Well that was unexpected

So a few days ago I found out that Broken debuted at #3 on the NYT bestseller list, which was a total shock because a TON of great books came out the same week as mine and I’m not really doing a lot of publicity stuff because I’m afraid of people and my entire book tour has taken place inside my house in my pajamas. And I was going to write about it but then I started having panic attacks and it seems weird to have panic attacks after being relieved about something you’ve been worried about but technically that’s how my panic attacks often work. They wait until I feel safe enough and then they pounce, which is always unsettling, especially because a panic attack without any direct cause feels very much like a heart attack and then you panic about dying and then you take some xanax and realize it’s just your brain fucking with you. But then you deal with the exhaustion that comes after a panic attack and you don’t have energy to do things that you want to do and then you recognize (once again) that your weirdo brain is in charge and that sometimes you have to just go with it even when it’s fucking crazy.


In better news, it’s been 24 hours since the last of my cycling panic attacks and (fingers crossed) I think my brain has finally worked out all of the nervous energy it’s been saving up. That seems like a weird thing to celebrate but weird is what I do best, so I guess it works.

This Wednesday is the last stop of my virtual book tour and there are still a few tickets left if you want to join me and Christopher Moore as we talk about taxidermy and humor and the importance of embracing your weirdness. It’s hosted by Books Inc, and you can get tickets right here.

I’ve been sharing some of the lovely images that Katie Gamb created for the tiny Broken Oracle Deck and today’s is a personal favorite that works whether you’ve read the book or not.

For real, thank you. Thank you for listening to me and supporting me and for reading my books and sending them to others who need them and for laughing out loud as you read them on the train because it is sort of incredible the number of people who find me because they saw someone else trying to choke down laughter or tears while holding one of my books. Thank you for seeing something in me that I don’t always see in myself. Thank you for everything.

86 thoughts on “Well that was unexpected

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  1. I am familiar with that panic attack hangover. It happens to me after PTSD nightmares too. I am glad your brain has started to ease up on you for now!

  2. Thank you Jenny… without you I’d still think I was alone and not worth the fight. You and this tribe of people here have shown me how wrong I was. Congrats on Broken being a best seller – you deserve it!

  3. I laughed and cried to the point where my family was alarmed….thanks for such a great book!

  4. Reading and chortling and laughing out loud. My cat, King Kitty, is appalled at my behavior. Thank you for this brilliant gift of light.

  5. Thank YOU for sharing your struggles and your weirdness, and for letting the rest of us struggling weirdos know that we are not alone.


  6. You are so brave always! I am consistently at my most anxious RIGHT AFTER the stressful event is over (and I am just starting to smugly think I might be okay) so I totally get this. Well done, you – try to bask in this really stellar accomplishment.

  7. I was going to get a ticket. Then I realized it was on Wednesday and I would forget I bought the ticket Monday and show up at the Israeli cooking class instead on Wednesday, feeling disgruntled until it dawned on me why and I would be very mad at myself. I also already have a copy, unsigned, because I bought it as soon as it came out even though I haven’t read it yet because I forget I left it on the treadmill as an encouragement. Like THAT is working.

    (I’m broken too, just in a different way. Obviously)

  8. once again, your book left me laughing until i cry. thanks for sharing your journey!

  9. My son has Tourette Syndrome. When he was in school he would work hard during the day to control his twitches and tics. As soon as he was home in the afternoon it was like a damn would break and he would spend some amount of time just letting them all out. Because he didn’t have to hyperfocus on NOT twitching anymore. Because he felt safe enough to let down that guard.

    I’m sorry that your brain sent you anxiety as soon as you let down your guard. Just a nasty trick really.

    I got my Strangling copy and my book event copy last week (which I sent along to a dear friend who also loves your work). Thank you so much for sharing your wit, your insight and your honesty with all of us. It’s nice to imagine that there is a place for all of us to feel safe enough to let down our guards, no matter if our brains are then assholes about it. 🙂

  10. I still haven’t read it because my ADHD has decided books are not doable right now, but I have it for when brain decides to work with me.

    I’m so glad it has gone well and thanks for all the years of laughter and knowing I’m not alone.

  11. Wish I could have come to one of your tour dates, but the tickets were a little bit cost-prohibitive. So happy for all your success though – couldn’t possibly think of anyone more deserving. Congratulations! You’re an inspiration.

