, even it it’s not PTA-worthy. Whatever you two have fun doing together, that’s all she wants. I’m guessing if you tried to be a “Stepford Wife” you might just freak her out.
    Life today is complicated and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. We all want to curl up in bed when we don’t know where to start. But day after day (for the most part) we DO get up and do the best we can. And it’s enough. Enough for those who truly matter in your life, and hopefully, because of that, enough for you. Hugs.

  144. My take on the whole thing: Unfortunately American media has mothers feel guilty about being human. Now-a-days you don’t have to be a mom, but you have to be a super mom like Martha Stewart who excells in crafts, cooking, decorating, etc. Even Martha Stewart could not be the mom that the commercial Martha Stewart is (ask her kids).

    I say all of this because I know I made big mistakes with raising my kids. One thing that always happened, I was honest with my kids and never made (therefore never broke) a promise. I would tell them that I could only give them my word to do my best, but never promised them anything because if I dropped dead after declaring my promise, how could I be certain that would still happen?

    I often joked that if my kids did not need therapy after leaving home, then I did not “do it right.”

    Now I look upon two grown children who decided to both be first generation military (no one in my family on either side has joined the military that I know of). I admit fully and am willing to take blame for my mistakes, but my children won’t have it. They say that they can’t be mad at me for being, of all thing, human – which is flawed by nature.

    I tell you all this not only because I am proud of the two most precious children I believe exists, but because they have taught me the most valuable lesson. You don’t have to be the perfect parent. You just have to love them unconditionally and be honest with them always.

    My children are the best kids ever, and they know I believe that with all of my heart! THAT is the best you can do.

  145. I feel the exact same way a lot of the time and watch reruns of Little House on the Prairie almost every night (my family doesn’t understand this but for some reason it relaxes me) You are an amazing writer and you are gifted at describing the human experience in a way that makes everyone who reads you feel less alone.

  146. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this – you’ve brought a long-time lurker (and huge book fan) out of the shadows. 2-3 days a month sounds about right to me, even during those times when I avoid Pinterest and embrace extra tea, cookies, and wine. xoxo

  147. I am not on meds or anything and never bothered to see a doctor about my depression, here in Singapore, depression is still not talked about as it should be. so we just plod along and when bad days come up, i just hide in bed and dont talk to anyone and pray I dont open the window and jump off. after all a smashed up body is a no no and I still want to look good at my funeral. For me the best way to snap out of it is to let guilt take over… the guilt of leaving my kids behind, or the guilt of having one of my sons discover my body. so that sort of pulls me back into line and I get up and just get on with it. some days are harder and it takes longer to get back to being productive but I get there eventually
    You are not alone there are millions of us out there who dont talk about how we are not perfect we are just trying the best we can

  148. When I started reading this post it took me a few sentences to realize that you were being absolutely serious, and I can’t tell you how much I admire that, and applaud you for being brave (though it’s not a surprise at this point) and being so baldly truthful.

    As thousands of people are saying, here, you’re not alone. It’s taken about 8 years to figure out how to snap myself out of a funk and that mindset of inferiority. I only really suffer from depression about once a month, and it doesn’t last more than a few days at a time, and my advice is probably going to be unhelpful because it involves forcefully being social, and embracing whatever the heck you feel like doing at the moment other than the things you think you should do to be productive…but it is what it is.

    I’m a teacher, and the moment my first student walks in the classroom, everything starts being about my kids. It sounds like what you do with Hailey, actually. I’ve found that being around children and making a real difference in their lives, helping them become more confident, independent, and happy, somehow soothes my own feelings of inadequacy. I don’t know if there’s any way you can get yourself into a classroom to volunteer, or a community center, or something, but those are the things that most sharply snap me back to myself. From experience, I wouldn’t recommend putting yourself on a schedule, because then that becomes something to avoid, cancel, and then brood over how much you suck for avoiding/canceling. But if there’s any way to get more Hailey-type interactions with other people…

    I don’t have children, so my husband and dogs and I can let stuff go without it being too much of a disaster. Let’s put this in perspective–no kids, done with college/grad school, loads of free time, right? I have about a dozen different unfinished (but in progress, if only in my head, so I can feel bad for not doing them!) projects around the house, including a bedroom that for 7 years has had 3 different experimental paints (all on the same wall at the same time) and one wall of primer. I’ll get to it in the next 5 years, I’m sure. My projects are unfinished because I don’t feel like doing them, NOT because I’m working on all 12 at once. Actually I haven’t done much that I’d call “productive” with the house in about 2 years. It’s not a dump around here, but it’s definitely not sparkling and dust/laundry/dog-hair/clutter abound. I’m good at hiding it (like your house pictures look pristine), but it’s totally there. Finally, we’ve lived here for 7 years and I’ve only JUST finished unpacking boxes and still need to rearrange the entire house to decide how I want to use our space. In the meantime I’m going to read books and play videogames and go to hockey games and avoid said projects until I feel some kind of manic burst of motivation. Until it comes, it’s not worth even trying, because I’ll just get myself feeling like a loser for not accomplishing more.

    Like I said, my experiences may not be helpful to you. But for what it’s worth, you’re not alone, and you’ve voiced feelings I’m sure many people have only ever internalized. Thank you.

  149. Jenny, you are not alone. I am very fortunate that I do not suffer from depression or any other disorders. My children are “normal” and healthy (normal is determined by individual family standards). Recently, I’ve read a couple blogs that made me look at moms differently. The next time I see one of my fellow moms at the bus stop with stained yoga pants in no shoes throwing skittles into a lunch bag and calling it lunch, I’m going to look at her and nod as if to say, “Solidarity y’all.” I hope you read these and know that you can stop comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reels. This is what moms of the world really think!
    http://bitchinsisters.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/back-to-school-pinterest-bitches/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jen-hatmaker/worst-end-of-school-year-mom-ever_b_3378480.html

  150. P’s: when I say I am not depressed, it just means I have developed a way to not dwell or think of all my short comings…I just bury them and continue to fake it…every day…

  151. This may sound incredibly harsh and insensitive but – it does you no good to keep tabs on the number of days you are happy or compare yourself to those shiny perfect people. Rarely are people one hundred percent happy. You are not alone in how you feel but you are alone in how you chose to deal with things each day. I say ‘you are alone’ for the fact that all the advice in the world won’t take away those bad thoughts unless you feel ready to let them go. If you must keep a tally then keep tabs on the amount of time each day that you are happy.
    Spending time with your daughter wrapped in a blanket watching TV – sounds pretty darn good and way better than a PTA meeting. Dusty unpacked boxes? Clearly, you must not need what is in them to get by from day to day or you or your husband would have HAD to unpack !
    I don’t mean to sound as though I do not understand – I have had my share of down days. Its just that I came to realize one day that life is too short to spend it in that dark place. Being out where it is sunny is so much better – not easy, just better. Find what makes you happy and stick with that. Thoughts that make you feel bad? Tell the devil to stop bugging you, he is not gonna drag you down!

  152. What you’ve described is just what normal is. everyone has good days and bad days and somehow getting that stuck in MY head took me 45 years AND hitting rock bottom so many times I didn’t know there was anyplace else. I finally saw the light when I recognized the gremlins always whispering that I wasn’t good enough and repeating this to myself about 1000 times a day in a voice loud enough to drown out the gremlins: “Everything in the present moment is sufficient.”

    Another crutch is to go back and re-watch Brene Brown’s Ted talk (which I learned about from you, dear girl) for about the 1000th time.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

  153. Whoa now…It’s only the 5th of September and you totally owned today with your 2000+ doses of love. It’s THE 5TH, fuck…you can coast for the rest of the month now and STILL come out on top! Genius!!
    You have 25 days of smug satisfaction that today was the best. I’m absolutely signing up for this plan, and not only because I hear there are free steak knives if you sign on today.
    Love.

  154. 2-3 days a month if I’m lucky. I think that it’s time for my meds to get boosted. Chronic pain totally exacerbates all of the stuff mental illness uses to fuck with you, too, so there’s that. I’m always totally confused when people are impressed with me unless it has to do with something that I did with yarn and/or glitter. Come to think of it, those are the days that I’m happiest.

  155. Have you set a record for responses yet? Pretty clear that we all feel this way, to some degree or another. At least you’ve got ” I made a bunch of people snort milk/coffee/soda out their nose from laughing with me today”. That’s awesome! A reason to give today a check mark in the “good day” column.

    You rock.

  156. I feel the same way most days. And I think the dirty little secret of the world is that the shiny,pretty people have cracks, too. And perhaps sometimes, their pain is worse because they use the shiny prettiness to guard against any crack ever showing ever, because they can’t bear the thought of what might happen if it does. I think that those of us who are willing to say “here’s me – every broken inch of me. This is what I look like” – even if we sometimes find the energy to put lipstick on for a conference, or iron our slacks to go to the band concert – we’re US. Authentic, messy US. We’re not perfect, but we’re way ahead of the hard-laquered shiny ones – because we have thrown off the shackles of trying to be.

  157. imposter syndrome – never heard it called that but that’s what i have. applies at work and at home, it’s just really hard to believe i do much of anything well. not enough time or energy to do everything i feel i should be. was shocked to hear from my family that my expectations of myself are nothing they’ve even though of. lesson here is i am the only one judging myself this way – the only one that matters anyway. have no idea if the people i don’t care about (i think they are in the pat) are judging me in any way at all. but i think they are.
    i hide my dusty boxes better than you though. i’m rather obsessively tidy in areas anyone can see. just don’t open that room door that’s closed.

  158. I try to swim at least a few days a week after I drop my kids off at school. There isn’t a single day that I swim that I don’t find myself recycling the same thoughts about getting certain things done. I think about how I should be editing my novel, or writing a new essay, or starting work on a new violin, or doing more with my kids…. And some days I think it will drive me crazy knowing that I swim mile after mile and never get anywhere either literally or figuratively.

    Just existing, especially if you have other people in your home you love and who depend on you, takes up an inordinate amount of time. I don’t know why. It’s easy to drown in the mundane. So you are not alone at all. And you still manage to be more successful than many of us can hope to be, so you are ahead of the game no matter how unproductive you feel.

    Thanks for this post. This is the kind of honesty I wish more people were brave enough to write.

  159. I know that this is one comment among thousands by now, but I had to say that this post really helped me. I feel successful maybe 3 days a month. When I get compliments at work I know in my head that those people are wrong. They don’t know me. When my husband tells me how I take such good care of him, I tally up all the days he’s left work early because i’m having a panic attack. Or picked me up because my hands are shaking so badly I can’t drive. I think about how many times I haven’t gotten to clean the litter box that day, and I can’t and it’s too hard and how the pets all looked depressed because I can’t take care of them. And it all piles up, both in reality and in my head. But I nearly can’t believe how not alone I am. And it’s you, Jenny, who can be honest enough to let us know that and say it and believe it. Thank you.

  160. Hi! First time commenter because this hits me where I live.

    Like so many others have said, I think this is normal…to an extent. In my case, my anxiety was amplifying the insecurity and shame, and then I was flailing about in an attempt to regain some semblance of control, because I felt so out-of-control of my life on a daily basis. Like, I was making elaborate cleaning lists (because “it’s more manageable if you do it one bit at a time!”) and then a) getting pissed off that my husband was not on board with participating in this plan and b) deciding that I was one step away from having my child taken away from me, losing my house, and living under a bridge because I missed several days in a row of my assigned cleaning duties. And my reactions and stress level reflected this downward spiral. It wasn’t just the cleaning thing, either. Exercise, feeding myself (let alone the rest of my family), any sort of social obligation, spending time with my 2-year-old daughter…it all just turned into one big mountain of “I’m not good enough” suck. About all I could reliably do was show up for work on time, and that’s because we’re a single income family, and I’m it–if I couldn’t do that, we just might actually be living under a bridge!

    I’m an analyst by trade (and by nature) so once I got a therapist, we picked apart (what felt like) every single one of these scenarios until I figured out my pattern. I still have these issues, but I’m better at recognizing them now, and once I realize “oh yeah, I’m doing that thing again” I’m learning to disengage and really look at the fear. There are a number of steps between “didn’t clean the toilet” and “living under a bridge,” and did I trust myself enough to turn things around at ANY ONE OF THEM? Yes, I thought I did–and if I didn’t, did I trust my husband/friends/people who care about me and who are in touch with me regularly to be like “hey, ya know, you’ve got a thing going on here, do you need some help?” And I did. That’s when I started feeling not-so-alone, and I think that’s when it started to get better.

    Also, I read Brene Brown’s books. They’re all fantastic, but “I Thought It Was Just Me” was especially helpful to me, because it helped me see some of the larger social influences and structures that enable the constant pseudo-competitive measuring-up that I was doing. Quantifiably, it wasn’t just me, and it helped to know that too.

  161. I get it. I live it. I love your bravery. Ok, I don’t know your belief system and I struggle with my faith but the Bible says that we were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed or unworthy lives. We were created to be victorious. Could you imagine? That whole sin thing messed us all up in the beginning. Anyway, not here to preach to you, God knows I am as flawed as they come. Just want you to know that I rely on mercy and grace to bring me through each day. I love their definitions: mercy is not getting what we do deserve and grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Isn’t that awesome? Love you Jenny and pray for peace that passes human understanding.
    Oh yea, and remember “Comparison is the thief of Joy”. Boy is it ever.

  162. I am lucky that I do not struggle with mental illness. I am lucky to be smart and to be able to get my PHD when I was 54. I attended graduate school where Pauline Clance, the professor WHO WROTE ABOUT THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME, taught. Every day, still today when I have a relatively successful career, I am waiting for that tap on the shoulder and somebody says to me “WTF are YOU doing here??? you aren’t worthy and we KNOW what you are up to”. Every day I think I will get called to the principal’s office. I GET IT. I have boxes everywhere that likely will not get unpacked until I die. There is dog hair everywhere. I don’t’ always return phone calls.
    there is no rule that says you have to be ANY sort of Mom except what you can be!!!

    and… whether this helps or not….. YEARS ago, my therapist (i probably financed his kids’ first houses) told me that I needed to stop using the “F” word… FAULT. I have never forgotten it
    Peace Jenny. Peace.

  163. Having just transitioned from working full time to stay at home mom full time, I feel like a failure on a daily basis. I know my job is to make sure the baby is fed and clean, but I get mad at the pile of laundry, random piles of crap not put away, have completed knitting projects, etc…. I feel like I have done nothing

  164. It’s SO not just you.

    I feel this way QUITE often…right down to the managing to get to the bank comment.

    Like seriously.

    And I resent the PTA moms so much…because in addition to them being perfect, shiny pastel life people with what seems to be unlimited energy to pour into crap at the school…they have children that are “typical” (my son is special needs) and can reap the benefits of their hard work put in at school events that are not catered at all to children like my son (who would only be overstimulated and upset by the noise, lights, and sounds of the the school carnival etc.).

    And then after having those resentful thoughts about the PTA moms, I hate myself even more for thinking them…and feel like even more of a failure.

    It really isn’t just you…and 3 – 5 days a month is pretty great to me…honestly.

