Falling apart a little bit.

So yesterday all of the anxiety I’d been fighting off got heavier and heavier and I fell apart into one of those heaving, ugly-cry panic attacks where you’re pretty sure that you’re literally dying but you also suspect that it’s all in your mind. Which makes it worse, in a way.

Victor is used to my normal anxiety attacks but these big, end-of-the-world ones still freak him out. I tried to explain how I was overwhelmed with the world and decisions and how I felt like I was failing at everything and that I was certain there were important things I’d forgotten and that were falling off the edges and that soon I’d remember them all too late. And he didn’t understand (because he’s not insane in the same way I am) and tried to help by encouraging me to set goals and deadlines with the things that I’m forever behind on and that just made it worse because I don’t have the capacity for goals and deadlines at the moment and it feels so terrible to explain that something so simple for most people is absolutely too much to even think about for me at the moment.

Most of my anxiety attacks are normalish. You could watch me have one and sort of empathize. I hyperventilate. Sometimes I’m physically sick. My hands curl into claws. But they pass and other than the rag doll exhaustion that comes afterward it all seems somewhat understandable, if a bit dramatic. But a panic attack is different and the panic is so overwhelming and physically painful that I will do anything to make it stop. I look outside at the squash in the garden and have an uncontrollable urge to rip it all up so that it’s one less thing to think about. I sit on my hands to keep from grabbing the clippers and shaving off my hair so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. I am overwhelmed with impulsive thoughts and I know that it will pass but I have to keep myself safe until it does. I hide in my room. I make Victor watch me when I feel like I can’t trust myself. I feel like a burden but I also know that he knows that this will pass.

And then it does.

After an anxiety attack I feel drained and exhausted. After a panic attack I feel keyed up and paranoid and ragged and brittle. Anxiety attacks are like a good long cry you didn’t know you needed. Panic attacks are like the first cry when you’ve lost a family member. You don’t know when the next one may come and what will set it off.

Today I am better. Still jagged and a bit broken, but less likely to listen to the illogical lies in my head. More likely to forgive myself for my limitations. Trying to give myself the same level of acceptance and love that I’d give anyone else in this situation. Reminding myself that I am not alone. And that this idea that we are failing and drowning is not real. We thrive more than we fail. We just don’t celebrate it as much. We notice the (sometimes imagined) frowns when we let someone down so much more than the (very real) smiles we fail to recognize when we put them on other people’s faces.

This morning I washed the dishes to feel like I was actually doing something. I have real work to do but I needed something mindless to distract me…something that would make me feel some sense of accomplishment…and while I was working I felt Dorothy Barker drop something on my foot.

It was a small, uneaten part of her milk bone and I suspect she dropped it on my foot because they’re stale and she was giving me feedback but I thought that it was entirely possible that she just wanted to share with me. And then I realized that the piece was gnawed into a heart.

Dogs don’t know what hearts are and she definitely didn’t do it on purpose and frankly it looks more like a shark’s tooth than a heart. so technically if I’m being scientific it’s more likely that she’s threatening me but you know what? Fuck that. I’m taking this accidental heart as a sign from the universe that things are going to be okay.

Because they are. We’ll be okay. Me and you. Even when life feels like too much of a struggle, remember that this passes. Remember that fear and reality aren’t always the same. Look for the small signs of love and kindness. Have faith that brighter things are coming. They are. In ways you never expected.

266 thoughts on “Falling apart a little bit.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. if it looks like a heart, then it is a heart.
    my dead brother sends me heart-shaped-rocks when i need them most.
    (and 1964 pennies and nickles just to say hi!”

    i have three boxes full of rocks . . .
    and nearly six dollars

  2. I have been holding it together for seven months but I can feel myself unraveling and fuck if I know how I can stop it.

  3. Jenny, you are amazing and awesome, and I am sorry that your mind has been an asshole. It has been one hell of a year for the country, but you still manage. You’ve opened a bookshop virtually, started a bookclub, and kept some bored Amazon employees from going bonkers as they fight to choose what new weird thing Amazon suggests. Also, Dottie is a wise old soul. It is known.

  4. Thank you Jenny. Everything you said about panic attacks is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately but can’t explain it. And yes, I think the stale, gnawed heartshaped milk bone is a sign that love and hope is till out there. Thank you Dorothy for reminding us.

  5. Dog is God backwards. She knows you’re having a bad day and stressed: taking it as a gift makes sense to me (even if that gift is a promise that she’ll be the one to put you down with her shark tooth if necessary, I guess). I’m sorry you had a major attack…I hope that’s it and you get some rest.

  6. Dude, they KNOW. My cat, Edgar Allen Snowtoe von Mousiebreath aka Tubby Lumpkins, cheekmarks the hell out of my face when I’m sad. Like “I’m going to love this out of you.” Take it as all the sign you need. <3

  7. I totally understand. I lost my job a few months ago after 26 years of tenure. There are days it’s hard to get out of bed. Looking for a job in my 60’s is something I never imagined I would have to go through. The struggle is real! I have a son and grandbaby that are my reasons to keep it going. I have these panic/anxiety attacks almost daily.

  8. I don’t know how you do it but your posts always come at the right time for me. I’m not having panic attacks but my level of anxiety is off the charts. Thanks for getting at least part of me down off the ceiling with your insight and humour. You’re a gem.

  9. I have a feeling that Dorothy loves you so much she figured out what hearts are and made one just because she knew it’d cheer you up.

    Dogs are that amazing.

  10. Oh my gosh, that’s beautiful. Sometimes the universe gives you right what you need when you need it. I’m so glad you were able to recognize that gift.

    Good dog Dorothy Barker!

  11. Bless your (Milkbone) heart! Thank you for sharing. And thank goodness for supportive husbands/spouses/partners. Where would we be without them?

  12. Wow. So beautifully expressed. I am having a hard time right now and recently went back on depression meds because I was barely able to function. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone. I’m glad today is better for you than yesterday was.

  13. You nailed the description of something that is so hard for me to put into words.
    Me too.
    We love you Jenny! And Dorothy Barker too, because frankly, that’s a fucking heart and if anyone else thinks different they’re wrong.

  14. My cat once left me vomit shaped like a fish, so I’m a big believer in animals communicating via art. At the very least you can feel special because you were obviously gifted a piece of food and animals are usually a little selfish when it comes to food, so it’s a big gift! Hugs! PS, I got an app that reminds me when I need to do stuff but it increases my anxiety because I’m forever behind and now there are notifications on my phone telling me I’m behind…. so there’s no perfect way to solve anxiety.

  15. Gentle hugs, Jenny. And big ones for Victor, Hailey and Dorothy, who are there for you even when you’re not.

  16. Dearest Jenny, I hear you. I think emerging better only one day after a full-on apocalyptic panic attack is amazing. You are so strong and such an inspiration to me. So much love to you and everyone here.

  17. I have had doctors tell me there’s no difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks! You just described the difference. Thank you so much!

  18. Jenny, you are a light in the world. Your ability to so eloquently describe your experience, and your ability to recognize even in the midst of a panic attach that it will pass, and your knowing the necessity of keeping your self safe until it passes, are a beacon of hope to others who experience anxiety and panic. Thank you for your openness and honesty.

  19. A book-related reply — Not to spoil the ending, but everything is going to be okay.
    For all of us to believe, that’s what it takes….it will be okay.

  20. Thank the Goddess for Victor and Dorothy Barker!!! Hearts, your, mine and everyone’s. Thank you for this post, it is life affirming and so are you!!! Love from here…………

  21. I reached the point recently where I finally admitted I needed help and started therapy. It’s been a tough year. Pandemic combined with a toxic work environment does not make for a good time. Glad you are better today.

  22. I hope you feel better. My dog, Carol Baskins, chews rectangular “hard cheese” sticks into prison shanks and spreads them all over the floor waiting for our unsuspecting bare feet. So a heart sounds good.

  23. We don’t deserve dogs. (Or cats for that matter.) I believe that Dorothy wanted to share with you AND let you know that she loves you.

  24. Sending you so much love right now. I get those kinds of attacks and they SUCK! I like what you did with the dishes. It helps. Just know we are all insane in our own special ways and you are not alone. Thank you for reminding me that I am not either. <3

  25. Oh man, I have been having a really hard time lately and really needed this. I hope things get a little easier (for all of us) soon ❤

  26. I feel this so hard right now. I’m sitting here alone in my house stuck in quarantine after being exposed to COVID and feeling pretty sick and my anxiety feels like it’s trying to eat me. I’ve been tested and won’t know for sure if this sickness is a cold or COVID until the end of the week and it’s driving me crazy. Luckily my family and friends are super awesome and call and check up on me which makes me feel a little less alone. One family member even overnighted me a pulse oximeter from Amazon to make me feel a little less anxious about being sick alone. But it’s still a lot. Sometimes I have trouble separating the anxiety symptoms from the sickness symptoms and the anxiety hasn’t been letting me sleep well which isn’t good. The decongestants in cold medicine I take for the symptoms just hype me up and make my heart race. So I definitely feel you. The world feels overwhelming and anxiety inducing right now.