  12. Congratulations on debuting #3 on the NYT bestseller list! (I’m sure you’ll end up being #1 after word spreads from all your readers and the Target and People magazine publicity.)
    You’ve written the perfect book at the perfect time for our imperfect selves at an imperfect point of history. Thank you for being you and helping all of us imperfect people to know that we are not alone and it’s okay to not be okay.

  13. Love this post, and you- I went bookstore hopping yesterday for the first day of Independent Bookstore Week, and was lucky enough to nab the Oracle Deck at the first bookstore I went to! I could hardly focus on anything else all day, knowing that I had a little package of AWESOME in my car!

  14. Panic attacks remind me of the poem by emily dickinson:

    After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
    The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
    The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
    And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

    The Feet, mechanical, go round –
    A Wooden way
    Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
    Regardless grown,
    A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

    This is the Hour of Lead –
    Remembered, if outlived,
    As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
    First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

  15. Congrats on the book’s success ALREADY. How awesome for you! Looking forward to reading it. I do like to steal book ideas from people who I can tell are seriously engrossed or laughing. The world’s best marketing.

  16. It’s a marvelous book and I’m REALLY glad I invested in the audio book so that I would not have to risk damaging my signed copy while laughing and sharing it with my wife. My wife and I listened together and even though she does not like books with lots of colorful language she totally loved listening to you read it. (In the chapter about Shark Tank she DID ask if you had Tourette’s but I hope you find that as funny as I did. We love you.

  17. Just got the Kindle edition and looking forward to it. Congratulations on the book’s sales!
    I think a lot of our brains must be in a sneaky asshole brain gang. I’m glad we live in a time in history when we have more tools to defend ourselves from the gang than people have ever had before; it’s still the shits that we have to.

  18. Congratulations! I swallowed Broken in one 6 hour sitting. It was just the perfect read I didn’t know I needed. Thank you for sharing your life, your stories, and your vulnerabilities with us. I can’t really put into words how much this book has meant to me, but I’m now annoyingly blaring it to everyone that they NEED to read it. 🙂

  19. Finished reading Broken this morning. My favorite of your books (so far). Thank you! And thanks for the signature in the book, too. It’s much more fun buying your books from your bookstore!

  20. Still waiting for mine to arrive!! Bought through the event (get ticket and signed book) with Indigo so hoping they mail it soon.

  21. I just finished the audiobook today. So good. Thank you for sharing it.

  22. Recently figured out that’s how my migraines work – they’re triggered by stress let down. Weekends, days with no meetings. It’s a nightmare. I either get to be totally stressed or in so much pain I can’t function. On the bright side, worrying that a migraine is going to ruin my weekend seems to be sustaining enough of a stress level that I haven’t had one in a few weeks. Sigh. Hugs.

  23. That’s always me. My worst adrenalin rushes are when nothing is really happening. My brain just has to wait until it has time to really think about a freak out. I don’t use the term “panic attack” because, well, even just typing the words makes my heart pound. The words “adrenaline rush” feel like I’m on a roller coaster. That Woohoo rush. The words “panic attack” feel like I’m bound by chains, weighed down with an anchor, tossed in a raging sea during a hurricane and the sharks are circling. Yeah, I know how this sounds…

  24. I had the first panic attack in years last Friday, the morning I was scheduled for my second Covid jab. Maybe my brain finally decided that it was “close enough” to being done that I had time for one good freakout before then. My brain is also kind of an asshole.

  25. Audio book was FABULOUS! Couldn’t tell at all that you were recording it while sitting in one of the closets in your house…to hedgehogs and tetanus (why isn’t that tetbutt?)! Thanks for the PERFECT capper to the end of the last year. YOU are magic my dear!

  26. Today is my first day back at work. My works been closed since March 2020. It’s way to many people so I started having a panic attack. I can’t wait for this day to be over and I can hide under the covers.

  27. Put my signed copy in my bookshelf. Bought two more copies! One for me to read and the other for my Little Free Library box I have in my front yard! Congrats !! You deserve all this and more ❤️

  28. I’ve just finished listening to the audio version and I loved it so much I wrote a review (which I do rarely because I lack the energy). Thank you for yet again making me know that my crazy brain and insane family aren’t the only ones. I’m glad the book is getting well received and that your panic is subsiding.

  29. Not knowing why you are having an panic attack or even realizing that’s what it is, that’s such a scary feeling. Glad you are coming out of it. Broken is freaking awesome!! Just spent an hour with a friend I haven’t seen since before the lockdown stuff started, and I spent roughly half of that time talking about you and your new book.

