You don’t have to do it all.

Hey, I’m going to tell you something I wish someone had told me a long time ago. Your mental health is important.  That seems like it goes without saying but so often we push past the safe zone for all sorts of reasons.  If you’re on social media one of the biggest drains and mental health struggles you may have is the fact that you want to rail against all the injustices in the world and feel that you should because you have important stories to tell.  And you do.  And I want to hear them.

But not at the expense of your safety.

I struggle a lot with the fact that I have a great platform and a strong voice but I don’t always use it to say all the things I want to say because honestly I’m not always in a strong enough place mentally.  I fixate on terrible things and it gives me a skewed idea of the world and I have to have Victor shut off my internet until I can reset and realize that there is far more good than bad even when the bad gets all the press.

What I am saying is that it’s okay to not always share your story or bare your soul or open yourself up to pain.  You owe it to yourself to be safe, because if you aren’t safe then you can’t help anyone.

If you pick up the banner and do the hard work of making this world a better place then you are a hero and I commend you and I appreciate you and I am so damn grateful that you are there when I can’t be.  And sometimes I’ll pick up that banner when I am strong and you are not, and you can rest knowing that there are kind people fighting the good fight on your behalf even when you aren’t looking.

It takes strength to fight for others.  It also takes strength to protect yourself.  No matter where you are today, know that you are important and loved and we’re going to be okay.

I’ll promise you if you promise me.

176 thoughts on “You don’t have to do it all.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I promise. Thank you for just being you. I love your books and I hope that one day soon,we can meet,and I can give you a HUGE hug!

  2. I promise you too.. I do this all day and just see evil and bad, then i have to be brought back to the good side by others. Thank you for saying what needs to be said

  3. I promise. Thank you so much for the strength, wisdom and laughter you have given this world.

  4. I promise. I have been on the verge of posting personal stuff because ohmygod I am so angry about things right now, but have held back because I know I am not strong enough to handle the vitriol I would encounter. Because people can be so evil.

  5. Excellent, honest post. I think many people need to know it’s OK not to be able to do things, but to step up when you can. You really are a beacon of hope & an example of this. Excellent share. Thank you & promise.

  6. It’s funny you posted this today, because I was just thinking that I’ve been railing against too many things I feel are unjust in FB posts, etc. and I’m starting to feel like it doesn’t matter. It does matter, but becoming mentally exhausted by it doesn’t solve anything. It’s like people I know who foster animals. The drain of giving so much of themselves (even when it’s good) can overwhelm them and those I know who are strong and mentally healthy ALWAYS say to take a break and give yourself kindness and the space to reload. It’s so important! <3

  7. I promise. And you rock. You have no idea how much I admire you for being the person you are, and being open about being the person you are. You are amazing. I hope you understand that.

  8. Sitting at my desk in tears because of a “final straw” kind of thing that just now happened, telling my husband “I can’t do this anymore, all of it” and my email account is open and in comes your blog post telling me — “You don’t have to do it all.”

    You are a witch, Jenny, a very good witch. Thank you. When I say I needed this, I REALLY needed it. xx

  9. I PROMISE I PROMISE I PROMISE! I love you & all you do for us, so that we can be strong for you when you falter & help you rise up again!!

  10. cross my heart! also, i just wanted you to know that i sent out cards to anonymous people from that blog, & i GOT some as well. It really made my heart swell with gratitude. Even my tweenage son thought it was pretty cool. So, thank you! Everyone’s mental health matters.

  11. Simply a wonderful post, Jenny, and profoundly timely for me. Thank you for your ability to put into words experiences some of us struggle to express. You are amazing and I admire you so much. Thank you from a stranger (but HUGE supporter) in Oregon! 🙂

  12. I very much needed this today and I’m sitting here crying tears of relief. I’ve been feeling so guilty at my inability to even deal with some of the things happening right now, let alone being able to take action. I know all of what you said and yet I really needed someone else to say it to me today when I couldn’t get myself to listen to my own brain. Thank you. xo

  13. As N*Sync said, this I promise you! Thank you for the reminder. It can be such a fine line between sharing and giving too much of yourself away.

