Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.

When I’m on tour I often stop in the airport bookstores during layovers to do rogue signings.  I do them when I can and sometimes strangers stop to ask about the book.  Sometimes they buy a copy or two.  Mostly they don’t.  But last week one older woman in particular looked at Furiously Happy and told me that she would never buy it.  And I smiled and nodded as I assured her that was fine. “It’s not for everyone,” I said, because it’s not.  I thought she’d walk away but instead she said, “I guess you can pander this to all those college kids who have been convinced that depression exists by some pharmacy company that just wants you addicted to drugs.”  And then I explained that depression exists for a number of reasons, including chemical imbalances which are very, very real and that if not properly treated it can be fatal, and then she told me that mental illness was just “made up” and then I kicked her right in the lady junk.  Or, at least that’s what I did in my mind.  In real life I said that I hoped she would never have to learn how wrong she was and then I stared at her until she got uncomfortable enough to leave.

It’s not just ridiculous strangers in airports who feel comfortable publicly doubting an illness they’ve never fought, or sometimes couldn’t acknowledge they were currently fighting.  It’s sometimes family members or friends, and sometimes even we manage to convince ourselves that it’s not a real problem – and that mental illness is just a weakness rather than a medical disorder that needs treatment just as much as heart disease or diabetes or those disorders which are more easily measurable or unquestionably visible on the surface.

That night I locked myself in my hotel room and drew this to remind myself of the truth:

"Just because
“Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

Because sometimes I need a reminder.  Pain is real, whether it’s from depression or anxiety or arthritis or one of the many invisible illnesses that don’t easily show themselves but still exist and have to be treated, and – more importantly – have to be believed in order to be treated.  You need to know that your struggle is a real one.  You need to know that your fight is real and your survival is something to be proud of.  Remember that you are needed.  Remember that the things you say can affect those of us who fight.  Remember that not all things are visible and provable.  Love, faith, pain, anxiety, depression, compassion…these aren’t always quantifiable.  They aren’t always measurable.  They are often invisible.  But they are real.

And so are you.

Stay real.  Stay alive.  Stay vigilant against assholes who make you question yourself.  We already get enough of that from the doubting voices in our heads and the lies depression tells us.  Listen to my voice, now.  You are real.  You are worthwhile.  You are so important both in ways you will discover, and in ways you’ll never see.  You send out needed ripples of greatness and kindness in unexpected and accidental ways.

You won’t always see wonderful ways in which you shift the world.  They may be invisible to you.  But I promise you they are real.

445 thoughts on “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Almost forgot…a lot of you have asked if you can use my doodles for coloring pages or posters and you can totally print them off and use them for personal use. If you don’t have a printer I put this one on zazzle as a poster: http://www.zazzle.com/just_because_you_cant_see_it_poster-228294527970319118?rf=238233029691800410 Thank you for being so sweet about them. I’m so much less embarrassed to share them with the world now and that’s thanks to you.

  2. Thank you so much for sending out your ripples of greatness and kindness. I will endeavor to do the same.

  3. I love this drawing so much and I love your gentle reminders that what many of us experience is valid and should be recognized. I’m bad about falling into that ‘No one would miss me if I wasn’t here’ trap all too often and I’m so glad to be reminded that depression lies. I feel like I would have folded in on myself when that woman said mental illness is made up and let her believe she was right, so thank you for being a warrior with your words. <3

  4. It hurts my heart that people can think this about something that makes such a huge difference in this world. I commend you for your efforts to bring light to these dark problems, you are such a strong force bringing so much good to this world.

  5. This is so true. I have heard similar ideas from a neighbour. She and I were walking downtown in Montreal and we saw a man lying in a doorway. She said to me, “He wants to live like that otherwise he wouldn’t.” I said, “No he doesn’t. He’s likely mentally ill and needs medication. No one wants to be sleeping on the street alone and hungry.” She told me her husband said homeless people want to be homeless. I’d studied psychology at university so I knew she was so wrong and that she wanted to believe what she said because it made her feel better or less responsible. I’m sure if the man had been her son she would’ve likely thought differently, or I can only hope so. That’s why it’s so important as you said that we tell our stories and that we believe in ourselves, no matter who says we’re making it up or it’s all in our head. It’s SO not! Thanks, Jenny!

  6. YOU DREW THAT?! Jenny…damn girl, that’s beautiful. Clearly you’re a great writer, had no idea you drew 😀

  7. I described depression as an unwanted imaginary friend. I do wish my childhood imaginary friends could come back and kick depression/anxiety in the nuts.

  8. Thank you for fighting side by side with us. Recently I went through a very bad few weeks. Everyone, including co-workers and close family kept reassuring me ‘I was doing fine’ and ‘I was only imagining things’ ‘it’s not so bad’ ‘stop doing this to yourself’ and even a ‘stop whining’ (apparently saying you were on the verge of suicide the night before is whining, okay)
    I’m with you on hoping they’ll never understand how it feels. It would be nice to at least have some acknowledgement though, from time to time. You know, to feel less alone.

  9. Love your amazing drawing, Jenny. Sometimes when I have a migraine, I lament to my husband that I wish I had a different brain and he always tells me that if I did I may not have the creativity that I enjoy. That woman at the airport should be so lucky to have a brain like yours. You showed remarkable restraint, my dear. Ignorance like hers is hard to fathom.

  10. I’m sorry you had to confront her shitty ignorance.

    I’m often surprised at how often I come across victim-blaming mentality, or the complete disregard for science. Find both of those in the same person, and they might run for president!

  11. Firstly your art is freaking lovely! Secondly I’m sorry this happened to you, people who do that crap just drive me up the wall.

  12. This is so true. I have witnessed this month someone who told me to get over it and pull myself together when I had postpartum depression to the point that I couldn’t make myself leave my house, realize that her depression is very real and not just something you can shake out of (please forgive my grammar in that sentence!). I’ve shared “Depression Lies” this month over and over – something about October that’s hitting my friends and family hard. Thank you for the reminder and for mentally kicking that lady in her lady junk!

  13. I got sent a video of platitudes from some well-meaning, but misguided friend. It was basically just some dude talking about “everybody gets depression” and “there’s no escaping bad times”, followed by some old chestnuts like “this too shall pass”.

    I didn’t go off on my friend, but I wanted to. Yes, people get sad. Sometimes even depressed. But Depression is not those things.

    Depression is swimming in compliments, but still feeling like there’s turd in the pool. And it’s you.

    Depression is never trusting good days.

    Depression sneaks up on you, stalks you, and there’s no way to predict when it’ll attack or any way to stop it.

    Depression is having a great day, and suddenly wanting to cry for no reason.

    Depression is a monster. It’s not a bad day or a rough week or a hard month. It’s a life of dealing with unexpected, unwanted attacks that make you keenly aware that “this too shall never pass”.

    Depression is learning to deal with it. To keep going, to keep fighting, to try and not listen to the lies it whispers inside your skull.

    The one thing Depression certainly isn’t is a lie. It’s made of lies, sure. But it’s very, very real – and not at all what people who’ve never been stalked by it could ever hope to understand.

    Anyway, sorry. Sometimes, I get preachy. Beautiful new artwork, by the way. Stop calling them doodles, though. I doodle. I draw incomprehensible bubble people because I can’t draw a straight line. You make art.

    There’s a difference. 🙂

  14. I always believed depression and anxiety were real illnesses, but they never became more real until I held my sobbing husband on the couch as he said he didn’t “want to be here anymore.” A year later, a family member tried to argue that depression meds were useless, terrible instruments of evil and would only hurt those who took it. In my mind I knew they were what helped keep my husband here, and I had to remind myself that most people are ignorant of the true lies depression can tell. God bless you, Jenny. I read some excerpts of your book to my husband and many times he just smiled and said, “wow.” So thank you.

  15. That woman was very, very, ignorant. A special type of ignorance that thinks just because they haven’t experienced something, it must not exist, and everyone who does is lying. (i.e the type of ignorance that lacks empathy, as well as readily available knowledge).

    Your response was excellent.

  16. “A turd it the people” – oh god. That was supposed to be “a turd in the pool”. I don’t even know how my snausage fingers work.

    Also, why am I incapable of spotting typos BEFORE hitting the Post button?

    (I fixed it for you. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  17. First off, I’m sorry you had to run into such an unpleasant woman. Ugh. And second, this reminds me of a book club I used to be in. One of the judgy types went on a tirade about how depression wasn’t real, having no clue the woman sitting next to her had fought it with meds for years. I didn’t enlighten her but wanted to kick her. It’s a slow evolution but I think a lot more people get it than don’t as we move forward . . .

  18. First, well said. Second, you call that a DOODLE? If that’s just a doodle, I’d love to see what you’d create if you really put some “thought” into it. You are so very talented in a lot of ways!

  19. Your verbal response might have been even more poignantly impressive than your initial (and tempting) thought.

    While it’s entirely possible she did not take the subsequent stare as I would have, I hope you managed to peer deeply into her soul – and possibly pierce the bubble in her heart preventing her from understanding the legitimacy of illness.

  20. You have a real talent for art and words. I think what you’ve drawn and what you’ve said are both beautiful. Heck, you are beautiful. I’m listening to Furiously Happy right now in my car when I drive to work. It has me alternating between wanting to cry because someone else gets how I feel when I’m curled in the corner of my shower under boiling hot water because I just want to feel some kind of pain I can control and laughing hysterically (most recently) because, the asshole in the suit with the triple diamond status at the airport is also usually my dad :-p Mostly I just want to say thank you.

  21. First, I’m sorry that you had to deal with someone like that. Second, your art is GORGEOUS!! I’m a full time doodler* and mine isn’t as good as yours!!

    *sits in boring meetings all day and draws in order to stay awake

  22. Great post. I read one of the final sentences as “You send out needed NIPPLES of greatness and kindness in unexpected and accidental ways.” and I was like, um, wow!

  23. First, I needed to hear that today so thank you.
    Second, you are a talented artist.
    Third, fuck that woman.

  24. Regarding the lady asshole… well, I want to say something bitchy but maybe SHE has a chemical imbalance in her brain that doesn’t allow her to see that points of view different from her own might be valid also. Yeah– a kick in the lady junk was probably an inappropriate respose; might I suggest a sharp nipple pinch instead?

  25. I’m glad you mentally kicked her in the lady junk. What a ridiculous person.

    I’m glad you have the courage to undertake book signings, even in the face of douche canoes. I did one with a friend a couple of weeks ago. It was a short, two-day thing in Arkansas, and almost no one came (except people who knew a couple of the other authors), and mostly I was ignored because I’m way past weird. It was exhausting, even if I didn’t talk to very many people. I can’t imagine the strain you face when you meet a lot of people, even if they do understand and enjoy your particular brand of weird. I’m proud of you. 🙂

  26. First of all: YES. Second of all: you have much more restraint than I would have. Judgy lady has no idea how lucky she is. Also, you’re also incredible at drawing, and I am amazed at that kind of talent. and D: I banned myself from reading your first book on the Metro because of my hysterical shoulder-shaking, tear-inducing laughter but I thought I’d be okay with Furiously Happy on an airplane. I am really only allowed to read your books in my house where only the cat can silently judge me because I concern strangers with my hysterics. Thank you for writing. Thank you for existing. You are fucking amazing.

  27. What fascinates me most about disbelievers in various things, their idea being that people choose to have them, is why do they think anyone would choose to have this or that? It’s such a bizarre conclusion to come to. The world is full of strife and trouble and I get that people can be cynical and cruel but where is the logic in believing sick people choose to be sick? Especially in a way that gives them no pleasure or benefit or joy whatsoever. Such strange logic some folks employ.

  28. Fuck her. No, seriously, fuck her and the ignorant broom she rode in on. While we’re at it, fuck all of the jackasses who, in the guise of fighting “the pharmaceutical industry” have made life harder for so many people who are fighting just to stay alive.

    Thank you for being there, Jenny, and all of the rest of you. I am so happy that you once found a giant metal chicken and led me to my tribe.

  29. Kristian Bland, your post was a lovely accompaniment to Jenny’s constant thoughtful awesomeness and art in the face of stupidity. And your snausage fingers comment made me snort laugh. I love this place and the people in it.

  30. LOVE the drawing. Perfect allegory for my 19 year old daughter’s life experience.

    She was diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder at about 9 years of age, an incomplete diagnosis as it turned out. At 17 she was diagnosed with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (formerly known as Asperger’s). She was thrilled, “I have a THING!” She could finally put a name to it and join a tribe. She is one of those genius types with uneven talents who suffers from panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and periodic bouts of depression (not at all unusual for someone with Asperger’s). Her disability is invisible. Her struggles are invisible. She is real and the world is a better place for having her in it.

    BTW, she’s a fan! She loved your first book, but has had a chance to read your second book yet.

  31. This is awesome! Thank you!! I am having a bad day and failing at everything and I just…even though I know better I feel like I’m just lazy. If I could get my shit together then things would be fine. Mental illness is real.

  32. I finally got help for my depression this week. I spent years being unable to ask for help when I was in a bad way. Then I’d have good days and feel like it wasn’t bad enough to deserve help so I wouldn’t ask. It took awhile for me to feel like this was a real medical problem that I needed a doctor for and honestly you played a big part in getting me there. So thank you. So much.