    (Also I feel like mentioning that I saw your book available in a book giveaway on one of my favorite websites of all time (LibraryThing) and I got that weirdly proud/excited feeling of ‘omg I know her! I know that book!’.)

  30. I get it. I have ‘post event anxiety attacks,’ too. Just never knew what they were. Often followed by a migraine and nausea. It’s like you hold yourself together or so tight that once things are done you just kind of fall apart. Hang in there, girlfriend! You are one awesome woman!

  31. Well done, Jenny! Thanks for sharing yourself the way you do and thanks for that book recommendation for ‘Dark Archives’ you mentioned while speaking with Neil. I had to ask for help finding it at the book store and the book seller took a moment to read the cover once she pulled it from the shelf. She got really still (I think she was considering calling social services because I had my 7yo with me) so I nervously started stammering that you had mentioned it was good and it was like books by Mary Roach. Her eyes lit up, she said she loved both of you and made a note of the title. (Also, there was a whole table in the shop dedicated to you.)

  32. I just finished reading and listening at the same time and I love your book! I can’t wait to see you and Christopher Moore on Wednesday!

  33. Congratulations Jenny!! I joined the tour on your evening with Neil and it was amazing! I was in the middle of purchasing a home when the tickets went live so I had the book shipped to my mother and let her read it. She LOVED it, it was the first book of yours she has ever read and she’s purchased all of your books on audible to listen to now. I am happy to report my copy of “Broken” is now on its way to me, I should get it Thursday, just in time for me to lay in bed and read it while I recover from getting that second pfizer dose earlier that morning.

  34. Jenny. I’m am so so so Happy for u. I’m a PTSDer i call it. I’m fine when shit hits the fan. It’s later when I think I’m calm and everything is ok I have fucking panic attack!!! Ya, thank u brain, awesome technique ya bitch! 😝. I’m just happy for you.
    I love you. Take good care of yourself! 🥰♥️😘

  35. I am packing to move, and have been listening to you on Audible. and if anyone walked by my house they might think I am crazy between my laughter and crying…But mostly laughter! Like a loon! Your books always make me feel better and you always make me have all the feelings, but especially, laughter! <3

  36. You are the first person I’ve read who accurately describes the lockdown feeling of anxiety and the inability to get something done. And you are the only author who makes me laugh out loud so much I have to read entire passages to my husband. Devoured your book in one weekend. Thank you for being just who you are, and for sharing yourself with the rest of us.

  37. Congrats Jenny, and thank you for being awkward and brave, hysterical and real. You are exactly what the world needs more of. I’m finally getting free to be my own awkward self, at 60. Better late than never. Keep teaching us how to be real, simply by being you. It’s a beautiful gift. Love you so much I wish we were besties. I know you would sit under my kitchen table and drink coffee with me, if it was too much to sit “up there.”
    But I will content myself to have coffee with your book. Relax and enjoy all that’s happening. No one wants you to be anything but yourself.

  38. Invited my friend in Washington State to join me in celebrating my 76th birthday by going to your book signing with Christopher Moore this Wednesday evening. It’s great to be able to go to be with you from home. Broken is on its way to us both. Can’t wait to read it, and want to hear you read it someday soon as well.

  39. There is nothing more comforting than to hear – or read – “I see you, what you go through is real, and I go through it too.”
    Thank you for being a beacon of reassurance that I am not alone.

  40. I think I panicked about getting your book because I ended up with TWO pre-ordered and ANOTHER ONE from joining one of the book talks. I would love to send two of my three to someone who cannot afford one. Not sure how to do that without posting our details.

  41. Yeah, Jenny, thanks a LOT for going stratospheric. I’m reviewing your book for one of them fancy New York venues and now I can’t sit on it because it’s like A BESTSELLER. How utterly rude of you to be successful!

    (Congrats! Heart emoji.)(Now, pretend I wasn’t here because the review’s not up yet and I generally avoid talking to the authors until it’s all done. I WAS NEVER HERE.)

  42. Loved the book. I cried and laughed and laugh-cried and didn’t want it to end. May you someday know how much you’ve given to your readers.

    P.S. I still have my leather notebook from that saddle shop. I got it in 6th grade . . . before you were born. LOL!

  43. I’m glad you waited for today to rejoice, because today would have been my mother’s 99th birthday and I needed the pick me up.