  27. Sending peace and love to you. I know those feelings all too well. Sadly, my cats don’t bring hearts, they cough up hairballs. I appreciate the effort though. ❤️😊

  28. Anxiety is like having cockroaches in your soul. Panic attacks are when they get hungry. I’m tired of having to remember to breathe. I want a beach, an umbrella drink and a flat stomach and I want them now!

  29. Everything sucks right now. Except we have each other’s backs, so that’s neat. I just read Allie Brosh’s book, and the part about making friends with yourself is gonna stay with me. I would NEVER treat you the way I treat me. Why would I treat myself as less than a beloved (stranger) friend? It’s hard, but I think it’ll eventually be worth doing.

    Which is a lot of words to say I love you.

  30. I showed the picture to my mom who collects heart shaped things (so she’s pretty much an expert) and she said it does look like a heart. So there ya go. 🙂 Also dogs are awesome and totally believe Dorothy was trying to make you feel better.

  31. I remember when y’all first got her, and you were hesitant about having another dog, and you posted the photo of that little white heart on her side. Sometimes signs come from the most unexpected places, but they’re signs nonetheless. ❤️

  32. Amen and Truth and I am right there with you. My brain fog is terrible with my anxiety. I have lost two sets of keys to two different cars. I hate myself for it and I can’t do anything about it. Yes I know about keeping them in the same place and ironically I do. But this anxiety has me misplacing things and lists do not help.

    I am saying all of this so you know you are NOT ALONE.

  33. Thank you for this perfect description of what….THAT feels like.

    Good, unexpected, beautiful, shark-tooth-shaped things are coming for us all. Glad to be weathering the storm with you.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing these private difficult moments you experience. It’s beautiful of you to put into words what people with anxiety and panic go through and be willing to put yourself out there in such a judgemental world. It really helps the people who suffer and it makes the world a better place

  35. Dorothy Barker say’s it will be okay….*insert echo here* THEN IT SHALL BE OKAY!!!
    Thank you Jenny for your honest, brutal, and loving way you tell us how your doing. I don’t get anxiety that way, but I can somehow relate. Thank you, your amazeballs!!

  36. The other day I read a post about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which reminded me that everything rests on our basic needs, two of which are safety and security. When you’re a person for whom those two needs are always challenging to meet in regular times, the shit that 2020 has thrown at us makes it near impossible to feel safe and secure.
    Without a strong base to the pyramid, you can’t start working on the next level, the psychological needs, and without those, the last level, self-actualization is so far off the radar you can’t even see it. Basically, we’re all off kilter and it’s exhausting us.
    We’re trying to act as though the bottom of our world hasn’t fallen out, like we’re not under constant attack, both from a virus we cannot see and from a government that wants to take away even more of our security. Frankly, I find it amazing that we’re getting up every day and doing our best to wade through the murk.

  37. Thank you Jenny. I’m sorry to hear you are having trouble, but I’m glad you shared. It helps to know we are all in this together. Hugs from Cali.

  38. Had my breakdown last week and my darn dogs didn’t do anything for me! Sending good vibes your way. Be easy and kind to yourself, always, but extra-much right now. xo

  39. I need you to know that while you feel crazy sometimes, when you post these types of entries, you make me feel LESS crazy. You make me feel less alone, less embarrassed, help me validate my feelings and try harder to control the panic and anxiety. Your descriptions of them both are so accurate that it almost brings tears to my eyes Self love is something that’s hard for people like us but….your dog brought you a FUCKING HEART SHAPED bone fragment she created herself (on purpose)! THAT, is a sign. 🙂 THAT, is amazing. THAT is letting you know that she loves you no matter what. XOXOXO

  40. I try so hard to explain my panic attacks to people and they just don’t get it. They try to help, but I’m not in a headspace to take advice like: let’s go for a run, make to-do lists, just get over it. I don’t work like that and it gives me hope to hear others are living their lives and getting through this type of craziness like me.


  41. My dad died Monday. Lots of anxiety. And things that I did when I was working (position eliminated in May) that I didn’t understand, I started doing again. Now I know it was anxiety. No clue at the time. I’m rambling, but fuck this year. Fuck anxiety. Love you, and that was a heart!

  42. Such a good dog. Such a good writer! I’m sorry you have to suffer such moments of falling apart. You probably don’t need me to tell you that you are amazing, but you are. Thank you as always for posting, being honest, and making others feel better even as you yourself are having a rough go.

  43. Thank you for sending this. I’ve never commented before because I am very shy but I can’t begin to tell you how much you sharing this and all your other posts mean to me. Just to know I’m not the only one out there feeling this right now…. it means the world to me.

  44. Right there with you. This is actually the first time I’ve been able to eat in 4 days. You’re definitely not alone.

  45. As I was sitting, holding the hand of my husband, as he was dying, I noticed a new bruise like mark on his arm. It was a perfect shape of a heart. That brought me such peace 💔

  46. Thank you for this post. I, too, experience both severe anxiety and panic attacks (along with their stupid cousin, depression) and this post made me feel just the teensiest bit better because the sense of alone-ness plus feeling that no one understands is almost as bad is the panic and anxiety themselves. I’ve been falling apart a great deal lately, and the meds, the talk therapy, and the freaking meditation are all not helping. I need Dorothy to come and drop me a sign that it will all be fine someday, but in the meantime your post will have to do. Thanks for making me feel less alone with the voices in my head. Hugs to you and loving scratches to Dorothy.

  47. Thank you. While I hate it for you, you just helped me understand the difference of my son’s recently heightened attacks. He has a language disorder and isn’t able to describe how he feels very well, but your experience sounds very much like what I imagine his to be. My heart breaks when I can’t help, but your descriptions can help me try a little better.

  48. Nothing you do or are will ever be too little. You are always enough. Our brains frequently deny this but what do they know?

  49. Posts like these are how you save my life again and again, by showing me I’m not alone and not too broken to have real value. Of course, I wish you didn’t have to experience these things in the first place—I wish none of us did—but you bring light to people just by opening up.

    Also, because dogs are perfect, I believe the milk bone can be feedback, a heart, and a shark tooth/shank all at the same time.

  50. You do put a lot of smiles on faces that you don’t see. And you help give voice to what some of us are experiencing, and that is good, too.

  51. 10 days ago I “broke”. Cried for 2 days, couldn’t move for 3. I’m in the rest and self care part of a nervous breakdown. This year has been utter garbage. Feel better. I’m looking forward to visiting your bookstore as soon a travel is safe again.

  52. My friend loved the poem You are a child of the universe. Not sure if that is actually the title but it is the first line so you can find it easily. It was her talisman that she repeated on days she felt left out, of her life, her family, whatever. It is a truth statement that HOD made as you are on purpose for reasons we can not understand. I can see the help you offer and in sharing your path with, you are saving lives. People you will never know survived another day because you are brave enough to share your struggles. I am grateful you are here.

  53. I know these feels so hard. And with the shit show of the world everything feels more difficult than it should. Some days I want to scream at my job and quit and then I remind myself that I’m lucky to have a job but it doesn’t stop me from hating it. I feel guilty every time I miss a day of work because of my Fibro flaring which makes my anxiety worse and in turn my Fibro worse. And sometimes it feels like it’s all to much. Love you to bits, it will get better <3

  54. Fuck me. That was awesome. I felt a rush of OMGs when I saw that effing heart. It was not a coincidence! Dogs are the best. Life is mysterious and wonderful. I’m so glad you got that little message. You deserved some other-worldly love. xxxxx

  55. I need you to know you’re not insane. Your brain just works overtime sometimes and there are a LOT of us who can and do relate (I include myself in that). You are a magical and mystical unicorn and so very special. Be gentle with yourself.

  56. Wonderful! What a testimony. Thank you. Such an insight into what a panic attack is like.

  57. I got back from the doc today and they are putting me on a med. I am completely overwhelmed on every front, work, life, no life, kids. The things I found joy in are like hard never ending to-dos. I am here with you. I am struggling and want to scream and cry all at once and transport to somewhere else just so I can stop looking at the same walls. I am a high risk for COVID, I call myself the weakest link. I am struggling, but it makes me feel normal and sane-ish to know you are with me. I wish I could sit in a corner at the bookstore and just read. And you go with your heart shaped biscuit! I lost my Riley a few weeks ago and I think he still leaves signs for me. Much care and love.

  58. Occasionally I wake up in the night with the feeling that everything is multiplying, exponentially, out of my control and I can never keep up with it. It’s the result of a hard-to-explain recurring nightmare and I wake up physically nauseated and shaky.

    There is one thing that helps, and it’s a kind of grounding exercise I guess, but to me it’s literally just blocking the panic by filling my head with something else.

    I start listing paint colors. Probably you could use any set of things you’re familiar with. Book titles, maybe. But for me I focus on going through the rainbow of pigments in my stash of oil paints. It makes the overwhelming feeling stop a lot sooner.

    I also get normal anxiety attacks and this isn’t the same thing, and I think your brand of full-fledged panic attacks is different from either of those, but maybe this could help?

  59. Thank you for sharing this amazing piece! Like your other blogs, it really resonates with what I am learning about making and sharing our storied experiences of coping day to day. Seeing the heart shaped dog bone gifted to you from your dog is a beautiful reminder that we need to celebrate the things that help us thrive!!

