Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Panic Victories, Cabbages, and Kings

I posted this yesterday on Facebook to my closest circle of friends, but after I did, it occurred to me it applies here, too:

(Yes, I *am* wearing a Knights Who Say Ni helmet in a tank top for my profile pic. WHAT.) 


The week I'm referring to was on our first book tour, when John came down with a deadly combo of  pneumonia and a bacterial staph infection. I did a show while he was in the E.R., before we realized how serious it was, but after that is a haze of terror and helplessness and aching, soul-stabbing loneliness.


I started Epbot about 7 months later, I think in some ways because I *did* feel so alone that week. While there was an incredible outpouring of support and love from the Cake Wrecks community, with readers driving out of their way to bring me things at my hotel, and sending messages and offers of help, there was also a wall there. Not an intentional one, of course; it's just we didn't know each other. They knew I liked to write funny stuff, I knew they liked to read it. Beyond that, the rest was a guessing game.

With Epbot I set out to create a place where, among other things, I could be myself and just talk to people. And ideally, have them talk back. About silly stuff. About fandom stuff. Of struggles and triumphs and inspirations - of cabbages and kings!

I got all that in spades.

Today, most of my closest friends I've met through this blog. Some were fans who asked for a meetup, others were artists or cosplayers I featured on roundups. Some I've only met IRL a few times, others I get to see every month. But all of them found something in common with me, chose to express it, and have made my life so much richer.

Even those of you I don't know yet, I feel like I know, at least a little. From what I hear on meetups, I think you feel the same. We have these commonalities, you see. Not everything, of course - that'd be boring - but enough to bring us together. Enough to cheer each other on.


 Yesterday John and I had a meetup at Diagon Alley in Universal. Not unusual; we do these a lot.

Why yes, I WILL use this excuse to post a few pics from my phone.




This was a particularly lovely one, though, because right up front Chelsea admitted she was nervous meeting me, so I got to confess that I was nervous, too. Not over the meeting, but because I'd decided that maybe that was the day I could finally, after years of hoping and trying and failing - finally get myself on the ride E.T.

You're laughing now, but my agoraphobia has prevented me from going on rides for around 5 years now. It's an irrational nuisance, a fear-monster I've been working to tame. Two years ago I conquered the kiddy Dr. Suess ride, but anything that locked me in, that lifted off the ground or sailed into water, has been off-limits - and of course that's nearly all of them.

E.T. was my holy grail, because I hadn't been on it since I was a kid, and because I was afraid it would close before I could work up the courage. Yes, I, a grown woman, was afraid of the E.T. ride.

I've been working on my exposure therapy, though, while continuing to get my thyroid and hormone issues in check. Several months ago I went on the boat ride in The Land. Before that I made it through the queue of E.T. - a big step, since they lock you in a room first - before ducking out at the end with shaky, sweaty palms. And often at night, before I went to sleep, I would imagine myself on the ride, the darkness and the height and the restraint bars, until the fear loosened ever-so-slightly.

So I'd been doing my homework, and I felt, finally, ready. All I needed now was moral support, a pinch of distraction, and maybe even a scosh of peer pressure.

I told Chelsea this - well, an abbreviated version - when we first met, and later that day, just before the park closed, she and her hubby Nate insisted on accompanying me and John to the ride.

We told them they didn't have to. There were other things they'd rather do, and we told them to go do those instead. But they spent their precious vacation time to come with us, chatting and laughing, and then they rode E.T. with me, and you guys, I rode E.T., I did it, and though I shook quite a bit and gripped those handlebars 'til my knuckles went white and I very nearly panicked, I didn't panic. I went right to that edge, and came back safe and sound. I can't say it was fun, not yet, but I can see how it might be again someday - and just that is something I couldn't imagine even a few months ago.

I know a theme park ride is a silly victory, I do, but it's a marker of so much more. Last week I sat comfortably through a community play. Bad traffic doesn't bother me anymore. Neither do elevators or movies. A month ago - and this one stings to admit - I successfully drove by myself for the first time in over two years, and it was actually fun. Best of all, I did all of these things without Xanax.

While I'm proud, let me be clear: It's not mind-over-matter. It's not that I have better or stronger willpower. It's proper health care and treatment and medication, combined with a few mental and breathing techniques for fine-tuning. After years of searching for the right doctors and tests, my Hashimoto's is mostly under control, I do spine stretches to relieve "computer hunch," and most recently I've been correcting some imbalances with prescription hormones - all issues that have triggered and exacerbated my panic. It's been such a long, tedious journey, but now, almost a decade after my panic switched on overnight, I can almost imagine a life without it. Almost. That. is. HUGE.