  14. Pinky promise! Oh you sweet human with your wisdom. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been building my mental health community and my voice as being one that is deeply vulnerable and open-hearted and feely. And that is me authentically. But at times it’s exhausting, BUT I AM A HELPER AND I NEED TO BE THERE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. And there is the incongruence. The battle in my noggin. I’ve been trying to step back, and ask myself, “why.” Check in with myself on emotions. Be curious and remember that I can’t help others unless I care for myself first. Sending hugs!

  15. You are so right. We can all just do “the next right thing” and live our our convictions in the kindest way possible. And that is enough!!

  16. This hit me on the day when I needed it most. I struggle with my mental health a lot so your voice really resonates with me. I had been blogging about life with depression, but gave up because I felt like I had to bare my soul every post. I felt vulnerable and foolish. I knew people were responding to my posts, but I felt that it was pointless. This gives me hope to keep speaking out about mental health. Thank you for being you.

  17. I was just thinking this very thing today. I can’t deal with the stuff on social media or the nightly news right now. I just want to scream out and cry. I need to decompress from all of the hatred and vile things going on in the world. It’s time to reset.

  18. You really are one of my favourite people. I don’t generally identify favourite things very well with my mental
    Health issues. I feel like it’s a good and positive thing that I can feel like you are a favourite.

  19. I promise! You know we are here for you when you’re strong, when you’re weak, whatever is going on with you. And you – oh, Jenny, you help so many people just by being yourself, by being here when you can, by admitting there are times when you’re not strong enough so the rest of us don’t feel bad when we’re not strong. You are the best! Just call me a Jenny fangirl. LOL

  20. I promise! Thank you for being the light at the end of the tunnel that ISN’T a train (for a chamge, lol)

  21. I promise you!

    I struggle with feeling like I’m not doing enough. I’m lucky to be smart, well educated, live in a safe place, have SO MANY opportunities, however I’m happiest when I’m not taking on too much. Taking care of my teenager (she seems to take as much effort as she did as a preschooler!), working on something creative. Not working full time. So I don’t. I’m SUPER LUCKY to be able to do that, and I know I’m the happiest mom and wife I can be this way. But I can’t help feeling guilty and like I’m failing somehow. So thank you again for this reminder. This life I’ve set up requires no more antidepressants, no more therapists. No marital counselor. And that should matter as much as how “productive” it is.

  22. You spread the message by NOT picking up the banner, as you say, of every cause and sharing about that. I don’t have any mental health issues, as far as I know, but I can’t, and don’t really want to, fight for all the causes I believe in on-line either. I hope my point gets across by the way I live and choose to go about my day every day, just as you get your point across about what matters most by just being who you are out loud.
    Thank you for that.

  23. I’m not making any promises — but I’ll do what I can… when I’m not too lazy or procrastinating too much. But the thought is good.

  24. I promise! I am so thankful for you! You are my voice of reason when the world is a bit much for me. My youngest is graduating next Saturday and things are crazy at my house. Thanks for reminding is that we can help each other when things get wonky.

  25. I love you, Jennie. Be strong. Be well. Be happy.
    I used to add ‘fearless’ to that list, but these days that is just too much to encourage.
    Peace, kiddo
    <3

  26. Needed this. Thank you for creating this platform and fostering this community, Jenny.

  27. I promise, too! Jenny, sometimes what you say with your good, caring voice hits me like no other….in a good way. Thank you for being you and being there!

  28. I promise! And I’ve turned off the tv and all news sites to help focus on what’s really important in my life. Thanks.

  29. I promise. It’s safe for me to share, and though I’ve lost “friends” over it, I will continue to share and ask for help when I need it. I just left my therapist who told me to quit shaming myself for my shortcomings that my daughter is hurling at me (bringing up things from her past, which, frankly, were not awful in my opinion. She can work through those things with her therapist without hurling guilt and shame in me.

  30. Thank you. I am doing pretty badly right now and don’t know how to take care of myself, but I will try to be as safe as I can mentally.

  31. This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear today, and I didn’t realize it until I read it. Thank you. Thank you for being strong when you can, and thank you for giving me permission not to have to be strong all the time.

  32. Would it be wrong for me to complain about people who leave comments about loosing there minds, or balling their eyes out?

  33. I tried to add this to my last comment, but my laptop doesn’t like me. I was going to say, I often refrain from posting all of my ‘why me’s’ and the like because I’m afraid I’ll lose friends and followers. Hell, I bitched about something recently on my private FB account, and lost 2 precious classmates. But GUESS WHAT? I finally learned to say WHATEVER, because I can’t afford to worry about why they unfriended me. Their loss, right??? My mental health is more important. If people don’t like that I’m in pain, then I feel sorry for them when karma visits them. Love you!