  60. First, pets are amazing during all of this. My dog actually has extreme separation anxiety. She makes it pretty obvious how much she needs her family.

    Second, you’re definitely not alone. I just made the decision to leave my job because of the safety risks it poses to me and my family. I’m a critical healthcare worker and the guilt I feel with that is… not good. The anxiety I felt with work ramped up for days going into my shifts and led to very little sleep, which made anxiety worse. My body itself stopped liking it and I am unsure my back will ever be the same. But even my extended family expressed relief that I stopped. I am amazed at how supportive and happy family and friends have been. And still i feel… like i let everyone down. So now I’m a bum, sleeping and reading too much and not cleaning enough.

    Hopefully soon we can all feel a little more like ourselves with a little less anxiety and dread. Knowing I am not alone is, as always, such a wonderful thing and I’m so glad for that.

  61. Thank you. I cried reading this because I felt not alone. I’ve been feeling like I’m drowning and failing at everything for weeks, and people around me don’t understand. They just say I’m not failing, that I’m doing better than I think. Nice of them to say, but my brain doesn’t comprehend it. I feel physically beaten down by stress and anxiety with no way out. But you give me hope. And dogs are the best. Think I’ll go cuddle mine.

  62. Dear Jenny, thank you for this. My partner tried to commit suicide last week (the 4th time this year), so it’s been one hell of a ride for us. I showed him this article, and he said you describe his anxiety attacks exactly. Thank you for giving him a voice to make me understand what he is going through.

    I’m sorry that you’re going through this… Hugs x

  63. Jenny- thank you. How do I keep my shit together in front of my ten year old??? Struggling so hard I’m in sunglasses and told her I have a sinus infection. Help

  64. The same thing happened to me the other day at WalMart when I went to buy jeans. It’s a good thing my husband was with me, or I would have needed really serious help AND the cops would’ve probably been called because I’m sure that with all the things that WalMart employees DO know how to handle, a small, fat woman lying on the floor curled up into the fetal position and sobbing hysterically because she doesn’t know how to buy pants anymore and is panicking because she’s not really even sure what SIZE she wears now (after months of isolation, eating than a strictly more than necessary amount of nacho cheese Doritos washed down with a literal river of Diet Coke) and of COURSE the dressing rooms aren’t open, so she can’t even try them on to see if they fit right is NOT something that’s covered in the employee training manual.

  65. Wow! Reading this really brings home how so many people are struggling right now. It doesn’t minimize what you are going thru but I hope it makes all of you know you aren’t alone. That would be worse. I hope that having a Tribe of understanding weirdos…not to mention an amazing heart chewing pupper….wraps you in love like a fluffy blanket. Be Well.💕

  66. I had a a bad day yesterday and very nearly shut down– and although my shutdowns are not nearly as awful or lengthy as they used to be (sleeping for a few hours instead of falling apart for a few weeks), I still felt pangs of guilt, like I’m not a good enough or strong enough person to “function normally”, as the Mean Me puts it. You just reminded me to treat myself with the empathy and kindness I would afford a close friend. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  67. LOVE THIS. The world is so EFFED UP right now. So disturbing and depressing. I have to keep reminding myself that my husband and I are “safe” (as much as possible) and healthy (so far) and we have each other, “enough” money to get by, and all kinds of delicious goodies I’ve been making and canning and freezing for the winter. We are so fortunate. Many people don’t have these things. And yet my heart aches, not for me so much as for the country and the world which are hurting, as are so many people out there. Know you have thousands of people rotting for you! And one dog, too!

  68. Thank you. You captured the difference between both attacks so vividly. I had one of those panic ones on Monday, Sept. 21. I had to take the day off work to recover and come down. I also tend to tackle little things on my to-do list to keep myself moving forward, accomplishing things. No matter how small.

    How wonderful that you recognize what your body needs when it needs it. That’s an incredibly intuitive part of anxiety that truly becomes a powerful tool.

  69. It’s definitely a heart. Dorothy Barker knew you needed that hug from the universe and the reminder that she’s there for you.

    As for the anxiety, I can so relate. I almost threw my laptop today. Literally had to stop myself from yeeting it against a wall because it has decided to die after 8 years of solid work. Of course it’s acting up a month before the hardest exams of my entire life and when my husband has lost his job. Oh well. It’s just one more challenge to face. I’m just so tired of it all. Why can’t anything be easy anymore? I guess that’s why we have our dogs! Loving them is easy.

  70. The stress of some condo board bullshit had me unable to sleep decently or eat properly for about 3 days. My husband doesn’t understand, but he did his best to help, and he brought me candy corn because I was sad. I also finally bought colored pencils so I could start coloring in my copy of your coloring book, and it helped. So you helped me and you never even knew it. You’re my very own Dorothy Barker!

  71. Whatever else your brain tells you is futile, do NOT let it convince you not to vote — for someone who’s honest, pragmatic, and eager to get us started repairing our lives, our country, and this broken world.

  72. Sometimes signs can come from the smallest things that many people wouldn’t understand… your dog dropping a maybe-heart-shaped bit of treat on you is a wonderful sign. Thank you for sharing all of this. I’ve actually just recently understood the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks (after so many years, goodness) when my new therapist explained to me why my latest attacks were panic rather than anxiety. It makes a lot of sense the way you explain it. The world is crazy/stupid/ridiculous/scary right now, but it’s nice to be reminded that we aren’t alone in it. I hope things start looking up for you, and all of us, sooner rather than later.

  73. Dottie B. Is a true American hero! This is one of those days where I hope with all my heart that at least a fraction of the light you put out in the world by sharing all of these stories, making us laugh, and just being you, is been shone back on you❤️
    I had the best dream that I was in San Antonio with my mother visiting my (deceased) grandmother. In the dream I was super psyched to find out Gran was alive and then equally excited to realize that we were in SA and could go to Nowhere Bookshop (since my subconscious managed to resurrect my dead grandmother, fixing The pandemic was apparently no biggie…) and then we were meeting you for enchiladas. I’m not going to lie, I was super bummed when I woke up

  74. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  75. Thank you so much. I have felt like this for so long now. I have been letting so many people down. Love and hugs to you and all the fucked up lovely people who follow you

  76. Thank you for being so honest about this struggle. I have battled with anxiety for as long as I can remember and for way too long, it felt like something that had to be hidden away. Which, of course, just makes the anxiety worse because then you are anxious about hiding the anxiety. You are not alone – we are all sending you positive thoughts and prayers.

  77. Thank you. I have saved the paragraph that starts with “Today I am better” to read over and over. I love your way with words 💕 thank you for explaining how we feel for those of us that cant find the words

  78. Wook at that puppy face! She totally knew you needed that and definitely did it on purpose! Cuz she wuvs you:). I apologize for the baby talk but only a little…

  79. As someone who used to suffer from horrible panic attacks, I really get this. You’re saying very well what it’s exactly like! I used to sit down and make a list of all the things hanging over my head, and that helped me feel like I was getting a handle on it all. That helped a lot. So I think Victor’s idea was a very good one. Sending hugs and all my best wishes for peace to you.❤️

  80. I think this is the sweetest and the best thing I’ve read today. I love your real-ness. Thank you.

  81. You are such an inspiration and a beautiful soul. And, btw, she totally made that into a heart for you and you’ll never convince me otherwise! <3 Sending lots of hugs and love… xoxo

  82. Thank you so much for sharing. This is what I needed to read. I am going through a tough time with anxiety and depression this past week..I think I’m getting over the hump but sometimes that climb can feel like a mountain. Hugs to you! Yes, definitely a heart ❤

  83. Thank you for being so (tragically) honest with the world, Jenny. I am comforted that I am not alone in this terrifying fear of what may come after 11/3.

  84. Thank you, thank you for sharing this. The last couple of weeks have been rough for some of us; I don’t know why. I just went back on my anxiety meds after having daily anxiety attacks and a couple of knock-me-for-a-loop panic attacks. It’s just good to know we’re not alone in our difficult moments. Love and energy to you!

  85. First off, big hugs to you. The year is so, so challenging. Because I am pretty sure we share some autoimmune diseases, I want to let you know what after years of taking low-dose methotrexate, I have started to have reactions to it that fell very much like anxiety attacks- heart pounding, hard to breathe, some nausea, and then it passes leaving me exhausted and in a fog for the rest of the day. I only take it once a week and it wasn’t until my second oddly timed “attack” that I realized something else was going on. I know you are familiar with panic and anxiety attacks, but I wanted to mention this just in case this could be a factor. Fuck 2020.

  86. Going through a rough time right now, too. Thankfully not a panic attack, those are the fucking worst. But general depression, anxiety, apathy. I’m lacking energy to do even the simplest things right now, like take a shower and wash my hair. The dishes need to be done, the house needs to be cleaned, clothes folded and put away, etc. I want to decorate for Halloween, but not only do I not have the energy for that, but also, the house needs to be cleaned first, and I most definitely don’t have the energy for that.
    Thank you for sharing. Thank all of you for sharing. It makes me feel not so bad about myself right now.