I'm telling you all this because I want you to know there is hope, and because this isn't a private victory. Whether you're aware of it or not, you've helped me get here. This community is helping me take back what agoraphobia has stolen from me. So it was only fitting that Chelsea and Nate were there with me at E.T., even if they, too, didn't know how much they were helping. (I managed not to cry after; just stood there grinning and shaking. That's another little battle won.)

Thanks to this community, I don't have to face the monsters alone. And neither do you.

Oh, and since I believe every victory deserves its spoils, check it out - I got myself a battle trophy:


I took this on a nearby bench while the rest of the group went on the Simpsons ride. (Baby steps - I'll get to more rides eventually.) You know I'm giddy when I resort to taking selfies. [shudder]

My new E.T. plush stands next to my monitor, a reminder of triumphs and home and friends I haven't met yet, and also that when the really hard times come, next time, I won't have to face them alone.

Fist bumps all round, y'all. We did good.

149 comments:

  1. OMG! You look so un-haunted (or maybe "de-haunted"). Like you've just been reborn.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Way to go Jen!! Keep on keeping on, your're doing great :) You bring us readers so much joy, thank you!!
    -BGreen

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yay! And I am so glad you started EpBot, because this community helps me and so many more people. We are not alone. Way to go, Jen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wish I was a good artist so then I could draw of pic of you in some awesome Xena style dress with a "Knights who say Ni" helmet on, slaying the E.T. ride with a giant sword. *High Five*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mental picture you just painted was perfect as-is. Ha!

      Delete
  5. WAY TO GO!!! I love this community you've created; it's an incredibly positive, supportive bunch and it's ALL thanks to you and John. You have a LOT to be proud of, especially that richly deserved trophy! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is it possible to be so pound of someone you've never met?! Jen, thank you for being so vulnerable and real with this awesome community. There are so many splashes of joy on the journey and you always seem to do your best to find them. Congrats on another step towards freedom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what I was thinking - I'm sitting here grinning like mad and feeling totally proud of someone I only know through her writing on the internet. Yay Jen!

      Delete
  7. WAY TO GO!!!!! I'm so proud of you. I'm a long time reader, almost never a commenter but this post deserves a it. You have created this amazing community that even though I never comment I feel a part of. Thank you :) I hope you have even more victories.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations! I know we have never met in real life, but I know that wasn't easy. I'm proud of you for doing the work (and work, and work) necessary to start taking your life back from the anxiety. I wish for you joy in your successes, and self-compassion when you do fail. There is no shame in trying and learning that you aren't yet ready. You did that before. And you worked more with your doctors and yourself to be in a better position to try again. And again. And again. Every attempt will not end in victory, but eventually your repeated attempts will. I applaud your persistence and wish you so, so many joys.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yay! *fist bump* That little E.T. is definitely SQUEE-worthy. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. You. Are. Amazing.
    Well done, you!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That is so awesome! And please, don't apologize for feeling triumphant about your victory!! You *should* be proud of yourself!!
    -Jonelle

    ReplyDelete
  12. Awesome! Fist bump back at ya! Celebrate the victories, great & small.
    -SM3

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't think that's a silly victory - I think that is bad ass! I've been a reader since the beginning, hard to believe it's been so long!, and even though some of the fandom references sail over my head, your enthusiasm and fun (and that of your readers) makes this a blog I love to follow.

    Congrats again!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sitting at my desk at work, staring at my cell phone and hoping I can get the tears under control before someone comes in my office.

    So happy for you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm so happy for you Jen!!! And slightly related... I've been having issues with my knee while Crossfitting. I'd get pain doing simple squats and I was ANNOYED cause I LOVED doing squats. So, I started PT. And last week, for the first time ever in my life, I squatted (With a bar on my shoulders - so no hands out for balance) belowwww parallel with NO PAIN and I did it a BUNCH OF TIMES. And I was so freaking ecstatic that I almost cried. In physical therapy I almost cried in front of a bunch of grown men because I squatted. LOL. But I held it together, got to my car, and then called my BFFs and Mom and was stoked :) So - yea, I get the "OMG I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF I WANT TO CRY RIGHT NOW" feeling and I'm sooooooo happy you got to experience it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. You, Jen, are amazing and inspiring. You have come through so much and grown and accomplished so much over the past few years. This is a huge victory! I'm sitting here at work trying to quell the tears of pride and joy I got from reading about your triumph. Virtual hugs and high-fives!