    (Sending you much love. May her memory be a blessing. ~ Jenny)

  44. I see how Katie copied that dress of yours that’s one of my favorites… 🙂

    Ah, panic attacks for no apparent reason–don’t you love ’em? The first time I ever had one, I wasn’t sure if I was having a heart attack, googled the symptoms, got even more nervous, told my bosses I had to go to the ER, whereupon they promptly called 911 for an ambulance…EMTs check my pulse, etc. and don’t bother w/the lights, at which point I figured I hopefully wasn’t dying. Get to ER, wait in bay, and doctor finally comes in, looks at me, and rolls his eyes. “SO, how often do you have panic attacks, anyway?” “Um…*panic attacks*?” Left w/an Ativan script and with my tail between my legs, feeling like a complete idiot, esp. after the ambulance crew told everyone I’d been googling “heart attack symptoms,” so thanks, asshole doc. All of this blathering is just to say that (a) I Get It, and (b) I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it. Congratulations, and long-distance online hugs if you’d like them…

  45. Your honesty kicks ass! Congrats on the bestseller. Waiting for mine from one of your tour events. Loved the vacuum cleaner story.

  46. your ability to be so honest with us about your struggles EVEN WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WELL, thats why we all love you. you help us see that what we’re going thru happens to other people, not just me, not just us. you help us and the world to see that the whole “what do you have to be depressed about” bullshit is bullshit.

  47. You were mentioned in the latest AARP magazine. BROKEN, as a good audio book that you narrate and Furiously Happy as a best seller!

  48. I read it at night in bed. My wife is asleep. I start giggling and then softly bouncing up ad down because my giggling goes syncro with my belly. I can’t stop and my wife wakes up and and before turning her head to see what’s going on and incinerate me, she believe I am masturbating but no, I am reading your book. That is the third time it happens in the last years. Thank. You.

  49. “Broken debuted at #3 on the NYT bestseller list”

    …showing that #1 and #2 are broken, too! 8^D

    Okay, maybe not those books but whoever bought them! Yeah, that!!

    (Panic attack hangovers suck rocks.)

  50. I am listening to the audible version and it is DELIGHTFUL! Great writing and reading. Sometimes it’s on in the car with my teen and has spurred on some really good chats. Sometimes she just laughs with me. Sweetness. Thank you. xoxoxo

  51. I just got my copy this weekend and am forcing myself to read it slowly. Thank you for your writings!!!!!

    I also now know what panic attacks feel like¬had to go back on campus for in-person teaching last week and I just can’t do it.

  52. I preordered the digital copy so I can read it in bed before sleep and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. It inspired me to write you a letter and do a small painting for you. How do I ensure you get them? (please email me at trowen62@gmail.com) I loved your book; wish I could send you a hug, and I think we may have been separated at birth–did your parents sell me to the gypsies? No hard feelings there. You are amazing!

    (You’re the best! 14546 Brook Hollow Blvd. #400 / San Antonio TX, 78232 ~ Jenny)

  53. I hope you realize, internalize, that you didn’t debut at #3 on the NYT Bestseller List because of your amazing fans. You have amazing fans and you debuted at #3 on the NYT Bestseller List because you are writing something that people desperately need to hear. And you are doing it in a kind, hysterically funny, and self-deprecating way that makes people feel seen in a way that maybe they haven’t, ever. You make people who have never felt understood feel like you see them and their flaws and are still their friend. And you’ve been doing it for years and years, making the world a better place for the broken in a way that most people, even those with more money, more power, and more reach, only talk about.

    And you do this while dealing with enough sh*t in your life that it would be totally understandable if you never did anything but sit on your couch in fuzzy pajamas and watch Bridgerton on repeat.

    People are buying your book in droves because they see you, too. They see your flaws and imperfections and still want to be your friend. They want to show you that you matter, both in the ways that _everyone_ matters and because of the unique things you bring to this world, from the James Garfield Christmas Miracle to filling your car holes with tiny penii and then telling us all about it.

  54. Jenny

    I listened to it 3 times in the first 36 hours it was available. I was having insomnia and so I was up when it became available and downloaded it 1 minute after midnight and started it immediately.

    I love you and love everything you have gifted all of us. Thank you. Thank you for helping me to understand I am not alone. Thank you for giving me a way to say “See I am not the only one who does this!” to my husband. Thank you for giving me a way to show/tell my husband what is going on in my brain so he can understand. You and Wil Wheaton have given me a language to be able to help my husband understand and us grow closer. I can’t thank you enough.