  87. I can’t hug you because a) COVID, b) I live about 1,000 away from you, and c) we’ve never met, and getting hugged by a complete stranger is assault and battery, in most states, so I’ll send a virtual hug. {{{hug}}}

    Hope you feel better, and definitely accept the gift from your doggo, who wants to share with you. When we first rescued our fluffernutter Jasper, he used to bring us treats– usually his rawhide bones. He would insist that we take them: Drop them in our laps or nose them into our hands or “bury” them under the edge of our legs or behind our backs. A few minutes later, he’d come back for them, but a dog behaviorist I asked said that he was acknowledging that we were the pack leaders and trying to share his treasures with us, which is just…. achingly sweet. And he is. Dogs are the best.

  88. Thank you for bringing that poem into the conversation, Jamie. I think this is it. I love the broad perspective in time and space it gives to this moment and to life as a whole. I’m going to post it in my office:

    “You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

    ― Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

  89. This past week and half have been hard for me and if it wasn’t for my new kitten I don’t know if I’d still be here. She makes everything better and when I feel myself start falling into a dark hole I play with her. We play with a stuffed beaver which for some reason is both of our favorite toy. Dorthy knew you needed some help and was there for you. I think she does know what a heart is and I think she loves those treats and wanted to share it with you. We’re so lucky to have animals in our lives even if my kitten is bitty as hell 😂😂😂

  90. I totally get you!! You are not alone. I see so much of me in your bog and books. We are all out there
    Some of us admit it others just don’t admit it.
    You are awesome. Waiting for your new book!

  91. Looks like a shiv to me. You’re great and you do great things. Don’t let your brain tell you otherwise.

  92. My husband was anxious and was looking like he hated everything and was snappish. So I am an empath and started telling him he’s not doing well. He denied it, but then later realized his denial was that he was unaware of his anxiety demons gnawing at him until his panic attack started making him feel like he was dying. Then I get anxious and I start cleaning, cleaning is my go-to when I’m angry or anxious, because it feels like I’m doing something. I also like to swear at the stuff in the kitchen when it’s pissing me off. Sometimes my anxiety has me clenching my hangs into fists and shaking in a red haze of anger at my anxiety and my high risk for COVIDness, and my autoimmune diseases are making my skin feel like someone is rubbing steel wool across it, and my joints ache until I can’t even sit still. Currently the world sucks so hard, it’s difficult to breathe, but then I see the birds and the squirrels and chipmunks out at my feeder and yesterday a chickadee flew up to me as I filled the feeder and chirruped at me in gratitude. Animals are awesome. Dorothy Barker definitely gave you her heart shaped dog bone because you needed it more than she did. Dogs only share food with the people that they really, really love.
    For all my fellow depression and anxiety sufferers who are finding the current apocalyptic state of the world overwhelming right now, just scream a giant “fuck you” to the universe and if you want to curl up in a ball with the covers pulled up to your chin and stare off into the middle distance with haunted eyes, know that I’m right there with you, and you have a tribe of us fighting with you to survive. Thank you for making me feel less alone.

  93. I love that you can put things into words so well that, even if it’s not exactly the same, it’s so close to what I’m battling often. I’m admitting myself “voluntarily” (haha, right…my therapist is giving me some control instead of having me brought there) to the hospital sometime this week and I’m going from super sensitive and panicking about what is happening to keeping myself distracted and feeling numb. I’m avoiding what I need to do. But my cat does need to go to the doctor. I’m not making that up. I’m bringing my You Are Here book with me and my own colored pencils. I’ll have to prove I don’t intend to stab anyone with them before they’ll let me use them though.

  94. Tell Victor to bring you some ice chips to suck on. I read that when we go into panic mode, our brain shuts down normal body processes like the digestive system, and shocking the system back into action by making it produce saliva (for example) can sort of short circuit the panic attack. I haven’t had a chance to try it myself with my son who has severe breakdowns (ASD/ADHD) but there were anecdotes from others who did. Worth a try.

  95. I can so sympathize. My father passed away recently. I understand that everyone processes things differently, but to me it felt like all the important but then again not really important decisions were being left up to me by my two sisters who were both processing in what felt to me like very unhelpful ways. (I now understand they were just coping and I was just looking for someone to be angry with and blame for my frustration.) By the day of the funeral, I told my niece that if one more person asked me to make a decision I was going to pop them in the face. And then the funeral home staff proceeded to pepper me all day with questions like “Can you take one last look at the bookmark to make sure it’s what you want?” “Do you want the pall bearers’ names on the handout?” “Can you fill out the order of cars that will follow the hearse?” “Would you like to take the cards, the guest book, and the flag home today or after the burial tomorrow morning?” I mean really people–some of these details could just be communicated as “this is how we normally do this…” BUT–I didn’t pop anyone in the face so I am counting that as evidence of my wicked good coping skills. And it passed. And although I’m not sure I made all the right decisions (I didn’t) there were no lasting repercussions that were important. And the next time I’m feeling overwhelmed, I hope I will remember that. But most likely I won’t. Oh well.

  96. It is a heart. The one thing I am certain about at this moment in time is that is a HEART. You have no idea how I needed this right now. At this moment in time. It’s like the universe dropped a metaphorical heart shaped dog biscuit on the tablet in my lap. Dorothy Barker wins Psychic of the Millennium award.

  97. Hey there I so sorry you had a BAD ONE yesterday, I have migraines, really bad migraines, not a headache, you think your dying – like your brain wants nothing more than to kill you and you kind of reach the point where you just wish it would and get it over with, and it was my birthday. When it finally goes away and you sleep then wake up it’s like HOLY SHIT this is awesome, I feel great, except you move around like you’re balancing your head on your neck in case it comes back if you move wrong. You Make So Many of Us Feel Less Alone, Thank You too. Feel Better!

  98. I’ve begun having dissociative episodes lately. I need to find things to do, to engage with the world outside my apartment, stuff outside of work. I knit and sew but I need to make friends and be around humans. And I can’t do any of that right now and the wrongness of the world just slams into me like a freight train and throws me out of my body. There’s things I’d like to be doing or trying to do, to grow as a person and work on some of my issues, and I just. Can’t.

  99. To not be alone in this very lonely world seems impossible to believe. But you have won our hearts because you are YOU. So, maybe just having these afflictions puts us in the best of company. Thank you Jenny.

  100. I had a big cry that I didn’t realize I needed last night, triggered by something that was disappointing but not THAT big of a deal. I got angry and frustrated and kicked and punched the soft but large pile of laundry on the floor: more evidence of my uselessness. I wouldn’t call it an anxiety or panic attack, but it was an angry and hopeless expression of my emotional state lately.

    I needed to read this at this moment. Thank you for sharing it, Jenny. I’m feeling better today, and I hope you are, too.

  101. Thank you so much for this. You really lifted me today. I hope you are lifted, too.

  102. Thank you for the reality check posts. I very rarely have full-b,own panic attacks but it’s 2020 so….
    it’s awesome to have someone else share their crazy brain & say “it will be ok” when nothing feels ok and they are just barely there themselves. THANK YOU ❤️❤️

  103. A dog that shares her Milkbone? That’s true love, no matter what the shape.

  104. I get hearts in fruit (watermelon) and vegetables (multiple potatoes). It feels like a sign and is comforting, although not at all rational. I hope you’re feeling better. If you’re ever in need of mindless tasks that generate a sense of accomplishment, feel free to come by my house. 🙂

  105. The universe will speak to us. We just need to listen better! Yay for dog-treat hearts!!

  106. My anxiety has been completely out of control and I empathize with you. I hate that this happened to you but I’m thankful for you sharing it because it reminds me that I’m not alone, I’m not crazy, and I’m not a burden. I’m sending you lots of hugs and love ❤

  107. I had one on Sunday night. Put down my Kindle and shut off the light, because I was already half asleep.

    As SOON as the light was out, my brain decided to remind that I have almost NO FRIENDS! That I am missing out on all these good times because I don’t have friends to meet for dinner and get wine drink with. Or just hang out with, even in a pandemic. That I am the kind of person who isn’t a person who has friends because I’m weird and awkward.
    So I cried to myself while my husband was sleeping because it seemed like the right thing to do. And considered going back on medication. The most embarrassing part is that I AM the person who wants to go to a yoga class but doesn’t want to go home then turn around and go back to town for the class that’s at 7pm only. I would rather hang out in my sewing room and play with scraps of fabric than go out of the house on the weekend. I don’t always have the energy to talk on the phone, I really can be a terrible friend. But i know my brqin is a big fat liar. And my two best friends have the same issues (husband) or just give more hugs and kisses and are super excited to see me every night (dog) and that’s okay.

  108. Folks, Further to my first comment (see the very top of this thread) I’ve enjoyed reading the responses all day here today and just wanted to throw this out there. You all are sharing your stories and I thank you for it. You and Jenny are letting everyone know they are not alone. I appreciate the reminder sincerely. I encourage all of you to consider connecting as previous people did through these pages via your social media accounts. I’m only on Twitter @WriterDann and I do my best to work in some satire into my occasional word blasts. Check out anyone under hashtag #TheBloggessTribe. You will find a collection of wonderful people to boost each other up.

    Thank you all for your indulgence and for helping to make the world better.

  109. I like that you still acknowledge that Victor is insane, just differently. We are all feeling the strain. Some of us more than others, but we are all here, understanding what you are talking about.