  33. This is such an important message! You are a beautiful unicorn woman and you are so awese! I feel like I should make you a unicorn jorn that is a pink sword so you can stab skeleton women when they get out of line like this. I hope her lady junk hurts with the phantom pain of you kicking her…

  34. My mom and brother teamed up on me when I was younger and told me my depression was a big lie. That I had “no reason” to be depressed and was faking it to get attention. Then threatened to have me committed if I didn’t stop “ruining their family.” Things eventually got better, but I delayed treatment for so long that it almost killed me. I drank, did drugs, did anything to make myself feel better without admitting something was actually wrong with me. Because of them telling me that, I’ll always feel like I have to hide it when it comes creeping back in, like I can’t tell them about it because it’s just “fake” anyways. I wish they both understood that just because people don’t know what it’s like doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it’s like denying migraines are real just because you’ve never had one.

  35. Great piece of artwork, and the message as well.

    I’ve had to deal with mild cases depression, and while I’m much better, I remember it as being in a box of your own making, and you keep out everything that you hear but your own loathsome self. You’re so SURE that you don’t want to be here, as sure as that woman in the airport. It’s bizarre now to think back and remember seeing myself thinking this, but unable to help.

  36. Thanks for another lovely drawing, Jenny.
    I don’t have clinical depression but sometimes people make me very sad, especially people with tightly closed minds. You, however, are full of wonderful light.

  37. Every time I think you have posted, or tweeted, or written, or drawn the most excellent thing ever, you top yourself! This post and this drawing are so outstanding! Love you Jenny!!!

  38. THANK YOU! Our 15 yo son is on “safety watch” right now, and this is the absolute, spot on, perfect message, as if you wrote it for us. You inspire me.

  39. Wonderful drawing.

    I don’t understand what compels a person to lecture you like that in an airport. Congratulations, lady who’s never been through depression, go get yourself a Jamba Juice. And while you’re at it, go perform a sex act on yourself.

  40. I wonder if she would say that about religion. People believe in something that isn’t proven. They support their religion with donations and believe what is told to them. She couldn’t make any of them think they are wrong, just as she can’t make those dealing with depression think it isn’t real. Her ignorance is apparent and my guess is she doesn’t care to delve deeper. Thankfully, I think awareness is rising and you have helped with that. It takes a lot of strength to stand up and bring to light what you have been through and make known what many of us are dealing with. We thank you for that. I believe there is more compassion out there and it will grow. We will handle this illness just as other ill people do. We will find a way and by supporting each other have the quality of life we deserve . There are people that care, we need to find them. They will help guide us and encourage us to see what lies within us, our talent, our kindness, our gentle spirit and mostly, why we should believe in ourselves.

  41. Kudos…you’re a stronger woman than I am, Jenny 😉 I have a feeling I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from launching at that bitch. Normally I’m the opposite – very NON-confrontational – but considering how I struggle with depression and anxiety every day, I would’ve been absolutely livid at someone being so callous, narrow-minded, and rude. GRRR.

    (‘Scientologist’ is the first thing that popped into my mine too. And if that was the case, it’s like the Grand Canyon calling a crack in the sidewalk a hole.)

  42. I think that you responded to that woman in a brilliant way. As much fun as I think it would have been to see her kicked in her lady junk, I wouldn’t want you to have to face assault charges. Instead, you defended your position and, hopefully, gave her something to think about. I have a five generation history of depression and anxiety. Every psychiatrist I have been to has stated that I should be in a genetic study. My great grandfather, grandfather and grandmother had electroshock therapy when there was nothing else that might break the hold depression had on them. I am the first generation that has been on psychotropics and not needed to be hospitalized. As much as my family is aware and understanding of mental illness, my in laws are the complete opposite. I am a licensed therapist and they believe therapy is made up to take people’s money. I have never been able to share my story with them and now my daughter faces the ugly anxiety disorder knowing half her family doesn’t believe the illness exists. Some people can be led to knowledge but can’t be forced to think. It really is sad that there is such ignorance in the world. I am grateful that more and more of us are letting our voices be heard in the world. I only wish I could share who I am with my whole family. Thank you for being you, Jenny. It is appreciated more than I can say.
    S

  43. Thank you so much for this. It’s true. Sometimes I have to remind people (even family) that my depression is real and should be treated as such. You’d think having parents with invisible illness (both are diabetic), they’d be a little more understanding. But they sometimes say things like “yeah, I’ve felt sad too before.” It’s not the same. Thankfully I have a husband who supports my struggle and even has to remind me sometimes to take my medication.

  44. This is from a post I made some time ago: “Mental Illness, at least the kind that I know, isn’t like an attack of bronchitis. You don’t come down with it, take something for it, then get better. It’s more like high blood pressure. You live with it, it hangs around without you knowing, sometimes until something like a heart attack or a stroke happens, but most of the time it’s just a killer headache that brings to awareness that you need to get some help. Sometimes you don’t need medication or any treatment, just a way of getting yourself reset to the normal – exercise, diet, sleep – all of these help us no matter what the chronic health problem.” – http://notoldjustseasoned.blogspot.com/2010/04/high-blood-pressure.html

    If not for you, I would have never written that post. And I am going to wantonly steal your kind and generous response to that insensitive, ignorant woman. thank you for this post, and I LOVE YOU.

  45. When my brother was dangerously lost in his mental illness, many people around the family were confused. There were a lot of “just get it together” comments. And when I have times of struggle, it is all too easy for others to mistake it for laziness or the blues. I am sharing this a lot. Thank you.

  46. I totally wish you’d kicked her in the lady junk. I hate that shit. Both my son and I suffer from depression. He’s a 9 year old kid. Guess what, no pharmaceutical company has convinced him of anything yet. I absolutely LOVE your drawing as well. Depression does feel like a lurking darkness that is just waiting to grab you, so at least with me, I relish my good days but always with a little dread of when the depression will leap back up and kick my ass again.
    I’m so happy you are an advocate. You are amazing.

  47. I keep showing your posts to my husband, who is battling anxiety and depression right now. Thank you for being there so that he can believe that he is not the only one out there.

  48. Thank you for the reminder and the strength boost.
    Also, thats the most beautifully tatted up Kraken I’ve ever seen.
    It feels weird to compliment your monster but there ya go.

  49. That drawing is amazeballs. Thank you for standing up for everyone who deals with depression. I am so fortunate that my husband stands up for me…he stayed home from work with me on Wednesday when I was having a particularly bad day because he recognized that I shouldn’t be alone. I adore him for that…he helps so much.
    And so do you, Jenny. You help so very much. Thank you.

  50. It is a beautiful gift you give in sharing the good and the not so good. I identify. Although I am feeling sad today for no reason at all my mind’s picture of you kicking her in the lady junk made me giggle out loud!! Thanks for the reminders and the giggles!

  51. Thank you for sharing your art with us too. It sucks that you have problems (are sick? sorry, not sure of the language I should/can use) but your sharing them with us helps some of us.

    So thanks for taking one for the team!

  52. Well said. I’m actually quite surprised at how IGNORANT some people can be. I’m convinced that this type of person lives with her head up her ass. #SaidWithDueRespectIfAnyIsDue

  53. For every idiot who believes that Depression isn’t real: we’d like to believe that, too, but we don’t have that luxury. When you have the Hounds of Hell ripping you to shreds, it’s hard to “just smile!” and “think positive!” Tell a cancer patient their illness “can’t be -that- bad.” Tell a burn victim “you’re not even trying!” Tell a paraplegic that their dependence on a wheelchair is “only making it worse” for them. No? Then shut the fuck up about MY very, very real illness, and thank whatever greater power you believe in that YOU don’t have to live in MY head.

    Jenny, I love you. I love you for your humor, even/especially in the face of multiple demons. I love your frankness, the way you have opened the doors wide to let people in. The way you help people. The way you see the world. The way you love us. Your beautiful skeleton, and your even more beautiful spirit. I believe in you, and I have an infinite number of cyberhugs for you, any time you need one.

    I also have a Nefertiti bust painted gold that sits on my bureau, on which I have put a beautiful necklace, a pair of big black sunglasses, and a fedora. She rocks it.

    xoxox
    ~Tracy

  54. Wow, I can’t believe the lady got all Tom Cruise with you. How sad. Sounds like she should DEFINITELY read the book; maybe it would open her eyes/heart. Beautifully said,Jenny.

  55. My mother thinks that all I need to do is let go of painful memories and I wouldn’t feel depressed. My brother-in-law wonders what I have to be depressed about. For some reason I thought that I was strong enough to wean myself from my antidepressants. As though all it took to defeat that damn dog was strength of conviction that I could. By June, when I lay in bed suffocating from despair so deep I couldn’t see how I could possibly go on, it was your voice, your words that tiptoed into the miasma to remind me — depression lies, it lies, it is a relentless fucking liar. I had actually forgotten.

    That’s why, when I saw you in Boston and asked if I could give you a hug, I told you that you saved my life. Because you did.

    I can never thank you enough.

  56. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for quite some time but finally got the courage and the strength to say it out loud during my last therapy session couple of days ago, “Yes I struggle with depression and anxiety” without any embarrassment, shame or self-hatred (and yes I was able to say this because of therapy and all the other homework I’ve done but a lot of does have to do with the work YOU do Jenny- your work has made me (and so many others) not be ashamed or shy away from our mental illnesses 🙂 )

    Thank you for all the work you do and I love this post. Mental illness is real- depression is real, anxiety is real. Depression lies, yes, but its oh so very real. This post made me love you just a little bit more (if thats even possible 🙂 )

  57. It is a beautiful gift you give in sharing the good and the not so good. I identify. Although I am feeling sad today for no reason at all, my mind’s picture of you kicking her in the lady junk made me giggle out loud!! Thanks for the reminders and the giggles!

  58. Your “doodles” are art! So beautiful. Your writing is inspirational. Seeing/hearing/meeting you in Nashville was magical. Thank you so much for being you.

    Thanks for staring at the stranger until she walked away. Thanks for hoping she never has to learn how wrong she was.

  59. Thanks or your words, Jenny. I used them (many verbatim) last week when I helped a homeless, despondent young woman realize that her brain was lying to her, and that the world would not be a better place if she was no longer a part of it. And yes, the humor helped. Your bravery in sharing your insights gave me the tools I needed to share your message.

  60. Please, please, please make this art available in your store.
    It is hard to explain depression to people who have never had their minds betray them. You do a beautiful job of shining light on it

  61. i’m the lady from Chicago who brought the “Furiously Happy” sign for you to autograph.

    That lady? Fuck that noise.
    When I asked to be part of your book trailer project, I was in that awful period when I was realizing that my old meds weren’t cutting it any more, and I was going to have to make a change. That is some really scary shit, but I knew I had to. You helped me be brave enough to go to my doctor about it. When I decided to write the I’m Broken Because “Sometimes I can’t manage to leave my house”, I was in the throes of withdrawal from one med and ramping up the new one. But I really am Furiously Happy “Because I have lots of friends who live in my computer”. You and all those people helped me get through that, to the point where I was able to go to your event last Saturday and tell you in person. The fact that you wrote “you are my hero” on my sign still makes me weepy when I see it. But even the best support without the new medication would mean nothing for me. So seriously, fuck that nonsense and shun the unbeliever.

  62. Thank you for trying, and for staring her down. And-oh-by-the-way, for being brave, because that shit is catching, and I’m writing a very different book from the one I thought I would because I caught your brave. Also, that crazy gorgeous picture needs to be on t-shirts and stuff.

  63. That sucks that she said that but I’ve certainly heard it before too. Keep moving forward and LOVE the drawing. YOU ROCK!

  64. I believe my own mother may not believe in Depression. I have been on anti-depressants for about 10 years and they made such a difference in my life. One day mom asked if I thought she was depressed. It was a day when my brain screamed YES! and my mouth remembered she would not appreciate my answer.

  65. “In real life I said that I hoped she would never have to learn how wrong she was and then I stared at her until she got uncomfortable enough to leave.”

    That is a very classy ice burn, and one I’m going to have to steal. I hope I never have to use it, but…
    This year, I decided that if I didn’t have the energy to put together a Halloween costume (which I love doing, but I have seasonal depression, and I think you know that depression means you don’t love doing), I’d say I’m going as depression or some other invisible disability. (I admit, I stole this from Wednesday Addams – “I’m a homicidal maniac. We look just like everybody else.)

    P.S. – speaking of Not Loving Doing, I use “Depression is like…when you don’t want cheese anymore. Even though it’s cheese.” to explain depression to people, and it actually works. I’ve gotten a wheel of brie every year for my birthday instead of a cake since early childhood. Seeing me not like cheese would actually warrant serious concern for people, but that’s the thing about depression. They can’t tell I’m not enjoying the cheese. (That sounds like a metaphor or something, but I literally mean I have to act enthusiastic about cheese I don’t care about, because “Haha, Katie sure is crazy about cheese!” is a running joke about me.)

  66. A lovely, post so full of truth. And why do these people feel the need to share their “wisdom”?

    I will never forget being in the grocery store with my mom when I was in high school. We were picking out some cat food for our old cat. A middle-aged lady walked down the aisle, never stopping, except to inform us that she thought it was stupid for people to spend that much on those tiny little cans of cat food for their pets. After dropping that bit of info on us, she swanned off. She didn’t even need anything in the pet aisle. She just walked that way to tell us her opinion.

    What she didn’t know was that our cat was in his final stages of cancer. He wasn’t in pain yet and would eat as long as he was tempted. It wasn’t time to put him down yet, but we were only a few days from it. Mom and I were both just barely holding it together. My tender mother was only saved from dissolving into tears by the fact that she had to physically restrain me to keep me from charging at the opinionated woman.