    Btw, I very rarely do selfies either (cuz I always look so blah), but you look so adorable with your ET in this one! :D

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love you girl, in a totally not-weird-geek-girls-forever kind of way. I'm so very happy that you've accomplished another goal. As Roger Zelazny says "Do the next thing".
    Or, in a 60's mode - "Keep on keeping on!"

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm so happy for you!! This is not silly at all. Everything has a different meaning to different people. I'm so glad you persistently worked on it. Fist bump, high five, low five, hand jive, all the signs of victory!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am SO, SO, SO, SO proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
  20. That's really awesome for you! Congratulations on another step! Also thank you for starting this blog, and creating the awesome community! You might have done it for you, but we all benefit!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have been a reader since you first started EPBOT (and CakeWrecks before that), but I don't think I've ever commented before. However, this post moved me to tears! As a fellow introverted geek, your blog has been a total inspiration! I'm so glad things are improving for you! Thank you for providing a funny, uplifting, and heartfelt voice for the community!

    ReplyDelete
  22. "You're laughing now" - UNTRUE!
    "I know a theme park ride is a silly victory" - UNTRUE

    your struggles are real. i admire you for fighting them.

    congratulations on winning battles. i'm over here all "kermit flair arms while throwing confetti" on your behalf!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love this so much. That is all I can think to say. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I met you in Dallas and it was such an honor (my Mom, that I dragged along, had no idea what was going on...) I remember reading that you guys had gotten sick while in Dallas, but didn't realize that it was so serious. I'm so happy that other people helped you through that time and that John recovered. You're a sweet lovely person to share such intimate details about your life and I know they help many people out there. You're doing a great job and we all enjoy your humor and your vulnerable side. I hope you make it back to Dallas soon. We could meet up again.

    ReplyDelete
  25. So VERY happy for you. You lit a candle and it has turned into a raging Inferno!! Thank you from a VERY Happy Facebot!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm super proud of you, and immensely happy. I personally understand how many tiny steps it takes to overcome panic and other mental health issues, so I'm proud of you for doing all that hard work. Good for you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This is HUGE! Yay for you! Keep fighting the good fight, being your own best advocate for patient care, and being kind to yourself. Rome was not built in a day. You can't make yourself ride all the rides in a day. But you're working towards that day!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hell to the yes! Fist bumps for everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Jen, that's amazing. You rock! I lover the community you'very created here, and howner much it had grown over on FOE. Celebrate your victory-you deserve it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. Seriously. My phone auto-correct must have been on hyper-drive.

      Delete
  30. I'm so happy for you, Jen! It's so great to know that you're on the mend and that you're getting those lost pieces of the world back, even if it's just a little bit at a time! ^_^ And I love your new ET Plush! The perfect memento!

    [Btw, I'll be messaging you soon about setting up a meetup some time now that my schedule is finally slowing down next month and the weather is starting to break a bit! :) ]

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yay! Go you! As an aside, with the way the picture cut off the middle of your cap bill, I thought you were wearing a tricorner pirate hat for a second.

    ReplyDelete
  32. That is really awesome, congrats! I'm familiar with battles and panic(and almost-panic) and shaking. I'm claustrophobic. Last year, I managed to do an entire escape room with friends...sort of. I mostly wandered around in a near-panic haze while my friends solved everything but I didn't tap out. It left me shaking afterwards for an hour. But I did it. I wasn't grinning like you were, though. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. So happy for you!! One more piece of life reclaimed from the anxiety beast!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Way to go Jen!!!!! I'm on the brink of happy tears over here for you. Yes to some it is just a silly theme park ride but to some of us it is so much more than that. You took a giant step and hopefully one day your journey will lead to enjoying everything you use to again.