  110. Much love to you because I think you give so much to others with your writing, you have the best creative mind, and gosh darn it, you’re a fun person! Those are my high praise votes for you every day.

  111. We are all suffering from stress, and grief, and loss right now. Last week sucked the big pickle and I didn’t get to visit my daughter like we both had been looking forward to all month. I was lucky and found comfort in some friends I hadn’t seen in a long while. They allowed me to focus on the now and to forget about the BS for a while and when I was alone, I could tell I felt so much better for it. Once step at a time. It’s going to be ok, and your pup loves you, as do all of your clan here. E-hugs and deep cleansing breaths. Hug a giant soft pillow, or a cat, and lean into the exhaustion and heal. We’ll all be here for you when you get your spoons back <3

  112. Thank goodness for the Victors and Dorothy Barkers in this world. They don’t fully understand, but they love and care and are with us in the darkest places. I am so happy you are feeling a little better, and will be even more so soon. 🧡

  113. Two days ago, that was weeping, frantic me and my trying-hard-to-be-supportive husband — every word and feeling you described. Thank you for making me feel less alone. I absolutely think Dorothy Barker was giving you just what you needed, in the form of the piece of treat she most would’ve liked to devour. She held off to make it into a sign of love and compassion for you. When we least expect it and most need it, the universe cares for us.

  114. Thank goodness for the Victors and Dorothy Barkers in this world. They don’t fully understand, but they love and care and are with us in the darkest places. I am so happy you are feeling a little better, and will be even more so soon. 🧡

  115. I’m so sorry you are struggling.
    I’ve been holding one off for a while now, knowing deep down inside its coming and it will be ugly.
    There has been a lot of family illness and stress in the past few weeks. Hospitalizations, Covid tests, telehealth appointments that can’t diagnosis anything, etc.
    As I write this I’m in the emergency room parking lot waiting on my mom to be treated and discharged or admitted. It’s so very hard to take care of ourselves when we’re taking care of everyone and everything around us.
    Positive vibes being sent and big hugs to all of you!

  116. I love you, Jenny Lawson. I feel as though I have lived (many many times) the panic attack scenario you described. If it’s ok, I’m going to feel like Dorothy Barker loves me a little bit too. Because that quiets the panic. It helps make the quiet actually BE a quiet place.

    Big hugs, my dear fellow human.


  117. Ouch! Been there, done that, had that. Sorry for your pain.
    Sometimes I just keep humming the first few lines to this song:
    Of course then it becomes an earworm but at least I can accept my brain possibly being eaten by a worm instead of the fact that aliens are looking at our planet and saying “Not going there!”

  118. Wow that was so good and accurate and, unfortunately, relatable….but maybe not so unfortunately, because, maybe everybody in the whole world has a bit of the less worse one, and that’s okay, this is not a perfect life. If you thank God everyday for our spouses, does that help make them better to us ? (Depends, if they’re savable…not all are…..) but We always are…..can our faith and connections override others’ lack thereof ? Can our faith and optimism help make the road smoother and safer for us alone, as opposed to a closely connected couple where karma feels mutually shared ? I dk. Love You !

  119. Sorry you’re having such a tough time.

    My dogs love to rip up cardboard (usually from delivery boxes), so occasionally we give them some card. One time as I was clearing up afterwards, I found a heart shape, and I was feeling a bit down, so I took it as a lovely sign. I thought it wasn’t deliberate, but I found 2 more as I went. Now I think dogs are cleverer than we give them credit for.

    I hope you continue to feel better.

  120. Sending you lots of love from one of your holiday families. Today I recognized that I’m depressed, my kids are depressed and we all have anxiety issues. Whew, that’s a lot. But realizing it earlier today, made it easier to accept help. We’re here to support and help you. Love you Jen!

  121. I needed this today more than you could ever know. Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, the weird, and the ugly. 💜

  122. I’m having a terrible panic attack. It’s been going on for two-ish hours and it’s coming in waves. I just signed on to Twitter to see if there was something to make me laugh and I saw the link to this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has moments like this. I feel so alone sometimes though. Thank you for writing this.

  123. Literally every single thing has become a threat that requires an adrenal response, and humans weren’t designed to deal with that. I know I have it so much better than so many other people, and I have to remind myself that my feelings are valid and it’s not a competition where only the most desperate of us are allowed to fear or mourn or rage. We may be in wildly different boats, from yachts to submarines to driftwood rafts, but we’re all in the same storm. I’m trying to help people whose boats are far worse than mine, while acknowledging that my boat is in no way safe. I’m glad you have life jackets, Jenny. You’ve been one for me.

  124. Jenny, you take my breath away with your willingness to share your vulnerability which helps the rest of us to know that we are okay, because we think that you are the cat’s pajamas even in your brokenness. That is definitely a heart from the universe delivered via Dorothy Barker.

  125. Here’s to Accidental Hearts. Dorothy shared one with you. You shared it with us. The world got a little softer.

    Magic Accidental Hearts ✨💙✨

  126. That heart’s tooth (not a heart, not a shark tooth) is everything. I’m having crazy anxiety and anger today because *waves hands vaguely* things. But today I found TWO lucky pennies inside my studio, which I associate with a game my dad and I used to play. So I’m choosing to believe that they’re messages from my dad that things will get better. And they will. We both know that, no matter how untrue it feels right now. Sending you love.

  127. Thanks so much. Your timing is impeccable. It’s been a garbage fire day and I’m glad someone out there can understand the uncontrollable chaos of a panic attack. It will get better.

  128. I am not qualified to give advice, but I had this really clear thought (one of those thoughts that seem like they came from outside myself) while I was reading this, so I thought I’d share. You don’t need goals and deadlines. Those are just ways to set ourselves up for failure when we don’t meet them — ways to make us feel lousy about ourselves. That’s all they have ever accomplished for me. But maybe you need a list? You are worried you’re forgetting something and by the time you remember it, it’ll be too late? Keep a rotating list (cross stuff off the top, add it to the bottom) of your concerns. The squash is on the list. Your hair is on the list. Then when you worry you are forgetting something, look at the list. The squash will still be in the yard tomorrow. If you don’t pick it, a bird will eat it. That’s fine; you love the birds too. Your hair will still be on your head tomorrow. If it gets tangled or oily, it can be fixed later. I’d think reading the list might be comforting. Everything’s here. Nothing’s been forgotten. There’s nothing here I can’t handle later. I can cut myself some slack.

  129. I’m glad you’re doing better. We need you. We love you. You’re a light in this shifty, dark world for me. You make me believe I can be a better person, even when my first instinct is to rage at the assholes. — then at myself for failing. Again.

    Thank you, Jenny.

  130. Panic attacks are not something I’d wish on another person. My panic attacks come with hot flashes. So not only can I not make a cohesive sentence, get my breathing under control, or keep tears from running down my face, I’m waving my arms around and begin to strip. For some reason no one believes it’s possible for someone in their thirties to have hot flashes. I’ve had these since I was 24. My whole system feels like it’s overloaded and steam just needs to come out of my ears but it never does. Then I’m completely useless for at least four hours. A few weeks ago I had 8 panic attacks in just over four days. It was torture.

    So to anyone also dealing with this: You. Are. Not. Alone.

  131. So many ppl don’t understand a panic attack is different from anxiety attacks. Thanks for putting it into words. I’m beyond overwhelmed with life. Things to do that are reasonable and attainable, but I’d rather ignore it than be done with it. I’m discovering hormones are adding a few weepy days each month now too just for fun. Because that’s necessary. Ugh.

  132. I was really depressed yesterday, and then I heard that Eddie Van Halen died and that pushed me over the edge. I had to quit working and crawl in bed for the rest of the day. Yesterday sucked.

  133. Thank you for sharing that – it was a brave thing to do. How can we help – besides buying dozens of books from Nowhere, that is! Be as strong as you can and know you’re NEVER alone.

  134. Jen, I literally skimmed through your entry, because ADD, but I also felt all of your words sink their hooks into my soul, and break me. Especially the part about panic attacks and losing a family member. When my dad died, and my sister in law called me with “ARE YOU SITTING DOWN?” it was like a wrecking ball hit me dead on. My legs wouldn’t work when I tried to run to my husband for help. My mind shut down.
    That was 2014. 6 years later, I still fear that next phone call, mainly about my brother, who is 64 and has severe cirrhosis, diabetes, and heart disease.
    I totally feel you (sorry if that sounds wrong but I can’t think of any other words because I’m drunk right now due to anxiety/panic)…
    You are an inspiration, and I hope some day and can find ways to get through ‘the struggles’ of this condition ‘they’ call PSTD, GAD, and clinical depression.
    There are some days I want to be ‘alive’ and ‘normal’, being able to drive to the store without freaking out. Being able to just leave my damn house. Not changing my mind every 10 seconds, saying ‘screw it, I’m not doing anything’.
    Can all of us just have a GROUP HUG??? Since my dad died in 2014, I’ve literally forced myself to ‘shut down’…convincing myself to feel no emotions. DEAD INSIDE. But that’s no way to live. But I’m AFRAID of emotions since then. Does anyone understand this? I’m certain people do.
    Anyways, I profusely apologize for this entire comment Jen. Feel free to delete if it seems ‘too much’.
    HUGS to you and all who live with mental health issues.
    It totally sucks enormous elephant balls.