  67. Wow. Way to be a bitch, airport lady. Not in the cool way of being a bitch either. Anyway, I know others have said, but damn woman, I like your drawings. Clearly you have been wasting your time and talents on blogging. Make a coloring book for adults! My Faeries and Dragons coloring book is almost filled up.

  68. Oh, and my theory on why people – some, anyway – don’t think depression is real: the just world fallacy. As in, the same reason people blame rape victims, because they don’t want to think it can just happen to anyone at any time, including them, for no reason at all. They want to feel as though they have control over things. It’s human nature. Shitty human nature, and I’m not saying it’s okay, just trying to understand it.

  69. And Suzi from comment 41 – I totally agree with your daughter. “I have a THING!!!”
    Aspbergers wasn’t even on the radar when I was growing up so I really didn’t realize that it was behind many of my issues until I was about 45. It’s been SUCH a relief knowing that I’m not wrong or bad or stupid or want attention – I’m just wired a different way and knowing that means I can work with/around it. I’m happy your daughter has a diagnosis while she has many years ahead to adapt, and wish her the best

  70. At age 63, I vividly remember, half my life ago, the first time I heard a report that depression was a chemical thing. NPR had a story as I was sitting in the parking lot of the downtown Wichita public library. I nearly cried at the thought that my depression might actually NOT be my fault! I am astonished that, thirty years later, there are still people who don’t understand that.

  71. I appreciate this post as much as anyone.

    I grew up with anxieties and OCD. Without treatment, I found other ways to medicate myself.

    As an adult, I take medications, exercise, and talk to everyone I can about the importance of mental health. The real and treatable nature of my illness can be masked by feelings of shame or doubts and accusations by others. So I talk about it at work, at home, in my blog. Everywhere I can.

    I really appreciate that you are doing the same.

  72. Thank you for the message so much. I love this picture and so wish I could get it, we can’t afford it now but I hope it will be up still to get later. I sometimes feel like everything about me is a lie listening to other people talk. I have fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety and I am bi-sexual. All things people say are not real. I am lucky to have an amazing husband who tells me all the time he loves me and knows how real it all is but sometimes all it takes is that one voice saying you are making it all up to send me into a spiral. By the way, this is the first time I have ever publicly admitted to being bi. I have always kept it quiet out of fear.

  73. Jenny your “doodles” are magnificent! WOW! I’ve recently started coloring with pencils to relieve stress and have several coloring books. They help. I’m not talented enough to draw; I’m just happy to stay within in the lines somedays 🙂 As to the old, ignorant lady in the airport: piss on her-she’s a waste of DNA!

  74. I would have wanted to punch her in the throat. Her and Tom Cruise can fuck right off. I am staying real today! Thank you!

  75. Thank you for defending all of us by speaking up to that asshole. I hope that somehow, some day, your words will make an impact on her. Also, your drawing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  76. I agree with the tee shirt, although I would prefer a hoodie, and maybe there could be a coffee mug. They could be blue, like the sea and the sky.
    But mostly, thank you. I needed a little dose of brave today.

  77. I wrote about the ubiquity of depression a couple weeks ago, but then stopped short of sharing the post in the usual ways because depression is a jerk and does a real number on a writer’s confidence. When I finally did post a link here and there a few days ago, strangers came out of hiding to say “yup” and “thank you” before disappearing again into their hidey holes.

    Some days all we have is just enough strength to notice we’re not alone. To realize (or hope, anyway) that it isn’t crazy to be struggling with depression. That’s why it’s so important that the world has people like you, Jenny. I don’t know how you find the strength to speak your story out loud with such kindness and transparency and tenacity, but I’m thankful for it because it helps me crawl out of hiding once in a while.

    Of course, then I see how many talents you have – writer, artist, thinker, parent, advocate, world-class profanitist (I think that’s a thing) – and I grumble at the gods for liking you better. Yeah, I know. That’s just my wobbly self-esteem spouting more lies. I’m working on it.

    Peace and all good things, friend.

  78. Thanks for this today, Jenny. As I struggle through the worst bout I’ve had in years, doubting the validity of my experience, questioning whether or not I’m kidding myself, this is exactly what I needed to keep me going. Thank you for reminding me to keep my sense of humour through this crap (I need to find the laughter even when I’m dealing with it – it doesn’t make it less real if I find occasion to laugh). And thank you for reminding me that my struggle is valid and real. No matter what strangers in airports, family members or other people may think. I am thankful for my husband and closest friends that believe in me. I am thankful that you found the courage to share so much of yourself with the world. You have made a difference and are a constant inspiration to me. I will make it to one of your tour dates some day dammit!

  79. So because it’s Halloween and I like scary stuff, I tried to read Ralph Sarchie’s book on exorcisms (he’s the real-life dude behind the “Deliver Us From Evil” movie with Eric Bana). Anyway…I couldn’t get past the introduction, which was written by an ARCHDEACON in NY who said all mental illness is really demonic possession and that psychology is dangerous to the soul because it “softens” evil by calling it an illness.

    This is goddamned church leader. And explains EXACTLY why I’m not Catholic. And I had to put the book down before my heretical fingers started it on fire (or, threw it across the room…and since it’s a library book that’s a bigger sin to my librarian’s heart).

    What the actual fuck.

  80. Thank you for this. It has been a difficult week and I needed a reminder that my depression and anxiety are very real and I’m not just a weak person who isn’t trying hard enough. Also I LOVE that drawing.

  81. 🙂 love this post.
    I would have had a strong urge to retort that it’s too bad pharmaceutical companies haven’t started producing pills for people who are mindless assholes… then again your PR manager probably wouldn’t like it… your method was likely much more effective 🙂

  82. I was told yesterday that I just handle my depression better or it wasn’t as bad as another coworker that I reached out to recently. I told him that I’ve had 4 years of practice, in retail, slapping a smile on my face but crying inside. And when I can’t breath from a panic attack I claim a bathroom break to sit in a stall with my hands over my ears doing breathing exercises till the shakes and weakness go away. They must think im terribly constipated. I’m on 3 different anti depressants and have a therapist. I know it’s real.

    I’m sorry you get the big pharma conspiracy theories people. You should get a bouncer for them. I denied my anxiety and depression my entire life and was labeled weird. In the last 4 years I joke “I’m crazy but I’m medicated ” some laugh some don’t but the honesty feels good too.

    I wish so much that I could make a blanket fort for my coworker and help him count the days till the pills kick in. I can’t. I remind him he’s not alone in text and send invisible hugs while we work side by side. I found every hopeful voice helped. Your blog was and has been at the top of my list of daily read sights. Thank you.

  83. I know name calling is wrong, but that lady was clearly an idiot. Can you see a headache? Nope, but we wouldn’t deny that isn’t something that needs to be treated. Absolutely ridiculous. Signed – person that works in the pharmaceutical industry trying to come up with the next drug we can just convince people they need.

  84. When I was all freaked out over needing an SSRI and feeling like a failure as a person, my therapist said, “Would you beat yourself up over needing insulin if your body didn’t make enough of it? Cut that shit out.” I love my therapist for speaking the truth and I love you for the same reason. Thanks.

  85. Hi Jenny, I just wanted to say thankyou. Because of you I have contacted a therapist this week and scheduled a session. My problems aren’t very big or very bad, but you and your wonderful blog and book have given me a tiny little grain of belief that maybe I deserve a happier life, and maybe it’s okay to ask for some help to get there.

    Thankyou <3

  86. I wonder what kind of demons are possessing that woman that would make her say such a thing. It’s not just that she didn’t understand (which if you are lucky enough to never have never experienced depression, I guess is possible). She felt the need to negate your experience. I think we can agree that she’s got her own problems and move on.

  87. I really hope this wasn’t in Milwaukee, but I fear it might have been. We have that old-school Midwestern “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality in Milwaukee (and it’s even more so in the rest of Wisconsin). I am sorry that woman said that to you, but you responded beautifully and very generously to her, and your art and its message may save lives. Thank you!

  88. This needs to be in your shop. On a tote or something I can have with me all the time. Great message, lovely art.

  89. 1) People are assholes. 2) I kinda wish you’d kicked her in her lady junk, but understand why you didn’t. 3) Your response was FAR kinder than mine would have been. and 4) HOLY CRAP THAT ARTWORK IS AMAZEBALLS. I so want that on a t-shirt!

  90. Thank you, Jenny. I just had my son read this and he smiled for the first time in a long time. Thank you for your blog that let’s us all know that depression lies. Thank you.

  91. Thanks for posting this. Invisible illnesses like Mental Health problems are very real to the people who suffer from them and the stigma just needs to be removed. Your post points out how ignorant snd misinformed the general public is. I do love yor drawing!

  92. I love the story and I especially love the picture. I want a poster and I want it on a t-shirt.

    This may not be the place to ask this question, so if it isn’t, feel free to not answer. This morning I was thinking about a comment you made a while ago about wanting your daughter to understand why you sometimes spend the day in bed or under your desk. And it got me thinking about whether I should tell my kids about my issues. I’m not ashamed of my depression, but I also don’t tell most people about it (my writing it right there was actually the first time I’ve said it that way, actually). I’m afraid that if I tell them (ages 14 and 10), it may somehow encourage them to feel the same way themselves, or to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me. On the other hand, bringing it out in the open could make it easier for them to come to me if they ever feel that way themselves, because they’ll know it’s not something to hide.

    So how do you (any of you) tell kids about depression and similar issues?

  93. Wow, your Zentangles are gorgeous. I’m impressed! I love to do them to still the voices in my head and feel like I’m creating something good.

  94. Thank you for writing this.

    I suffer from allergy & asthma induced asthma. I’ve had it since I was a baby. Growing up with it sucked as it was situation based so, by the time I got to the doctor, he told me nothing was wrong. (Try being 4 and explaining why you’re not chasing a soccer ball like all the other kids.) But, as an adult, I’m lucky to live in today’s world as there are really awesome medications that keep my asthma mostly in check. Most days are good. If I don’t try to run or do something hugely aerobic, I’m fine. Some days are bad. This year I went through a period of six weeks where I couldn’t catch my breath. I didn’t know why. I tried to wait it out, took it easy and got lots of rest. But when I started making people uncomfortable I went to my doctor. He did a few tests and declared me in perfect health and suggested that I seek psychiatric help. No physical violence ensued but I closed the door to the exam room to give him a piece of my mind.

    I got a new doctor. Actually, I found a few new doctors. With their help I feel better now than I have in years.

  95. Please make that drawing a t-shirt, because I need it. And thank you for being our voice out there in the world. You make such a difference.

  96. Thanks for writing this Jenny. I’m in my last year of med school and this week we had a lecturer who showed a slide with, “disease mongering” written at the top followed by a list of at least 15 illnesses including depression, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, osteoporesis, and PMDD and said, “There’s no need to treat these with drugs and a lot of them aren’t even really illnesses.” I got my bag and left the room really quickly…required attendance be damned, I was not going to listen to this bullshit. It’s bad enough to hear these messages from society in general, but the amount of times I hear it from med school faculty and fellow students is even worse. At least those of us who are going through it have each other…

  97. Thank you Jenny for all you do. Sometimes I just need a reminder to help make it through another day and you always provide that.

  98. From someone who deals with chronic pain, depression and anxiety, thank you for writing what you do. Thank you and fuck that bitch. Nobody, from big pharma or otherwise, had to convince me of Jack shit. I am 45 years old, and I have been dealing with a combination of all of those things for 30 years. When I take painkillers I’m told I’m just a drug seeker; same when I have needed anti-anxiety meds. When I have taken antidepressants I’ve been told I just need to smile more, think less bummer thoughts. I could go on, but most of us already know that tired bullshit by heart. Your books made me feel strangely normal, and reiterated what I need to hear but knew in my heart: my pain is real. I may show you the sides I want you to see, but all of the rest is still there. Today I am fine, but one day, I may think of giving up and instead I will look at your book(s) and try to remember that I am needed, that I am understood.

  99. Thank you for saying that it’s okay to print it out. I just printed a copy and am going to buy a nice frame to hang it on my office wall.

  100. I am a single mother and for the last 10 months I have been paying out-of-pocket for treatment for my daughter because she has severe anxiety, resulting in self harm. I don’t use the insurance that her father has because I don’t want him to find out about her treatment. He doesn’t believe that depression exist either, he would rather believe that she has his invisible disease, narcolepsy. He will probably find out soon because I can’t afford it anymore without insurance. He has promised to take me to court for violating our divorce decree, but I don’t think he understands that I just don’t care what happens to me, as long as she’s ok. Thank you for always helping us feel less alone in our fight.

  101. Some people can be such jerks. I wish you did kick her in the lady junk! But then I can say that, sitting here at my desk, since I wouldn’t have been the one in TSA-airport jail! Love your blog, it’s genius.

    I probably need to be medicated, but like someone said above, I do have good days and think that I don’t need it. I’m a pretty average person and I only really have the same run of the mill problems that everyone else deals with. But the other days…what does it mean when one has a good job, nice husband, sweet 2 year old boy (he’s pretty much the only thing that makes me happy)……but my libido is dead, I can’t get along with my husband and can’t even fake affection toward him, who’s just trying his best to make me happy, I’m constantly super irritated and continually feel like disaster is imminent? And kind of always feel like I’m on the verge of tears? Isn’t that depression? I tell myself it’s “just life” and I should be able to just “decide to be happy.” I’m sure you’ve heard people who say things like, “Being happy is a decision, not a feeling..” and then I think I should just DECIDE TO BE HAPPY. But I can’t. Then I feel worse because I can’t “control myself” and it’s affecting my marriage and job.