  165. 3-5 days a month I feel I’ve kicked ass
    10 or so I just get to work and back
    10 or so I feel pretty good
    5 or so I really lay in front of the tv and watch whole season of pretty much anything pass before my eyes.
    Sometimes I’ll do dishes when I’m supposed to be sewing on a project for a friend, or clean a room when I should be setting up for work. I’ll play with a ukulele when I really want to practice on my Cello. I seem to do anything and everything but whatever it is I’m supposed to do. Sometimes it works out, sometimes I let people down and don’t get things done when I’d like, but I plug away and get some things done some times. In then end that’s what I am and what I can do. 🙂

  166. I don’t have depression or anxiety, or personality disorders, however I often end the day feeling guilty for not having done enough, or not doing as well as one of my friends. From the number of comments on here, I think it would be much stranger to never have these feelings.

  167. I feel the same way much of the time. But, other people’s lives aren’t as perfect as they appear to us. Everybody has their own insecurities and fears and difficulties. Most of the time they don’t actually share them with you because they either want to keep up the appearance of being perfect or don’t want to appear weak compared to your own perceived perfection. I think it is so, so important to talk to people about stuff like this because you aren’t alone. No one is ever alone and no one should ever feel that way.

    Even though I realize this, I still have major issues in day to day life. 🙁 If your thoughts and feelings of inadequacy get in the way of enjoying your life more than just occasionally (I feel sucktastic every day and I’d be super happy if I could get it down to maybe a few times a month) then it is time to change something. I have been trying to get enough courage together to go to my college’s health service to get a mental health consultation. I can’t stand living like this anymore but I am just so afraid to ask for help.

    So, dear Bloggess, you are not alone.
    P.S. I think I’m going to start telling people that I am arsonistic. That’s beautiful!

  168. Honestly, I wouldn’t and don’t keep track of that. I try my hardest to just take each and every day as is. Some days I feel absolutely shitty, play video games, and sleep. Other days I’ll get a good test grade or go thrift shopping with my mom and I’ll feel pretty good..
    Although I have to say there aren’t many days that I constantly feel like I’ve done anything “kick ass”. I’m really just waiting for college to start and for things to move forward.
    Your blog is one thing that makes me feel like there are geeks or sarcastic people that are like me, and this blog is something I look forward to as soon as I log onto my computer. I know there isn’t too much I can say, but a little bit of advice would be to do something that isn’t work. Something creative and crafty to get your mind off of things for a while. Or watch Doctor Who until you’re so submersed that you’ve forgotten reality for even a little while.. Personally, I would chose Doctor Who.

  169. In my opinion, you may setting the bar way too high. Huddling under the blanket, snuggling with your daughter is SUCCESS! Yeah, enjoying your family is fabulous.

    I have a couple of kick ass days a month. A couple of Saturdays ago I did my radio show, covered the show after that, went mountain biking while my car was being serviced, took a shower, then went to visit my MIL in the hospital. Woohoo, amazing productivity. We were 3 1/2 hours late to the fundraising BBQ, but hey, you can’t win them all.

    I like La Leche League’s motto of “People before things.” Snuggling with your daughter is more important than doing to dishes. Keep in mind I’m the woman who chose knotty pine flooring so spills look like just another knothole, and I chose grey grout in the bathrooms so the mildew doesn’t show. 🙂

  170. You feel bad if you’ve only been to the bank that day? If I’ve been to the bank I feel like a responsible grown-up for being proactive about my debts. Especially if I got through the visit without crying. Going to the bank makes me feel like a productive, participating member of society and like I’m getting all sorts of shit together. Apparently I’m aiming a bit low here.

    I regularly feel as if I fail at life. But when I do actually take steps to stop being a fuck-up, I feel proud for at least trying.

    Unfortunately the next reminder that I’m a fuck-up usually isn’t far away; and then my head decides to re-run every time I’ve proven myself to be socially incompetent, just to remind me how much I should hate myself. Don’t you hate it when your brain decides to kick you when you’re down?

  171. I read your post today and had to send you note because this was exactly how I was feeling today. A friend gave me a coffee mug with a woman dressed perfectly for work while jugging a soccer ball and the inscription said “Tracy – I can do it all!” She meant it – and meant for it to be a compliment but all I could think is that I really had people fooled if they think this – what an impostor I am because inside I feel overwhelmed and like my house of cards will come crashing down at any point. (I even blogged about it – 2 posts so not really a blog as much as a couple of stories on the internet :)) Today in particular I felt like – am I doing the job I should be doing? Am I spreading myself too thin? What’s it all about? You know – the “little questions”. Am I having a midlife crisis – I have no idea but I’d say most people feel this way because we’re all just trying to the best we can and we wonder sometimes if that’s enough. Here’s what I can tell you (and I know you were sincere when you said you weren’t fishing for compliments) – I read your post about Beyonce last April and laughed out loud. I thought it was one of the funniest damn things I’d ever read – truly (well that and your post about being in HR). My father died about a week after I read it. When I was with my mom in the days after he died there was so much grief. They were married for almost 50 years and still very happy to be together when he suddenly passed. We needed something to break the sadness and crying so I asked her if I could read something funny. She was game – she needed a break too – and we started reading Beyonce out loud together. Well let me tell you – we laughed so hard we had to keep stopping to breathe and pull ourselves together. Best laugh we’d ever had. Emotions were running high but in that time that we read your post, we got a reprieve from the pure sadness and experience pure joy. So if you’re ever wondering if what you do makes a difference, I can tell you from personal experience that it does. And you make a difference to many, many people. Keep writing from your heart – it’s a gift girl – keep using it! It’s ok if it’s hard and a struggle – we all struggle – we’re all just doing the best we can each and every day! We love ya! PS – read Brene Brown’s writing on the Gifts of Imperfection – great stuff (we’re not meant to perfect – not even close)!

  172. I think you have enough comments but I wanted to weigh in anyway.

    1) All the perfect, pastel people with matching napkins have their own issues, they are just not issues that keep them from blow drying their hair and getting matching napkins.

    2) I also frequently feel this way, but I too have some anxiety/depression/perfection issues, so my guess is that it isn’t normal and perhaps we should do some med adjusting! 🙂

  173. I have the same problem, I can go through weeks without feeling like I have done anything worth while and there is no point in me being around. But the days when I feel good about myself turn into something special since they don’t happen very often

  174. Wow, you just summed up life! I think all of us, especially women, feel this way. Sheryl Sandberg writes about imposter’s syndrome in Lean In, and I (as a woman working in a male-dominated field) definitely feel it. People only post their best selves on Pinterest and are struggling as much as the rest of us. And I don’t have depression or any mental illness history, so it’s not because of that. We just all don’t know what we are doing and we fake it ’till we make it!

  175. You are definitely not alone. You are describing me as well.
    I have a platitude on my phone that I try to keep in mind on day
    like this. “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we
    compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s
    highlight reel”.
    It doesn’t make my ADD, anxiety or insecurities go away
    but I try to keep in mind that other people do not always
    have their shit as together as they let on.
    Keep on blogging and look after yourself. We need you.

  176. I have bipolar disorder (that mostly manifests in depression), a lot of anxiety about a lot of different things, and migraines that take me out for anywhere from a couple of days to over a week at a time, and if there’s an entire non-contiguous week during any given month that I feel competent and productive, I figure I’m doing well that month.

    I feel like even my good or great days are about a quarter of what a “normal” person gets done on an average day. Today I mostly laid on the couch, pretty much the whole day.

    So, no, as the 2000 other people have also said, it’s definitely not just you.

  177. I think most people feel like they are barely making it through each day. We’re guilted at every turn about what we aren’t doing and almost never giving ourselves credit for what we are doing. We have huge expectations for ourselves. Blah, blah, blah.

    Life isn’t a contest. Most of us are doing the best we can. And those who don’t bother to do the best they can? So what? There are no rules saying you have to live life a certain way.

    my rules? Make yourself as happy as you can. Try not to feel guilty about what other people think you should do. Don’t postpone joy. Life rewards action, but some days getting out of bed is about the only action I can take.

    What you do or do not do does not determine your worth as a human being. You are sharing who you are with the entire world, that takes a huge amount of courage. Give yourself credit for that and fuck the PTA.

  178. Just wanted to add another voice saying it’s not just you. 3-4 days a month sounds generous to me, and as far as I’m aware I don’t have any diagnosable depression/anxiety disorders (not that I’ve bothered to properly look into that, that would require making more things happen in a day). Glad to see this is relatively normal, at least amongst this community. Wish I wasn’t crying now though. Also this “impostor syndrome” is intriguing, I’ve always tried to convince people I’m not smart, just good at taking tests so it made it appear that I was.

  179. You could have written this about me except that I haven’t written a book. I just think humorous thoughts that I share on FB…as I think about starting a blog…and then don’t. Either I’m the only one who is (somewhat) honest about parenting/life meltdowns or everyone else has their $h!t together and only fart rainbows and unicorns.

  180. I haven’t actually counted the days I feel successful; there are moments, throughout good days, when I can look at what I do and think, “I totally rock this job,” but then I think that I never meant to be sitting in a desk in an office with no windows, and although I’ve written three or four complete books I can’t find anyone interested in publishing them and I don’t dare try self-publishing because I don’t have the first idea how to market myself or “drive sales” and I’d lose all the money I put into it, and I struggle to make that money in the office job I’m actually pretty good at because I can’t keep control over my wallet and I buy too much crap that I don’t need and I have to stand on my own neck to keep myself from going into serious debt AGAIN (having managed to barely crawl out from under the LAST time I did this)….

    And then I read your hilarious posts and they can make me laugh and cry and wish I could be even a tenth as together as you are and I think everyone sees themselves so very differently from how others see them, and I sit and wonder how my team sees me when they look at me, do they think I’m together and I know what I’m doing, or do they realize I’m constantly terrified that I’ll screw up even the office job I think I’m pretty good at and then there won’t be any money coming in and I’ll ruin everything I’ve built and all because I can’t stop buying stupid toys I don’t need…

    And so, in short, you are so not alone…

  181. It’s not just you, and it’s not just depression and anxiety. I recently saw a comic that showed a progression of women in the first panel, from a young girl, through her teenage years, her 20s, 40s, and 60s or 70s. In the next panel, all the women had turned, and you saw the same young girl just holding the images of the older, more mature women up. To me, the comic spoke to the nearly constant feeling that we are really all just faking it ’til we make it. I just got my PhD a little over a year ago, so I think on any measure I’d be seen as successful from the outside. But I spent the first year after my PhD thinking I was all wrong for the postdoc I’m in, constantly feeling behind and too slow, and just generally getting the disheartening feeling that I’d never measure up. And the thing that helped me, in addition to making time for regular exercise like walks with my dog, and swimming in the local pool, was finally saying “Fine, fuck it. If I don’t measure up, so be it. I’m going to do what I like and make time for myself, and if that doesn’t make me good at my job, I’ll find another job.” Ever since I’ve felt better about my work, and better about the times I don’t work, because I don’t constantly feel guilty for taking time away from the “things I should be doing.”

    Anyway, from out here, you look like you’re doing pretty well: a daughter successfully loved, clothed and fed, a husband who certainly seems amusing from this angle and who loves to tolerate you :), a job writing stories that so clearly bring you joy, even when sometimes you don’t generate anything you think is worth anything, and a wide community of people who hang on your words for their humor, their honesty, and their integrity.

    So, if you can, go a little easier on yourself. And if you can’t, go outside and sit in the sun, and watch the birds chirp and the squirrels dart, and think about them instead of everything else that you could think about.

  182. I get where you’re coming from. I’ve suffered from severe anxiety since childhood & I’ve come to realize one thing that helps me step back from the ledge, so to speak: There is nothing that I experience that hasn’t been experienced by every single other person on the planet. The difference is, people with mental illness maybe can’t push the bad stuff away. Or we feel like we can’t trust our perceptions because our emotions are completely at odds with our thoughts. We have enough problems without bringing the perceived judgements of others into it. Everyone is lost. Some people are just better at hiding it.
    I’m just learning to accept that it doesn’t make me a failure as a human being because I get nauseated at the thought of prolonged public social interactions. My friends don’t necessarily get it, but they accept me as I am. And really, it’s such a relief to be able to be honest about myself.
    So basically, you’ll be fine. You’re not hurting anyone. This is just the way you need to approach life. It’s challenging, exhausting & terrifying. But if you’re like me, the bad days make the good ones that much more precious.
    On a side note, you’ve been a very real inspiration to me.

  183. Hi Jenny,

    I also suffer from depression although it is well-treated. I wear an engraved “Choose Life” bracelet all the time because things have gotten really bad a few times. There is something my psychiatrist said to me last year that really helped me. “Everything everyone does all the time is to manage their mood. We all want to feel good and we constantly make choices to feel good or, at least, feel better.” He also said that some days he feels ambitious so he’ll push himself and other days he knows he needs to be gentle and forgiving of himself and “just stay home and eat cookies.”

    I’ve been paying attention to this. Even things that we of that might not seem to make us feel good or better are really just avoiding feeling bad (like cleaning the litter box or paying the electric bill). Also, I think people that are super-duper ambitious and productive are walking a fine line with their moods. Same for the amazingly fit or people who do amazing feats like swim the English Channel. All mood management strategies. Obviously, some strategies are healthier than others. Whose to say the PTA mom’s strategy is “better”? That’s just her way of doing it.

    Good luck with working through this. So many of us know what it feels like to know something with our rational minds (ie. you’re an amazing success – you’ve changed so many lives including mine and you’ve done it all with mental illnesses. You’re a hero. You are the goddamn motherfucking superhero of your own life! This is truth.) but not FEEL it with our emotional minds.

    Thanks for writing about this. We all need to remember to lose the “perfection personas”. It’s not helping anyone.

  184. Okay. First of all, I tried to comment once and hit enter at the wrong time and it gave me an error. I’m off to a great start.

    I finished grad school last December, and despite now having a full-time job with benefits and welcoming a bright, bouncing baby boy into the world, I still feel like I’m trying to get back to where I was before–I remember that I used to have energy, call people back, show up early for work, exercise three times a week . . . I do basically none of that now. Long story short, I haven’t really felt successful at life for about eight months now. I’m still holding out for a breakthrough or a sudden restoration of my previous vivaciousness, but I’m coming to realize that it’s probably just going to be one long slog through the mud.

  185. I list my accomplishments very rarely, to keep track of my good days would be, an excess of an excuse. I could say I get 8 days of apathy. I smile though I do not jump for joy very often.
    If I am lucky I get 15 days of ok, if I am self inflictive zero…..
    I started on the road of buddha because I had read it a large religion had proven to stabilize mentally ill people, and not via force. It teaches about things such as the 8 fold path, which means right speech right thoughts right diet and 5 other ways of righting oneself. Though more still It taught me about this aspect,

    You have four bodies, most people know 2. mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. it helps knowing this for me.
    I have always known of this statement, “Healthy mind healthy body.”

    My mom never helped me with my homework, maybe once, she did teach me how to read.
    Diet, that is important, a major aspect of my nuttiness, stemmed from wheat and peanut butter. I have had to work my butt off to keep mostly stable, right now I sit in a storm, knowing my last 4 years of stability are being washed away by a bank and a procrastinator. though I will do what i can to move forward still, and to forget those beings.
    A big aspect forgiveness and taking responsibility Ditch those that truly make you crazy, then forgive them and slowly forget their Suckseggs. You cannot right yourself if someone is always tipping you, as good as their intentions are.