  135. Jenny, you are simply amazing! 💕💕💕. I have never had panic or anxiety attacks, but it’s wondrous to me that you make it thru and always have your humor.

  136. Thank you, Jenny. I needed this. I needed to know I’m not alone. I’m falling apart but I can’t fall apart because I have 200 students, a son, and four dogs relying on me to keep my shit together but really I just want to sleep and not have to think all these racing thoughts about all the shit I need to do and the papers they need me to grade and the lesson plans I haven’t posted and the dinner I never fixed and Goddamn I am so fucking tired just writing this. I am working 20 hour days and if I could make my thoughts stop racing and distracting me I know I could get more shit done in less time but I just can’t stop the noise telling me I’m not good enough or smart enough and look at all the things I’ve fucked up in my life and oh, shit, you didn’t do attendance. Stop, stop what you are doing right now and get it done, and here’s another email from an angry parent wanting my attention right this fucking minute even though this is their third email today about the same thing. Yes, these are run on sentences and I’m sorry. My anxiety is one big run on sentence but I wanted to say thank you for showing us we are not alone.

  137. I’ve been existing/surviving my whole life and never learned how to live. I’m awful and everything hurts all the time. I never learn from my mistakes and let hope kill more of my soul all the time. I can’t take any more. It’s beyond time to let go. Last night I made a plan and today I set a date. I’ve never felt more relief than knowing I can finally stop existing soon. I can only post this here and only anonymously, but maybe it’s good to have a safe place to say soon I will be able to rest.

    Thank you for being a light in my darkness. You definitely know how to live and have tons to live for. Keep embracing the good times and learning from the bad ones. You are strong and amazing and good. The world needs you, both the big world and your own little world of family, friends, books, and awesomeness.

  138. I was with you during one of your attacks. In a bathroom stall. At a book signing. I offed to get you a drink. Or a Xanax. Or a valium, or toilet paper or whatever you needed…and we laughed. I stayed there and guarded the door and wouldn’t let anyone else in until you were okay to come out. You did the reading and everyone laughed until they cried. You signed books and took pictures and no one else ever knew. I still have my picture with you and my son. I never told him, or anyone…until today…when I asked him to read this post. And he looked at me and understood ALL the crazy times I wasn’t quite myself…and we laughed until we cried. And it was just okay. Thank you for making ALL of us stranglings ALWAYS feel okay. We love you, just the way you are. And that makes it okay to love ourselves…just the way we are. 💗

  139. Hey Anonymous 193, I’m pretty sure that the world needs you too! You may not see it, but you are an important part of this world and it will become a worse place if you leave like this. I didn’t know you til about 5 minutes ago but my world will be a lesser place without you. I’m sorry that you hurt all the time…that must be awful. But I think that maybe being part of Jenny’s extended family makes you feel a little better, sometimes, right? She’s felt this way too, and so have many of the people here. You reached out to this group and we are here to hold you up, when you can’t hold yourself up. Keep reaching out, and get rid of that calendar. Virtual hugs.

  140. One Valentine’s Day, my old Buster cat left a heart shaped clump of tinkle clay in the litter box. Best gift of the day. Okay, only gift.

  141. Two things here.
    1. Thank you for sharing that you have the same things happen to you, that happen to a lot of us. We feel a little less diminished knowing someone else has the same episodes. We will always stand with you. We hope to be part of the wall between you and the darkness.
    2. Anonymous 193, please reread number one. You are important in this world. Please don’t do something that can’t be undone. Lean on us please.

  142. Thank you for sharing.
    So many hugs, hearts, and everything. It will be OK. It may SUCK for a bit, but we are all going to get through this. Victor is amazing. Dogs know when we hurt and comfort us. Dorothy <3 you too.

  143. Thank you Jenny and everyone who shared. It’s good to know I’m not alone. To Anonymous 193- Your words and thoughts I have felt myself. Everything seems so clear, but it’s a lie. You are an important part of the universe, we are all connected, and your loss would leave an emptiness that can never be filled. I want you to believe that it will get better because I have been there and it did get better. Some days it’s sucky but overall, I’m glad I didn’t miss out on life.

  144. Great Article. You have beautifully articulated it. Readers revisit only if they found something useful. So the core formula is to provide value to the readers. Also, Title is very important.

    Thanks & Regards

  145. Hey, dogs don’t know what shark’s teeth are either, so who’s to say it’s not a heart?Really glad you’re in a better place now, and thank you for sharing this. For whatever it’s worth, you are not alone. That, and the truism “this, too, shall pass,” don’t help in the moment sometimes, but they’re true, and sometimes all we can do is hang on.
    I don’t know whether this is any use to you, but for me it can help to keep telling myself to act as if.
    Hang in there, and please remember that a lot of people who have never even met you know you through your incredibly brave sharing of yourself and love you.

  146. You’re brave asf. You made it thru cuz ur meant to live another day and be ur awesome self. Ur a survivor and a fighter. That’s how you win and you prove it time and again. Next time panic seizes you just say BRING IT ON MF’ER!! I got this!! Just like the last time. Now that you know you can beat panic they will only get better and better cuz you know how to not be so scared. You know you can wait it out. I did that years ago when I had panic attacks as a child. They are bad asf and I found a way to breathe and visualize them away and once I found that I could do that all the fear left me. I haven’t had any since cuz I knew I could kick ass. Now I use meditation to quell anxiety and allay panic. Life can still be scary asf but never give in. Never give up. You’re awesome woman.

  147. Gatorade. The big messy cries call for Gatorade. With the sugar, that’s part of the whole hydration thing, no “zero” crap. Or WTRMLN WTR (the tall skinny bottle not their sport drink with stevia and stuff) it’s more expensive and harder to find but it’s more natural and I still think it helps. We refer to these things as cry cry juice in our house. Every body is different but I get really out of whack when I cry and water in any amount doesn’t really help.

  148. @Stephanie (#186) Girl, I am right there with you. I was barely holding my shit together the last few days, and then I heard about Eddie, and that was it for me, kids. I live in a world WITHOUT Eddie Van Halen in it… that is just fucked up beyond all reason. Not as bad as losing Bowie, but damn close. 2020 can go fuck itself sideways.

    Jenny, thank you for describing the difference between an anxiety attack and panic; I’m going to have my Vulcan read it, because I’ve never been able to express it.

    Oh! As I type this, my favourite song by my favourite band (and one of Eddie’s, too) just came on: “Better Things” by The Kinks:

    Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
    And hoping something better comes tomorrow
    Hoping all the verses rhyme
    And the very best of choruses, too
    Follow all the doubt and sadness
    I know that better things are on the way

    Here’s hoping all the days ahead
    Won’t be as bitter as the ones behind you
    Be an optimist instead
    And somehow happiness will find you
    Forget what happened yesterday
    I know that better things are on the way

    It’s really good to see you rocking out
    And having fun
    Living like you’ve just begun
    Accept your life and what it brings
    I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things
    I know tomorrow you’ll find better things…

    Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
    And hoping something better comes tomorrow
    Hoping all the verses rhyme
    And the very best of choruses, too
    Follow all the doubt and sadness
    I know that better things are on the way
    I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead
    The past is gone, it’s all been said
    So here’s to what the future brings
    I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
    I know tomorrow you’ll find better things…

    Bust that and “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac on a loop, and you’re right as rain again!

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

  149. Shark’s teeth are fun to find. Whether it’s a heart or a shark’s tooth, it’s a good sign.

  150. Jenny and everyone else,

    I am so sorry that you and so many of us are suffering. (Claire: I hope it’s a cold and not COVID.) I’m another one who gets panic and anxiety attacks. Sometimes they’re severe enough. that I end up in the hospital to make sure I’m not dying.

    Your description of Victor trying to help you —

    “And he didn’t understand (because he’s not insane in the same way I am) and tried to help by encouraging me to set goals and deadlines with the things that I’m forever behind on and that just made it worse because I don’t have the capacity for goals and deadlines at the moment and it feels so terrible to explain that something so simple for most people is absolutely too much to even think about for me at the moment”

    — resonated with me. I have been told so so many times by well-meaning people that If I would JUST do this or that, my depression/anxiety/panic etc. would go away. It’s never helpful, but how do I say that to someone who is trying to care about me?

    I looked up the Desiderata/Child of the Universe. Much of it is lovely, but its premise that “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” is patently wrong right now. I feel so powerless right now.

    I was reading an archived article by Andrew Solomon ( “Anatomy of Melancholy,”) recently, and in it he wrote

    “Accuracy of perception is not an evolutionary priority. Too optimistic a world view results in foolish risk-taking, but moderate optimism gives you a strong selective advantage. ‘Normal human thought and perception,’ Shelley Taylor writes in her 1989 book, Positive Illusions, ‘is marked not by accuracy but by positive self-enhancing illusions about the self, the world, and the future. Moreover…these illusions are not merely characteristic of human thought; they appear actually to be adaptive.’ As she notes, ‘The mildly depressed appear to have more accurate views of themselves, the world, and the future than normal people. [They] clearly lack the illusions that in normal people promote mental health and buffer them against setbacks.’”