    My boss is a Marine, and a female, so she’s famous for saying things like, “I don’t even know I’m stressed until my digestive system starts showing symptoms and then I know I’m stressed,” or, “I had a headache but I just told myself no, I’m not letting this headache bother me, so then it didn’t.” She just willed away her headache. She’s a “Just Be Happy” person. “Just tell yourself to be happy and then be happy!” She tells her kids that. I feel like telling her that it’s too bad people with migraines can’t just tough it out and tell the migraine to go away, like she does, because they’re weak and she’s strong.

    I’m also afraid meds will make my libido worse! Isn’t that a side effect? Although I don’t think it could get any worse than DEAD, like, I literally DO NOT want to be touched. I don’t even want to touch myself!! Haha! I guess anything would be up from zero. I’m totally rambling now, again trying to convince myself that I don’t need help and my problems are minimal compared to other people’s problems.

  102. Echo all who want this as a shirt (and I like the upside down bit!).

    Also, I love you.

    Have a wonderful weekend free of judgmental assholes.

  103. +1 on the t-shirt idea. Or a long-sleeved top. Winter is coming, and for some of us, that means the kraken wakes.

  104. THANK YOU for using your voice to combat the blatant stupidity surrounding these topics. Also, my stick figures are very jealous of your boat.

    Stay strong, fellow fighters <3

  105. That lady makes me angrier than I’d like to admit. I like to think I’m over people like her and that they don’t affect me, but they still do. Luckily I almost never encounter them. THANK YOU for confronting her frankly and perfectly. “In real life I said that I hoped she would never have to learn how wrong she was and then I stared at her until she got uncomfortable enough to leave” — I’m going to remember that (even though I secretly hope those people DO have to learn how wrong they are and then I feel like a bad person for hoping that because I would never ACTUALLY wish this on someone… probably). Thank you for standing up for all of us and speaking out and being our chieftain(ess). We love you.

  106. Thanks for this post. It means a lot to me. My dad had depression, I have it, and my son does. My husband and daughter do not, so it is sometimes very difficult to convey to my husband what it is like, particularly when he expresses frustration with our son. I have to remind myself that it is real and has a definitive cause on a regular basis. I am going to print out this posting and keep it where I can read it whenever I need to reassure myself. I am NOT a college kid (I am in my 60’s) and I just finished your latest book and loved it. Made me both laugh and cry. It was wonderful.

  107. That woman at the airport has an illness she is not aware of and its called ignorance,sure hope she gets help. You art is fabulous. Linda 🙂

  108. What’s really sad is that people like that lady influence and impact people who are struggling. They start to believe that what they have is not real and it’s just a major deficiency in them. As a therapist, watching someone struggle with all of the shit that depression and anxiety cause all on their own is heartbreaking, but when it’s compounded by guilt and shame because of ass hats like that lady, I too want to do lots of lady junk punching. This is exactly why what you write is so important – you aren’t just normalizing these problems and helping people speak against the lies they tell themselves, you are also countering lies they are taking as truth from people who have no idea what the hell they are talking about. Thanks for always being that voice.

    Unrelated, but I’m dying to know what kind of pens you use….

    (I use felt tip pens and hotel pens and sharpies and whatever I have available. ~ jenny)

  109. Thanks for this much needed message. I would say I was shocked at how that woman behaved but I’m not. People can be such douche nuggets. Your drawing is wonderful. Thanks for being.

  110. Using my superpower of understatement, that woman “was a very unpleasant person and probably has no clue and a very tiny heart”.

    I have panic/anxiety. Thankfully the night terrors which used to happen 3-4 times a week have been significantly reduced when I got a CPAP machine (10 years after the first sleep doctor told me I couldn’t possibly have Anxiety AND Sleep Apnea). I’m getting old and my joints are starting to give up, so I joined a gym with a sliding scale fee and am starting to leave the house more than my usual once a week.

    I met a woman at the gym who tells me she has panic/depression and her family tells her she is just seeking attention and what should she do. She doesn’t like therapists or psychiatrists or bereavement groups (her pets and parents died recently) and she didn’t want to read either of your books! I was completely stymied and felt drained by the end of the conversation.
    I like to help people who need a little help lighten their load, but I’m completely ill equipped to carry the entire load. Any ideas how to handle this sort of thing?

  111. As always, you put into words what so many cannot. With humor. And grace. And bravery. And I cannot thank you enough! You don’t have to suffer yourself to know this reality, you just have to love someone who does. Oh, and the book? Love it. Bought 4 copies (3 for those I love) and the kindle version.

  112. I’m so angry at this woman, and also so jealous in a way. She has clearly never faced depression/mental illness, or watched the very real struggles of a loved one. I envy that ignorance…I certainly don’t have the privilege of not believing.

  113. Thank you for this today, I can’t even began to say how much I needed to hear this right at this exact moment . ❤️🦄I

  114. Thank you. Much needed. Sometimes, I feel like I am fighting against this nightmare-is stigma alone. I advocate for myself and my children, my Mom, and my hubby. It is an awful fight when it’s against people like her. Thank you for being so open an vical. ♡♡♡

    You do more than doodle. Love your art. ♡♡z

  115. Man, I can’t believe some people are so comfortable making such wide generalizations and assumptions. Yikes! It’s so hard even for those of us experiencing mental illness (I find at least) to recognize it sometimes, it’s completely ridiculous for someone else to think that they can determine it’s legitimacy. Good for you for standing up to her and using that unfortunate experience to send your own ripples of greatness and kindness out to the rest of us. PS – That drawing is beautiful.

  116. That lady was mean and hateful. Don’t listen to her. Depression is lying through her.

    And you are an AMAZING ARTIST!

    Love and hugs, your bff Nancy

  117. Thank you for this…. just thank you. You touch so many people in positive ways. I didn’t make it to Milwaukee to see you, I just couldn’t. Even if I did, I didn’t know what I would say because there is nothing I can say to tell you how reading your voice all these years online has made a difference in my life. Thank you isn’t enough.

  118. I don’t have depression. I have migraines, another invisible condition. When I was 13, my aunt informed me that I wouldn’t have headaches if I didn’t want them. Seriously?! Who would choose to have migraines?

  119. PLEASE make this a tshirt…you can rename my cat in return. hell, you can rename the cat I have now, she won’t mind

  120. Your strength constantly amazes me. That woman would have made me cry most likely. As someone who hasn’t had to deal with mental illness personally, I read about your experiences as a way to learn and empathize with other people, because you never know what’s going on with them and what kind of shit they have to deal with, whether internal and external. I hope someone is as judgemental towards her as she is to the rest of the world.

  121. My father, feeling helpless in the face of my depression and anxiety, suggested that I bake some marijuana brownies as a cure. Flippant, yes. But I understand that he doesn’t get it. He hasn’t suffered from it, he doesn’t know how to help me, so “snap out of it” is the best he can offer. Reactions like this speak volumes to the need for education. You, m’dear, are doing your part magnificently, through humor and raw honesty, to educate the world.

  122. I misread it as You send out needed nipples of greatness… Completely different but would be equally awesome. Rock on, Jenny,

  123. My mother was one of those people who didn’t believe depression was real. Her attitude was “Stop feeling sorry for yourself” and “If you’d get up and do something, you’d feel better”. I absorbed that so well that I tried to commit suicide a few times before I got help.

  124. You try to give (ignorant) people the benefit of the doubt…it’s often hard to imagine something if you’ve never experienced it. If you’ve never lost an immediate family member or best friend it’s easy to say, “Well, they’re in a better place now.” Or the one I liked best (having been told this two days after I buried my mother): “I’ve learned that death is sweet.” (I nearly cold-cocked the woman.) If you’ve never had a breast lump turn out to be malignant, requiring a radical mastectomy, you might not understand the words, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer.” But just because you haven’t experienced something doesn’t give you the right to be oblivious…even worse, uncharitable. Life and the world are full of unexperienced places or situations…just because I can’t see someone’s leukemia or diabetes does not preclude my willingness to be compassionate with people who are experiencing these things. I guess what I’m trying to say, Jenny, is that you should have said, “Here’s your lesson in compassion,” and then you should have hauled off and KNOCKED THE OLD BAT INTO THE NEXT COUNTY.

  125. Thank you for this post, Jenny. I really needed it. My depression and anxiety (which have been in remission for years) are starting to creep back because of a different TMI medical issue that’s causing lots of pain and has now disrupted my first semester of grad school (which was going super awesomely with new friends & awesome professors & excellent grades.) I’m so discouraged because instead of being at school learning cool things & having fun, I’ve been practically bed-ridden for the past 3 weeks and feel like a zombie. Luckily, everyone in my life – hubby, family friends, profs, doctor – believe in me and are supportive. But my depression is trying to tell me that I’m a failure because I might not be able to finish the semester, and that I’m stupid because pain makes me feel mentally slow & easily distracted. And then I feel guilty for feeling that way because other people have worse medical problems and don’t get derailed by them. (Like those amazing people who have cancer but never miss work and then run a marathon as soon as they’re done with chemo.) Then, I feel more like a failure because I can’t fix myself instantly with the Power of My Mind. insert Self-Defeating Spiral of Doom here. Except instead of getting pulled into the downward spiral, I’m imaging myself on the boat in your drawing. I may be lying in the bottom of the boat crying my eyes out, but I’m in the boat, not sinking in the ocean. And the tentacles of despair may be there, silently waiting underneath, and the beast they belong to – depression – might be whispering lies to me up through the cold, dark water. But today I’m safe in the boat and I don’t have to know how to sail it. I just need to stay inside it, refuse to believe the whispers, and ask for the help I need. I feel really depleted, but I’m sending out what little light & love I do have to others who are suffering: may you be healthy, may you be furiously happy, may you stay afloat.

  126. You are the reason I took a leap and I have landed in a good place…I didn’t want to take that leap…I thought everything is fine…I can just go on and be sad DEEP DOWN in my soul…and now I see things for beauty again…I see joy and I am not afraid to be me…Thank you so much for being who YOU are…because you have inspired me to go for my greatness (which may be a small greatness – not a Malala greatness but hand held for my pleasure…wait…)

  127. Random thoughts:
    It’s hard enough for me to convince myself that the depression I’ve lived with for 43 years is real and not just something I could “fix” if I just tried hard enough. The last thing anyone needs is judgy people preaching the lies depression already tells. Both of your responses (imagined and real) were perfect.

    Your drawings are gorgeous and I am in awe of your many talents.

    My depression, which had been sulking in its closet for the past few months, pounced out and attacked me yesterday and continues to gnaw on my brain today. But this morning, I read the bit in Furiously Happy about your cat eating the tinkle bell toy and laughed until I almost peed myself. Which was fantastic proof that the depression will eventually crawl back into its closet, and I cannot thank you enough for being out there to write stuff like that.

  128. People who refuse to believe in that which they do not understand infuriate me. Why can’t people be open minded and understanding??

  129. Thanks…..going through a lot of shit right now and it’s nice to just hear stuff like this right now. Love your doodling too!!

  130. Jenny your artwork is just beautiful. Thank you for saying the things I don’t always know how to say. I read Furiously Happy nervously because I was in the midst of a course of therapy for depression/ anxiety and sometimes reading about it is triggering, but it was absolutely just what I needed 🙂

  131. I am one of many, many, many who are standing beside you and behind you every time some asshole tries to crap on you.

  132. I have to imagine these are the same people that get made when some one who doesn’t “look handicapped” gets our of a car with a handicapped placard. Just because an illness or disability isn’t conveniently visible doesn’t make it not factual.

    I’m also baffled that non-medical professionals feel like they can make offhand judgments like this. I have to wonder if they feel the same way about taking their car to a mechanic or their computer to a shop. It’s just not possible to be an expert in every field. There has to be trust in professionals somewhere.

  133. Now, now, everybody. I’m sure that woman in the airport was just a little crabby from pulling herself up by her bootstraps. Single handedly. Because with a personality like that, she surely doesn’t have a friend to help her up.

  134. OMG i wrote a huge pragraph and lost it… Ok luckily i am having an alright day all-in-all (aided by The Bloggess) or at this point i would have had a meltdown over the lost paragraph.
    Back to the point…

    You are Amazing! Million thanks for standing up for our daily battles! I would have lost my rag probably and shouted at her, you instead stood up and responded with so much dignity and kindness. You reminded me of Desiderata “As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story”

    My mother has not always been supportive of my anxiety/depression. She accepts it is a chemical imbalance but she still insinuates you can and should pull-yourself-together. She has confidently declared that she bets that during the wars people had less problems with their mental health because they were out getting on things. Yeah probably less declared mental health illness for fear of being told they were not contributing to the ‘war effort’!
    Oh and she obsessedly fears weight gain. So I kept being harassed to go to the doctor to ask for a change in meds because she reckoned I had put on weight, even though I was telling her how much better I was feeling. Great priorities >:-/… I told her repeatedly to back off but it did sting that she was even suggesting my happiness was less important than a few pounds. I have just learnt a new word – Pocrescophobia/Obesophobia.

  135. It’s hard to hear that – hard to hear that from strangers and from those I care about.
    It’s even harder to watch them go through what I KNOW is depression – their genetic link gives them the same battles that I face and yet their disbelief keeps them from realizing that things won’t always feel like that.
    Sometimes I would give anything for that magic word to help folks Get It. And not just because I’m tired of being seen as weak for needing help, but because I’m tired of other people not realizing that sometimes knowing you need help and leaping for it is so incredibly brave. And scary. And exhausting. But totally worthwhile.