  186. I’d never heard of imposter syndrome, which I now find hilarious, because it’s obviously so very ME. It’s like I cannot even read my own resume – I can see the words but I swear they don’t reach my brain, somehow. I’m awful at “selling myself” – which particularly sucks if you’re a creative type, and like to eat. I suspect this was originally predicated by my being adopted, and also “thinking too damned much.” I’ve learned to outwardly accept a compliment, but inside I always feel like I’ve just gotten lucky, or simply done something so easy any fool could do it, or I’ve somehow tricked them into thinking I’m smarter or more talented than I actually am. After years of therapy and meds, it was cognitive behavioral therapy (questioning my thoughts) that has finally brought me some modicum of relief, but it’s not totally cured, not by a long shot. I wish you all the best in your struggle. You are definitely not alone.

  187. I think that most people feel a sense of failure on a regular basis and we compare ourselves to each other, often feeling like we come up short. I have a PhD, but I’m single so I sometimes feel like a failure; I wrote a dissertation, but I can’t seem to get anything published and I feel bad every time I try to write something…but I teach writing to high school students and I write tons of things for my job that people love; I hate a lot of social situations and get very anxious before them, but I head an organization that requires me to run lots of very social things (dear god, it’s a two year tenure and I’m only one year into it – shoot me now!). I guess my point is that there are many days when I just want to stay in bed. I think the fact that you [me/we] struggle and keep on trying (even if it is just going to the bank) means that you are actually very “very good at being a person.” And, for someone who views herself through this lens of failure after failure, you’ve managed to inspire 1000s of people, be a voice for mental illness, raise a daughter, have a great marriage, motivate people who have never met your to be kinder, friendlier and more caring, and break the internet on a regular basis. I am afraid if you were more successful, you would implode. Remember, the voices in your head are just the voices in your head – tell them to be quiet for a change.

  188. I have anxiety & depression and a 6 week old baby and postpartum depression, too (treated with medication & about to start counseling). I don’t even feel like I’ve had 3 or 4 successful hours in the last month. I’m impatient with my 4 year old, snappy at my supportive husband and our cats are lucky to be fed & have their litter scooped – they haven’t had any attention in about 6 weeks. I tell myself everyday, Jenny, that depression lies and so does postpartum depression.

  189. We show others only what we want them to see. That’s how we can create “perfect” lives on Facebook. That, in fact, is my only reason for having an account. I can create a life there that is happy and “normal.”

    Behind closed doors, I think we all suffer from the same feelings of inadequacies… You are not alone.
    Hugs.

  190. So….it seems you’re human, like the rest of us. Maybe someone (or several people) have said this already. I’m too lazy to read all 2168 comments. Whoever is telling you they feel AWESOME every day is lying or faking it to fool themselves into feeling it. If it’s the latter, then they’re just human, too and using whatever skills and tricks they can to make themselves feel like those people that live in pinterest-land or beer commercials. Pinterest and beer commercial people aren’t real. They just have fun sometimes (and get paid to do so – right on for them!) and it gets captured and we all wonder wtf we’re doing that we’re all missing out. You, missy, make those who read your blog feel much better about themselves and make us laugh often. These are two amazing attributes. I, for one, am happy you are alive. Cheers to you. Rock on!!

  191. I cannot thank you enough for this post.

    I also feel this way most of the time. 3-4 days a month of feeling like I actually get more done than just consuming and existing would be a good month. I’d never heard of Imposter syndrome, but oh my god I feel that way. I’m a post-grad student and though I got fairly consistently good grades throughout my undergrad degree and was awarded first-class honours I am absolutely convinced it was all some sort of fluke – that I was lucky, that the examiners felt sorry for me, etc.

    Though I hope you find some way out of feeling this shitty all the time, it is tremendously comforting to know that someone that I respect and admire as much as you also has these insecurities and struggles. Solidarity in insecurity, sister. You give me hope.

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  192. I realize I’m comment two thousand and something, but I hope that I can add my reassurances as well. I am an adult without any diagnosed mental illnesses, who is generally succeeding at what I’m doing (working a couple jobs, including teaching high school, having a boyfriend I adore, keeping up with family and friends). My coworkers, friends and family assure me on a regular basis that I am doing wonderfully and that they admire my accomplishments. However, I feel, like you, that I’m only pretending to be a normal, functioning adult. I usually have bills that I’ve ignored or forgotten, I only clean my apartment when I absolutely can’t avoid it any longer, I put off responsibilities and freak out about normal things like grabbing drinks with friends when there’s a possibility that someone I may not know will be there. I keep myself awake thinking of the things I should have done that day (or week, or month, or whatever), but still don’t do them. My solution to most problems is to hide from them or drink enough to put them from my mind.

    You are NORMAL. I am normal. Everyone that has posted here tonight is normal. Its just that normal means stressed and disorganized and worried and weird and beautiful and afraid of failing and FINE.

  193. Something that makes me feel better is going to news websites and reading the comments section. It always makes me think, “Well, at least I’m not that dumb/sad/lonely/liberal/conservative/crazy/religious/misguided/ignorant/uninformed/delusional.”

    I also have anxiety and depression, and I have finally accepted that sometimes in the cycle I will just have a string of days or weeks when I’m low. And nothing can fix it except time. And that’s okay, because eventually I come back up to baseline again. But for those low days, I lie on the couch and eat ice cream out of the carton and watch “A Muppet Christmas Carol” nonstop. I can’t anticipate when the cycle will repeat, but I know it will. That sounds sad in itself, but that expectation helps me deal with it when it happens. I know I’ll be useless for a little while but it won’t last forever, and if I don’t do anything else, I CAN wait it out.

  194. I think that the idea of who we are being vastly different from what others see (or what we think others see) is quite common. For me, personally, that feeling is largely about how I interact with other people in social situations. For most of my life, I saw myself as this introspective, socially inept person who could fake her way through a social situation, like a party where I don’t really know anyone. My internal monologue always ran along the lines of “I don’t know anyone here. He/She seems cool, I should just say “Hello.” But why would that cool person want to talk to me? If I say anything, I’m going to look stupid.” However, I’m aware that, in social situations, you’re expected to be social and sit quietly in the corner. Consequently, I learned fairly early to basically interview other people – “So, where are you from? Really, you’re from Columbia/Puerto Rico/Michigan? Wow, how did you end up here? Blah, blah, blah, etc.” – because most people love to talk about themselves. Imagine my surprise when more than one person told me how confident and outgoing I seem. For longest time, I couldn’t believe that people would think that about me because it wasn’t me, it was just a mask I put on when I had to and I was obviously a big fake. It’s only in the last few years that I realized and accepted that it wasn’t just a mask I wore – it’s actually a part of who I am.

    My point is that the part of you that you think is the fraud, the successful, funny, talented person that other people compliment you on, is actually a part of you, just like the anxious person with depression. It’s just harder to embrace that view of yourself because that little voice in your head lies to you and tells you that it isn’t who you really are. Sic Copernicus and Juanita on that little bastard.

  195. Thank you for this post! At the moment, I’d tell you I feel productive and like a useful human being about once every couple of months. I go through phases regularly where I start to freak out and think I’m a waste of space. The voices at the back of my mind choose to ignore the fact that I’ve got a degree, good friends, and an extremely supportive and loving family in the form of parents and big brother. They instead start screaming that I’m 27, single with no prospect of anyone ever loving me, and have a job that I hate without any luck thus far in finding another one or figuring out what I want to actually be when I grow up. Oh, and maybe those friends don’t actually like me after all. I can’t say I’ve worked out a real coping method for these times yet, but I wanted to say thanks for the openness about what your struggling with. These feelings threatened to overwhelm me this morning and it’s so encouraging to know how many other people deal with these issues.

  196. It’s not just you- it’s all of us! Modern life is hard. We are conditioned to be “perfect”- whatever the fuck that is. I would much rather be the person who spends all day watching Dr. Who than twisting myself into knots being the perfect shiny fake person who spends their whole life worrying about being perfect. Let go of that. Being awesome is about being able to appreciate the beautiful ordinary. That first cup of coffee in the morning, watching the cats play, spending time with the people you love…the list is endless. Who gives a shit about the fake peeps? Not us. You will finish your 2nd book when you are ready. Don’t worry about it. And so what if you don’t write it? You have this awesome blog and make people laugh and think every day. How is that not writing? Maybe this blog is your book. And endless awesome book.

  197. ” However, I’m aware that, in social situations, you’re expected to be social and sit quietly in the corner.”

    Make that, “and NOT sit quietly in the corner.”

  198. Ok so I’m just going to say it sounds like you are in a lot of pain. While I don’t feel perfect I feel a LOT better than I used to. I used to suffer from severe depression and I took a number of steps and slowly crawled my way out of it. Some were diet related, some were experience-related (like woman within.org), some were books (like the happiness trap), some were supplements (like cod liver oil, seriously!) and some was specific kinds of therapy (like for PTSD) I still have tough days but I think they are Closer to the tough days everyone else has. And yes my house is usually a mess

  199. I feel successful about 2 days a month and an imposter the rest of the days. To hear someone else say it makes me feel relieved. Many days at work, even though I am competent, all I can think, is wow if only they could read my mind…see how disorganized my house is…know how much anxiety I have that driving a different route to work ruins my entire day.

  200. There are so many people like you. I’m kind of like you and I know many people who are really, really like you.

    I grew up on outside Boston during the 70’s and 80’s. Massachusetts is a tough state to grow up in academically because there are so many good universities, the uni you go to becomes a badge of who you are. Not only that, but I discovered during my junior and senior year of high school that classmates whom I considered friends played relentless mind games about how attractive they were to the prospective univeristy(ies) of their choice and how hard those schools were to get into. I was smart, but not into being competitive that way. It sucked.

    Fast forward a couple of years and I’d left the East Coast to fester in its own underhanded competitiveness and moved to Berkeley, CA. I discovered really smart people, some who did get stuff done, others who didn’t. I worked for a couple years at a diner alongside Cal grads and high-school dropouts, the latter of which were often as smart, sometimes smarter, than the Cal grads (many of whom were my friends). This was my first revelation of the lie of “supposed to & should” in which East Coasters are so indoctrinated.

    Later, I became a teacher and taught young adults. As a student, I always had the impression that most of my teachers really had it together. I discovered that that isn’t true either. Teachers are just the same as the rest of us. They are on public display more, so the stuff that HAS to get done, the stuff that would out them as hopelessly disorganized or forgetful or plain old exhausted, does get done. They keep up the appearance, but underneath it all they are not the super organized do-ers that we think they are.

    Also, I watched my students, and how they lived and organized their lives. Remember, I work with young adults. Some of them **really** are only just barely productive, for a variety of reasons. Many are kinda productive, usually when under some kind of pressure to get things done. A rare few are actually on top of things the way that we’d like to be ourselves – doing homework early, attending conferences or other professional development events, and seemingly smoothly juggling home life, social life, and school life.

    As for me? I am my own worst enemy. I teach irregular hours during the week. When I am at home, I don’t get much done and I feel guilty and ashamed about it. Sometimes I forget to do basic things like mail bills on time, other times I remember but am paralyzed with – I don’t know what – but I’m paralyzed and can’t deal. My salvation is my classroom work. I can’t NOT do class prep and grading (tho’ I can seriously procrastinate about it). The interaction I have with my students gives me great satisfaction and I know I am doing something right when I see them making progress with their studies and becoming more comfortable with themselves as people. I try to be very honest with my students, and tell them that most people are not super organized and even professors write papers at the last minute.

    Honestly, I feel like I am productive for a few hours each day, 3 or 4 days a week. It’s definitely not 8 hours/day. I suspect I’d benefit from ADD drugs or anti-depressants, but I can’t get myself moved enough to make an appointment and go to the doctor. I wish I were more productive, organized, motivated, but I’ve found a level I’m ok enough with.

    So no, you ***really*** are not alone.
    XOXO

  201. Huh. I failed at commenting. Didn’t answer the questions. Days I feel like I’m doing good at life. one or two. Mostly I feel guilty about not having … uh I can’t tell you what ’cause I’m using my real name. I’m older than you. And I have to say that the older I’ve gotten the less shitty I feel about myself, and that’s hopeful. But mostly that’s because I challenge societies definitions about what makes a good person and what I “should” be doing. Fuck that. Deciding what to make for dinner is enough to send me over the edge.

    I try to be kind to myself. I don’t call myself names. I also eat food I shouldn’t for comfort and I’m addicted to diet orange soda. I don’t exercise even though I should for my health. I’m not winning at life – in fact I’m failing financially. But I try to take things day by day and be kind to myself. That’s all.

  202. You are SO not alone. In fact, I just read this blog post today: http://www.sowonderfulsomarvelous.com/2013/06/moms-when-are-you-going-to-learn.html?m=1 which I thought was wonderfully written and a reminder that we need to not compare ourselves to the Pinterest people and general others we may compare ourselves to. I’m successful maybe 5-6 days of the month. Maybe. On a good month. So yeah, you aren’t alone. I wish I knew how to be better too.

  203. Two things. One, the absolute flipside of the positives of the internet–social media that is supportive, etc. etc. is the opposite–trolls, plus the whole idea that there is that perfect person out there, because she tweets her perfect PTA self, and puts her fantabulous life events on FB, and pins all things perfect. It’s not real, and you shouldn’t let it make you feel worse. Two, yes, so many of us have these issues, but you can get more “imposter-less” days per month through radical self acceptance. If you can accept a really wild and wonderful taxidermy menagerie, believe me, you can accept your awesome, smart, funny self. It doesn’t make the depression or anxiety go away completely, but it knocks them on their ass.

  204. Maybe 2-3 days a month I feel like my life isn’t so bad. Sometimes I’ll get a whole week or even two if things are going really awesome. But I don’t feel accomplished. I always feel like I’m struggling for some norm that I’m not sure is even there.

    For me, the calm comes in knowing that almost no one is actually fully content. In particular crappy, doubting times, I like to people watch, and imagine the awful life they are going back to. That shiny, plastic PTA mom? (Yeah, you know the one) She’s going home to wait for her husband that “works” late with his secretary. That perfect looking, always put together, clear-thinking-head-on-her-shoulders woman that you always think, “I wish I could be that calm…” She’s going to the nursing home after work to care for her ailing mother and cries in the shower where no one can hear her.

    This may all sound cynical and depressing, and I realize that these are all made up stories about random strangers. The little exercise of “back storied people watching” is mostly to remind myself that everyone has their issues. Some are better at covering it up than others, but in the end, I think most people feel like they are struggling for that feeling of accomplishment and a happy life.

    It’s all about figuring out how to deal with it and take pleasure in the simple joys. Like kittens. Lots and lots of kittens! Cookies… Tea… Flowers… a warm fuzzy blanket on a cold night. Those things. People watching helps get me out of a slump, but the little things keep me from falling back down too far. So, grab a kitten, some fuzzy slippers, a cookie and some tea, and read a book! (Or watch dumb cat videos on Youtube… since your hands will be full… what with the kitten and tea… and cookie… you need to grow a third hand for the cookie… and a fourth to work the mouse to start the videos… and I’m going to stop now ’cause I’m rambling…)

  205. There are so many people like you. I’m kind of like you and I know many people who are really, really like you.

    I grew up on outside Boston during the 70’s and 80’s. Massachusetts is a tough state to grow up in academically because there are so many good universities, the uni you go to becomes a badge of who you are. Not only that, but I discovered during my junior and senior year of high school that classmates whom I considered friends played relentless mind games about how attractive they were to the prospective univeristy(ies) of their choice and how hard those schools were to get into. I was smart, but not into being competitive that way. It sucked.