    So you see, you’re not insane. You’re the one with the clearest vision in the room.

    We’re all here for you, Jenny. We understand through what you’re going. And honestly: aren’t panic attacks the only sane response to the world sometimes?


  151. Hey Jenny, not sure if you read these this far down. That amazing pup of yours absolutely was sharing a cookie with you. Dogs do know when we have a change in our emotions due to a change is our scent. Some dogs will try to help make us feel better with snuggles, kisses or by giving us what makes them feel better. Dorothy Barker loves those cookies and thought you could use one to feel better. The heart was an add bit of love.
    The way you described the difference between a panic and anxiety attack was so perfect! I have tried to help those don’t experience them understand but never get it across clearly. Pretty sure the way you put it will be used for years to come for MANY with anxiety and panic attacks.
    Thank you for for sharing so much. Scary, sad, silly, happy….all of it is always amazing. And try to remember that through it all, me matter what, you are loved. (Dorothy said so)

  152. is a panic attack like the first big drop on a roller coaster and everyone around you is just calm and relaxed while you are white knuckling it and trying not to scream in terror?

  153. My heart broke for my daughter recently. She told me she’d been to the dentist because her teeth were shifting…from stress & anxiety. I wanted to cry! I felt guilty because I have always had TMJ (you would never know I had braces), grinding my teeth. She’s half me, so it’s my fault, right? At the same time, I put that thought away! My daughter is a badass! She & her husband worked at home, they got the kiddo through online school, they quarantined, they followed the rules, they still refrain from much although rules have relaxed. And she’s like me despite her dad & I raising her to be able to navigate through, finding coping techniques, to the point her life appears charmed. Not so! Looks may be deceiving so we all need to really look after each other.

  154. It was a heart…absolutely. I am sorry you had a panic attack. I am glad it is over for now and that they come less often than anxiety attacks. But I am smiling at you now because you bring great delight to me and many others. A world with a Jenny in it is definitely worth having.

  155. Jenny. I know the difference. Panic attacks are crippling in a different way than anxiety attacks. I’m terribly sorry you get them too. The one you described sounds horrific. You are definitely not alone. Much love to you my friend. I see you. ❤️❤️❤️

  156. Thanks for this reminder, I needed it. Totally a Universe heart sign. Or a shark tooth but wouldn’t that fit your personality… good on Dorothy B.

  157. Dogs are very special angels sent from God. That Milk Bone heart was a special gift. Hold on to it and know you are loved.

  158. Thank you so much for this, Jenny. I had my own mental break a couple of days ago. My mother and dog (<3) were able to bring me back around, but still feeling the after-effects. But you (and Dorothy Barker/ the Universe) are right, it will be ok. We must all keep going together.

  159. We are all going through so much right now personally and as a nation. Then pile mental illness on top and it’s a wonder anyone gets through. Thank you for sharing what’s going on with you. Knowing that others have issues to overcome, too, makes mine easier to bear. Bless you and your family.

  160. The universe does seem to be dishing out an inordinate amount of shit this month. Having panic issues myself between the child failing classes online, husband’s neurological issues and the VA’s lack of help, the new puppy because husband’s PTSD is service connected but not combat related so he doesn’t qualify for a service animal, the presidential insanity, the commute to work and trying to balance work with everything, and a slew of the rest of life as an adult….I sat and cried in my car this afternoon in the Wal-Mart parking lot after all the people set off another anxiety attack and I cried myself into a full blown panic attack….just too much right now.

  161. I lost my cat (and best friend) of 15 years on Tuesday. I had forgotten that I purchased The Furiously Happy audiobook when it first came out and in a desperate search to find some kind of joy to hang onto for a minute… I pressed play and laid down to cry some more. I went in and out of awareness to what I was listening to but all of a sudden the story about the ingestion of the toy with the bell came on…. so there I was in the dark, desperately clutching to a stuffed version of my recently gone ginger kitty… rocking back and forth in my bed….tears uncontrollably coming from my eyes…. snot bubbles coming from my nose… and I’m laughing so hard that it hurts.

    I haven’t laughed since and I am truly in awe at how I have any tears left… but for that five minutes, you gave me exactly what I needed.
    Thank you for that.

  162. That is absolutely a heart and Dorothy Barker knew exactly what she was doing ❤️ I’d be keeping that forever. So sorry you had a rough go and am happy you are recovering. Love you.

  163. Jenny,
    This year, thanks mostly to circumstances surrounding COVID, I weathered my first panic attack. And then my second and third. Thanks to you sharing your experiences, I panicked only as much as I had to (maybe a little more), and I knew that it was possible that someday there might be no panic. Thank you.

  164. You have such a good grasp on your feelings. Always remember, this too shall pass. I love that you were gifted a heart. And I don’t care what anyone says, that is a heart given with love by Dorothy Barker. I would treasure it. Can I kind of give a piece of advice here? I have had panic attacks where I can’t breathe, but I know they’ll only last a few minutes. They always start(ed) when I was asleep. Well, in May I thought I was having a panic attack, but I just couldn’t get past it. Since I couldn’t breathe and had been gasping for seven hours, I had my son call 911 for me. They took me to emergency, and it turned out that I was having a heart attack. So I just want you to be aware that a panic attack and heart attack are pretty much identical.

  165. Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your struggles with us. It is SO helpful and comforting to realize I’m not the only one experiencing this weird-ass shit. YOU are AMAZING just because you’re you.

  166. I’m so sorry you are struggling right now, Jenny. It is bad enough when it’s clear that the world is actually ok and it’s most likely our notoriously bad wiring causing us to see things inside out – but when the world itself is turned inside out, knowing what’s just us and what is really a threat can be so damn hard. Mornings are always the worst for me. But earlier this year, my cat started doing this thing right before my alarm goes off – she lays one (sheathed) paw on my forehead, and just leaves it there for a minute. As my most vulnerable self swims to the surface of consciousness, it is that loving, reassuring touch that I am first aware of. Her food is out all the time so she is not looking for anything. Just me. She is looking for me. That was a heart, you can take that to the bank.

  167. “I am overwhelmed with impulsive thoughts and I know that it will pass but I have to keep myself safe until it does.” This means that you’ve got this. It feels like you don’t but you do. You’re awesome.

  168. Jenny, I hope you see this and it speaks to you. <3

    An Accidental Heart

    It's illogical to think
    she knew what I needed
    in that moment

    that ephemeral moment
    that was impossibly chaotic and

    It's illogical to know
    undoubtedly, unrestrainedly
    that it was meant
    for me.

    A message of love and kindness
    impossibly understood and passed

    And maybe it wasn't her.

    Maybe it was something larger,
    ubiquitous and mysterious,
    acting through her,
    whispering "it's going to be okay."

    A soft caress like an early fall breeze.


    Maybe I'll never know,
    but I'll take it
    and have hope.

  169. Thank you for helping to normalize the myriad of feelings and self perceived stigma associated with this type of occurrence. It’s often very isolating, embarrassing and simply regrouping from the added mind dribble is exhausting. Helps to have reminders it isn’t actually a solitary reaction.

  170. I’m so happy that you shared this. I needed to hear that I’m not alone. I’m sorry you’re going through it though. That sucks balls.

  171. Hugs to you Jenny! Yes, the universe is always trying to communicate with us. It’s a very confusing language for sure, but it’s there! If you ever need a break from the normal (or Twilight Zone life we’re in now), I am a psychic medium and would love to give you a free reading, We can even do this via Zoom! Would love to bring you some heartfelt messages from spirit and possibly even, spirit guides, to uplift your heart!

  172. September for me was one long anxiety attack followed by intermittent full blown panic attacks. Somehow, some way, in the moments I was really pushing the panic down, I made one good decision that helped. October sees me cleaning up after September. No you aren’t alone. TV is my babysitter during these times. But I’m sure a victor would be more effective. Xoxo. I hope you’re on the other side of the attacks.