  136. Forgot to mention in all my waffling, that your words actually moved me to tears earlier :). I’m ok now btw

  137. I don’t know how that woman is able to breathe with her head so deep in the sand!

    Sadly, she sounds a little like my mother. In my early twenties, when my problems caught the attention of people who would do something about them, she said I “had a nervous breakdown”, essentially chalking it up to a phase. I do not discuss my struggles (much less the near-constant desire to put a bullet in my brain) with her. Or anyone, really.

  138. First off, your zentangle art is amazing! Secondly, growing up with a verbally abusive bipolar mother taught me how to use my tongue as an effective weapon. Let me at that bitch in the bookstore. I’ll rearrange her attitude with my Ginsu tongue. Another thing my mother taught me is that mental illness is very real. She was living proof of it. Now she’s dead proof of it (suicide). I’ve experienced mild depression from time to time, (more severe after my son was born), and have tasted the worm, so to speak. Thank you soooooooo much for your writing.

  139. Smiling through the tears over here…

    PS The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians, and Chinese all acknowledged and tried to treat depression. It’s amazing the reach of Big Pharma–creating diseases 1000s of years before it even existed!

  140. Thank you. Thank you for the days like today where you are louder to me than what’s inside of me telling me lies. I tried to get to see you in NYC, and it was just a day, week, month….where I did not have near enough spoons. I was even going to come in my sock monkey pjs. Mostly so I didn’t have to change, but somewhat because I knew those that were there would understand. I come here for the understanding, to remind myself that I am not alone. And I thank you so much for giving all of us a place to gather.

  141. So many thoughts are swarming in my mind right now. Why would anyone say something so ignorant?! People don’t commit suicide because things are okay in their heads. They do it because they’re depressed. Those who suffer from this affliction know all too well that it’s fatal. Even if you don’t actually kill yourself, you are like the walking dead. I’ve suffered from depression since I was teenager. I’ve been on and off meds because I have strong opinions about pharmaceutical companies. In fact, I DON’T WANT TO TAKE PHARMACEUTICALS – but when I’m off of them I have suicidal thoughts, I hide from the world and I hate everything — mostly myself. When I’m on them, I’m a functioning member of society. So who wins in this scenario? Me and the people who love me.

    Sure some people take advantage of the system, and sure some doctors just write out prescriptions without proper diagnoses, but that doesn’t mean depression isn’t real. Right now, 120 million Americans are affected by depression. Give or take a few. There’s research that shows this current generation is THE most depressed of all previous ones, because there is so much pressure to keep up with everything. We set impossible goals and become anxious trying to reach them, then we get depressed when we don’t reach them.

    I guess my point is: that woman is probably an alien.

    Also, I know you’ve been on a high from your book tour, so I hope you take extra special care of yourself because when we’re tired, over-worked or over-stimulated depression likes to attack.

  142. I would absolutely adore that art on a T-shirt and I would wear it everywhere.

    My mom had a hard time understanding that I was actually mentally ill instead of just lazy and unmotivated. Then, as part of her breast cancer symptoms, she had a mental break and needed to be put on anti-depressants until it cleared. She said to me afterwards “I can’t believe that you have to live with that every single day.” And ever since that time she has never once tried to tell me I need to “Just push through it” or “Try harder”. Her acknowledgement of what I go through still brings me to tears to this day. The only thing harder than family judging you is judging yourself.

  143. I get the lady’s problem. Suicide and such is not in my apparent makeup (at this time at least) so it is hard/impossible to think that someone else is not making it up or should just get over it. But I also understand that we are/get hardwired for things in our brain that the brain tries to tell us are real and for that person what are they going to believe, their brain or other people? Fight the good fight to help the rest of us understand and let others know they can get help and are loved.

  144. Sweetie, you have GOT to consider selling your art. Use the proceeds for you and your family, donate to a charity, whatever makes sense for you. But you’re a WONDERFUL artist. This picture especially nails depression on the head, how it lurks in the depths even though everything appears sunny and breezy on the surface. I’m printing it out to tack it to my wall, but I would very gladly pay for a high quality print and frame it. It speaks to me every bit as eloquently and perfectly as your writing, and I love it. AND you.

  145. So, I’ve never commented before. How have I never commented before? I’ve been following you avidly since Beyonce and just, thank you. Thank you for everything you do and say and for being the person who helps so many of us with your words. And now your drawings, too, and if say, someone thought ‘holy shit, that would be an amazing tattoo in both design and meaning’, would you be okay with that?

  146. Wow – that was one harsh human. If I’m making it up, why does my skin hurt on the bad days? I’m probably making it up.

  147. Holy COW, Jenny! I’m going to print this out and hang it on my Fridge (the ULTIMATE place of honor) – or maybe my bathroom mirror. Hell. Tattoo. You have so much talent – and I am so glad you have been able to get the help you need to LET YOUR FRIGGIN LIGHT SHINE. HUGS Thanks for reminding all of us about what is REAL.

  148. Would you please please please make a print of your drawing and make it available in your shop? I so want to hang it in my office for those days I don’t think I can make it until quitting time before losing it completely. Thanks!

  149. Brava! As always, your kindness, tolerance, and graciousness shine through! I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from being rude to that woman. Truth to tell, I wouldn’t have even tried. Plus: your art is terrific! Plus: I have a boss who doesn’t believe in ANY form of illness — mental or physical — since he never experiences (or “gives into”) any. sigh

  150. Another perfectly wonderful post! Thank you, as always, and I just love you, as always. But also had to say ‘Dayyum!’ to the drawing you did! That’s fantastic!! You have so many gifts, and the world is a better place for you sharing them. <3

  151. Thank you. It’s so easy to let the bad voices win. But your voice is funny and kind and smart (and a smartass) and I far prefer it. I needed this today. Your words are always here for me when I need them. Thank you.

  152. I love you, Jenny. Not in a creepy way, just the way one online friend can love another just by reading what she has to say. I’ve fought depression for years, and still fight the “it’s not real” crap from my own family. My grandfather has been depressed for decades. Yes, DECADES. But he grew up in an era where no matter how you felt, you sucked it up and kept moving. So when things are especially bad for me – the days where I’m so depressed or in so much pain from RA that I don’t want to leave bed – he doesn’t know. He’d just make it worse by telling me it’s all in my head, and I just need to suck it up.
    Your drawing is beautiful and will definitely be getting a frame in my home as a reminder that it’s okay. Between you and Wil Wheaton, I’m no longer ashamed of being depressed. It’s not something to be ashamed about. Our body is going haywire, just like anyone else who has a “visible” illness. As long as y’all keep using your celebrity status to spread awareness, I’ll keep reading 🙂 (Oh who am I kidding- I’d always keep reading, but I hope that you don’t stop spreading awareness!)

  153. Old lady must be a Scientologist. Good job on the staring and the imaginary lady junk kicking. I have an older sister that doesn’t believe that people may need medication to help with their depression. Whatever, me and my pills are over here being well all on our own. Thank you as always for your words and grace Jenny. You are loved.

  154. Thank you. I am often told I just need to be “fixed” as if I’m defective in some way. I know I’m not, but wow is it easy to believe some days. Thank you for shining a light on depression and letting so many of us who suffer from it know that we are not alone. Be gentle with each other.

  155. That pisses me off on so many levels. This lady is an idiot. Oh wait. Gotta be nice (or whatever). She’s “uneducated and uninformed.” I don’t understand how anybody thinks mental illness isn’t a thing. The human brain is the most complicated organ we have. So why is it so difficult to believe that something can go wrong in the most complicated organ we have?! Things go wrong in lesser complicated organs all the time, why not in our complex brain?! This lady….man. If I could get rid of my anxiety, depression, and ptsd….if this was all made up just for Big Pharma….god, she is probably one of those anti vaxxers who believes “Big Pharma” is poisoning our food and our bodies and that chem trails are a thing. She’s more than ignorant. She’s dangerous. Her attitude, her words being told to the wrong person, could cause that person to feel even more crazy and maybe even push them over the edge. Stupid woman.
    I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry for you, and for all of us that suffer, that she said that.

  156. “she told me that mental illness was just “made up”” Funny, that is EXACTLY what I think about Jesus. Go figure.

  157. I’m a painter and sometimes make paintings that illustrate unfortunate moments in life. Viewers sometimes ask me why I do this, and I tell them that I’m just portraying things that are in the back of everyone’s head. Some folks get offended when I say that and declare, “I never have thoughts like that!” And I think that the more they deny the more they’re repressing a boatload of unconscious manure. I think that the lady at the airport is afraid that there’s some depression lurking in the back of her mind and that denying the existence of the condition will somehow ensure that she’ll never get it. Poor, stupid ass.

  158. My mother didn’t believe in depression, or mental illness, or psychiatric drugs, really. She died 18 years ago, when she was 68. Maybe it’s a generational thing? Ironically, she was also one of the most depressed people I ever knew.
    Good job on how you handled that woman, Jenny. It sucks that you had to, but you did it gracefully. Not that she didn’t deserve that kick! 😉

  159. My MIL didn’t “believe” in mental illness though not because of ant conspiracy theory. She’s closer to believing now that her son has had a depressive episode and anxiety attacks.

  160. Powerful . . . both the words and the image. I’d be really curious to find out how many of the people who don’t “believe” in mental illness, still believe in God or religion of any sort.

  161. Thank you, I needed that, I have not been feeling real at all this week.Keep on fighting, you are doing it on behalf of a lot of people x

  162. There is still so much willful ignorance in the world…it’s astounding. It’s not like society isn’t talking about depression more these days; it’s just that people like sticking to their preconceived judgments and are too lazy to get educated about the issue. I love that you stared at her and made her uncomfortable after she just insulted you. Karma is a bitch and I hope (for that lady’s sake) that it doesn’t bite her in the ass one day for being ignorant. BTW, your drawing talent is kick-ass! What else have you been holding out on us with?! You’re an amazing fighter, Jenny, and you have a whole army whose got your back. You go, girl! We’re here.

  163. if it were legal to kill one person a year and get away with it…that airport lady down would be on my short list. That lady was a rude douche and Jenny you took the high road (as you must being a public figure). you need to hire someone to stand next to you so they can tell people like that to fuck off.

  164. Wait. You’re adorable and hysterically funny and down to earth and sweet and a terrific writer AND you can draw these awesome things? If you weren’t married to Victor already, I’d propose. Although Victor sounds pretty fantastic too, so you’re both gonna have to settle for me being totally in love with you in a completely non-creepy, non-stalkery way.

    But maybe it’s too late for that. Anyway, I’m mentally kicking that woman in the lady junk too, because she is delusional.

  165. You say it so well. Thank you for continuing to stand up for all of us. Please try not to let idiots get to you. Travel safely!

  166. I just feel sorry for whomever is that lady’s daughter, son, sister, husband. And kudos to you for handling the situation so well and standing up for everyone who faces a struggle with depression, anxiety or what-have-you. Your book is wonderful and I have found it to be thoroughly entertaining and a welcome safe haven of kinship and validation. Thank you. And now to see you amazing artwork! I discovered zentangle a while back and find that it is such a great refuge from the shitstream of thought that is often running amok in my brain. Breathe, focus and know that anything is possible one stroke at a time…

    You are no mere ripple, but a tidal wave of wonderful!

  167. You are obviously a talented graphic artist as well as word painter. I love your response to that lady at the airport, very compassionate under the circumstances. A picture of further dialogue came to mind: How do you determine an illness is made up – because you haven’t had it? If so, then how do you know malaria exists, ebola, or bubonic plague? Take it from the victims and the medical professionals that treat them: diseases exist, and some of them involve the complex biology that affect our thoughts and emotions.

  168. I had to stop following another blogger who writes a food blog. She started posting a lot about how she had depression tendencies, but she fixed it by thinking happy thoughts, and listening to cheerful music, and being grateful for what she had, etc., etc. She did at least admit that some people might need more help, but you still should do all that “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” stuff, too. I got the impression that she was trivializing depression and victim-blaming a bit.

    Nice doodle!

  169. I needed that, thank you. I know we’ve never met and probably never will but I love you (in a no stalker/creeper way) and I have so much respect and admiration for you. Thank you for helping us all have a voice, thank you for helping us find ways to cope, accept, and find new perspectives. You’re an amazing human being. Xoxo

  170. You definitely need to write a demented children’s book and draw the illustrations. I would buy the shit out of that and give copies to all of my small relatives.

  171. that you can write and make the world a better place and make a grumpy person laugh their ass off and the you can draw and love dead joyful animals and that you are really pretty, and that you have a gorgeous sunshiney daughter and that you are married to a guy who seems to be a straight shooter though he votes wrong, and that you wear blue so nicely and that you still have your arms, none of it matters when depression parks it’s ugly ass on your face with the weight and density of a black hole suck…It truly is the worst invisible thing…and that asshole in the airport can suck my dick, wait. no she can’t ,not because I don’t have one, but because she is too foul. Which is an insult to chickens and ducks really, sorry, So, how ’bout, she can not suck my dick that does not exist because she is not worthy. In fact she is probably not even real under her skin. She is a disease, ain’t getting no where near my dick, if I had one.

  172. Amazing drawing, Jenny. It’s rillyrilly not fair that you’re such an inspiring writer, you gotta have mad drawing skillz too?! We love you for that and for a bazillion more reasons. Hey, tell everyone that if they get the shirt or tote or poster today, use the code ZAZZLETREATS to get 31% off!