    Next time I'm in Orlando I would love to meet you! You have truly been an inspiration to me as a geeky girl. I didn't know how to own it and be proud of it before I found Epbot.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Another Courtney from Dallas here. I didn't make it to that book tour stop, but I was there the next time you rolled through town, with a friend and my toddler in tow. That toddler is now a first grader (what?!) and that's still the only time I've had the pleasure of being in the same room as you. I'm definitely there next time you feel like coming back. And I'm so happy to hear you rode ET! We were at Universal in June and my husband, son and I rode ET together. My husband gave us all fake names. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  36. So happy for you! I have severe vertigo, so I don't ride rides. It makes me queasy just to watch them. So I will gladly let you experience them in my place.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you for, again, inspiring (happy) tears. I'm stoked for you, and I'm stoked for the hope this brings me in regards to my own issues. Like, "If Jen can ride E.T. then maybe I can do the thing someday too." If I'm ever in your neck of the woods i hope i get a chance to meet up with you and tell you how much i appreciate you and this community you created, face to face.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thrilled to hear this Jen! I am happy to be a little piece of the Epbot community. I'm a regular reader and occasional commenter and I do feel that we are all here for each other. xo

    ReplyDelete
  39. Way to go Jen! Very proud of you. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and triumphs with agoraphobia. It really helps me feel like I'm not alone. Sending big hugs your way. And thanks for starting Epbot. I know you started it for yourself thinking it would be a stress reliever no one else really cared about, but it's always a cathartic read, and it has the single best community anywhere on the internet. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I am so proud of you! I'm heading to Universal for the first time in November (and then again in December) and I'm a little worried; I have some PTSD and while things like rides don't normally tend to trigger it, it's related to losing children so I fear that anything to do with Harry's parents combined with the general adrenaline of finally seeing it all might just do me in. I'm hoping it all goes well, talking it out ahead of time, and seeking out some support, and hoping for the best! You've done a lot today to encourage me in the "hoping for the best" department.

    ReplyDelete
  41. You're brave in ways you couldn't even have imagined a few years ago, and stronger than you could have believed.

    ReplyDelete
  42. You're awesome :) one day if I come to Florida I'll message you because I want to go on ET too :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. As corny as this sounds, I wish I could "like" this post a million times. While rides don't have the same effect on me and I can never truly understand what you go through, I'm literally grinning ear to ear at this huge accomplishment for you.(and this is why I very rarely comment b/c I just read what I typed and while it makes a little sense to me, it probably doesn't to you but I still wanted to say SOMETHING.) Fist bump!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Change is possible! Thank you for sharing good news! And congratulations, you rock!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I read this with tears in my eyes, i'm so happy for you. It makes me fell less of a weirdo and more of a hero. One who has to concquer monsters to get through life. Who comes out stronger on the other side. Thank you for being so open about it, for being an inspiration to so many. I don't know you, but still I am super proud of you. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  46. I'm so happy for you, Jen! Thanks for sharing your triumphs, they help make my day brighter, too.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Oh, Miss Jen! I remember reading about that hard time on Cake Wrecks with my mom, and it was one of the first times I had ever sent an email. I don't know if you remember, but we sent a few words of encouragement and it was one of the hardest time I'd ever prayed. I don't know why I prayed so hard- I was so young and I didn't know you as anything other than a cool lady with a great sense of humor. Reading Epbot through the years has been one of my favorite things to do, and I feel like you and Mr. John are sort of my wonderfully geeky,cat-owning, craft-inspiring, Floridian aunt and uncle. Congratulations on conquering the E.T. ride! Any victory, big or small, is worth celebrating. (And what a cute way to do it! Plush ET? So adorbs.) Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for being one of the ones who messaged and prayed for us that week; it helped more than you know. As isolated as I felt, my lifeline was those e-mails and comments, and I pored over them time and again in the chaos. So, thank you, thank you. Many hugs.

      Delete
  48. That is awesome! What matters is how significant it feels to you, not how silly or small it might seem to someone else. For you, it was a Big Deal, and you did it, and that's worth celebrating! Woohoo!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Congratulations!! What an amazing thing for you to do! Thanks for sharing your struggles and triumphs.

    ReplyDelete
  50. The little things become the big things. Therefore, this "little" victory is a big victory! Yay, you amazing lady!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Yaaaaaaay! I'm shaking my pom-poms so hard right now!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Yaaaaaaay! I'm shaking my pom-poms so hard right now!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I'm so happy for you, Jen. That was not a baby step, my dear. That was a moon-landing step! It may measure the same in distance, but is so much more significant.

    I'm glad you can see both sides of the issue - yes, to someone on the outside, a grown woman afraid of the E.T. ride might seem sort of ridiculous. But you are unapologetic in congratulating yourself (and rightly so!) for the progress you make. You know it's HUGE. We know it's HUGE. And I'm so happy to be part of the community you have built.