    Thank you for being you.

  55. I just added my name to the waitlist of your new book at my library, and I am pleased to tell you that there are FIFTEEN people ahead of me! I don’t even live in a big town. You’re amazing and congrats on ALL the deserved success!

  56. I know we want to support independent bookstores, and I pre-ordered my copy from Nowhere just so when it came in the mail and my husband told me I got a package I could say “Is it from Nowhere?”… but today when I asked Alexa for the weather report, she said “By the way, did you know Jenny Lawson has a new book out? Would you like to hear a description?” Like, DUH! I am half way through it Captain Obvious!

    Just thought you’d like to know that you are big in AI circles, too. I’m sure Siri and Alexa have their own little bookclubs going.

  57. So I am reading about your house being on fire and poop filled shop vacs from the safety of my jacuzzi which my husband started for me. And then he lit a candle, put some flower sprigs in a cup, provided fancy chocolates, and made me boozy hot cider. I am laughing so hard he probably thinks I am a lunatic, but laughing and having something feel nice today is just… so good. Second covid vaccine and I feel like I got run over by a truck, but I’m so glad to do my part to help protect myself and everyone else. And Broken is the book my soul needed as I spiral thinking about how broken the world is right now. Thank you for helping me enjoy a little island of happiness for a little while.

  58. I love love love your books and also suffered with panic attacks. My doc told me to run or exercise when I had one… sounds silly but it completely stops them. I am now a therapist trainee and have recommended it to clients:). Maybe dance with your daughter? Something to burn the adrenaline…it may help:). All I know is that your book helps me. Keep it up!!

  59. Thank you Jenny! For seeking and finding the light in the dark. For sharing that journey and that of your shoes gone rogue on journeys of their own.

    Sending you and this set of stranglings some of my light!

  60. I so love that you are incredibly open about your mental health struggles. I know that doing that helps so many others in the same or similar boat. I also wanted to let you know that to and from work, I pass (normally two, but now only one) rooster statues that I of course greet with “Knock, knock motherfucker!” all because of you. 😀

  61. The TV is on downstairs and it is so loud I want to put in earplugs. Except I can’t because I accidentally chewed up my last pair earlier. Note: cashews were in the OTHER left hand. Normally I would be curled in a ball, rocking, feeling like a total failure, possibly holding my breath bc I feel so guilty about my continued oxygen consumption. But instead I’m.. laughing?! Giggling to myself and thinking Jenny would get this.

    Thanks for being you. All of you. And being real. It means everything these days.

  62. OMG, I do the exact same thing – though not panic attacks, so it’s not exactly exact……………but I fall apart AFTER the thing I was anxious about has passed and turned out fine, and people are like “it turned out fine, what’s your problem weirdo?” lol xxx

  63. I absolutely love all of your books. I love the way you talk about your struggles with mental illness. You say exactly what I feel but can’t find the words for. And I love your stories, they always make me laugh. I just finished broken on audible and I LOVE that it was recorded in a closet! Also, my wife just got 2 baby rats and I named one boo ratley 😂.

  64. I’m one of your older fans at age 75. I want you to know that I love your books. I haven’t finished Broken yet, but had fun reading aloud to my husband last night until midnight. We were both in bed but I wasn’t ready to sleep. We had many good giggly laughs. A great way to prepare for a good night’s sleep. We both love Broken. Thanks bunches for being who you are. You are a treasure!💕💕
    P.S. I ended up taking trazodone to get to sleep!

  65. I ordered your book last spring? summer? when it was announced that it would come out in April 2021. And I ordered it from an indie bookstore cum yarn shop in Spooner, WI. They emailed me a couple weeks ago when they received the book and wanted to know if I still wanted it. “Hell, yes!” I emailed back, but in slightly more dignified language. I only read before I sleep, so last week I would wait impatiently for bedtime so I could READ JENNY’S BOOK!! And, although I had read your first two books years ago from the library, when I finished Broken I went online and bought them, too. My bookshelf space is severely limited, so I only buy books from my favorite authors — Jane Smiley, Neil Gaiman, Paul Farmer, and you 🙂

  66. I bought it on Audible and can’t wait to listen! I love your commentary (you miss that in the written version)! Thank you for creating the coloring book too…gave it to my daughter who has similar things she deals with (shares your daughter’s name, spelling too 🙂 ), and she LOVES it!! We love you Jenny!!!

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