  173. Thank you Jenny-
    I ordered the poster. I can’t wait to get it. The spectacular thing is that Zazzle had sent me a $10 off coupon to be used in three days. Today was day three and I thought it would just go to waste cause nothing had struck me until I read your post. So, I got the poster $10 off. WIN-WIN-WIN
    It says everything.

  174. holy crap. i couldn’t even get thru all of these shared stories without going to the kitchen to get a comfort drink. (tea, not booze. not yet anyway.) Jenny – you are awesome. I am so looking forward to your visit to SF in Dec. I hope you find our city suitably weird.

    Your artwork is wonderful! Here is a master of the craft of art/color/typography/design. Marian Bantjes: Pretty Pictures – this is a book you should totally go splurge on as soon as you are home. (mostly because it weights 98 pounds and if you get it now you will have to pay extra to the airlines. ick.)

  175. You are real, you are cared for and cared about, do NOT ever doubt that. I have never met you and likely never will but do not give up, do not let the monsters win!!!

  176. Good on you! I suffer from depression and anxiety disorder. I have had people look at me like I was a mass murderer when I told them about my illness… Until I reassured them I am not dangerous. Folk like that woman are ignorant and stupid. It’s a shame we have to put up with them! Dawn xx. Ps love your books!

  177. WE NEED A BLOGGESS COLORING BOOK.

    Dear Lady in the Airport:
    That pain you feel is thousands of Bloggessians mentally kicking you until your lady garden looks like the Tunguska forest.
    But because I’m a nice person, I hope that’s the only pain you suffer from depression.
    ps- bite me.

  178. Many of the comments here feel sorry that you had to run into this person. I’m glad you did. Perhaps your message will penetrate the first 6 or 7 layers of her onionhead and she will understand. Thank you for standing up for all of us (the crazies). I am not worthy.

  179. It is amazing how many people can function without brains…really, if you couldn’t see that woman’s brain, it doesn’t exist and it is “made up,” right?

  180. Sweetie-pie, if I have learned anything in the last 65 years, it’s that assholes are everywhere. When I am confronted by one, I just smile sweetly, tell them I’m sorry they feel that way, and walk away. You don’t have to “own” anything a stranger says. Just keep on with the wonderful things you write and draw and know that you are making a huge impact on the world.

  181. I first “met” you thanks to Beyonce. I came for the comedy and stayed for the candor. Some while after that, I couldn’t shake off a bout of mild depression that turned less mild and longer lasting – dragging on for months, then over a year. It’s because of your frank discussion that I sought my doctor’s help. The medication works. That negative self-critique that had been playing constantly in my head is muffled now. Things are much better even though life has thrown significantly more challenges my way. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for making a difference.

  182. Jenny, again you are our hand reaching out to steady us. PLEASE make this pic a tee for Depression Lies. And tote bags. And stickers for cars. So we can put them EVERYWHERE!

  183. I suffer from real depression. I am also a thyroid cancer survivor/patient. And Jenny you hit it on the head. They are both real. And we should or have to fight to have it recognized. Yet we do! I knew for two years something was up with my thyroid. I went to the professionals who told me I was fine. Then through my work I got a body scan. And not even looking at my thyroid they were looking at my artieries they found a 2.9 cm lump on my thyroid. So with prof of picture in my hand I march back to the professionals. Was told if it was 3cm it would me manitou surgery but it’s not come back in 6 months. Instead I fought to have the surgery then.
    Day of surgery they told me of its soft then it’s not cancer. I came out of surgery they said I was FINE nothing was wrong ( in other words they were saying see we told you there was nothing wrong!!)
    Three days later I went back for post op to find out the pathology report was back and it was cancer!! Had to go back into take other side out where they found more.
    and it is very Funny that now with the thyroid gone all those symptoms that I said I had were also gone!!
    So guess who got to go back and say SEE I WAS RIGHT YOU DUMB ASS!! Okay so I did not say that! But it did make me realize we have to believe in our selves! We know what’s going on and it is real!
    Just because depression and other anxieties are consider mental illness it does not mean it’s just in our head. It is not a fairy tale, a piece of fiction! It is as real as the sun the raises everyday! Many think it you can’t touch or see it then it’s not real! Well like you drawing just because you can see does not make it so. And we can not reach up and touch the sun and that does not make it less real!!
    Again thank you for being here and helping me and everyone during dark times. I may not have met anyone of you. Yet I no longer feel alone.

  184. My dear sweet feisty Jenny, how I love you. I’m a 67 yo ex-Texan whose heart you just healed a bit. Thank all the Gods and Goddesses that you exist and are strong enough to put yourself out in what is often an unkind world to heal those you’ll never, ever meet.

  185. I had a similar conversation this morning with the insurance employee who is monitoring my long term disability claim due to major depressive disorder. She actually tried to shame me into going back to work. I would have loved to kick her in her lady parts. Thank you for your always insightful and HILARIOUS posts and beautiful artwork. I think Furiously Happy is a HUGELY IMPORTANT piece of a much-needed dialogue about mental illness!!! xoxo

  186. What I heard from a colleague this week when I said I was leaving work early cause I just couldn’t handle being there anymore was: you’re just being lazy and fooling yourself I saw you talking and smiling all morning. So I convinced myself they were right. To others depression means crying all day and night I wish symptoms were so easy to see at least others would believe.

  187. And thank you for that wise and compassionate and total burn response. I will try to remember it for those occasions when I would prefer violence.

    To the people who say, “it’s all in your head,” I say “no shit, Sherlock, that’s where I keep my brain, which isn’t functioning properly.

  188. Beautiful, Jenny. Having faith–both in God and in the knowledge that things would get better– was what kept me going for years, but it hurt so much every time a ‘good Christian’ would say that my problem was “not having enough faith”. That my depression and anxiety would go away if I just believed more. And no one should be told that their mental illnesses are their fault.

    Thank you for doing what you do.

  189. deep breath

    So when I fell in love with my current husband, he was going through a divorce. His not-quite-ex-wife threatened many things to keep us apart, and he broke things off with me while he rightly focused on his family. During the battles there, he ended up going to his lawyer and talking frankly to him about my depression and suicide attempt. My mental health was the biggest, and easiest, target.

    I’ve never hidden my anxiety and depression.

    I never suspected it could become an issue of this kind of magnitude.

    It still hurts. It hurts having the accusation of ‘crazy’ thrown my way by someone who will never really understand what it’s like on this side of the disorders, who will use the accusation as a weapon, who will never understand that people who struggle so do so because they implode, not explode. And for some reason, this is what came to mind when I read your post, Jenny.

    I used to find myself hiding in bathrooms, running away from people and rooms and from the inside of cars because of my anxiety, hiding and trying to find some way to deal with the need to escape, and not knowing there was anyone else that was doing the same stuff.

    Thank you for letting us – me – know it’s not just one person struggling in ways that make so little sense to so many others.

    And thank you for kicking that woman in her lady junk, even if only in your head. hug

  190. Thank you! This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I feel broken and that it’s my fault because I am not a stonger person. I needed the reminder that I am not broken or alone.

  191. You are so right! I came to Milwaukee’s book signing Tuesday and loved seeing you! That night was so important to me because I drove, at night, to an unfamiliar place, with a big truck to park on city streets. I did this on my own. I wouldn’t have been able to do this in June. I was paralyzed by fear and insecurity then. I wasn’t able to make decisions, I was a burden to my family and friends, I wasn’t healing – I was stuck.
    I was healing over the summer and I won’t ever go back to an old me, but I am going to love who I am moving forward. Depression and anxiety lie…they make you feel lost, rushed, sad, and trapped. Don’t listen to the lies!

  192. I was at a Hillsong concert (worship night? both?) last week and the pastor of that huge Australian MegaChurch said something along the lines of: “I would tell anyone who is depressed to go out to the railroad tracks (because I guess this is still the Great Depression and that’s where the bums live) and find someone who is worse off than you and talk to them, because they know what real problems are.” And I said aloud for everyone around me to hear: “That’s not what depression is, and that is disrespectful to people who live with it.”

    I mean yes, helping others can be a means of getting yourself out of your own head for a bit, but depression is not feeling sorry for yourself because of your (real or imagined) circumstances. I have only been mildly touched by it personally, and even I know that much. I hate that someone who is considered God’s representative by so many people is repeating this ignorant, condescending bullshit.

  193. On-point!! I’ve also struggled with depression, insomnia, and more. I recently wrote about depression in my blog, and it’s amazing to me how common this all is.

    I’m surprised to read your experience, in a way, because I haven’t really met many people who outwardly say that depression or other illnesses are just “made up” as if the THOUSANDS of people who have struggled or are struggling with depression are all “crazy” or “wrong” or what-have-you. Thanks for your affirming words. They, obviously, are still needed in this world.

    Here’s my post on depression (I hope you don’t mind my linking to it): http://wp.me/p4EJiG-aI

  194. Jenny,
    Today I am #25. I will read this over and over until I don’t lose.but right this instant I am real.

  195. Thank you for this. It is so frustrating having people tell you that your pain isn’t real simply because you don’t look or act like you are in pain! I went back to school a couple years ago and I get certain accommodations on exams for various reasons related to my ADHD, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain from previous surgeries. Nothing is worse for me than having other students go on about how unfair it is that I get extra time for exams and that I am so lucky because it makes it so much easier to do well on the exams. I’ve even gotten responses along the lines of telling me that they are just going to get their doctor to say they need these accommodations too so they can get “bonus” time. That’s what they assume I did, instead of assuming that I have a real illness and may actually need these things. What they fail to realize is that these things don’t actually give me some advantage over them; they simply help to bring me closer to their level.

    I’ve been getting these kinds of responses a lot lately, as it is midterm season, and I really needed this reminder today. Thank you again for all that you do and for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom with the world!

  196. Madame, you are a fine artist and I ardently hope you illustrate your next book.

    And like the others, I WANT THE POSTER OF THE (alleged) DOODLE.

    And well done you, for standing up to that fool in the bookstore. High-twenty! (both hands and both feet. Twenty one if you do a nose bump.)

  197. Dear Dawn the glorious-wonderful-rats-are-very-intelligent-and-loving-creatures-if-scraggly-looking-when-wet rat,
    Hang in there, and don’t give up on yourself. Depression lies, and sometimes the bravest thing you can do is take another breath. Offering you internet hugs and love.

  198. I don’t have depression–but I have ADHD, and so do several of my children, and I long ago lost count of the number of people who informed me that it’s not a real disease, it’s made up by Big Pharma and teachers who just want the little kiddies drugged into compliance, and if I would just discipline them properly (read “beat it out of them”), they’d straighten up and fly right! BTW, I’d love those people who think my kid is being drugged into a zombie should spend a day with him on his medication, and then a day with him OFF his medication. FFS, all it does is take him down from Tasmanian Devil to Whirling Dervish.

  199. That dovetails beautifully with a thought I had this morning. We become gracious through – in shorthand – our scars. We become compassionate through understanding. Our backgrounds color what we understand, but transformation is possible, usually in the form of experiencing something we didn’t acknowledge as part of the real world before. I have a friend with a serious history of abuse. For her, love leads to pain. I tried to suggest that she’s meeting trouble halfway when she feels she’s being attacked when her lover says they should spend more time together. But her reality is shaped the way it is. If she’s going to protect herself, she’s got to pay attention to the signs that punishment is coming. So here’s the question: how do we find and choose benchmarks? How do we find an external touchstone for calibrating our reality so that, in short, we are not ignorant, insensitive douche canoes? Your response was perfect. “I’m glad you don’t know what real depression is.” When all her experiences have been of people who had horrible things happen and pulled themselves back up without meds, how can she understand that that’s not related to what medical depression is? She doesn’t even know that she doesn’t know. Or maybe she does now.

  200. Thank you for this. My daughter suffers from depression, and I have never seen anything more real in my entire life. I fully endorse kicking the delicate parts of anyone who doubts it.

  201. I objectively recognize that my depression (diagnosed age 11, currently 48 years old) and my generalized anxiety disorder (diagnosed age 45) and my PTSD (thank you, first husband) are mostly learned traumatic experiences and dysfunctional neurochemistry.

    But I just don’t have the strength to keep trying to climb on top of them any more when the rest of the deck is stacked against me, too, and I finally accepted the other day that even if it’s true that my feelings are bad neurochemistry, it doesn’t negate the fact that I’ve never done anything worthwhile with my life. Right now, I am trying to stick around until my cats finally pass on of natural causes. The youngest is 12, the oldest 16. Probably won’t be more than a few more years. After that, I won’t be missed.

    (I’d miss you. I don’t even know you and I’d miss you. Your words are powerful and you obviously have love and compassion to give if you’re here for your sweet cats. You are important, and not just to those furry faces who love you. ~ Jenny)

  202. I so hope this didn’t happen in Wisconsin. But I kind of assume it did. Lots of people hate things that can be considered a weakness here… and metal illness is right up there. Even though it is clearly not a sign of weakness.
    These people keep electing Walker, so. Sorry. They clearly love hardship.

  203. One of the few things that can send me into a rage is someone telling me that any illness is just in folks’ minds- and if they thought differently they would be pain free. Thank you for this and for the lovely metaphor in the drawing.

  204. I love your writing, and read literally everything you post. That said, nothing is better than reading your COMMENTS! These are the best comments on the internet, hands down, every time. I find myself trying to click the invisible “like” button over and over. Snausage fingers! Stop calling it a doodle! “That pain you feel is thousands of Bloggessians mentally kicking you until your lady garden looks like the Tunguska forest.” Your tribe — and by extension, my tribe — is awesome.