    It's suddenly gotten all misty here at the computer.

    -Just Andrea <3

    ReplyDelete
  54. Congrats Jen! That's a great victory! We were there yesterday and rode ET too. Wish I could have finally met you in person as I've been a fan of both blogs for a long time. Spine stretches for sitting st the computer sound interesting. Wonder if that would help mine. I work at a computer screen all day. Congrats again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lyndi! Here's the stretch I use - it's helped a lot, though I also see a chiro every 6 weeks for maintenance.

      Delete
  55. Wow, that is to awesome!! I'm so proud of you!! Getting to share your ups and downs (and crafts!) is what makes this blog the best place to be on the whole interwebs! <3

    ReplyDelete
  56. YAY!!! I'm so happy for you, you have done what the rest of us haven't been able to do...yet.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'm proud of you. I haven't met you yet but I'm proud of you.

    ReplyDelete
  58. you are amazing and wonderful and I'm so happy for you!!! I'm also happy for me :) that I found this blog one day and am now part of this wonderful community. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting this together for opening the doors to all of us of what a wonderful world it can be :)

    ReplyDelete
  59. That is fantastic. Way to tackle your fears with all the tools you've gathered over the past two years. That is such an awesome coordinated effort of learning, dedication, and courage. You rock!!

    I have been freaking out for the past few weeks because I have moderate travel anxiety and I agreed to go to Japan for the first time with some friends. I am so terrified that I'll have a panic attack in one of those teeny tiny hotel rooms and my husband will think I'm crazy and my friends won't understand and I'll want to run back to my safe place at home, but will be an entire ocean away. But sometimes, the fear won't go away and we have to do it afraid, right? Here's to new experiences and personal victories! You inspire me to be brave. <3

    ReplyDelete
  60. Is it silly that this made me tear up a little? Oh well. I'm often a teary mess about things that I probably shouldn't be teary about.
    Anywho, I am so happy for you Jen, that you were able to conquer that fear. Congratulations!!
    PS - I finally got to watch Zootopia the other day, and that song! So good. I've been looking forward to seeing the whole thing since you talked about it :)

    ReplyDelete
  61. I'm so proud of you!! And not just for your personal victories but also for building this community for you, me, and all the people that you help and inspire daily. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  62. That picture of you with E.T. is quite possibly my favorite of you! You look so happy! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  63. Well that made me cry! I am so pleased for you and what a totally appropriate ride to go on! Hugs, cheers, kisses, fist bumps, whatever you want, I am really thrilled for you. Onward and upward. You brighten my life with nearly every post. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Woohoo! Fist bump! I'm proud of you, Jen!

    ReplyDelete
  65. "I can't say it was fun, not yet, but I can see how it might be again someday - and just that is something I couldn't imagine even a few months ago." This. This is one of the best sentences I have ever read. There is such hope here. I love it. The world needs it. So proud of you for all of your hard work!

    ReplyDelete
  66. So proud of you! I know how hard it is. I have bad anxiety, and crowds make it difficult for me do to some things. Go you!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Woo-hoo! That is so awesome. The ET ride is terrific and I'm so glad you succeeded!

    ...but the Simpsons ride? No, thanks. I nearly puked. Never again.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I've had sensory issues since I was a toddler, and anxiety and panic attacks since I was in grade school. My anxiety has never been as bad as yours, (it prevents me from being social from time to time, but I'm okay at movies, plays, theme park rides and whatnot--and am thankfully alright with travel, since I live abroad and would never see my family if I wasn't) but my panic attacks have resulted in emergency intervention a couple times. (I tend to faint easily, and have spent more time than anyone I know trying to convince emergency personnel that I don't need to go to the hospital--medical environments make my anxiety and panic so much worse, that it's typically a bad idea.) I'm pretty bad about getting angry with myself when anxiety or panic or sensory issues act up, but okay at helping others feel better about it.

    So, here's how I see it: I lost my mother to cancer a couple years ago, after over a decade of her fighting the disease and three different occurrences (breast cancer, then it went to her lung, and finally to her brain) and periods of remission. Every time she battled her disease, people cheered her on for being strong and heroic--and she was. Every time she achieved remission, people celebrated with her because it was an extraordinary accomplishment.

    Anxiety/panic/whatever is your/my/your readers' disease. Surviving panic and anxiety attacks is your/my/our battle. "Small" triumphs like your ET ride, or someone else's trip, or my having blood drawn without passing out is your/my/our step toward remission.

    Panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, sensory processing disorder, clinical depression, and any other illness that society has deemed less "real" than other types of sickness, are all illnesses that need to be treated with medication and/or therapy of some sort. None of us would ever suggest that someone who has cancer or diabetes is weak for taking steps to fight their disease, or minimize their triumphs. Ours may be less dramatic, but the triumphs are no less real and no less important. I hope you can try to remember that, and that writing this helps me to try to remember it.

    Congratulations on your triumph! You're on your way to achieving your own remission, and you've earned the pride you feel. Embrace it!

    ReplyDelete
  69. I'm so happy for you, Jen! Celebrate any victory that comes along! I'm glad you had fun visiting with new friends too. Thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I haven't commented on Epbot before, but I just needed to come on and say whoop whoop Jen, you celebrate you!

    MC from NZ

    ReplyDelete
  71. Yay Jen!! Kermit-flailing all around :):):)

    ReplyDelete
  72. I'm so happy for an proud of you. You're amazing. Don't think of this as a silly victory--for you this was a major battle, which makes it not-silly. You're a badass and I am so happy you've been able to overcome so much in such a short amount of time. Keep on being awesome!!

    ReplyDelete
  73. I have a friend who is super afraid of heights, but is determined to ride the Tower of Terror in California before it closes this winter. Over this weekend, we did a queue walk-through so she can take it little bits at a time.
    I feel now like I did then, I'm so proud of you! I just want to give everyone hugs (but only if you like hugs) and buy you a churro.

    Also, glad to know that exposure therapy is a good way to tackle the problem

    ReplyDelete
  74. No such thing as "silly" victories! Everyone is fighting their own battle (cheesy but true) so don't feel like you have to tone down your excitement and pride because it's "just" a theme park ride. I'm so thrilled for you! Every little step counts.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Hi. I haven't ever commented here before. I did on cakewrecks once. I've written loads of comments, but I never posted them. Silly, I know, but I always chicken out. As a result, I've never gotten to tell you how much I respect and admire the way you share your battles with us. I know it's helped me more than once to brave a situation that scares me. I have literally said, "If Jen can do that, then I can do this." Today, I'm worrying about the hurricane. I'm fairly inland. Nobody is worried but me. It's not like it's my first hurricane or anything, but this one is really bothering me. I really needed to hear about your victory today. So I guess I just wanted to say "Thanks" for taking us on your journey with you and "congrats!" on the ET ride. It's an amazing victory and it is important. Some people will never be able to understand how important or difficult something like that can be, and I think Epbot is such a great place, in part because it pulls together the people that can.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Aw, Jen! You're making me cry! Because, even thought we've never met, and likely never will, I love ya! It's weird, but I do! I'm so happy for you and your triumphs. I'm so lucky to have found you and the FOE community. I consider you all my friends and my people.

    ReplyDelete
  77. 1. I teared up in pride for you.
    2. I adore that picture of you and ET.
    3. I also teared up at your specification that it was not a matter of just getting over it, but of proper care.
    3. I'll make it down there some day and get my first trip to Disney. When that happens, I hope I can have the honor of meeting you.

    ReplyDelete
  78. I am so overjoyed that we could be a small part or your victory! I knew what a big deal it was, and hoped you could see the mental cartwheels I was doing for us. I didn't tell you, but the last time I went on E.T. was with my dad. He passed away a little over 16 years ago, and I also had some anxiety going on the ride for the fear of all the memories. But I was too occupied watching the ride and the smile on your face! You are the best! And I am so glad you are stealing back yourself from your non-self. It was such an honor to meet you guys and hang out with you in one of the most awesome places on the planet!! And I hope I didn't freak you out with all my fangirling. 🤓⚡️

    ReplyDelete
  79. Jen, I am a long time reader but Chrome always seems to eat my comments so I don't think I've ever posted here before.

    Today I want to say thank you for creating this awesome community and that I'm so proud of you! Any victory worth celebrating is a big victory. So be proud, smug - gloat even. You deserve it.

    ReplyDelete
  80. I feel like I know you even though we've never met, thanks to this wonderful little blog. I check it every day, and am always happy when you've got a new post!

    I just want to say how freakin' PROUD I am of you. You have worked so hard, and you've truly accomplished something. You really deserve all the happiness in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Jen, that is not a baby step, that is a FREAKING VICTORY! I just cheered so loud for you the dog glared at me.