    Fast forward a couple of years and I’d left the East Coast to fester in its own underhanded competitiveness and moved to Berkeley, CA. I discovered really smart people, some who did get stuff done, others who didn’t. I worked for a couple years at a diner alongside Cal grads and high-school dropouts, the latter of which were often as smart, sometimes smarter, than the Cal grads (many of whom were my friends). This was my first revelation of the lie of “supposed to & should” in which East Coasters are so indoctrinated.

    Later, I became a teacher and taught young adults. As a student, I always had the impression that most of my teachers really had it together. I discovered that that isn’t true either. Teachers are just the same as the rest of us. They are on public display more, so the stuff that HAS to get done, the stuff that would out them as hopelessly disorganized or forgetful or plain old exhausted, does get done. They keep up the appearance, but underneath it all they are not the super organized do-ers that we think they are.

    Also, I watched my students, and how they lived and organized their lives. Remember, I work with young adults. Some of them **really** are only just barely productive, for a variety of reasons. Many are kinda productive, usually when under some kind of pressure to get things done. A rare few are actually on top of things the way that we’d like to be ourselves – doing homework early, attending conferences or other professional development events, and seemingly smoothly juggling home life, social life, and school life.

    As for me? I am my own worst enemy. I teach irregular hours during the week. When I am at home, I don’t get much done and I feel guilty and ashamed about it. Sometimes I forget to do basic things like mail bills on time, other times I remember but am paralyzed with – I don’t know what – but I’m paralyzed and can’t deal. My salvation is my classroom work. I can’t NOT do class prep and grading (tho’ I can seriously procrastinate about it). The interaction I have with my students gives me great satisfaction and I know I am doing something right when I see them making progress with their studies and becoming more comfortable with themselves as people. I try to be very honest with my students, and tell them that most people are not super organized and even professors write papers at the last minute.

    Honestly, I feel like I am productive for a few hours each day, 3 or 4 days a week. It’s definitely not 8 hours/day. I suspect I’d benefit from ADD drugs or anti-depressants, but I can’t get myself moved enough to make an appointment and go to the doctor. I wish I were more productive, organized, motivated, but I’ve found a level I’m ok enough with.

    So no, you ***really*** are not alone.
    XOXO

  206. So feel the same. I feel like a fraud alot of days. I have been working on taking care of me. It hasn’t been easy but its helping I think. I am not diagnosed with any mental illnesses ….yet. I think we all feel this way. Only some of us are brave enough to say it out loud. My good days are good, the rest are mediocre. I discussed with my sister complaining I was a glass half empty girl….she asked what I was worried about…its just a glass

  207. I feel like you most of the time, all of the time? A lot of the time. I have depression and anxiety, currently not on meds, contemplating going back on. How many days a week? I can’t even measure in days, its in hours, in increments, Individual moments.
    I just got a raise this week – kind of out of the blue my bosses said, “oh, by the way….” – I’m pretty much sure I’m about to be fired at least once a week, I stay up nights, I apologize constantly to my husband “I’m sorry, ’cause I fucked up at work today and they will probably fire me soon….” this is THE BEST JOB I’VE EVER HAD, its so awesome and logically I know its the best fit for a career I’ve ever had too – and I spend most of my life second guessing, wondering why I suck, wondering if I should be persuing career path X, Y, and Z (’cause I’m 33 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up) contemplating ways to jump ship before they realize how much I suck and that they hate me. So that was my reaction to a raise (ask for a raise? Like the books tell me? are you fucking kidding? I don’t think I deserve to get paid!). I feel like I accomplish nothing. I worry constantly that I’m “failing life”. I spend a lot of time thinking everyone else is doing better then me, having more fun, accomplishing loads more, having good careers and family lives, and vacations, and creating things artistically more/better then I am, and exercising, and eating healthier, and they probably had enough self esteem to negotiate a better deal on a new car, and everyone actually finished college rather then drop out after 6 years….. the list is just endless.

    I think when you peel back the walls, peek behind the Facebook posts and the perfect Christmas card photos everyone secretly feels this way. Maybe for some of us with anxiety this is more acute. I know my husband decided to get off Facebook recently, he said it just made him “sad” a lot of the time – if I’m really honest I think it makes me feel bad about myself more then it makes me feel connected to people and I should get off it too. Its sort of like how I noticed when we got rid of cable how I “needed” less stuff suddenly. Most of my really good friends, my REAL friends, let me in on the secret that they are “failing” life too.

    You have from what I can see a beautiful, smart, kind daughter and loving husband and POOL! (I’ve always wanted a pool!) and you write and your pets seems well cared for and loved. I know I only see the “made for the blog” side of your life but…For perspective I really really want another dog but feel I can’t be fair to one (so I don’t have one) and I’m guilt ridden about the lack of time I spend with our cats – kids!!!??? There is no way on this earth I could have a kid no matter how much I might like one (I might). I love to write and in the last 10 years I made a blog I was too embarrassed to take off “private” setting and wrote maybe 5 pages worth of material I’d be willing to share with another soul. We don’t have a pool, we don’t own a house, it was a big deal last week when we got our first ever car loan – at 33 and 36 – and it was for a used car for god sake! – and we were up all night positively sick with worry that we were buying the wrong car and making a terrible mistake and our credit wasn’t good enough and the payment would be too high and the car might turn out to be a lemon and we didn’t even ask for a better price because we were too scared. Yeah, everyone feels like this.

  208. I think we live in a society that holds nothing sacred. We have to be good at everything!! Remember the day when we didn’t have to do it all. Now I am expected to clean house with only green products, prepare all the meals, raise kind and productive children, chair fundraisers, decorate the house worthy of a magazine spread, be a modern woman (make all the decisions without acting like you do), prepare for chemical weapons attacks, end hunger, eat only organic on a budget…all while I clear a salary of at least $50,000. And I am supposed to like it and claim I am happy about it. Cut yourself some slack and don’t let the idiots dictate your worth or your accomplishments! I am happy I get out of bed and give a shit. I do my best. And if THEY don’t like…then they can do it!

  209. To my knowledge I don’t have any mental illness at this time and I feel like this a lot. Fuck, I’m the president of our PTO and I still feel like loser about the goofball verbal diarrhea that could NOT be turned off as I “ran” the meeting. That was two nights ago. It is not just you. Nobody has all of it together but we only see a slice of their life.

  210. I am so proud of you for speaking out. There is nothing wrong with voicing how you feel. It makes the healing process get easier. You are an amazing person whether you feel like it or not. You are making the world a better place just because you are you. And here is a secret for you. We all are worried that we are not as good as we can be. No one on this earth is perfect. That is what makes us all equal. Keep your chin up lady; you have an army of Lawsbians to keep you company. 🙂

  211. I’ve never commented on a blog before, but this post makes SO MUCH SENSE to me.

    I look around at all the shit my peers are able to do, and I’m like, welp, I put on pants with a button today? yay?

    I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was the little kid in play therapy, because school made me so nervous I threw up almost every day of first grade. I’m also kind of a perfectionist. Not the cool kind that actually gets shit done though. I’m the kind that is so aware of potential failure that I never get anything started. If I don’t do anything, then I can’t fail.

    I spent the past few years treading water. I have the most amazing husband in the world, and gave birth to my daughter in April. Then my husband deployed. Now, I spend an unbelievable amount of time worrying that my daughter will think my behavior is normal. That scares me. I want her to be confident in her own abilities. I hate to think that she’ll measure herself against others the way I do. Basically every day I have to remind myself that pinterest-types aren’t usually real. I never had homemade, twee birthday parties/first days of school pictures/halloweens. But I thought, and still think, that my mom fucking rocks.

    So every time I start to let the vampires creep in (LOVE that show btw…A Way Back to Then makes me cry 100% of the time) I stop and remind myself that they are bullshit. I don’t give any of the fucks that my house isn’t photo worthy, or that I’m wearing yoga pants, or that I’m not working outside the home making all of the money. I’m not great at getting things done, but I’m awesome at loving people. I am bad ass at karaoke. I know a humiliating amount about Star Wars, role playing games, and fantasy books. I make my husband laugh every day.

    I still only get about one day a week where I go to bed content, but it’s a start.

  212. How to answer….. most days, I feel pretty OK about how I’m doing. Yes, there are bits of my life that are dingy and not the way I’d like them to be, but I see (sometimes sssslllllllooooooowwww) progress- even in those areas- over time. I think that one of the reasons that I usually feel OK is that I seem to have a pretty deep acceptance of the flawed nature of all human beings (including myself.)

    One thing that I would say is that you should be careful to not judge your insides against other people’s outsides. I’m a PTA mom, as are many of my closest friends. We’re a totally fucked up bunch of people, just like…. everybody else.

  213. Dear Jenny, here are some things to consider.
    1- You wrote and published a book. It was extremely successful.
    2- If you never finish another book it will not make your first book less of a success.
    3- If you publish another book and it is not successful that will not make your first book less of a success.
    4- If you publish another book it does not have to be better than your first in order for it to be successful.
    5- You have proven yourself to be a gifted writer, so it is likely that if you publish a second book it will be successful.
    I think that we all compare ourselves with other people and think that we are not doing as well as them. If we truly looked at those people’s lives we would see that their lives are full of cracks as well because they are also only human. If they don’t seem to have cracks it’s only because they put way too much time and energy into hiding them, which probably makes them very unhappy. Never gage your life by how you think other people will judge you, it will only make you anxious and unhappy. When you look back on your life you are not going to be rueing the fact that you had boxes you never unpacked, you are going to remember watching Laura Ingalls with your daughter. The greatest goal in our lives should be to create happiness for ourselves and the people around us.
    Those of us who suffer from anxiety disorders and depression have a tendency to be overly critical of ourselves, and to take an ‘all or nothing’ view of our lives. No person has only strengths, we all have weaknesses. We have to learn that having weakness does not take away from our strengths. I recently realised that I thought that I had to be perfect in order to be ‘good enough’, that anything less than perfect was a failure. It happened when I was told at work by two different people in the same week that I was the best worker they had ever had. Suddenly I had crippling anxiety about going to work because the standard in my head became that if I wasn’t the best, I was a failure. Those are standards which no one can live up to. While I realise I may be projecting, I thought that was a bit how you sounded in your last blog post.
    Also, remember that ‘normal’ people tend to be boring, uncreative, and rarely do anything that gets remembered. After watching some program with my 12 year old God daughter, (who was upset after being told she wasn’t normal by kids at school), in which regular people on the street were seen ignoring a crisis situation, and just walking by and allowing people to be hurt, I turned to her and said, “See why would you want to be normal when normal people act immorally? By yourself, be weird, and it will make you a better person.”

  214. Having read only a few comments, I might just be repeating everything everyone else said, but I really think that a) everyone feels this way sometimes, and b) you probably feel this way more often than those who are not struggling with anxiety and depression. Here’s how I get through my days like this. “I am doing the best I can, even when I know I’m not.” Frankly, my best (aka my definition of success) is never the same from minute to minute. Didn’t get out of bed all day? The best I could do was not to soil myself, and I didn’t! Success! Cleaned the whole house and baked a pie? The best I could do today was that! Success! Ate the entire pie and everything else in the house? The best I could do was not give in to the urge to lick the crumbs off the carpet, and I didn’t (and if I did, well, then that was the best I could do)! Success! I also like “I may (not) have______, but at least I didn’t kill anyone” That’s my definition of a good day. And wine. Lots and lots of wine. Which is entirely normal and completely acceptable just like you and everyone else who reads and posts here.

  215. Truly, you are not alone. I feel like I am treading water most of the time and I don’t even know how to swim. I have a job outside the house where I feel accomplished sometimes. I’m able to solve problems for others. I get home and my facade of holding myself together all day falls apart and I am done for the day, and I have three kids and a husband who I adore more than anything, and yet they don’t always get the best of me because there is no best. I have to go, time to take one kid to football, pick up another from cheer and hope the third does his homework while I’m gone so I can fall into bed, someday there will be time for hugging my husband, I just haven’t seen him since I left the house at 5 this morning and he isn’t home from work yet. Don’t get me started ob my house, I can’t see one flat surface, it’s too funking cluttered and I don’t know where to even begin.

  216. I knew I wasn’t the only one that felt like I wasn’t accomplishing enough…like life is often just passing me by…but it’s nice to hear it too. Recently, I’ve been struggling with a resurgence of my depression and the realization that I have real anxiety issues, but those aren’t really the root cause for my feeling less than accomplished. Nowadays, I think we just have too many avenues to compare ourselves to others, and it makes most of us feel lazy and worthless. Of course, it isn’t true, but it doesn’t make it feel any less real.

    Hang in there, Jenny. Nobody needs you or anyone else to be perfect…how boring would that be?!? xoxo

  217. I am a university student so during the school year I am pretty much doing something every day but when I skip class I always feel un-productive. During the summer though I lie in bed at night thinking why the hell didn’t I go out and do things.

    Also people who never have unwashed hair freak me out a little bit–its not normal.

  218. girl.
    on my best day, hell, i can’t even remember the last time i HAD a best day, whatever that even means. i don’t feel successful, or even like thats even an attainable goal. and i feel like people are just about ready to give up on me because i can’t get my act together.

    probably none of those things are true. probably people who know me would slap me for saying that. but i don’t know how to not believe that. i don’t know how to look a statement like “be proud of what you have” or “celebrate you” in the eye and do anything other than wish i could believe it.
    so not, its not just you. but i wish i had a better answer for you.

  219. Question: Do you really feel that way all day for those 3-4 days, or is it a whole bunch of minutes that add up to 3-4 days? I feel like I kick ass for a couple minutes a day (maybe more if I cook something awesome or get off my butt and go for a walk or clean something, although none of those are kick ass things but they make me feel like I’m doing something) a couple days a week. Those couple minutes may or may not add up to a day a month. Wow I suck. Have you ever read the post about “drops of awesome” it really helped me to start giving myself more credit for the little things that I DO accomplish instead of beating myself up for the things that I don’t. http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/12/19/drops-of-awesome/ She brings some churchy related things in the second half if the post, but the first part is really great. I highly recommend.

    As for everyone else looking so great and put together on blogs and Facebook, people only show their best side on those things. No one wants to share the picture that captured their cellulite dimpled legs at the beach, they crop it to get rid of the bad part. Just like I didn’t post that I sat on the couch for 6 hours today like a lump, I posted about the haircut I got and yummy lunch I ate ate a restaurant patio.

    Sorry this turned out longer than I thought. With more than 2k comments you may never get to this one, but if you please then know that you’re not alone in your feelings.

  220. More than 2000 comments. Awesome. You are not. ever. alone. There’s a lot of us out here, and we’re all a little lost. You’re doing better than you think.