  205. Amazing art! You are so good with words that I never suspected a second talent. But I suppose it makes sense… writing is 1D and taxidermy is 3D, so there was bound to be something in the middle. Instead of a sea monster, my depression is a black cloud (thanks drug companies for commercializing that image), but I’ve been learning that I can literally outrun it,

    I love both your books. Thanks for bravely being you!

  206. I was in 2 airports last weekend and looked for your book. I was sorely disappointed because they didn’t have it! 🙁
    As a young mom I spent several years trying to blame myself for depression. When I recognized it as a chemical/hormonal imbalance, I was able to get help and life is so much better now.
    Haters gonna hate. Supporters gonna love you (and your drawings)!

  207. “sometimes even we manage to convince ourselves that it’s not a real problem – and that mental illness is just a weakness rather than a medical disorder” – Thank you for this, Jenny. I sometimes need to remind myself of this and it helps to hear it from other people.

  208. Thank you – I burst into tears halfway through reading it, because no one understands the depression and anxiety. I live with it every day and try to temper it so no one is worried about it. But it’s still there…and it’s still inexplicable to those who don’t go through it (my entire family and my friends). I consider you my friend, because you totally understand it and are able to write so prolifically about it…I’ve bought my family you book so they can better understand me.

  209. I saw you in Milwaukee…I am so proud of you and me for being there . I took a shower, had on clean underwear and painted my fingernails. All for us. I will continue to devour your words…you are lovely. My sister thinks my bipolar depression is just an excuse. I think she is rotten.

  210. Thank you so being so brave and speaking out! It’s so incredibly difficult with anxiety. You artwork is beautiful – keep fighting the good fight!

  211. Jenny, to a colorblind person, there is no such thing as red or green. I am sorry you met up with such a rude person in such a vulnerable venue. She’s wrong, of course. And yet, I am greatly bothered by the fact that after 25 years of taking pharmaceuticals prescribed by a psychiatrist (several of them, actually) my youngest daughter is in worse shape than anyone else in my very messed up family. Some companies are making huge amounts of money using our kids as guinea pigs and if they lose another one, well bipolars do that, you know. They just can’t lose, there is always another one along. . I have no answers, it’s the worst medical issue today, in my opinion. But you are real and so is my daughter and so was my brother and all the rest who did not get the help they needed.

  212. I love this so much. I’ve been waiting for the perfect piece of artwork to find me for that empty space on my wall. This is it.

  213. I fucking love you. Your internetting has made the world such a better place. For good writing. For humor. For awareness. For sure as shit, for weirdness. Thanks for internetting. Your name fits you so well. All hail the queen.

  214. I mentioned reading/loving your book but didn’t mention that the end made me cry. The last part is a me thing more than anything else. I really hope we podcast together. I think it would be epic.

    Thank you for writing Furiously Happy.
    HUGS
    -Di. (of DiHard Podcast)

  215. I love the fact that you just stared at her and said I hope you’ll never know. So damn perfect and forgiving(and forgive me, Christian, the real kind, not the stuff on display on the news and on debates these days). Basically it was the non verbal version of “Oh bless your heart.” And yes this Yankee knows what it ‘really’ means. I echo everyone else here in hoping that some part of her opens up and learns.
    In the meantime I look forward to more dispatches from the book tour when you go on the road again. Happy Halloween!

  216. As a friend of mine once said about another terrible person,” Fuck that lady sideways with a lunchbox.”

  217. So beautifully said. I read a funny quote where someone said, “When people tell you that mental illness is all in your head, ask them where else it would be?”

  218. I can no doubt be redundant here, but having experienced mild depression & other stuff myself, I will link to you frequently as The One Who Gets It And Makes It Clear.
    Patient: I don’t expect you to believe me about depression/anxiety/phobia.
    Doctor: You should; I do.
    Patient: Bwah?
    Doctor: I’ve never had a limb amputated, or a heart attack. I still know they exist and need treatment. Your issue is the same. I may or may not have experienced a mild version of it looks at injured arm/leg/face but I know it is real and life changing. Let me help.

    Please.

    Thank you, Mrs. Lawson, for giving me a space to say this.

  219. Trigger Warning (self harm)

    Fuck that lady. Seriously. Usually I am all about spreading kindness because everyone deserves for at least one person to be kind to them (and you never know what kind of day they’re having, so you might be the only person). But fuck that lady. That attitude is dangerous. When I was young, and depression was hitting me hard, and I had no clue what was happening to me or why, my mother told me that if I wanted to be happy I would be. That I wasn’t depressed I was just refusing to be happy. (I later find out that she knows depression runs in her side of the family, particularly in the women.) When I got so numb I could barely feel things that happened to me, even physically, I started cutting myself to try and bring myself back somehow. I thought if I could just feel something, I could force my way back to happy. It didn’t work, and I became suicidal. Because who wants an obnoxious kid who can’t even figure out how to be happy?

    That’s what “depression doesn’t exist” does. It makes broken people feel like there’s no hope. Like they’re making it all up in their minds. Like even though they’re desperate for comfort, somehow it’s their fault and they just need to try harder. Fuck that lady. I hope no one who loves her ever needs her for emotional support because she could seriously hurt them with that malevolent ignorance.

  220. Well, then according to Airport Twat’s rationale, diabetes doesn’t exist, either. You can’t see it, right? Therefore it must be just another conspiracy from Big Pharma or whoever. Ah, stupid people, always so very stupid.

  221. Wow.
    1) “Scientologist” was also the first thing I thought. Damn you Tom Cruise for making some people believe you and your ridiculous ilk.
    2) I now kind of want to go hang around at airports on the off chance I bump into you. I want to promise I’ll say nice things, but I’ll probably just stammer. They’d be well intended stammers though!

  222. Oh my gosh, your “doodles” (I would rather call them art) are amazing! I would buy that and frame it as is!

  223. Dear Jenny,

    I didn’t know how else to reach out to you, but I wanted to tell you how much you have truly changed my life. I’m 15 and suffer from depression and anxiety and I also want to be an author, much like you. I was going through a hard time when I read the end of Furiously Happy and it made me cry, but in a good way. Because of you and your books and stories I’m so much more comfortable in my own skin and I’ve learned so many ways to deal with the things that upset me. I truly love your work and you as a person and I hope one day I meet you, even though I may be stunned to silence
    -Lexie

  224. Thank you so (!!!!!!) much for your wonderful words and beautiful art. This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear! (read?) AMAZING!!

  225. “You send out ripples of needed greatness and kindness in unexpected and accidental way.” One of the most beautiful sentiments I’ve ever heard. I hope you don’t mind, but I plan on making that my mantra and saying and sending it to all I know and all that need it! Even if you don’t suffer from depression, but feel unappreciated and exploited in your everyday life, what a beautiful thought to keep in your head and to plant in someone else’s head. Inspires to keep the good fight going, whatever that fight might be in your personal world!

  226. Thank you so (!!!!!!) much for your wonderful words and beautiful art. I need to print this out and staple it to my forehead. I have only recently discovered your greatness, and I am continually blown away by your ability to describe EXACTLY what I need to hear (read?) when I need it, and to phrase things in the most perfect way. “You are so important both in ways you will discover, and in ways you’ll never see”. I didn’t even know how much I needed this post until I started crying. So thank you thank you thank you. Amazing.

  227. I love your writing. But I don’t know how you have the – what? energy? will? – to keep going.
    I just want to die. I’m too old and too tired for all of this.

    (Sometimes I’m in that same place. I’m lucky mine has never lasted more than a few weeks at most. But when I’m in those dark periods I feel too old and broken and tired. Then I come out and wonder how I ever doubted that I’d be okay again. I’m sending you love and strength and a reminder that you deserve happiness. If you aren’t getting it from your current shrink then try another. You deserve every chance. ~ Jenny)

  228. Jenny, I love you. Not in some creepy stalkerish way though so don’t worry. I admire your courage and your eloquence; the way you speak up in defense of so many people who just can’t quite find their own voices yet. You inspire me to be a better person in my dealings with other people who may be struggling even though their struggles may not always be immediately recognizable.

    You truly are a shining bright light……thank you so much for everything you do.

  229. Thanks for saying we could copy the drawings. I think they are fantastic! I really love your latest one. It speaks volumes to my struggle and how I feel about it. Makes me feel that I’m not alone and that we can help each other. Thank you for all you do. (P.S it would make a good t-shirt for your store. I would buy it forthwith. Posthaste? Right away.)

  230. Hmmmmmm I always assume that people who are that willing to be aggressive with strangers are probably off the meds that help them curb the impulses for verbal diarrhea. Also you need to make prints of that doodle!

  231. i couldn’t even read all the comments because my heart just got too full. thank you. i needed to hear this today, because i ran into something similar yesterday in the form of a bumper sticker. i won’t say what it said, but basically the sentiment just didn’t understand mental illness. sometimes all it takes is a few words to rock us on our heels. all our fighting, all our work, all our constant fending off of the monster within…it can be challenged mightily by a few callous words. and then we have to furiously use our self-care techniques, such as doodling, to remind us that the sanctimonious utterings of others is not our problem. that those words and sentiments belong to them; that while we fight the stigma, we fight it on our terms, because what is most important is our daily battle against that monster within. thank you, jenny, for your stories. thank you commenters for your stories. we are a tribe here. a scattered and battered tribe, but i gain strength from all these words to keep fighting my monsters when i’m challenged.

  232. I cannot imagine how you kept your cool with that lady. What a load of ignorant, judgemental crap!

  233. I love your blog so much, Jenny. It makes me laugh, and sometimes even cry. And as much as I have loved every post you’ve written in the past, I don’t think they even come close to this. This is beautiful, and real, and true. Bravo. I will be sharing this.

    Also, if you sold prints of that drawing, I would buy one, frame it, and hang it up.

  234. I’m impressed you didn’t kick her in the lady junk. I can’t believe there are still people out there like that! It makes me so mad. We do exist and our illnesses are just as real as ones you can see and measure.

    I didn’t know you were such an amazing artist! Thank you for sharing that beauty with us.

  235. I read this to my son last night and then later read it to myself…we both struggle with depression and anxiety and it’s a difficult mixed bag. Two years ago he had an episode with depression and suicidal thoughts. I remained calm and related…there are times when we feel so mixed up and confused scared and sad that we are unable to see past to the point of life. This post has my heart…for my 16 year old son and myself…Teaching him to live through the mix bag of the beauty of his perspective.

  236. Totally unrelated to what you have written above – but reading your book – read about your restless legs- I solved my restless legs by spraying magnesium oil on bottom of my feet and taking chelated magnesium supplements- I know you probably don’t have time to read all these comments – so to the jenny Lawson asst please pass along the Intel because it really works and I know how much it sucks to have restless legs – especially when u have insomnia – which I have as well-known it is a cruel trick that your body plays on you when your are so tired and just want to sleep and that’s the time that your legs decide to have a dance party- like that couldn’t decide to do that when you are on a treadmill? Really? Anyways hope it helps and thought I would share with a sharer
    Chris

  237. Jenny, you are an artist with words and with drawing. Thanks for getting us closer to the day when there are less assholes in the airport who think depression isn’t real. I am real and my mental illnesses are real, and I would have liked to punch that awful woman in the throat, but that doesn’t solve anything except for making me feel better for a moment until the police arrive. What I wish I could do is to put each doubter in my shoes for a day and let them feel what my disorders feel like – allow them to feel the anxiety, the fear, the worry, the flashbacks, etc.

    Thanks for being willing to put a face on what you struggle with and for giving all of us in this tribe a little louder voice than we had before.

    http://buildinglifelongreaders.blogspot.com/

  238. Jenny, thank you for shouting to the world what needs to be said. I can’t thank you enough for your bravery, both to teach people who don’t understand depression how real it is, and to remind those of us who suffer from it not to give in. Even though I know it’s not my fault that I get depressed, I often feel like it’s something I need to hide from the world. It took me years to realize that I’m not to blame, and then many more years to realize that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It’s good to be reminded that we are not alone. The people who doubt that it’s real don’t deserve the time of day. Their ignorance is staggering. Thank you again for helping me to find my tribe. And now my daughter, who suffers from anxiety and just turned 13, is a huge fan as well. We were in the audience in Boston, and you signed her book at the very end. I want her to grow up knowing that she is not defective and has nothing to be ashamed of. I want her to know how many others share her struggle. And you have given us just one more way to connect and to feel better about who we are.

  239. I needed to read this because sometimes, I let depression and PTSD control me to the point of wanting to give up because I get tired of fighting. Your words mean a lot to me. Thank you for reminding me that depression lies and I am worthwhile.

  240. I hope you know that your patient treatment of her ignorance will do more to shed light on the subject than any other reaction. I’m super impressed as always at your decency and compassion. Hang in there and have a wonderful Halloween!

  241. That drawing is amazing. And just what I needed. Ordered! It will go right by my front door so I can see it every time I go face the world.

  242. I’m unbelievably thankful that depression isn’t my hidden illness but I can completely relate to the feelings.

  243. Many others have said this as well, but it bears repeating. While I am sorry that you ever had to endure the presence of such a close-minded, judgmental, sour old biddy, you handled her brilliantly. As some else battling depression, I thank you.

    You have been such a tremendous help to me this past year. Most of my life I had my depression so completely squashed down, I wasn’t consciously aware I had it. Then a series of major upheavals allowed the depression to run amuck and it shredded me to pieces, tossing the bits into a deep hole. Even while I was coming appointment, I didn’t recognize it for a while.

    I have spent this putting myself back together and climbing out of that damned hell pit. There were many times when I would be up in the wee hours, online, and pulling up your “depression lies” posts to read yet again. Thank you.

