This Saturday (two days ago), Jenny Lawnson aka The Bloggess came to my city on a book tour, to give a book reading, answer questions, and sign her books for those in attendance. The event started at 4pm. Due to an appointment prior to the book signing, I couldn’t get there until a little after 4. I knew there would be too many people attending to fit us all in, so it was no surprise when there was a line of people snaking around the outer edge of the floor below the reading. A lovely surprise was that her voice was being played over the speakers near the line, so it was almost like we were in the room with her. She read parts of her new book (Furiously Happy) aloud. I wasn’t the only person in the line laughing and then suddenly crying because so much of it hits home. The tagline of the book is “A funny book about horrible things“, and is largely devoted to essays about mental illness and how it affects her, and the many ways in which that can be funny and endearing and sad and totally inappropriate and wonderful and unique. She makes me laugh so hard that I cry! I have both of her books on Kindle, so I brought my two Kindle covers to be signed. These have less permanence than a book, as they can wear off from handling, I will probably replace those Kindles at some point which may necessitate new covers, etc., but I get to see it every day, so for me that is of far greater value.
I was able to give her a note letting her know that my website is called SilentlySurviving.com, because she named it so well. (Hopefully she saw it!) I picked this name for my blog because it was such a perfect representation of how I feel. When she blogged about her own depression and anxiety and self-harm issues, she referred to herself and others with similar issues as Silently Surviving, survivors of a mostly invisible illness, one that we tend to self-limit how much we talk about and therefore it’s both invisible and secret and suffered in shame and silence, and surviving isn’t noticed because the struggle isn’t seen.
I perpetuate this silence in many ways. I don’t blog often and I even more rarely share that I even have a blog. Much of the time I don’t feel I have the energy to blog. It’s not that I don’t have time and/or energy to do things, but it takes something different to do the self-reflection and inner discussion it requires for me to write. My process goes like this: I feel too much, I think too much, I get overwhelmed too much, I self-regulate myself by putting myself down too much, etc., and then I distract/escape too much by playing video games and reading sometimes mindless books, and leave myself without the time and energy to blog. Then when I do blog, I’m afraid to tell people about it. It’s like my dirty little secret that only a few know about.
Even though I only got to meet with her for a few moments, after a couple of hours of waiting to see her, I felt so happy and invigorated afterwards! I was so impressed with her ability to be there for so long, to smile for every single person, have a kind word for everyone, and not run screaming from the room, or hide under the table waiting for people to leave. She is an idol of mine, and how often do we get to meet our idols if they aren’t people we already know? Not often. I almost didn’t go, but the deciding factor was that I knew I would regret it if I never got the chance to go see her again. I’m so glad I made the effort! I’m glad my husband encouraged me to go, waited patiently with me, and then fed me immediately after, since I didn’t make time to eat beforehand. A good man, I think I’ll keep him. 🙂
Thank you Jenny, for being so open about your struggles and triumphs, and for making a space for so many thousands of people to take a breath and say “Oh, me too!” What freedom there is in that! Thank you for everything!