    One of these days I'mma be rich and you'll be able to get on a plane and we'll all meet up at Universal Studios LA. :-D

    ReplyDelete
  82. You are awesome!! And fwiw I won't ride the Simpson's ride either. I made my hubby go alone!

    ReplyDelete
  83. You rock, brave girl!

    ReplyDelete
  84. I'm crying as I read this and as I'm writing this. I'm so proud of you and your determination and strength to keep fighting and finding all the parts of the puzzle to help you fight this. You give me hope.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Way to go, Jen! And you aren't missing anything on the Simpsons ride... the 3D made me so nauseous I couldn't go on any other rides for the rest of the afternoon :(

    ReplyDelete
  86. Don't let anyone tell you you're not brave. No matter what combinations of pharmaceutical, physical, and psychological therapies, you did something that has scared you for a long time. I can't even *go* to a theme park. The crowds put me in an attack so vicious! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  87. I rarely comment, but always enjoy your posts. I had to comment today on your bravery. You are amazing in facing your fears and working through them with all the tools available. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  88. That is awesome, terrific news and you SHOULD be proud of what you have accomplished. Massive Kermit (or E.T.) flails all around! You are finding ways and methods that work for you and your fans are proud for you for succeeding.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Congrats- I'm truly happy for you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  90. Congratulations! Super happy for you and super proud of you for getting to a point where you could figure out how to do something really hard for you in such awesome fashion!!!

    ReplyDelete
  91. You're super awesome, Jen! I'm so impressed at how open you are about your journey and the difficulties you've had. Everyone figures they're the only one going through things until they see people like you who are willing to talk about it.

    BTW, I met you at the Dallas book signing while John was in the hospital. You were so nice and friendly and welcoming to all of us who'd come out to see you. I had no idea how much terror you had to be going through with John then. You really are a rock star!!

    ReplyDelete
  92. I'm so inspired by this. When I finally got to Disney World a couple of years ago the first ride I got on was the carousel in Magic Kingdom. I felt so trapped, I panicked and had to get off. I had to get off a carousel! I did manage to make it through some rides and, overall, had an amazing time. I'm still struggling with panic attacks, but I have those E.T. moments of triumph, too. Here's to kings, cabbages and panic victories aplenty!

    ReplyDelete
  93. Just look at your adorable face, YOU AMAZING PERSON YOU!!!! <3

    ReplyDelete
  94. We met just over a year ago, at Disney. I didn't tell you how terrified I was at meeting someone in a public space. Social anxiety sucks.
    Because of that little victory, I met a couple other Internet friends, and it worked out great, we had fun.
    Facebook has spent the summer reminding me how close my husband came to dying last year. I too spent several days alone in the ICU waiting for him to live.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Congratulations Jen! That's great! And I know the feeling of friendship that surrounds this blog - people in my real life think I have a friend named Jen in America because I talk about you so much! (and in a way, I guess, I do). You have helped me a lot with my anxiety and I'm not sure if I've posted this before or just imagined what I would say but you are the reason I'm flying to California next year (from Australia) to visit Disneyland and go to the Disney Expo - I'm terrified about the crowds but I'm facing that. Reading your journey has made me realise I can still enjoy it even if I can't do everything (as well as helping find coping strategies). So THANK YOU for never giving up and helping me to realise I shouldn't give up either!

    ReplyDelete
  96. So very happy for you Jen!

    Maureen

    P.S. It was great to see you in Pittsburgh!

    ReplyDelete
  97. Oh Jen, this was beautiful. That last photo made me burst into tears, very happy ones. Reading your blog makes me feel like I'm not alone and I can't thank you enough.

    ReplyDelete
  98. That has got to be the cutest picture evah, Jen...! And I know E.T. took the selfie of you both -- don't deny it! I can just hear him saying, "Self-feeee...." You both look absolutely delighted, as well you should be. Well done, Jen! <3

    ReplyDelete
  99. woooooooooooo! well done you! This whole thing about "willpower" is ridiculous, people say that you can do anything with enough willpower but it just doesn't work like that. Willpower is short lived and you need other more sustainable things to get you through.

    ReplyDelete
  100. I just wanted to give John a "well done" for going to the hospital. Lots of men put it off until it's too late. Pneumonia isn't something in our pasts, it still kills even in these days of antibiotics. My husband waited too long and died at age 46.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for your loss.

      Delete
  101. Good googly-moogly, that is a HUGE victory! That is amazing and wonderful and you deserve to feel proud.