  221. As I haven’t been able to read all 2800 comments, I don’t know if anyone has said this but STAY AWAY from Facebook. There’s a thing called “Facebook depression” and it stems from the fact that we ALL try to put our very best selves out there in cyberspace to the point where it all looks happy and glossy all the time. People skip the 95% of their life that’s not so shiny and only post what makes them look good. Check these out:
    http://www.livescience.com/18324-facebook-depression-social-comparison.html
    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42298789/ns/health-mental_health/t/docs-warn-about-teens-facebook-depression/

    There are a some friends I had to remove from Facebook (or at least keep them from showing up in my feed) because every time I saw how perfect their lives were, it made me feel like crap about myself. It’d be sad for hours (or days) after. I already struggle with feeling like my life is wasted because I haven’t “accomplished” anything, I don’t need to see my so-called friends living their dreams.

    One of the things that’s most comforting is to remind myself of the people I know personally– how messed up they are in real life– and then to see just how shiny they make their Facebook or whatever it is. Everyone is putting on a facade, a show. It’s not just you.

  222. Just want to say that we all struggle with being enough. If you get a chance, there’s an article about being wonder woman in Glamour this month. It sums up what you’re talking about. It’s not easy to be satisfied with yourself. Our society doesn’t even encourage it. I honestly have lots of days that I compare myself to the Jones instead of the Cyruses, but the best advice I have gotten was from my husband who told me I need to be comfortable in my own skin. I tell myself that before I walk in a door, and it helps. Best of luck.

  223. I saw this on my lunch break and had to wait to post, so now there are over 2000 people ahead of me. I hope you aren’t tired of reading yet.

    I still feel guilt and remorse over things I did or did not do for my children and they youngest is 35 years old! I have had depression most of my adult life. I have had medication, meditation, light therapy, massage therapy, etc, over the years and they all helped a little. The best thing to happen to me as far as mental health goes was menopause. Suddenly, I found myself having more good days each month. Now it’s about half the time that I feel I am doing okay. When my kids were small, it was one to two days a month. Now that my kids are grown, I find I don’t have as much guilt with the grandgirls. Maybe it’s someone else’s turn. Last Christmas, after I had read one of your blog posts, I went online and ordered a silver wrist cuff with the words Depression Lies embossed on it. While it doesn’t stop the bad feelings, it does give me an intellectual foothold on the cliff I’m dangling from. I can talk back to my brain and sometimes I win, or sometimes I break even, but I have never lost the argument. I will always be grateful to you for putting that phrase out there. Depression lies like a mean motherfucker, but it won’t win. Not with me. Not with you. Peace.

  224. I get this, to an extent. I too was blessed with an auto-immune disorder, and I’ve grappled with my share of depression. I have my own brand of insecurities, but I guess I’ve gotten used to them.

    How many days do I feel like I kicked ass, or was a generally successful person? I guess that depends. Successful at what? Sometimes I’m pretty productive. I can check a few things off the old to-do list. I can be successful at laundry and chores. Other days I’m successful at laying in bed and watching Dr. Who. I depends on the day. But I try to be the best I can be at what I’m doing at the moment. And I try not to acknowledge the guilt or shame that I wasn’t as productive or successful as the next person, because I did MY best (this year/this month/this week/today/right now).

    But there are days where depression creeps in, and even my best pajama-clad television show marathon seems half-assed. You’re definitely not alone there.

    And those “shiny, pretty people” that you see… I don’t thin they have their shit as together as much as we think. They’re just better at faking it than we are.

    And I hate picnics too. I’m not a fan of eating outside. There are bugs outside.

  225. I feel the same. Usually I feel ok for 3-4 days a month. Maybe even feel like I’m kicking ass. But then there are times when it’s less than the 3-4 days. I sing so to boost my mood I do that or read or get sucked into playing an adventure game. It takes my mind off it for a bit. But I find it worse when I’m feeling stuck. And sometimes, I figure letting myself be distracted might be the best way to go…that’s like meditation, right? Right?

    I also find running has helped me. I didn’t think I’d like it but I do. I’m not fast and I don’t go very far (usually about 20 minutes) but it does seem to stabilize my moods if I keep it up consistently.

  226. Jenny,
    You know that depression lies. It robs us of our self worth so we do have to ask others for outside validation. But some days, it is FANTASTIC if the only thing you did was not wet the bed because you at least got up to use the bathroom. People who have not huddled in a closet filled with fear and anxiety of the whole overwhelming concept of being alive may find it hard to relate but there are more closet huddlers (it’s a word because I just used it) than you know in the world. Maybe they hide it behind what looks like a Southern Living magazine spread but that is just the outer shell. Some of us don’t have the shell because it takes too much energy or we are just very bad at decorating Southern Living style. Or any style.
    You, Jenny, have style. You have humor. You are able to keep going every day even though it feels like you are falling farther behind. You are a mentor for so many of us. We’re all in this boat (or closet) together, Jenny. We are here to pull you back if you start to fall overboard. Just as you do for us. It’s how we all stay afloat.

  227. Well as commenter 2191, you are not alone. “Ding dong motherfucker” and grumpy cat memes have gotten me through many dark days. I have RA, fibro, anxiety, depression, two small kids and a career and every day kind of sucks. I hear what you’re feeling.

  228. I’d say 3-4 days per month is a pretty reasonable estimate. Some days I look back at what I’ve done and the biggest accomplishment was moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or taking the dogs for a walk. So you’re not alone. I really need to have a schedule of some kind, even if it’s just blocks for “cleaning” “writing” or “watching Dr. Who.” It seems to keep me on track. I guess I’ll have to use one of my 4 productive days to put that into action…

  229. Dude.

    I beat myself up on a daily (probably more like hourly) basis that I am not good enough. At everything. I’m afraid that I haven’t raised my son right. Haven’t spent enough time with him. Messed him up in some way.

    And I have the *worst* case of imposter syndrome. I’m teaching 4 university classes this semester. And even though I have a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, at the end of every day, I think, “Welp, I faked it through another day! But tomorrow will probably be the day that I’m found out.”

    I don’t think I ever have days where I feel like I kicked ass. There are always too many things left on my to-do list.

    The only thing that makes me feel better is when I meet someone else who I *think* has it completely together and find out that they are as fucked up as I am.

  230. I don’t have depression or (clinically significant) anxiety, but I will tell you that what you are feeling is pretty normal. I don’t know if it’s a Southern thing (both of my parents are from old Texas families), but as a girl child of the South, I cannot for the life of me accept a compliment without squirming. And I never even knew it until I moved to NYC and my friends there were like, WTH? I can readily catalogue my fuck-ups, but have to really work to tally up my kick-ass moments. Now that I have kids, I work really hard to hold onto the kick-ass moments, b/c there are days I am convinced I am the suckiest mom ever. Those pretty, pastel lives? They have rooms with “doors that shall not be opened” because 10 years in, they still have freaking wedding gifts still in the box. That perfectly styled hair? Well, dirty hair styles more easily. One of the most successful, amazingly together women I’ve ever met – the one with the perfect life? Her first husband was a drug addict who made her life a living hell. She got out by walking away from everything. The partner at a prestigious law firm? One sister was born with a congenital birth defect that made it impossible for her to live independently. The other sister was in a car wreck that left her physically and mentally impaired. Her husband had a toxic ex, which meant she (b/c she is a decent person) was the real maternal presence for her three step-children while working full time in a male-dominated profession and put off having kids of her own until her 40s b/c she was worried about what would happen to the steps. Every single life is fucked up in its own way. You’re not a fraud. And the therapy will help. One of my boys is prone to nightmares, and I tell him every night that the dreams are his. He gets to tell them what to do. And when they get too scary, he gets to tell them they have to stop. It’s working for him. I hope it works for you, too.

  231. I consider a day a victory if I’ve made someone laugh or made someone’s day a tiny bit better, even if that someone is me. I have found that the only way I can function sometimes is to ask myself if I would judge someone else for doing what I just did. I might be more generous with others than I am with myself. Which makes no sense. Why do beat myself up endlessly over making a minor mistake at work when I wouldn’t even remember if someone else made the same mistake? Why do I worry over a potenially slightly awkward thing I said when likely nobody noticed? Also, I have a couple of boxes of papers (pay stubs, bills, receipts, etc.) that are easily 10 years old. They have made multiple moves through multiple states. I am paralyzed with anxiety at the thought of going through them and shredding most of the contents. This. Makes. No. Sense.

  232. First, everyone else here has testified that it’s not just you.

    Second, it sounds like you are forgetting that DEPRESSION LIES.

    Third, those happy, shiny people you say you’re judging yourself against? They’re fake. They’re not real. They don’t exist. Oh, maybe they’ve unpacked all their boxes the day after they move, and they vacuum every day, but they are ax murderers. Do anything you can not to judge yourself by those fake images.

    Fourth, totally change the way you measure success. Did beating yourself up about how you shouldn’t be the way you actually are ever help you change? Didn’t think so.

  233. I read this blogger once that said “sometimes, the voices lie”. She was right. It’s hard sometimes to know which voices to listen to, particularly when they are opportunistic and prey on your vulnerabilities. And success? It’s relative but I do know this; everyone has stained underwear, unfinished projects, has made outrageous mistakes, said or done the wrong thing at the wrong time. Some hide it better than others, but we all live our own, personal hell. It took me a while, but I’ve learned that, and I’ve learned to stop comparing myself. You are more normal and mainstream than you even realize.

  234. I agree, this is the stuff that no one wants to put up on social media. I feel like an imposter parent. I have two wonderful, smart kids one of whom has autism and the other ADHD. I think people look at me like I’m a bad parent when my kids act out and most traditional parenting stuff doesn’t work on my kids, so it can be so much harder to figure out what to do. Even though other parts of my life feel great, I feel like a such a failure on the parenting front most of the time. I’d say I’m successful a few days a week.

    Love your honesty, thank you for sharing.

  235. I am that person that people on the outside think is strong and together and able to overcome all the shit and be OK. All I hear is shit like; you are doing so well, you are back from abuse and you don’t care what anyone thinks of you, you make such good money and work from your house! You can do anything I know you can. And to me that is Bullshit, I know my issues, I know how to fix them I know what to do but I cannot do it, I am unable to go forward and be what I seem to be.

    I am lonely and tired and I don’t feel strong or successful or able to overcome shit, I numb myself out mostly and then go into high anxiety because I now NEED TO DO A THING, IT HAS TO BE DONE AND I AM ALONE SO I AM THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN DO IT, so I do it. Yeah and the whole time I’m doing that thing at the last minute when it’s a fucking crisis or at least my mind says it is, the whole time I’m sure I’m doing it wrong and afterward I’m sure I could have done it better or smarter or cheaper or faster or something I haven’t even thought of yet.

    The very best moments in my life for a long time now is watching hummingbirds fight over my feeders in summer or looking at a fire in my fireplace in the winter. That’s it, those are my happiest moments. When I look back over my life is that what it’s going to be? When I’m dying are these still going to be my best moments? Accomplishments? I can’t think of a single fucking thing I’ve done or will do that I care about at this moment. I doubt this helps you any more than it helps me to type it.

  236. …I realize my comment might’ve made it sound like I was implying you were putting on a facade… I meant that this feeling you’re having isn’t just you. You’re very open about things, which is why we all appreciate you so much. It really helps to know there are more people out there with these same issues.

  237. I am a single mom of an autistic 2 yr old. 10-15 days of the month I feel like I am succeeding as a parent. BUT. I feel like I am succeeding at work about 1 day a month. They mercifully keep me around anyway. Other moms might classify me as a failure since my kid has autism and my floors are constantly sticky and stained and my kitchen counter is never free of dishes. But I’ve gotten over judging myself for that so that’s not included in whether I am succeeding or not. And my work suffers for my family.

  238. You’re what? 30 something? None of this will matter! I’m soon 55 and I have no idea what I was worried, scared, upset about or wanting at your age. It just will not, does not matter – so stop it, just let it go now. Getting older is a bitch and a gift – a bitchgift, if you will! Each year I promise you will care less, laugh more, life gets sweeter and people you love and making memories with becomes more important. What anyone thinks, or someones else’s idea of how we should look, live or love does not matter one iota. What I should have, could have, why didn’t I – think it ever crosses my mind now? Heck NO! Because with age comes wisdom, experience, more laughter, freedom from crap and a very healthy oh yeah, who gives a fuck?!

    You have a marriage with your best friend – a life built with someone that loves and gets you! You created the most wonderful person and I know you know that. Every small moment loving her will return to you tenfold. Her growing up safe and loved is the biggest gift and greatest job anyone could do – and you do it everyday. That is HUGE and if you don’t do one other thing until she moves out that’s more than enough. Because so many can’t and have really fucked that up. You’re light years ahead of most with these two gifts you have.

    Everyone says life goes by so fast and everyone always agrees -but no one gets it! So really – who cares, so what, move on. Look around at all the small things we have to be grateful for, be kind and be appreciative everyday. That’s all there is. Really.

  239. This is what’s currently working for me:
    My daughter, a new mother, asking her friend, a mother of a toddler and a newborn, how she
    managed to get things done.
    “Sometimes you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes, and you really don’t feel like doing the dishes. But that doesn’t matter. You just do the dishes.”
    I have no idea why this is such a powerful magic wand, but it is.
    You just do the dishes.

  240. I feel like I am a part of the human race about 2 days out of the month. You’re not alone, not by a mile of antidepressants.

  241. Throw another “me too” on the pile…Each month, I can get 7-10 “days off for good behavior” from my brain tormenting me, 15 if I’m lucky. I have been fighting the Demon (depression) since 1998, and am on the best medication I’ve ever had, yet it’s a struggle every damned day to NOT let this damned disease pull me down into another doom spiral.

    When I had a career, even though I knew I was fantastically smart and really good at what I did, I felt like a pure, unadulterated HACK every day. Then I got laid off, my industry tanked, and my spouse and I decided (without ever saying it right out) that I would just not get another job.

    Three years later, when people ask me the dreaded question, “what do you do,” I am still don’t know whether to answer “I am unemployed and worthless” or “I am illustrating a webcomic my spouse and I are writing.” They both feel like the same answer.

    I can draw, really damned well. I can sew, sculpt, cook, and paint. People are always telling me how talented I am (and I feel really uncomfortable even admitting that)…yet, none of those things make any money, so I will always feel worthless as a human. I know, on a fundamental level, that this thought is wrong, but it’s hard to get past.

    On a good day, I am a rock star, I am genuinely in love with our story, and I am a webcomic-drawing master! On the bad days, I wonder why I’m even bothering to do it, when there are so many better-drawn, “more worthy” stories out there.

  242. Maybe 2-3 days a month I feel somewhat successful. I’m good at my job but it’s pretty much the same job I’ve been doing for years and I can’t manage to get a higher level job. My house is a mess, like, it looks like we’re having work done but we really aren’t. I can’t imagine having written a book. I’d love to, I read a lot of books, but can’t focus enough to really give writing a good try. I couldn’t raise a kid either. I have a couple of pets and I’m proud I’ve kept them alive and relatively healthy for this long. My bills are almost always late, not because I can’t afford to pay them but because between my husband and I we can’t manage to deal with them as often as we should. I am allergic to dealing with grown-up tasks that involve filling out forms or calling companies. I never run out of cheese or bourbon though – that may be my one success.