    And for the record, I would love to see a book of your doodles with little descriptions of what inspired them.

  244. Thank you for the wonderful post and the reminder to speak lovingly to ourselves. I guess I am happy that the sadly uninformed, judgmental woman was at the airport so you could give us this message.

  245. I am really looking forward to seeing you when you come to St Louis as I loved your first book and your blogs so much. I am getting copies of both of your books today for a early birthday gift, so I’m super excited to read your second book.

    I don’t know if you will read this in time, or if you will see it at all in all of the comments, but there is a store here that I think you will love and thought you should know about. It’s called Gringo Jones imports and it’s on Shaw blvd next to our botanical garden (also amazing!). Every time I drive by it there is something there outside that makes me think you should see it.

    I hope you are at least mostly enjoying your book tour.

  246. oh my. As a former cutter and as someone who slashed her wrist and had 28 stitches in just one of the cuts, I remember my older sister telling me that if I had really wanted to die I would have done it right. I was just being a drama queen. People such sometimes.

  247. I find myself wondering sometimes how “normal” people think. More frequently of late. I wonder what it is like to not have that voice inside your head constantly berating you. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. I really am my own worst enemy. It’s just frustrating.

  248. I know the feeling! I have depression, anxiety, PTSD and top it off with diabetes and head trauma. People here me talk and give me that look! I fucking hate the look ” well you seem fine to me”. Where in my head I’ve killed them several times over ( don’t call the cops, I’m not going to hurt anyone). To say it’s not real is BS and they are weak for not admitting it exist. I once had a HR rep tell me PTSD is not real.

  249. Thank you for fighting the brave fight of both awareness and hope in the face of vastly painful ignorance. Your efforts are valiant! Battle on!

  250. Already over 300 comments, so I’m sure it’s been said….but your next book has to be of your illustrations…. Incredible!! I particularly love this one!

  251. Jenny, I noticed something about your artwork the other day. I realized it is very similar to some pen and ink illustrations I saw in a book from the 1800’s about Greek Mythology. Your last one looked a lot like the depiction of the mythical ship The Argo. So it’s obvious you are channeling an artist from two centuries ago! How cool is that?!

  252. Next up…..Awesome coloring book! I’ve heard coloring can be as relaxing as meditation (it works for me). Since I can’t meditate I color instead! I’ll buy one for me and my friends!

  253. That is such a beautiful piece of art. Wow!

    If I had had to deal with that alleged human a couple of years ago, I probably would have wound up in a locked psych ward after I showed her just how very real my mental illness is.

    After working very hard, I still would not have had the grace you had faced with that idiocy. I might have said, “Awwwww, and I bet you think that a tinfoil hat will protect you from the alien mind control. You poor thing.” Actually, sincerely concerned for her mental well-being. Because, science. (Of the neurobiological persuasion.)

    Your response was gracious while standing in powerful truth. You are a truly beautiful human. Loves.

  254. I am a survivor of both domestic abuse and domestic violence, and also a survivor of, not one, but two tornadoes that picked me up and flew me through the air. I have also had 4 major back surgeries, and am in chronic pain. Because of all of this, plus a few other things, I suffer from PTSD and depression. I am already on so many medications that I’m afraid of telling my doctors that it isn’t enough anymore. I have had therapy, and even started college, but major upsets with my medication made me drop out. I wanted to help other survivors know there was life out there, and that they were important. Some days it is hard to tell myself that I am important. Right now, I feel the only living thing that thinks I am is my cat, and only because he can’t open the cat food by himself.

    I keep hoping that everyone is as honest as I am, only to be kicked by those I helped or trusted. I try to be helpful and friendly to all I meet, but I am not meeting anyone lately. That is because I stay in my apartment with my cat, unless I have to go to a doctor appointment. The only one I can count on coming to see me is my homemaker, three times a week. One son kicked me out of his house, and the other one moved further away from me. So, depression is a constant companion that I have to fight. There are times when the only reason I get out of bed or my chair is to feed the cat. He is young and healthy, so it will be quite a few years before he doesn’t need me anymore because he has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Right now, that is the only thing I am living for.

    Your post today touched me. I know there are others out there fighting those demons as well, but to read your post, and all the replies, makes me feel not quite as alone. And, I love your response to that woman (not what I want to call her, but trying to keep this clean), and love your “doodle”. I am with that other poster, still in the boat, but down in the scuppers, crying and fighting those lies that I have heard most of my life, both inside my head and from family. I will stay in that boat for as long as the captain allows, even though I don’t participate in any of the work.

    Thank you.

  255. It reminds me of when people get REALLY pissed off in the modern/contemporary art sections at the art museum. I mean, they get FURIOUS and say things like “that’s not art” and “I could do that” (an interesting combination of statements in and of itself). And I just want to say, why are you so pissed? It’s not like they’re getting rich doing this. What is all this bad energy you’re giving me really about? Cause I don’t really think it’s about drug company profits….

  256. I would love to see a drawing of that lady drowning in her ignorance. But she’s not worth the ink. I’ll just imagine it and smile. 🙂

  257. People suck. I know with my food issues, I hear “just eat! It’s just food!” or “just don’t worry so much” regarding anxiety. And they seem a bit…nonplussed…when their oh-so-wise words don’t immediately transform my life. Some people’s kids just weren’t raised right….

  258. I understand depression in particular and mental illness in general as a chemical imbalance, and I certainly hope chemical solutions, whether pharma or something else, can provide relief if not a cure. In my experience not all depression is chemical. What about psychological trauma? In my case, my father was a brutal, vicious, drunk, thug, day after day, for years and years, while my mother egged him on with a gin and tonic in one hand and a cigarette in the other, not a nurturing bone in her body. I was a sensitive boy, an artist at heart, which made the experience that much worse. I’ve tried a lot of stuff, drugs, talk, trying to get well. SSRIs and whatnot don’t work for me. I’ve had shrinks tell me that stuff works “for some people some of the time.” Maybe the research being done with MDMA is a solution. But I haven’t found a solution myself. I am 59 and my dog just turned 13. He is all the family I’ve got. I mostly hide in my house at 59 just like I hid under the bed when I was 9 listening to Beatles and baseball on the radio. I have one or two friends I am so grateful for but we can’t really talk about this. Mostly I can’t imagine who would even want me around. People just don’t like me. I’m arrested development boy, unable to function in this world. A “less than.” Yesterday my dog wasn’t feeling well and for the first time in years he didn’t want to eat. He’s fine now but at the time I couldn’t help but wonder, what’s left for me if he goes? Nothing. I’m nothing, I have nothing. So maybe Jenny and y’all are right, and take care of each other by all means, but maybe some of us are just defective parts that should be recalled, I don’t know.

    (I guarantee you that you would be missed by so many more than you know. You touch more people than you think. Sending love and light. ~ Jenny)

  259. You are so right. I have had people say “just get over it”. They don’t have any idea that depression or pain is not something that can be easily gotten over just by putting our minds to it. You have tremendous insight and your words mean a great deal to those of use that suffer with illnesses that cannot be seen. Thank you.

  260. I was so pleased to see that you made this into a poster–I’ve ordered 2, one for me and one for my sister-in-law. She has struggled with depression for years, and just last year her son, who also struggled with it, committed suicide at age 17. I know that it eats her alive that she couldn’t protect him from it, and she often expresses this frustration, that people just don’t take depression seriously. So thank you.

    On another note, I’m super sad that I can’t make it to your reading here in Minneapolis on Monday! If you want to take a break and come visit our guinea pig, Professor James Moriarty*, I could pick you up and take you back! And I have wine, too. Just sayin’.)

    *Yes, he is an evil genius. But we serve him well and he tolerates us.

  261. Awesome and patient response to the ignorant. Wish I could have borrowed your brain a few months ago when, in a work setting, a psychologist with a PhD and great hair told me that medicine was useless and that most mental illness is a result of poor coping skills. I quietly said that had not been my observation nor experience; she tossed her hair and asked me what I had studied and where and I shut up and felt like shit for a week wondering if it could be true. Then I remembered that the strongest people I know are also the most broken Still,kinda sad that an “educated professional” was dumber than a box of hair. Nice hair, though…

  262. I’ve had my own octopus all my adult life and stayed alive. My kids seem to have also inherited it (the biochemical octopus in the closet) I hope that someone finds a cure in their lifetime.

  263. Your level of restraint was amazing. How are you supposed to not give out free cunt-punts when people like that walk up and ask for one? So as not to be offensive, that was the British usage of the word. I have been told that makes it better.

  264. Ms. Lawson, You are amazing. You’re art is amazing. I find this piece especially moving because we all hear the rumblings of monsters unseen. Only fools leave the shore oblivious to the dangers of the deep. I admire you because even though you know the power of the monsters you keep sailing, keep exploring, keep leading the way. I am happy to be on any journey you offer.

  265. Thank you for a wonderful blog post and showing that those of us with mental illness can also be successful people. Congratulations on your amazing self-restraint also!

  266. Jenny – I love you – platonically but passionately!

    Dear Embarrassed (Comment 131)
    Please talk to your doctor (or another doctor if the first one blows you off) – I’ve had depression pretty much all my life and your comment could have described me. While I have sad times, my depression shows up as severe irritability – really severe, like maybe get arrested irritable. The meds I am on now help so much – if i inadvertently miss a day, I might as well walk around with a sign that apologizes in advance for my grouchiness. I’m never going to be skipping along singing but the moments of happiness start adding up again.
    Long story short – it may be depression alone or a mix of things and you DESERVE to at least try to improve.

    Love to all and strength to deal with October and now, November.

  267. I haven’t had any luck with antidepressants but I still believe that major depression is mostly biological. I think people who dismiss depression due to a feeling of jealousy. Ill people deserve sympathy and attention and that makes them feel competative….beautiful drawing by the way

  268. Jenny – thank you for courageously standing up for what is true. There are so many of us who struggle with the same issues and while she may not have bought your book, maybe, just maybe she’ll think about your words. Because it’s hard to deny the truth. So thank you for being willing to speak out on behalf of all of us. Thank you for giving us words when we are living in our darkness or too anxious to do anything and to realize that we are not alone. And thank you for sharing a book that allows us to share with others about how deeply mental illness can scare, hurt and torture us. All while making us laugh. I would like to ask you if you would be ok if I shared a couple paragraphs of your book (Furiously Happy) with the graduate nursing course that I’m taking? I would email you but I’m clearly a dunce and don’t see how…

  269. I have read and love both of your books. I don’t spend a lot of time online so don.t usually look at your blog. For some reason I decided to look today. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. This is exactly what I needed today

  270. Fantastic artwork, you really have such incredible talent Jenny, to write so well & also have such talent drawing is brilliant, you truly are gifted.

    Of course as with so many of us with creative or artistic talent it comes at a cost; so many with such talents have mental illness to contend with as well, & as you so often say, depression lies.

    Sometimes it will tell you you’re no good, or that you don’t matter, or that you’re really an impostor, as you couldn’t be as good as some think you are, & if they really knew you, they’d see you as a fraud, but it’s all bullshit.

    Sometimes depression will sit in the back seat, or even get out of the car, letting you think you’re doing fine, just long enough to let your guard down, then sucker punch you.

    I guess you just need to build your strength from time to time when depression isn’t paying attention, so you have a bit more resilience the next time depression comes along.

    As for the old lady; just a bigot.

    There’s little point considering what’s in her mind or where she was coming from, as typically bigots are people with low intelligence, that won’t take in information that conflicts with their own knowledge & experience, so they retain their stupidity, & wear it as a badge that they call their opinions, which all too often conflict with reality.

    You did well to just say to her that you hope she never finds out first hand what depression is like.

    Of course if you had an ego & were as arrogant as her, you could have said something like
    “Ok, so I wrote a book or two that you’re not interested in, they’ve been published, & have both been on best seller lists; what have you achieved that compares to that?”

    But of course you’d never say anything like that, because you’re not an arsehole like she is, & your parents raised you to have manners & respect for others.

  271. Of course there’s another thing I remember someone telling you they heard when they had to report an incident to the police, where someone was bothering them.

    “Everyone has an opinion & an arsehole”.

    I think for most people that’s succinct enough, but I like to add my own addendum to that;
    “Sometimes it’s hard to tell which you’re hearing from”.

  272. Yes, I hope that woman never has to find out the hard way just how wrong she is. If she feels a stab of pain in her lady junk one of these days, it will be from a whole lot of us mentally kicking her in the crotch for her ignorance and insensitivity.

    Holy shit – you are a wonderful artist Jenny! I love that drawing!!

  273. i have a Judgy Relative. she is the voice of all that is right, in her mind. i LIVE to piss her off enough that she won’t try to include me in her emails. (lately, i told her not to email me again and blocked her.)

    and yet…although she is Always Right, bad shit keeps happening to her. mama has about quit telling me about it, because then she has to call me by my first AND middle name and tell me to “stop laughing! this is a tragedy!” but honestly? karma kicking her in the lady bits is JUST the way it SHOULD be.

  274. Love the post, love the drawing.
    Thank you, Librarian Heather for “may you be healthy, may you be furiously happy, may you stay afloat.” My new mantra for sending out love and light to those having a hard time hanging in here.

  275. Thanks, Jenny. This is beyond beautiful–I’m so glad you’ve decided to share your “doodles” with us. Bonus points for your self control. I’d have kicking Airport Bitch in the taco for sure.

  276. You were far more charitable in your answer than I think I would have been. I hope that those in her life don’t have to rely on her for empathy and understanding.