  34. This is a great point. I am in a good place mentally right now. That involves taking my meds and going to therapy and using my tools and saying yes/no when it is best for me to do so. I don’t/can’t immerse myself in the news/spend time on Twitter/hang out on FB because that might take me out of my good place. I have to trust that those who can are doing the work I cannot. And if I get to a place where I can do it without compromising my mental health, I will. Today is not the day for that.

    Thank you for reminding me this is okay.

  35. We had a contentious vote in my hometown yesterday regarding building a much-needed new high school (our current one is 100+ yrs old and decades overdue for maintenance). The town voted “no” by 120 votes. Social media has been and continues to be a disaster that makes me not want to live here. So I really, truly needed this today. Thank you.

    And I promise.

  36. Thank you. I think this was everything I needed to hear (read). I promise you.

  37. I often get the impression that my online admonishments of racists, sexists, xenophobes, homophobes and the like simply encourages those ignorant souls to double-down on their cowardice and stupidity. So I’ve opted to leave them to it and instead look for somebody in the real world who needs real help that I might be able to provide. It’s a much more fulfilling pastime. Thank you, Jenny.

  38. Thank you for this. I’m having a rough time lately, and it’s as much about my default emotional state as it is about what’s happening in the world (mostly in this country that I want to love and don’t want to leave but am starting to fear). I’m not someone who can tune it out; I would rather be aware and outraged; otherwise I feel complacent. But it’s draining. And I have to be present and OK for my son.

  39. I really need this reminder because even the weight of my email inbox (political and “cause” emails) is starting to be pressure I don’t need. Ironically, since I found out that my car requires a major repair for which I only half about half the funds, social media is the fastest way to let friends know in hopes that some miracle will occur and I will find help. For all the evils of social media, it can be the only way to connect or cry out when you live alone and don’t have any living family. In this situation, things get very lonely and in cases like this, very scary.

  40. Thank you, Jenny. I so needed this post today. I’ve been so angry all day because of all the stories in the news and on social media about the attacks on and erosion of women’s rights. Why do white men get to have a say about what we do with our bodies?! I realize the world is unfair and we women often pay the price for that. But being as angry at the world as I am right now isn’t helping anyone, including myself. I think I’ll take your advice and stay away from the internet until I can stop seeing red. Thanks for being there. I promise.

  41. I promise. Know this, I am an old lady. I still let things spin me out but the older you get the less frequently it happens. Perspective happens and it helps.

  42. Thank you Jenny. Yes the world is a screwed up mess right now in so very many ways, but I must remember that if I look I will also see beauty, and kindness, generosity and love, sometimes in the most unexpected places. I fear for our children and grandchildren but also have great hope that they will be strong, and fight to get things back on track.

  43. If you haven’t read Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, I urge you too. She talks about how hard it is be there n the public eye. The book isn’t about politics, more about how she questioned herself in each step
    Of her journey through life & how she had come to find that she needed a tribe. I really like it.

  44. If you haven’t read Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, I urge you too. She talks about how hard it is be there n the public eye. The book isn’t about politics, more about how she questioned herself in each step
    Of her journey through life & how she had come to find that she needed a tribe. I really like it. I think you might to.

  45. There’s is a young lady, very dear to me, who needs to hear this. Now all I have to do is figure out how to put it in front of her so that she will read and heed.

  46. Excellent reminder. You are always on point dear lady. I quit social media over a year ago for my mental health, which is sketchy at the best of times. It has made a remarkable difference in my life. I feel Facebook has become a toxic place, no longer a place to enjoy friends, silliness and a getaway from the daily grind. Nope, not going to get on my horse, I can already feel anxiety tapping my shoulder. I promise!

  47. I caught myself beginning to hyperventilate while on Twitter today and even then felt guilty for signing off. Thank you for the reminder that it’s not wrong to take a break.

  48. I tend to struggle with this everyday. I try not to watch the news. Stay away from political (and other controversial) types of conversations on social media… And there are times I feel like an ostrich. But it helps me to remember this:

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. –Mahatma Gandhi

  49. Jenny, You are wise and resilient. I think that this is a major problem with having so much information, and much of it just plain wrong or bad, right at our fingertips, quite literally. Sometimes it’s better to respond than react. Sometimes it’s better to just read a book or watch a Carol Burnett Show DVD.

