In a world where many people wear masks as a way to feel safe, honesty is sometimes hard to find, especially in the world of social media where we can paint our masks carefully. We allow people to see only what we want them to see, except when we have the courage to be vulnerable. Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) writes with such boldness, telling a part of her story with honesty because she believes it’s a part of healing. We hope the words below give an invitation for you to do the same.
If you follow me on twitter you already know that I’ve been battling off one of the most severe bouts of depression I’ve ever had. Yesterday it started to pass, and for the first time in weeks I cried with relief instead of with hopelessness. Depression can be crippling, and deadly. I’m lucky that it’s a rare thing for me, and that I have a support system to lean on. I’m lucky that I’ve learned that depression lies to you, and that you should never listen to it, in spite of how persuasive it is at the time.
When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery. We call them survivors. Because they are.
When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t. We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.
When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker…but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand.
Regardless, today I feel proud. I survived. And I celebrate every one of you reading this. I celebrate the fact that you’ve fought your battle and continue to win. I celebrate the fact that you may not understand the battle, but you pick up the baton dropped by someone you love until they can carry it again. I celebrate the fact that each time we go through this, we get a little stronger. We learn new tricks on the battlefield. We learn them in terrible ways, but we use them. We don’t struggle in vain.
We are alive.
I wrote this post a month ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to post it then. I was too weak from fighting to shout, and so instead I whispered this into the night and left it unpublished until I felt like I could speak to it with the battle-cry it deserves. Years ago, coming out about depression and anxiety disorder was something frightening, but now people are more honest and open and so much of the shame has dissipated. We may not have pink ribbons or telethons but we know that someone out there understands. That is, until we’re honest about how it affects us. I’ve never written about this because I can’t talk about it without it being a trigger but I think it’s important to be honest even when it’s scary. Especially when it’s scary.
I self-harm. I don’t do it all the time and it’s not enough to put me into an institution or threaten my well-being, but it’s enough to make it frightening to live in my body sometimes. I’m far from suicidal. I do it to self-sooth, because the physical pain distracts me from the mental pain. It’s one of those things that’s impossible to explain to people who don’t understand impulse control disorder. Honestly, I find it hard to understand it to myself and I’m working my ass off to fix it now before my daughter is old enough to see the things I don’t want her to see. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I am safe. My disorder is fairly mild and is becoming more controlled. I’m in therapy and I’m not in danger. I avoid triggers and I’ve found therapies and drugs that are helping. I’m getting better. But I sort of feel like I can’t completely heal from this without being honest about it. So here it is. Judge me or not, I am the same person I was before. And so are you. And chances are that many of your friends, family and coworkers are dealing with things like this. Things that are killing them a little inside. Things that kill people who don’t get help. Silent, bloody battles that end with secret victors who can’t celebrate without shame. I hope that this post changes this somehow. I hope that you feel safe enough to be honest about the things you are the most ashamed of. I hope you have someone there telling you “It’s okay. You’re still the same person to me.”
I hope to one day I see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle and that they celebrate the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like.
I hope one day to be better and I’m pretty sure I will be. I hope one day I live in a world where the personal fight for mental stability is viewed with pride and public cheers instead of shame. I hope it for you too.
Estimado señor conductor en estacionamientos públicos:
Es físicamente imposible que ambos ocupemos el mismo espacio al mismo tiempo. Si quiere ocupar el cajón de estacionamiento que yo estoy desocupando, no es suficiente que espere a que yo salga. Es necesario que me dé el espacio suficiente para poder maniobrar correctamente. No puedo moverme si su vehículo está básicamente encima del mío.
Am I that guy? If by that guy you mean that I reblog quotes about how much I love books and about how people should read more and artsy stuff and funny stuff and funny gifs and random thoughts off my head and promises that some far off day I’ll publish my own books, then yes, I’m that guy.
I’d say the biggest reason is that I very rarely extend myself beyond my group of friends, and thus do not meet many new women. The fact that I spend a lot of my free time with either my nose shoved in a book, or with a pen in my hand, might also account for my lack of a love life.
I’m not referring to just the elitist assholes who lord obscure knowledge over us like an approaching thunderstorm made of anus. I’m talking about average, everyday people who judge a person entirely on meaningless things like …
Qué triste. Mi hermana se enteró hoy de que mi abuelo tiene iPod. Preguntó si era iPod normal (lo que visualiza como una pantalla de cristal con aplicaciones) o “uno de música” (el Shuffle). Lo que son las nuevas generaciones.
So Hank and I run or help run several businesses at the moment: Vidcon, DFTBA Records, the juggernaut that is 2-D Glasses, ecogeek, vlogbrothers, scishow, and crashcourse, as well as administering the nonprofit Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck. These are not huge businesses or anything (and in some cases are not even profitable), but many of them have employees and revenue and function like any other business, so recently Hank and I have developed some Rules for Running a Business That Doesn’t Suck, which we thought we’d share.
Rule 1: Don’t be a dick. This is the governing law of the Internet, as created by the great Wil Wheaton, and we try to apply it to our businesses. Not being a dick mostly means treating your clients and customers respectfully, and focusing on creating value rather than creating profit, and generally being reasonably kind and personable when it comes to business relationships.
Rule 2: Increase Awesome or Decrease Suck. If an idea won’t increase world awesome or decrease worldsuck, we won’t do it. (And if we’re doing something that no longer feels like it is increasing awesome or decreasing suck, we stop doing it.)
Rule 3: Minimize lawyering. Hank and I tend to lose interest in any endeavor when a lot of lawyers become involved. Basically, if we require lawyers other than our cousin Mike or the people he works with, we don’t do it.
Rule 4: Employ more people per dollar of revenue than PepsiCo. This is very important to us. So one of the emerging metrics for a company’s “success” is revenue generated per employee. PepsiCo generates more than $196,728 in revenue per employee. (That may seem ludicrously high, but it’s much lower than many companies: Google generates $1,900,000 every year per employee.) The thinking goes that successful companies generate a lot of money per employee. Our thinking is that it is both good business and good citizenship to invest revenue in new employees.
Rule 5: Keep promises. We try to keep promises even when they are very inconvenient and expensive to keep, such as when Amazon Germany ships out a thousand unsigned preorders of your new book even though you signed more than enough copies for them to ship to their customers.
Rule 6: Pay tops out at 10x average worker pay. Pretty simple, really: The highest paid employees of a company shouldn’t make more than 10 times the average employee’s pay. (Current estimates in the US indicate CEOs make between 185 and 310 times more than the average worker.) Capping this at a multiple of ten means everyone is invested in seeing the company grow and succeed.
Rule 7: Have awesome customers. If you don’t like the people who watch and read and wear the stuff you make, then you will not have any fun. Speaking of which…
Rule 8: Have fun. Our grandfather wrote thousands of lists in his life—grocery lists, lists of business ideas, pros and cons of taking different jobs. Almost all of his lists ended “Have fun!” We think this is good advice.
Wow. This is some deep stuff. I think I’ll keep it. :)