  243. I don’t have the neurological and biochemical problems you have, so I don’t struggle with the same sorts of challenges you do on a daily basis. I do have some other biochemical challenges that it took me a long time to learn how to deal with, though. Some of it was finding the right meds (in my case hormone replacements, my hormones are really fucked up), and some of it involves working hard to be aware of when my brain is lying to me. It’s that last bit that has been the ongoing struggle and something I have to deal with nearly daily.

    There are some things that I’ve learned over time that may or may not help you so I’ll just share them and if any of them stick, then yay. 🙂

    It is far too easy to end up comparing myself to some ideal that doesn’t exist in reality, or that only exists rarely. It is also easy to end up comparing myself to what I think other people expect, or how I think they are, which is invariably “better than me”. These are all missing the point and will lead me to an awful lot of suffering.

    Instead I figure out what *I* think is the way to live. What *I* think is the criteria for a happy or fulfilled or good sort of life to live FOR ME. What are the things that I think are most important? I mean really. Not the things I think I should think are important, but the things that are really important TO ME. Then I make choices every day based on those decisions. It’s impossible to meet any sort of a reasonable standard or expectation unless you’ve taken the time to actually define those standards and expectations. Not some nebulous crap you get from whatever commercials or TV shows or your grandmother are touting as what EVERYONE HAS TO DO, but real standards that are about YOU and your values and what you think is REALLY important. Write it down if you have to, to remember it. But be realistic.

    For me, one way this plays out is that I don’t clean my floors as frequently as some others might do. I don’t have clutter, can’t stand clutter, but that’s because I’m a total klutz, and I trip over everything, if there’s clutter, I’ll destroy it or myself falling over it. So clutter I can’t stand. I’ll put the time into cleaning up clutter and putting objects away. But my floors, forget it. I have a black lab and a black kitty, both of whom shed like crazy. There is always at least the equivalent of another animal’s worth of fur lurking in the corners and under my furniture. I rarely clean the corners. Never dust. Very very rarely even clean out the cobwebs. These things just aren’t important enough to me to take time away from other things that ARE important to me.

    That’s really what it comes down to for me. Leisure time is finite, but chores are not. I have to choose what I’m going to spend my limited leisure time doing, and I can tell you, dusting ain’t it. Spending time with my friends, playing games, watching movies or TV shows, reading, knitting, volunteering for a local farmer’s market… those are all WAY more important to me than dusting, sweeping the floors, and cleaning up cobwebs. I decide what I want to spend my life doing, what I think is important, and I do those things to the best of my ability.

    So if I go around comparing myself to, say, my grandmother, then I’m failing miserably. My grandmother’s house was clean. Very clean. No cobwebs, EVAR. The whole “eat off the floors” clean. No dust. She actually dusted. But my grandmother was a stay at home mom her entire adult life. I imagine her house probably wasn’t as clean when she had four teenagers living in it as it was when *I* knew her, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was pretty darned close. There’s no way I can live up to that standard. That’s not a standard I WANT to live up to. That doesn’t say anything bad about Gramma. She was an AWEsome woman. And it doesn’t say anything bad about me. I’m an awesome woman, too. I just have different standards, different things that are important to me. Different ways I want to spend my time and limited energy resources.

    Energy, effort, time, it’s all a budget you have to spend. And as with any other budget, you should be setting realistic limits on things so you can meet your budget. You have X hours a day. You have Y amount of energy. You will spend Z amount of time working in a given week. You budget other things into your time/energy budget. Focus on the things that are most important, like school recitals or whatever’s most important to you, and try to be realistic about what you can do in a given time period. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else, or the “perfect” people you’re seeing (which is your brain lying to you, they’re not perfect). Compare yourself to the specific criteria you’ve set. Did you make it to the recital? Do you take time to restore your psychic energy stores as you need to do (this is not shirking, this is a duty, just like anything else you decide you need to do). If you’re meeting the goals you’ve set for yourself, then you are, by definition, no failing.

    If you find that you’re being too ambitious and have set goals you can’t realistically meet (which happens) then just adjust your goals. It’s not cheating, it’s changing perspective. Don’t let TV or commercials or even your relatives define what success looks like for you. You get to define it for yourself.

    After that, then you have to tell yourself over and over “this is success for me” and hopefully you’ll believe it more days than you don’t. It’s an incremental thing, which sucks, but there it is. Wow this is long. I hope you don’t mind.

  244. I think the important thing to know or remember about humanity is that we’re all faking it to some degree. We all have deep, dark secrets we’d be mortified to reveal. The pretty pastel lives most likely have dust bunnies under their beds. The perfect Pinterest cookies were created by a team of food stylists and can’t be replicated by the average human being on a Thursday afternoon. We are ALL faking it, I promise. You have to choose what you want and need to do and own those things. Let everything else go. I’m pleased as punch that there are garbage men because I can only get my garbage as far as the curb. If I had to take it to the dump I’d be living in a pile of trash. Know what I mean? There are PTA people and there are room moms and soccer moms and people with perfectly clean houses but they all – ALL of them – have some part of their life that is lacking. It might be money, it might be sex, it might be love, it might be toe fungus, it might be they lay in bed at night thinking how empty their existences are, or how much they would rather be with a same sex partner or how they wish they hadn’t had kids or they wish they’d run off to Borneo during gap year and never returned. Some days are easy, and some days really suck and most days we’re all kind of just… here… trying to make everyone else believe everything is ok. The important thing is we get up every morning and give it another try. TBH, this motherhood thing is kicking my ass, but I show up every day and do my best and some nights I feel guilty that I didn’t do enough or I didn’t do the right things or my kid was bored for 2 seconds or 2 hours. I know the minute I figure it out she’s going to change the playing field on me, but I’m going to keep suiting up and showing up. Take a little time in the evening to take stock of what you have accomplished that day and even more importantly – what you are grateful for. It might just change your outlook. Maybe not every day, but for that day it might.

  245. I think I’m the 2196th comment, so I don’t know if you’ll even read this… I am new to you… linked to you through (I don’t remember where) and saw this and just want to say… “thank you.” And also, “you are so brave. I bet you didn’t feel brave when you wrote that, but it was very brave. And that is very good. You are doing good.” And also, I feel the same way many, many times. Minus the successful book and writer’s block on the second book. But otherwise, you and I are twins. On meds. Questioning ourselves. And, I guess it’s just nice to know I’m not alone. So, thank you. And, good luck. I’m glad you have gotten so much support on this post. Oh, one more thing, if all you do is to be there for your kids watching LHOTP reruns, I think that’s pretty good. I often tell myself, “if the only thing I do as a mom is make sure that my kids know that I love them, then I think I will have been successful.” (I sure do hope they know I love them.) xo

  246. Hiya!
    When I’m at work 5 days a week, 8-5, I feel I get on average 3 good days sometimes 4 while at the office. BUT when I get home, zilch. Tonight I had 1/2 bag of vegetable chips and a yogurt and have done nothing save turn on the computer. I’ve taken to using plastic utensils and paper plates so the dirty dishes don’t become alive and kill me in my sleep or lethargy. Weekends, fuhgettaboutit… nothing. Except Dr Who/Torchwood/Firefly marathons. Usually about 2 Sundays a month in the afternoon I can rally and do laundry, clean the house, put stuff away and feel like a “normal” person. On meds too for depression, anxiety, etc etc but…sigh…

    Your friend,
    🙂

    P.S. THANK YOU to the community! You are my friends too xoxo!

  247. Right now I haven’t felt successful for a whole day since 07/07/13. I satisfy myself with feeling successful for parts of days at the moment because that is how my life is right now. For example today:
    + I passed the numeracy test that I need to become a teacher (which was a massive waste of time and resources as I have a degree in Astrophysics but that’s the hoop the government wants jumped through so I’ve done it). Even though it is stupid test I am counting this as a success as it is one step closer to qualifying as a teacher.
    – I slept in because my sleep pattern is all out of wack again (hence me writing this at 0216). *frustrated grr*
    + I met with a friend for coffee and had a great time – another win as I often struggle to meet up with friends regularly.
    – I fell off (or rather jumped off) the diet wagon at coffee with said friend. *sigh*
    + I climbed back on the diet wagon and had a delicious healthy dinner. (It was nicer than the thing that I jumped off the wagon for and made me feel like I’d jumped off the wagon for no good reason.) Another yay me.
    + I have made a stand against a friends apathy regarding the use of chemical weapons. (Let’s wait and see as to how that pans out but I feel better for them being better informed.)
    – It is 0221 and I’m still awake. *another frustrated grr at my sleep pattern*
    + When I get to sleep – that will be another positive.

    Additionally:
    I don’t deal well with praise, I don’t deal well with receiving gifts, my hair is currently a mess and needs washing.
    I sometimes hide from possible successes because I am afraid that they may turn out to be failures.
    I love picnics (my picnics are great) but don’t own any napkins or a picnic set.
    I never run out of toilet roll (usually I have too many due to anxiety around running out).
    I do know how to recycle (in three different cities!) but I do occasionally run out of cat litter and have to substitute shredder paper waste (this gets me looks of exasperation from my furry girls as they watch months of carefully training me going down the drain).
    I’ve managed to get off my migraine medication for the first time in 10 years!
    I forget to vacuum.
    But – I know what I am aiming for. Checklists help me, so do mind maps – even when they are scrappy and sketched on a scrap of paper. It helps me work out a game plan and to see how I’m doing. They stop me forgetting that I have achieved things on days when I feel like nothing has gone well.

    Maybe I should mention that I have no mental health issues – this is apparently normal (if such a thing exists).

    Lastly – about the book – I will read it whenever it arrives, whenever that may be. It will be worth waiting for.

  248. I don’t have depression or anxiety or mental illness – and I’m barely making it through life. I completely relate to everything you said in this post. I feel like a fraud and can’t even think of the last time I felt like I was kicking arse at life. I’m also fighting off the feelings of failure as best as I can because my life looks nothing like how I thought it would be.
    So, yes you are normal. I’m normal. Everyone’s feeling different versions of fucked up and fighting their own battles. Those shiny people? They’re not real, no-one’s shiny all the time. No-one. People who look like they have their lives together are just as scared and feel just as much as a fraud – I’ve asked them.
    Somehow, I find comfort in knowing we’re all struggling (just with different things). I hope you find comfort in that too.

  249. I feel successful.. probably one week out of the month. And I honestly feel like a very lucky person to have that week. The thing that makes me feel worst is the feeling of being brushed aside. I feel worst when I’m trying to connect and it fails. I realized today that if I don’t have one genuine-feeling, face-to-face interaction with another human being every single day, I start to feel horrible and alone. I think people are a lot more connected than we realize, and a lot more dependent on each other than we like to admit. I love you, Jenny. You’ve made me feel that I wasn’t alone on more than one occasion.

  250. As you can see from the posts above, you are not alone. I suffer from the imposter syndrome, as I think many of us do. Fake it, til you make it. And then keep faking it until you actually believe it. Some days I believe it, many others I don’t.

    Post 36 (Helen Jane) is right on for things that help me. “exercise + sleep + giving myself a break + avoiding comparison” After much resistance to trying them, I find that mantras help. Telling yourself the positive things you need to hear, over and over again until you believe it, has worked for me in the past. When I feel others are judging me harshly (whether true or not) I remind myself that it is not my business what others think of me.
    (although you must know I judge you in the best of lights! You bring so much honesty, laughter and joy to so many people. You help us feel that we are not alone. And therefore you are not alone)

    I have also found some comfort in yoga, when I do it on a regular basis. Yoga on top of exercise has been so helpful to me mentally. It is almost impossible for me to put into words. It has taught me patience with myself, it has helped me to stop comparing myself to others, it gives you moments of pride when you accomplish the smallest of things. The goal is always changing…You think wow, I can do this now, the next step is…there is never an end point.

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been in a low place for a few weeks. And you’ve helped to remind me what works best for me. Now it’s just taking the first steps. And then treating myself kindly when I fall off the horse, and then starting back up again. It’s a constant struggle. But we are worth it!

    I love you Jenny Lawson. You are my hero.

  251. You’ve just accurately described most of my adult life (sans the successful book). I think there are more people like us, then those who have their shit together. Or a lot of people faking that they have their shit together. Read some Cheri Huber. Get some Zen in ya. This is exactly how it’s supposed to be–you aren’t fucking up, you’re being you. There is no other you. That other platonic alternative universe where you have no weeds and your car always gets oil changed on time–that’s the unhealthy illusion. Getting older helps. I’m nearly 50 and still feel like a goofy teenager. But at my age it’s starting to feel okay that my house is messy, my bills are late, and I never fulfilled my early bright promise. So what? I’m alive–I get to spend time with my loved ones and watch some movies and eat some tasty food, and I don’t live in a war zone. I’ve outlived most people who’ve ever been born on the planet. This is what it’s about. Just live. Fuck the rest.

  252. I doubt you will even read this as it is straggling behind an entire herd of people, but I can only add to the affirmations they have given you here. I have maybe 5-6 days a month when my thoughts stream along unbuffered or in order. It always seems to be the same point in the month as relates to the moon…so it’s probably a brain thing that impacts our hormones or some such shit. As far as I’m concerned, the only good hormone is a dead hormone, because Lord knows they’ve driven me nearly off the cliff a few times during my life.
    In my job, I have to organize large inspection files and present them to the attorney general’s office in my state for legal battles. This means several months of intense organizational skill needs, which may or may not happen inside my head on any given day. I feel crushingly guilty if I’m not pushing myself hard all the time, but yet have battled a serious autoimmune disorder for 20 years, along with seizures, panic, anxiety, etc. Evidently I asked to be supersized on the whole disorder deal before starting this life.
    I am terrified of many things; yet people tell me I’m “brave,” “smart,” and “clever.” I can’t even type those words and own them.
    My sister is a very accomplished person in her own right…in my eyes, very successful and strong. Yet she tells me she feels like a fraud all the time too. So, it’s obviously a DNA thing, and someday there will be some huge discovery about a genetic treatment and we’ll all swallow nanobots that will busily rearrange our DNA and fix the anomaly. If that happens while I’m still alive, I want to order wings and another superpower that I haven’t decided upon yet. It’s between invisibility and hearing what people are thinking. Still on the fence with that.
    Please know that (according to all my various therapists, anyway) EVERYONE feels like this. We all are acting like we are breezing our way through this life, and never forget to pick up dryer sheets or have static in our panty hose. But I guarantee you that even when you are surrounded by efficient, trim, attractive people in the mall or anywhere you look, for every “perfect” looking woman there is a stash of Cheetos and Sour Punch candy somewhere in her underwear drawer that she binges on and pukes out before her perfect but secretly alcoholic and philandering husband gets home from his well-paying but predatory job.
    Life has never been, and never will be, seamless and tidy. It’s messy, loud, clumsy, and–well–LIFE, So just keep on slogging through it with a big “Fuck you, too, life” and don’t issue yourself a damn report card at the end of the day. Just getting to the end of the day is a smashing success. Goddammit.

  253. I feel like a fuck up almost every day. This is probably why I’m starting therapy for the first time on Monday. I come from an anti-therapy family, but I need some help with perspective. I will tell you this almost every single adult feels like a complete and total screw up and like they are faking it. I think it’s a worthiness issue. It’s not a good thing, persay, but probably the most normal thing about you. Also, Hailey is kick ass, and you inspire millions. You do okay 🙂

  254. Definitely not just you!! I don’t have depression (something I’m unbelievably thankful for – I’ve seen what hell it puts some good friends through) but I spend many of my days convinced I’m a complete failure, even though a rational review would say otherwise.