  173. The struggle is real… everyday. Your trapped in your own brain, wanting it to stop for just “1” minute, “1” hour, “1” day. You can read everything written about Mental Illness and you won’t understand, Hell, I don’t even understand it and it has been with me for 27 years and counting. My true friends are, Anxiety, Socialized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression, Bipolar, OCD, PTSD and the many, many phobias that do not allow me to function for days on end. I do very few things because the repercussions are 10 times
    worse so I do nothing at all to avoid it. Here is one day of my life, 1 hour of pure hell, last Thursday I was here by myself I had to go to Physical Therapy, so I got up and got dressed. I had this odd feeling and then wham I had an anxiety attack like no other, my heart was beating so fast,I could not catch my breath, I stood in the kitchen sobbing and shaking uncontrollably frozen in deathly fear. I did not know what to do, all the things I have learned through the years to help myself bring it under control was gone. I couldn’t call Bob he was in the middle of a house fire. Lindsey was at work, they are the only ones that can help me. and if you think that once it is over you go back to “normal” wrong, your brain literally hurts, not a headache. I had to go lay down because I was no good to myself. I wake up everyday wondering what will today hold, when will that shit storm happen. Every day has its own challenges. People with mental illnesses are not stupid or crazy, we’re actually quite smart. We just have this bullseye placed on our backs by society and the stigma of being mentally ill. So don’t look at me different. Don’t talk down to me like I’m a little kid. And I damn sure don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I AM ME and you are you. ❤️ This was in my memories today on Facebook it was 2 years ago, things have not improved.
    I would like to Thank you Jenny because reading your books gave me the strength to write this. I have always hidden the things that happen to me, I don’t like the way people look at you with pity and are so truly unaware of the things you go through even when you’ve told them millions of times. Much love to you Jenny for giving me the courage to finally speak up and share at least one thing. ❤️❤️

  174. I carried all yawl along with me yesterday…”gravel traveling” the back roads of Iowa. My 65th birthday is Monday the 12th. My best friend (used to be my sister-in-law, I got her in the divorce) agreed to be my driver so I could hang out the window and take photos…we took ourselves in a rambling stop for coffee here, pick up a doughnut there with the goal of reaching the Grotto of the Redemption at West Bend, Iowa…it is a structure created by Father Paul M. Dobberstein. It covers an entire city block. It is recognized as the largest collection of minerals and petrification in any single place on earth. It is mind blowing…for each of us who inhabit this crazy Jenny world, who know the piece by piece we have to stack or shuffle about, this is a monument to glory. Tons of semi-precious and precious and generic stones, shells, petrified wood, mosaic tiles, etc set in concrete and depicting Christ’s life in strangling, sparkling wonder. Here, I left all the anxiety of the past few months, the 12+ hours behind a mask working in the halls of the hospital and care center, killing germs, listening to the fear and sorrow of my elderly residents who have lost so much and are in lockdown approaching eight months with no end in sight. The clear azure Iowa skies, the sun, the dust in the wind from the combines in the bean fields and the corn fields, all swirled up and took the “crazy” away and left me with crazy like holy…in the name of us all who are Jenny’s,
    I hope you feel it! Look up the Grotto of the Redemption on the internet and see just what is standing there in tiny pieces stuck onto others to create just an overwhelming structure of pure dedication, chaos in a form. Holy Craziness, and wholly love…

  175. Thanks, Jenny. You’re an amazing woman and help tons of us out here by sharing. Glad you’re feeling better. Love to you and the fam.

  176. I came here this morning because I just went through a conversation with myself about how I’ve tried therapy, I’ve tried changing, and it’s just not working. About how my brain will never allow me to be anything other than the giant fucking disaster that I am. About how I just need people to understand that and let it be, because I can’t keep trying. This is what you get. This is what I get. There is no magical switch. Thank you for understanding how that feels, and for reminding me that it isn’t forever.

  177. I have the same panic attacks and they are brutal! I am so glad you are on the other side of it. Be gentle with yourself today and the days to come.

  178. Thank you again for letting us all know that we’re not alone, Jenny. To say that we’re living through unsettling times is an understatement, but for people like us who deal with significant depression and anxiety on a regular basis, attributing our moods to the state of the world is inadequate, to say the least. Your courage in sharing your vulnerabilities is contagious and it’s no exaggeration to say that you have improved my outlook a great deal with this simple post.

  179. Jenny, my heart aches so much for you and everyone else who has these horrific panic attack episodes and everyone who is struggling right now.

    I’m grateful that I’ve only had anxiety attacks. I hope and pray for light and healing for you and everyone during this troubling, painful, and taxing year. I can only say what has helped me tremendously, which is prayer combined with reiki energy healing. This is the channel I go to if anyone is interested. There are videos for anxiety, depression, etc.


    I had a breakdown of sorts a few months ago. Even Covid aside, things majorly hit in the fan in my life and one day I just hit my limit. I felt like my life was falling apart. I started doing Reiki a while back, but specifically one session helped me reach an epiphany…my small timid inner voice began to speak up after many years of being shelved and I began to listen to myself for the first time in years. I realized that I needed peace in my life at all costs… that I needed to construct and assert healthy boundaries to protect and nurture my being.. emotionally, mentally, spiritually, etc.

    I started to slowly listen to myself each day and ask myself what I wanted and needed. As an empath and a caregiver this is extraordinarily difficult for me and it has been a very painful process, but even with the hellish firestorm that is 2020 I have not felt this good within myself in years. I’m grateful to God for His intersession to help me reach this place. I feel like I’m giving myself room and permission to live and it feels good.

    My struggles continue as those do for absolutely all of us, but I am grateful I hit that horrible ridge in my life that forced me to befriend myself for the first time in a very long time if ever. I wish, pray, and hope for the best for all of us going forward. I send wellness, light, hope, and healing thoughts to you and the tribe. 💜💜💜

  180. You put exactly what a panic attack feels like to me in words. It’s terrible that anyone has to feel that way and the accompanying fragility. Thank you for sharing and fighting.

  181. I often feel like I’m just barely holding it together. I’m so glad someone else can put words to those feelings.

  182. i so much relate to this. i nearly stuck my hand into a boiling kettle once to stop emotional pain. and the dog biscuit – i gave my friend a bonio to put in her pocket when she was overwhelmed and she later told me she pulled it out in a ski slope in another country on a family holiday and it gave her strength. i have “only connect” tattooed on my ankle and at times like these connection is the key to survival for me.

  183. <3 Thank you for being so open and real. Ive sunk into a depression this weekend and everything just feels like so much. I know it will all pass but I just can't atop crying at everything. Its comforting to see other people dealing with stuff. And able to be open about it.

  184. When I have panic attacks I just put on Garbage’s The Trick Is To Keep Breathing – is that the song? Anyway, it’s a good song. And I remember that fear is almost NEVER reality. Chin up! You’ve had your hand up a cow. 🙂

  185. Life can really get you down at times can’t it.
    Yesterday I turned 66 and can now legally collect a pension.
    But, I don’t plan to retire for another 2 years (financial reasons), however with work getting harder, having turned that corner of reaching pension age, I’m suddenly longing to not have to get up in the morning and think about work.
    I’m also seeing all these reports in the news of people dying at an age that is either younger than me or often not that much older, which is depressing in itself. How many years have I got left? 20? More? Less! How long will it be gefore my health starts to go downhill 🙁 It’s depressing alright.
    There are 2 options as I see it: Go into a downward spiral to deep depression, or give myself a kick and try and make a success of my blogs and other writing ventures while I still can. The latter sounds better to me, a whole lot better.
    Just keep breathing, calm things down and things should return to normal.

  186. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m glad you’re trying to treat yourself like you would one of your friends. Otherwise we are much too hard on ourselves. Hang in there. And give Dorothy Barker a few extra treats for that heart. 🙂

  187. I only found your blog today because 2011 pic of parasol tightrope girl with alligators. I like your stance on her, by the way. I’m sorry this is a tough time- I totally relate, though I don’t want to go into it- but I thought that irrelevant as it may be, and whether or not you end up liking the artistic interpretation that brings this to us, parasol tightrope girl got out. I think its kinda fun, and maybe it will give you a little light relief on a tough day too. https://www.karenhallion.com/post/found-a-way-out-01

  188. I’m drowning and can’t do this any more. Working from home full-time with my husband working from home full-time and trying to educate our 10 yr old daughter who has ASD, ADHD, and Anxiety. Just so tired of all of this.

    (Sending you so much love. Keep breathing. This will pass. ~ Jenny)

  189. Bit late for this, but what the hell. Someone will see it sometime and maybe it will help

    I don’t remember how or why it started, but at some point in my childhood, my Mom told us to make a list of the things we would do that day, and to try to do as many of those things that we could. And the great things about the list was that she said it should start off with Get Out Of Bed; Eat Something: Brush Teeth; Get Dressed; Make Bed. THEN you could add other stuff. But if all you did was Get Out of Bed long enough to Eat Something and Brush Your Teeth – you still had done THREE WHOLE THINGS OFF YOUR LIST. Even if you went back to bed!!!
    Later in life I worked with the most wonderful woman, a real mentor to me, who added another piece to Daily List puzzle: She always told me “You MADE the list; therefore, you can CHANGE it”. She also told me never to “should” on yourself. You SHOULD do this; You SHOULD do that; You SHOULD be like someone else. WHY? Who says? It’s YOUR life, it’s YOUR day, it’s your YOU, and you get decide

    And, yeah, I’ve had some seriously amazing and badass women in my life. One of whom is named Jenny Lawson.

  190. Thank you for this. For sharing as openly as you do. And, for that last paragraph, which speaks straight to my heart, right when I needed it (and I can see via the comments, I’m not alone in that).

  191. I completely appreciate you. I have been in this constant in and out of these feelings for a few weeks. People don’t understand or consider me emotional. But my anxiety adjustment disorder is overwhelming. Peace.

  192. I love you, Jenny. Your candid sharing of your struggles have helped me more than you will ever know. I have read everything you have ever written and refer others to you. All my life I have stuffed everything down and in the last few years have had some pretty awful life experiences. I found myself in the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack but it was a panic attack. I almost wrote “only” a panic attack but there’s nothing trivial about it. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life and now know I have been having panic attacks my whole life. Thanks to you and all of you who open your hearts to me and others, I have learned that everything will eventually be ok. It has only taken me 68 years to learn I don’t have to hide anymore and stoicism is overrated.

  193. I have the same panic attacks and they are brutal! I am so glad you are on the other side of it. Be gentle with yourself today and the days to come.

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