  50. I will be starting TMS treatments soon. Wish me health. That’s how I’m trying to take care of me. Always a work in progress.

  51. Promise. You’re right, you don’t have to do it all. And you don’t have to bare it all in order to receive the care, comfort, and support you deserve. It’s ok to ask to lean on someone, me included, if you need someone to help you bear the weight of the world for/with you for a while, without having to feel obligated to share all the intimate painful details if you don’t feel up to it. Sometimes we just need to stop and catch our breath for a while in order to gather our strength to keep moving forward. <3

  52. Thank you for this. I promise. I also need a break sometimes, because this world is exhausting and overwhelming to live in right now, but this blog is always a bright spot, so thank you for that. And for the reminder that taking care of ourselves is ok, even when it feels like that makes us selfish and weak. I think we all need that reminder, from time to time.

  53. I promise, too. Your post was fortuitously timed. I have been struggling more this week than I have in quite a long time. Thanks for the reminder!

  54. Good advice. I can promise. Even when using a anonymous account (which as a cybersecurity professional I assure you is not all that anonymous). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed up comments sharing too much or being to strong bout it, then deleted it. Sometimes it’s quite enough to have vented without actually putting it out for others to read. I shove it in a doc if I remember, usually I don’t.

  55. I promise!

    And one of the struggles I’ve been fighting on Facebook lately has been about whether or not you can legally opt out of the STAAR test (state testing that’s pretty much mandatory if you live in Texas for y’all non Texans and can prevent your child from moving up to the next grade or even graduating). I don’t know who to trust anymore….the people who go “It’s totally legal to opt out of it and they can’t do shit to you if you choose to keep your child home those days.” or the school staff (who I want to trust) who tell me you can’t opt out of STAAR unless you’re in private or homeschool. That if you choose to keep your child home those days, they’ll be recorded as unexcuses absences and if you already had too many absences due to illness or whatever, you could get a visit from the local truant officer. :-/

    What really makes me mad though is that there is no modified version of the test for SpEd students (like mine) who cannot pass it otherwise and so they’re put through multiple days of testing for absolutely nothing because they’re not (in most cases, from what I understand) required to pass it anyway. Ugh. It’s SO frustrating.

    I never asked to pick up this banner of being the parent of a child who’s not “normal” according to what the world definition of “normal” is. Sometimes I HATE carrying it. Sometimes I just want to put it down but I don’t feel like I can because if I don’t fight for my kid and others like him, who will?

  56. It’s a difficult thing to do.. taking care of yourself. I applaud you for taking the time you need. I’m drained and wish I could take better care of myself. Have you considered that you might also be an empath? I never thought of it, until I did some reading, and it all makes sense to me now. I guess I’ve always been one, and I take everything in and it all hurts, or it all feels wonderful, depending on what “it” is. I’ll go for days to try and avoid the news and play games on facebook, instead of reading it. In the end tho.. I do promise to try my best, as long as you do too. <3

  57. Your words seem to always say what I am thinking. Promise me and I’ll promise you ❤️

  58. I pinky swear. Thank you for having just the right thing to share when I need to hear it.
    Namaste
    koi

  59. I promise. Thank you for being you, honest, careing and funny as hell when you can be.

  60. I have a confession.. I’m struggling with all of this. Everything online. I understand why people need to be strong and speak out and draw attention to what’s happening. I respect that. But it’s triggering the living HELL out of me. I want to stick my fingers in my ears, and maybe my eyes!, so that I can go back to where I don’t need to see the words in literally EVERY post on EVERY platform. (I really appreciate how you wrote this post, though. Don’t mean you!) I hate the posts, I hate what’s happening, and I hate that my silence is considered to be treason. I’m sorry.

  61. That’s important advice – it’s actually OK to say “no” sometimes. I struggle with that more than I care to admit…

  62. Jenny, thank you. I was actually struggling with whether to come forward with a story of my own that is aligned with a national outcry about legislating women’s bodies. I want to help other women, but not sure if I’m in a place to “come out” with my story. I appreciate this timely reminder that it’s ok to put myself/my mental health first when I need to. Thank you.