    I think you’ve shown once again how abnormal ‘normal’ is. 🙂

  255. Yeah … 4 or 5 days a month is all I’m good for. And I feel like I get further and further behind every week! For the 3 years I was able to stay home with my son I had my shit together a little bit more, but only a little. Now I have 3 kids, a job, a husband, and a house … lots of time I choose time with the kids, time with the husband, or “me” time over the house/bills/projects and I have to remember to look at those as good days too. Cause they are. I may not have accomplished anything that you can physically look at and say “look what I did!” but I accomplished something much more important. So when I find myself looking around (I’m usually in this room where my computer is because it’s the “needs done” room) and sighing a really big sigh and beating myself up over everything I haven’t accomplished that day/week/month/year I try to remember to think of something I did accomplish that day/week/month/year. The other 95% of the time I curl up on the couch with comfort food and a movie … or I’ll loose myself in a book.
    I think it’s normal. At least I hope it’s normal. Well, it’s MY normal and I try to be ok with that. Maybe that’s what it comes down to … being ok with your normal and not worrying or comparing your normal to the PTA moms normal. (or anyone else!)

  256. Okay, there are almost 3,000 comments and I haven’t read a single one of them. Here’s what I got, though, since you asked:
    I’m a late-30s woman. I am paddling the same canoe. And OMG Imposter Syndrome is a thing? I didn’t know and that wiki-link was just a balm to a sore I didn’t even realize I had. THANK YOU.

    I don’t suffer depression or bipolar diorder, but my Imposter Syndrome cycles like bipolar does. Somedays I’m all “I kick ass!” and then two minutes later I’m all “I broke all the things!”.

    There are lots of things that make me feel like a big ol’ failure that overlap with your examples: Some days it’s all I can do to feed myself, feed the critters, and take the dogs outside in a timely manner. My husband and I had to live apart for 8 months last year and it was horrible. I couldn’t even feed myself like an adult and let’s not even talk about the dishes. I always feel like I’ve failed my mother (though there’s complicating dynamics happening there). I feel like I’m a failure as a woman because I haven’t gotten pregnant yet even though we don’t necessarily want to start a family and there is nothing, apparently, wrong with either of us.

    I’m a pretty kick-ass teacher as notes from my students and the regard of my colleagues can attest. I’ve earned one of the most difficult types of teaching certification there is, but I’m still a gibbering mess sometimes when questioned by my bosses evaluating me. I often feel helpless to be able to impact my students for good, even though I know I’m getting through to some of them some of the time. I feel like there’s so much more I could be doing as part of my school community or as a professional or as a scientist. There are lots of opportunities to feel lacking when you’re a teacher.

    I often feel like that plate-on-sticks spinning dude on the Ed Sullivan show. I can’t spin as many plates on stick as the average bear, and I feel like I have all I can to do keep them spinning. While I’m struggling to keep them all going, they start to wobble and get crazy.

    I am getting better about this. I’m giving myself a lot of positive talk of the type that was distinctly missing from peers when I was a child. I make myself talk about my accomplishments and think about my progress. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few opportunities to hear straight-from-the-students’-mouths how important I’ve been in their lives. The troughs of “My life isn’t where I wanted it to be and it’s because I’m a disaster and can’t be a real grown up” still come by. They are less frequent and I’m getting better at appreciating all the goodness in my life. I still have hopeless days.

    As always, thank you for throwing something out there in a way that I’m experiencing but unable to articulate, and being willing to let this hang out where we-all can see it. I’ve sent more than one former student to your website. You, marvelous you, are saving lives, even on days where just getting up is an accomplishment.

  257. Wow, I totally could have written that post (except maybe with less profanity, because I THINK it but it doesn’t usually actually get said. Maybe I’d be healthier and happier if I cussed more OUT LOUD.) I’ve struggled with the same thing for years. . .feeling like a failure, feeling like the real me isn’t as great as people seem to think, fearing they’ll find out what I’m really like. I just about fell apart when I hit 30, because somehow I had this idea that by then, I’d have it all together and be living the life I dreamed. Instead, I had no house (still just renting), no job (quit teaching to be home with my kids, and then spiraled into depression like you wouldn’t believe. Ok , maybe you would.), a marriage that seemed to be falling apart, and everything just seemed so. . .temporary. I really thought I’d be more “settled” by then. Then things got better for a while, and then the depression came back just in time for me to hit 40. I had a hard time convincing my husband that it wasn’t just some weird midlife crisis or fear of getting old. I just couldn’t FUNCTION. I wanted to hide in my room and never come out. My kids were the only thing that kept me pasting a semi-convincing smile on my face and putting on clothes in time to pick them up from school.

    So yeah, I get it. You are not alone. It is totally normal. And the more people I talk to, the more I realize that everyone else seems to feel like they’re living a lie, too. Maybe we all just need to be honest and admit our struggles and quit making each other feel like shit.

  258. Definitely not just you. By all external standards, I’m very successful and have no reason to feel inadequate. Yet I often feel useless, absolutely devoid of motivation, and flat out overwhelmed by tasks like watering the plant in my office. I don’t think I ever have a WHOLE day of feeling great. Usually it’s more of an hour by hour thing. I usually feel pretty productive and overall GOOD about myself and my abilities in the morning. By afternoon I feel like a useless slug, unable to take on easy tasks. Then, in the later evening I start to feel a bit better again. So maybe half the day I feel like I’m awesome and the other half I feel like a complete loser.

  259. You are definitely not alone. I have no time for PTA. I barely have time to rest my brain. I don’t know if they have medication for “resting bitch face” as one of my coworkers calls it, but I am probably going to need that along with my other medication. Keep on keeping on! I love your work, and you are not alone!

    Sarah

  260. No, its not just you, and most of it isn’t your depression and axiety either – because I don’t suffer from those.
    I don’t suffer from any mental illness.
    I am happily married (no children by choice), work full time in a career job, have lots of hobbies and lots of friends and am not in an financial or health difficult.
    And yet, I rarely have days where I feel successful or like I’ve accomplished anything. I’m quite lazy. I don’t clean or cook much, and am lucky my husband picks up most of my slack. It is who I am. I could achieve more if I worked harder, but I don’t, and I’m ok with that.
    The other thing I can see that perhaps that people who do suffer depression or anxietydon’t is that most people lie – both to themselves and others. The competition isn’t what it represents itself to be. And the ones who are truly together are often the most miserable.

  261. Girl, you are not alone. There’s a reason Steve Furtick said “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I can’t tell you how much of what you feel is usual, because I also have crippling anxiety, along with panic disorder, but I can completely relate. I’m in one of the top engineering programs in the country, in the top 20% of my class, working my way through school, and I still feel like I’m failing at life. Sometimes I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything “real” because I’m closer to 30 than 20 and I don’t know that I am (or will) contribute to the world in any meaningful way. And forget going to the bank; some days I just lie in bed watching Netflix and scrolling through tumblr because doing simple life stuff takes so much out of me. I feel the worst when I’m crying on the floor of my room because I’m worried things will never feel easier.

    At least 95% of my unhappiness is a product of my own neuroses; it has nothing to do with the real world. I haven’t figured out how to train my mind out of that, but I’ll tell you one thing that regularly helps me: As trite as it sounds, I basically play Polyanna’s glad game. Every night, when some people probably are praying, I say thanks for everything I can think of that day: for the chance to expand my mind by studying things I’m not naturally good at, for the blueberries on sale at the grocery store, for my being able to recover from a panic attack and go back to work, for a surprising call from a friend, for colored staples. In that moment, it doesn’t feel like much, but it trains my mind. Later when I feel like a failure, I find my mind looking for reasons to be thankful and calm.

    And honestly, coming here and reading your blog makes me feel infinitely better because it keeps me from feeling like the only alien on the planet. You are not unusual in how you feel, but you are unusual in that you have the courage to share it and make all us other aliens feel at home.

  262. I made an important phone call today so I’m totally feeling like this is one of my “responsible adult days” for the month. I probably also have 3-4 of those days in one month. I don’t know if it’s normal to feel like you’re failing at adult life but it’s normal for me. I have a fear that a “real” adult will drop by unannounced and discover that I am just faking it and I will somehow get in trouble for this.

  263. I suck at being a human. Having depression can make it really HARD to do anything beyond the bare essentials! Sometimes I feel like I’ve had a really successful day because I got up, took a shower, wore clean clothes, and stayed awake all day long. If I go outside for a while with the dogs, I am really rocking! This is while I don’t have a job. When I do have a job I have to be really careful about getting too overwhelmed… I tend to become a shut-in on the weekends because, after spending a week working, I just can’t stand to leave the house for any reason if I don’t have to! It sucks, and I would like to live life more fully… but we do the best we can do, with what we have, at any given time, don’t we.

  264. A. You have totally found your tribe
    B. It would appear that the world runs mostly on about 3% productivity. So it’s probably a good thing that most of us don’t get more done because it would probably cause a rip in space/time continuum and totally un-hinge global markets. It would be nice though, to be ok with the way things are, because, you know –
    C. Depression lies. And it’s really good at it.

    Hang in there.

  265. I think the negative thoughts are just a normal part of depression and anxiety. Don’t automatically accept a thought just because you thought it. Question and retaliate against the negative thoughts, replacing them with something positive. I don’t think the “perfect people” really exist. They might just be better at projecting such an image. When I feel like like a loser, I replace that thought with something as ridiculous as “Hey, at least I’m not addicted to crack.” I always make a point of focusing on my good qualities. I think focus is the trick.

  266. I don’t have depression or anxiety and I feel the exact same way. A friend of mine told me the tale of Mara, the Buddhist evil doer. Google her, fascinating! Whenever I experience these dark moments, it’s just Mara coming for a visit so I talk to her. I welcome her in for a cup of tea, like I would any good friend. I tell her that I see her clearly and I try my best to actually feel the warm and fuzzies for her. I acknowledge her completely. And poof, she disappears. It’s not real, she’s not real. It’s all just noise. Remember that. I would think and ruminate into the wee hours about exactly what you said in your post, except the PTA part, bleck! It took a while but I’m wayyyyy better.
    I lost my brother 9 months ago. He was a single dad of a beautiful girl who was in her first year of university at the time. He died overseas while on vacation with his fiancé. His life was seriously rocking after a difficult divorce. I say this only because I too struggle with perfection. Now it’s like, who the fuck cares. The homework doesn’t get done til Thursday? Who the fuck cares. I have oodles of unfinished projects? Who the fuck cares. I just can’t picture my beloved brother caring about any of those things when he left us all. These thoughts stop me in my tracks when I start beating on myself about imagined shortcomings. I focus on loving well now. And you got that in spades!

    Anyway, my comment might not carry any weight because I don’t have depression or anxiety but I totally wish you the best cause you’re awesome (sorry).

    c

  267. Fuck, no, you’re not alone. I consider myself a fairly successful professional.., yet most days, I feel super-accomplished if I manage to scoop the cat box and check the mailbox on the same day.

  268. As i write this you have 2205 comments, even it only a handful of them r crummy, I think at says a lot about you (and me) so if 2000 of us feel like we don’t live up to our best selves and 2000 of us feel like we could do better and don’t, what is wrong with the world that we see ourselves this way? So I say we start our own country where you can’t be fake about who you r , everyone is on at least on med and we go to therapy more than work. And at least one other person has to live there that did not cry when their kids went to school.

  269. Oh Jenny, I know it’s been said over and over by all of us who love you. You’re not alone with this. When I read this one, I got chills and then my heart cried a little. I am in a little better place than this…at this moment…tomorrow may be different. I read a shit ton to escape from everything that overwhelms me. Some of the things I’ve come across, while they don’t help as much in the darkest hours, help in the twilight hours when I’m ok, but on a tipping point. Especially the articles that talk about how things like pinterest and facebook are people putting their best face forward…it’s not the real story…it’s what they’re comfortable showing the world. And I’m just through with the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It made me feel a tiny bit less crazy. My husband, and my family, though, are by far my biggest source of strength. When I’m a quivering ball of hot mess, my guy picks me up and says it’s ok to feel that way. We own a business together, and I run the financial side of things. Most of the time, I’m certain I’m going to be the sole reason of us going out of business because of my incompetence, even though I’ve had very savvy, smart business people tell me I’m wonderful at my job. Sometimes seeing a load of laundry from basket to closet is my biggest happy feeling for the day. And now I realize that I’ve just written something entirely too long to considered a ‘comment.’ I blame wine. And I blame the very real hope that maybe something in here helped you or someone feel at all better. Love.

  270. Dear Jenny,

    I wonder if you will see this. Probably not considering the amount of comments you have to sift through. I completely understand feeling anxious about the things you are doing, or are trying to do, or would like to get done but feel like you aren’t really trying to get done. The idea of anticipation of tasks can be so debilitating it is frustrating beyond belief. How can you pretend that a day is “good” and feel “accomplished” when all you did was hide? Then when you hide, you feel even worse and alas, the viscous cycle has begun.

    I am quite sure you don’t need me to toot your horn for you and tell you how much of a success you really have been according to fame and fortune and all that jazz. Logically I am sure that you can make those connections for yourself (if you look at it from an outsider’s perspective). Creativity cannot be forced. Inspiration isn’t just sitting around; timing has to be right for those things to strike. The person who is processing those things and trying to make something of them has to have that ‘it’ factor that no one can seem to put a definition to. That kind of “success” doesn’t matter to me though. I am proud of you for different reasons.

    I admire that despite what you are facing behind the scenes; you still live. You still find laughter in life. You find the time to be a mom. You may only feel successful a few times a month, but that is okay. What if you were robo-mom and everything you tried was a success? What if you could do anything you wanted to do, whenever you wanted to do it? Wouldn’t life become meaningless? As cool as robots are I don’t really think that any of us wants to be one.

    I just think that the struggles we face, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional make life so much more… beautiful? I guess what I am trying to say is embrace the bad times when you are living in them. It is okay to feel like shit. It is okay to need a moment to decompress… It is okay to need several moments to decompress. Your tasks will always be there waiting for you to come back. This does not make you a failure.

    When you feel down, try to remember that it is okay. You have felt that way in the past, and have bounced back before. What is that saying? Fall down 99 times and get back up 100? Anyway, I am sure you know what I mean. Don’t punish yourself for falling down every now and then, or a few times a week… or a few times a day. Rest assured; you will get back up again. Consequently, overcoming that feeling every time thereafter should only become easier. Remember the hard times, embrace them. Only they can be testament to what you have overcome. Most importantly remember that you are not alone.

    Hugs,
    Random girl in Idaho aka Malina

  271. Okay… I am a lurker, I never post, but here it goes. A few years ago I went to my high school reunion. I ended up sitting with one of the “cool kids”/jocks/mr. populars that would have never even given me the time of day back then. After some laughing and joking around about high school, he mentioned that he had spent alot of time alone during those years, especially on the weekends. I was totally surprised to hear how he felt awkward and out of place. Everyone assumed he was “busy”, so he was often left out. He was just as surprised to hear that people had this perception of him as being “out of their league”. He never saw himself as someone to be jealous of. Here is a guy who, from the outside looking in, had it all, but from the inside looking out, he was just as insecure as the rest of us. I guess the moral of this long, rambling post is… we are all human. We struggle with the same things. I don’t know anyone who is not plagued with self doubt, who feels like they have given 110% every. single. day. Nor do I know anyone who looks at themselves in the mirror at the end of the day and smiles at the feeling of fulfillment that they get from life.

    Personally, most of the time I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Trying to get ahead, not really getting anywhere at all, but still getting up, climbing back on, and running until its finally time to go back to bed. When I look around, I see people all around me who are in the same place. Feeling like they are never good enough or up to the challenge of being a good parent, a spouse, friend, etc. When I find myself getting overwhelmed (which is often), it’s hard to take a step back and take a breath…sometimes all it takes is remembering that the wheel is still going to be there tomorrow.

  272. There are already well over 2200 responses to this post so I know this is probably just my my own pathetic need to get something out there rather than something you or someone will see.

    Anyhoo. I feel like this all the time, too. I think 3-4 days a month sounds about right for me, too. Though usually I don’t get a full day – more like a few hours where I feel good, progressive, worthwhile, valuable.

    I don’t know if others feel this way or not. Or if others SAY they feel this way, but really don’t. It’s how I feel. It sucks. I don’t believe there is a way out, it just is.

    Thanks for sharing xo

  273. 2000+ comments so this might get lost, or it might have already been stated, but I still feel the need to say it. I deal with a lot of the same issues (nothing diagnosed, but I get the same feelings; probably should see someone about it but eh ANYWAY) what I do to make myself feel good about every day is the day before I will set tasks for myself, simple stuff. Nothing big. Just like getting the living room picked up, going to deposit that money that has been sitting in my wallet for a week, things like that. All I have to do is get that done. Anything else is just a bonus. I have a new little boy and most of the time we stay shut up in the house unless my boyfriend makes us go somewhere (usually just grocery shopping) and everyday I get more and more terrified that I am going to put this all on him and he is going to grow up with the same anxieties as me. This also helps me get out and do things. Tomorrow I am going to Comic Con in my area. I’m scared and excited and hoping that I’m able to stay more than an hour before coming up with some lame reason why I NEED to leave. My main point being you are clearly not alone (evident by the 2000 ish comments) and (these words are SO much easier said than done, I know, but) don’t be so hard on yourself. You can do it. While you may not be ‘living’ by the definition of others you ARE living. You are living as best you can and fighting through each day with gusto. You have a beautiful daughter and (even if you aren’t a member of the PTA) you are doing great. It’ll be hard for all of that to sink in I know, but it’s here for you to read as many times as it takes to know that you are great at being you. You are living. And you are doing a damn good job at it.

  274. I think you’re ahead of me. At the end of each day I don’t even thought about being successful. But DO I know that no one REALLY has their shit together. It’s all a fantasy. Maybe because when I was just out of college I was a personal assistant for a couple of messed up rich people (two different families… no joke) that couldn’t furnish their houses or keep the cable on or succeed in relationships or even have two kids with the same father. At that point I decided everyone sucks at life AND everyone is great at it and I’m not going to feel bad about myself either way.

  275. Oh, Jenny. I feel good maybe a week. Sometimes more, but honestly, it averages out to about a week.

    I found you after I’d quit my job so my husband could start traipsing about doing what he does. At that time, my kid was 2.5 and I’d sit and laugh while I let Mickey Mouse Clubhouse babysit in our tiny DC apartment. I felt, acutely, that I wasn’t a good enough mom, that there were tons of “shoulds” I wasn’t doing. The “shoulds” have haunted me.

    In the last 3 years, I’ve moved 3 times and had another baby. I now live outside the US. My kid goes to a fancy school (not my dime, we get a stipend) and rubs elbows with this city’s elite. I’m from a small town in OHIO, Jenny. I don’t do designer yoga pants (I didn’t even know they existed. They DO.) And I don’t keep up well with nanny-bitching, because I don’t have a nanny. I was supposed to teach my 5-year old lowercase printing so she was on-track with her peers over the summer. Oops. My 15-month old’s glowing accomplishment is lifting her shirt and pointing to her belly button. There are so many days just getting dressed and feeding my children is the end of my abilities. And that? It perpetuates the cycle of self-loathing.

    I don’t know what success even means. When I had a career that produced an income, I used to set these silly things called goals. And I always thought that if I reached them I’d have “success”. Now? I think the success measures are so far off, I can’t see the path. If my 5-year old eats well and doesn’t whine about her sister, I call it a decent day. If my 15-month old doesn’t chew a section out of the couch or me (truly, she’s a puppy with thumbs right now, and she’s done both) I breathe a sigh of relief. And if a nice mom at the park doesn’t condescend all over my pilly, thin t-shirts, my grey-roots-showing-desperately-needing-trimmed hair, and un-made-up face? I find myself grateful.

    I do know that reading you, the funny and the honest sets me free, a bit. Depression lies. You don’t, Jenny. I think this is the stuff people don’t talk about because we’re all so afraid if we do, we’ll be the only ones. Clearly, we aren’t.

  276. I definitely relate to what you’re feeling. It makes me feel so much better to see all the posts of everyone else who feel exactly the same. Anxiety and depression have been the biggest factors in how I feel, but even on meds and with therapy I can’t seem to think good thoughts about myself. I typically have 2-4 kick butt days a month (like today). What I’ve found works for helping me feel like I’ve accomplished something is to stop making lists and stop feeling like I SHOULD be doing this or that and just do what I can. This idea would be great if I bought into it all the time. Is our society/culture to blame? Perhaps. The plethora of social media really allows us to think everyone is “doing it all,” when in reality they’re just getting by as well. Be happy with who you are and whatever it is that you can do. As a teacher I feel that you achieve quite a bit by spending QT with your daughter each day. How many parents can say that of late?

  277. Oh shit there a like thousands of comments…so here goes. I use to be you (yes I got the anxiety and issues to match) but then one day I decided to give a lot less fucks. One would say zero fucks. Now I am me. Take or leave it. I will never be the PTA lady, my kids bday crockpot dinner was burnt yesterday and I wrapped his gift in xmas paper with xmas packing tape. You know what – it didn’t matter. Pressures I felt were all self imposed. The judgers and I would never be friends. You need to stop giving a fuck and be you. Hope that makes sense.

  278. Another mental twin here. From personal experience, I’d say you need to up your meds.
    I didn’t even realize that the way I was feeling didn’t have to happen. I upped my meds at my dr’s urging, thinking I’d just go along for a week or three to prove him wrong. And crap, I was wrong – again.
    And so now I’m going to tell you the weirdly bad good news. I still screw up as much as I ever did before. But before, I’d have all those emotions you’ve described; now, I just don’t find it all such an issue. I mean, before I was counting the ways I was a screw up, and by what degrees, and how many things and people I’d messed up…but now, with more meds, my focus has changed to “I may not have had a super-terrific successful day, but the amount of mediocre-or-better far outweighed the suckage.”

  279. I am in the same boat sometimes. I have good days more often than you, but less often than what I feel ‘normal’ would be like, but I don’t think ‘normal’ actually completely exists for anyone. It’s regular for me to hesitate going to work because I know that I will fuck something up and I just hope it’s not too bad. I came to the realization that I’ve made a decent fuck up in nearly every job I’ve had, and it’s really the only thing I have experience in so I don’t have anywhere else to go. I’m paying student loans and didn’t manage a degree, and I don’t even know what I want to do for the rest of my life because commitment freaks me out and I know I’d feel better if I at least have a direction to go in, but I’m too afraid to make that decision, and every day I wait is another fail in my book. I keep telling myself that there are so many free online courses I could at least take, but I know I’m just going to surf the internet or watch tv instead. I’m lucky to keep my house clean. Part of the time.

    I think we all have days where we just feel like big piles of shit. I think that’s what normal really is.

  280. I could have written this. I feel competent about 7 days out of the month. I have depression and anxiety, and while I “have it all” on the outside I’m basically a hot mess. I’m slowly getting better with therapy, but its not easy. I think behind every perfect pin or every syrupy sweet Facebook humble brag is a person who is very desperate to find relevance in a world that could give a shit. I’ve given up on the perfect mom shtick because I’m never going to be that. I spend the bulk of my negative energy telling myself that I’m a fraud professionally and some day they will all discover my clever ruse.

    To keep these feelings at bay I go to my happy place–I knit and sew. I create beautiful things to hide the ugly thoughts about myself in my head. My husband and kids are so supportive–I just came out of a very dark episode earlier this summer and they have been my rock.

  281. I sympathize. I often feel outside the “normal, real people GROWN UP world.” But you can’t judge yourself by the crap people say about themselves on Facebook and other social media. BECAUSE BITCHES LIE. Perfect Pink PTA moms who claim to have it all, to do it all, and to handcraft it all LIE. Because if they do all they say they do, they wouldn’t have time to raise their perfect little angels.

  282. If I only counted full days where I felt productive I’d be fucked. If I get one or two productive things done during a waking period (day?) then that is a productive day in my book. I don’t care that there might be 10 or 12 things that didn’t get done. And by 10 or 12 I mean 100 or 120. Okay, no, I lied. It’s probably closer to 1,000 or 1,200. But who’s counting? Me. Only me. If anyone else is counting for me, they really can kiss my rosy ass. There were days the only productive thing I got done was spending time with my girls and making sure they got out the door and onto the bus with all necessary articles of clothing. I will tell you that there was a period of time during my 30’s (like from age 30 to age 41) where life was SO overwhelming for me, sometimes I didn’t do a damn thing. Thank goodness my husband is a good man who picked up the slack, because there was a boatload of slack. The super-women PTA moms are nothing more than a fragile facade that you don’t dare get close enough to touch or it will crumble. My crumbles just come with cookies (store-bought). You’re not alone. As long as your daughter knows you love her, that’s a productive day.

    <3 , Barb

  283. I’m good for about 12 days out of the month. the rest of the time, I feel cranky and evil or anxious. I think hormones really mess up whatever we’re already dealing with. thanks for keeping it real. and there are many days i don’t get stuff done. that’s life.

  284. I USED to feel like this. I was a therapist for 10 years, so I totally get talk therapy and behavior therapy and several others, but I have never really been able to wrap my *brain* around cranial sacral-type therapy. It is hokey as hell, but it totally helped me! It was almost 20 years ago, when I was just starting as a therapist and I had a supervisor who did lots of different therapies. One day I was supposed to be talking about my clients, but my partner had just flown away to visit her parents and I really thought I was going to die. My supervisor thankfully realized that I would be more help to my clients as a less-fractured human and she started doing body-work on me. At that point I don’t think I would have been able to do talk therapy with anyone b/c my defenses were just too high, but the body-work was AMAZING! She could make me cry just by putting slight pressure on my arm. It was super intense, and I KNOW that I was working on things that happened before I had the words to even process them! Years later I went back to therapy and ever since I’ve worked off and on with a person who does Eye Movement Desensitization/Reprocessing (EMDR). The overarching theory is that if you have issues that you aren’t able to discus s b/c they make you too fearful or anxious, it is probably in part b/c those issues or memories are stuck in the right side of your brain (the emotional part of your brain) and they’ve never been successfully processed by the left side of your brain (the rational part). EMDR therapists use a variety of tools to get your eyes to move from back and forth while you talk about an issue you are stuck on. I have had stuff where, while I was in a session, I had an epiphany about an issue I struggled with for years!
    But I am aware that everyone is different. Those 2 weird types of therapy helped me a ton, but might totally not work at all for others. Don’t be afraid to branch out a little when it comes to therapy, is I guess where I’m heading here. Something else to keep in mind: your talent and creativity is very likely closely linked to the traits that make you feel like you’re crazy. Make that part of your therapy discussions as well, especially if you find some type of therapy that makes things start to improve for you.
    Good luck. Know that you are loved my family, friends, and a shit-ton of strangers! Give yourself the gift of getting off your own back. Your humor is an incredible gift–you make me chortle every time I read a blog post!

  285. Fuck that noise. Depression is lying again. Who sets these goals you think you need to meet? Not you. You do what’s important – love your family, care for your daughter, keep yourself alive, find joy where you can. That’s it, all you need to do.

    And the folks smiling on Facebook, crafting on Pinterest? There’s no guarantee that they’re not catfishing us all with falsehoods. And there’s no guarantee that you look as fragmented as you feel. A wise man once told me, “The world doesn’t see you as you see yourself.” I got a compliment at work regarding how on top of things I am, and all I wanted to do was show them my drawers full of papers to file, papers to process.

    Many of us are just hanging on, just surreptitiously putting our burdens down every chance we get, rubbing the dirt into our pants so it’s not so obvious. You are doing better than you give yourself credit for. I am doing better than I give myself credit for. Every sunrise is a victory, every sunset is a prize. Never forget how strong, capable, and accomplished you are. Never forget.

  286. You are a human BEing not a human DOing. Be happy being. Anything that gets done is just a bonus. I have bipolar and my life fell apart in my 30’s. Lost my job, my home, my friends, a lot of my possessions. 10 years later I’m now medicated well but can never lead the type of life I lead before. I’m lucky to take a shower every day. Who am I kidding. I’m lucky to shower a couple times a week. My daily accomplishments are eating two relatively healthy meals, taking care of my dog, maybe scooping the litter box. My definition of success had to change. I used to base my worth on how much money I earned as an executive. Now I can’t work. I have to change my value system or otherwise I’m worthless (which most days I don’t believe). A successful day is when I take care of myself and my dog and cat. I get bonus points for any cleaning or laundry I do. They key is to not subtract points for not doing it. I get more bonus points if I actually leave my condo or talk to another human being. Again nothing gets subtracted. I guess I’m trying to say don’t be so hard on yourself. Be happy taking care of your self and family. Everything else is just fake societal crap that doesn’t really mean anything.

  287. I have depression and ADD, and sometimes the biggest thing I accomplish during a day is feeding myself…. Sometimes I don’t shower for 3 days… I know I should, especially since I have horrible acne, and I’m in nursing school… The only thing that really helps is spending time with kids. No matter what you can or can’t do, they think you’re fantastic. I got a job over the summer at a daycare, and it was the greatest thing. Now I babysit whenever I get the chance, because kids are amazing for self esteem, they’re like little happy pills…. in a totally not creepy way.

  288. I think I’m probably the millionth person here to confirm that your feelings are “normal.” Whatever the hell that is.
    I had a successful military career of 20 years, and I always felt like I would be found out any moment. I’m now in a second successful career and I might have, MIGHT have 3 days a month where I feel productive. They say a manager rises to the level of her/his incompetence and I can’t help but feel I blasted past that eons ago.
    But people around me tell me differently. They tell me of the contributions I’ve unknowingly made in their lives, careers, or their (I literally just misspelled “their” three fucking times) perspective about something. I have had to learn to give these opinions some weight in my assessment of me.
    I’m on Wellbutrin, and I have been for years. However, I’m otherwise mentally healthy (Can you hear my ex-wife cackling at that remark?)… So I don’t think it has as much to do with your mental/emotional health or stability. I just think this is the “new normal.” I don’t know why; it just is.
    At least I hope my therapist doesn’t feel like us…
    Love you kiddo!