  63. Thanks for this. Unfortunately, history tells me we’re not going to be ok. At least, not all of us. Makes it pretty hard to rest when there’s still so much to be done.

  64. Thank you. I have been struggling with this. It’s sometimes a vicious cycle. I don’t do more because I’m not well. I feel guilt and shame for not doing more, causing me to go farther down that slope of being not well. Thanks for the permission to put the oxygen mask on myself, first. Once it’s on, I’m going to help you all get yours on, too. I promise.

  65. Last time I felt tempted to bare my soul on social media, regarding a vulnerable subject- I typed out what I wanted to say in my phone notes, instead. That was enough. Thank you for acknowledging that keeping an experience away from judgement is also heathy and healing.

  66. Personally I am an empath and a highly sensitive person and it is difficult at times to navigate such a loud insatiable world. I am a passionate person. I care very deeply about a lot of things and about the well being of others. It’s just who I am.

    However, over the years I have accepted that the nature of the world will always be darkly beautiful and chaotically complicated. I can’t stop the sun from sun shining no sooner than I can change the fabric of our world.

    This helps me when I try to make sense of things or try to “fix” things. I am a helper and I have to remind myself that I am just simply not that powerful. I’m not a super hero- I am a human being. I can only control my actions and reactions. Our smallness can be laughable sometimes or it can be maddening. Accepting my smallness and limitations helps me focus on what it is I can positively and healthfully do and I let go of the rest.

    Our duality mirrors itself within the issues we face…but love is an integral component in humanity. Love is the baseline of all things, and that is something to believe in when the worst of times befalls us and our world. All is not lost and I promise we WILL all be ok and are ok!

  67. Are there more good people or more bad people in the world?

    (I think so. They just don’t get as much press. ~ Jenny)

  68. Pretty sure that’s the philosophical underpinning of “In the event of a sudden loss of air pressure, put your own mask on first before helping others.”
    Makes sense to me.

  69. Hoping Carolyn Stephens comes back and spots this… I’d suggest sending your young friend something classic and hilarious or artistic from Jenny’s archives. “And there’s so much more, too.” Because it might get the message more clearly if she comes to it after reading her way up to it on her own.
    (Just maybe first make sure she or her parents won’t flip over t he f-bombs…)

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  71. To learn a bit more about the reality of the slow-but-real progress of the world, as opposed to the flashy-scary-but-narrow view of the mass media, please let me recommend the excellent book “Factfulness”:

    https://www.amazon.com/Factfulness-Reasons-World-Things-Better/dp/1250107814

    I found it really helped me gain a more positive view of the world. Yes, terrible things keep happening to a lot of people, and we need to keep fighting them; yet it is important to keep in mind that, over decades, we keep having fewer casualties in war, or from natural events, that people worldwide keep getting better access to education, to health, to infrastructure.

    I hope this book helps more people like it helped me.

  72. I promise. I needed to hear that right now. You’re a hero to me even when you don’t feel strong… thank you.

  73. Amen, sistah. I sometimes find myself retweeting all of the bad shit, because of course it all land in my feed in wave upon wave anyway… when that happens, I have to SEEK OUT puppies and kittens and goat yoga and laughing babies and all the good stuff to immediately retweet, so I’m not filling everyone else’s feeds with all that negative shit. Which of course circles back to notifications of people liking and commenting and retweeting all the fun cute stuff, which FEEDS MY SOUL!
    Let’s all promise to take care of ourselves while taking care of each other, yes. I promise.

  74. Thank you for the reminder. I haven’t told anyone but my husband my doctor how it bad it is at this time. I have had shitty 3 months that has took me for a ride. I’m slowly getting through it but I have my days I would rather hide.

  75. “I promise you if you promise me.” is what I used to wispier quietly to my son while I was pregnant with him. My entire last trimester was spent with doctors telling me that either I was going to live, or he was. That there was no way we were both going to make it out alive. At night I would sit in the hospital talking to him, telling him all I could. I never stopped giving up hope that we could fight and win. I promised him that I would not stop fighting for him if he would not stop fighting for me.
    He just turned 3 and is the happiest baby in the world. (You met him when you came to NC. He would be the one who pulled your hair…not that you really remember.)
    “I promise you if you promise me.” is painted on his wall above his bed. He never stopped fighting and neither did I.

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