    ReplyDelete
  102. This post made my day! :)
    -Zippy

    ReplyDelete
  103. so pleased for you , another mountain climbed . I had an aunt back in the 60s who suffered with terrible agoraphobia she couldnt even go outside to hang washing and hadnt left the house for over 20 years, back then the treatment consisted of iodine and lots of cabbage, no wonder she never improved

    ReplyDelete
  104. My husband used to have agoraphobia as a teenager- like full blown, could not leave the house, no job, no driver's licence, no high school diploma. Public transportation was especially scary to him. Today he has a degree, a job, and has ridden on so many busses it's ridiculous. God has done amazing things! When we make a winter trip to Florida someday, I really hope we can meet up with you guys at Disney and give you a hug (if you're into that). I'm so proud of you! :D

    ReplyDelete
  105. This is amazing to hear! I'm so happy for you. I can't imagine what it's been like for you. I started reading Cake Wreaks seems like forever ago and then came over here out of curiosity of what you'd write about on a more personal level. I am astounded by how much you accomplish and do. It's wonderful to see that you have stuck it through and have been able to make such huge steps. Great work! Also there are onion ninjas in my office, that's how proud I am.

    ReplyDelete
  106. Jen, I'm proud of you. I have panic attacks, myself--only mine take on the aspect of "fight" rather than "flight." I've been seeing a wonderful therapist, who ordered a psych eval (which, amazingly, did NOT involve lying on a couch talking about my mother,) which led to increasing my anti-depressants, which has led to a little bit more peace in life. (And far fewer moments of sitting in my car wondering why my heart was going a mile a minute, I felt like crying, and screaming at an unknown someone seemed like a good idea.) This is a victory. Whether of will or modern medicine...it's a victory. Hooray for you!

    ReplyDelete
  107. I am so damn proud of you.

    ReplyDelete
  108. So awesome!!

    When we met a few years back at Magic Kingdom, and suggested taking the train to the back of the park, I thought I was helping by avoiding the huge parade crowds - I had no idea at the time that it was a struggle for you. Look how far you've come!

    The community you've created here is awesome, and you are awesome, and I hope we get to hang out with you and John again someday :)

    ReplyDelete
  109. GO JEN!! *sniffs* bloody onion ninjas. Big love and cheers from Scotland!

    ReplyDelete
  110. GO JEN!! *sniffs* bloody onion ninjas. Big love and cheers from Scotland!

    ReplyDelete
  111. Great job, Jen. We are so proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
  112. *victory dance*

    Also "(Yes, I *am* wearing a Knights Who Say Ni helmet in a tank top for my profile pic. WHAT.)" I didn't even think that was a weird thing or something worth mentioning. When you called it out, I took a step back and I guess my life and social circle are delightfully normally weird <3

    ReplyDelete
  113. Just because it's a theme park ride doesn't make the victory silly at all. I count every bus ride, train ride, and walk alone at night as a *huge* victory, and those are tiny things that people do every day. If it feels serious to you, then by no measure is it silly.

    ReplyDelete
  114. I'm so happy for you, proud of you, and a bit jealous of Chelsea and Nate. Someday I would love to do a meetup and ride whatever you like or just sit and enjoy the surroundings.

    ReplyDelete
  115. "It's been such a long, tedious journey, but now, almost a decade after my panic switched on overnight, I can almost imagine a life without it." Damn. That hit me hard. Because I have never considered I would ever reach that almost, never even thought an almost would be possible for me. It's so impossible I'm actually having difficulty writing this, but I think I need too.
    I am so, so proud and happy for you.

    ReplyDelete
  116. That's so awesome! You look SO happy in that pic! :D I wouldn't call that a silly victory at all! Victories are victories :)

    ReplyDelete
  117. This victory is not silly by any means. What you've achieved right now is amazing! Coming from a place and time where you daren't hope getting to a better mental state to being able to do something you've wanted to do for so long and couldn't - to going and DOING IT, confronting your fear and kicking it's ass even though you're scared is a HUGE achievement! You should be very proud of yourself, and know that all over the world there are people - who might not always reply to your posts, who you don't, but who feel they know you and are inspired by you, your crafts and your achievements - who are so, so very proud of you too right now.

    ReplyDelete
  118. That's so GREAT! Giant fist bump to you!

    Online communities helped me so much when I was feeling alone and isolated when I was on maternity leave (I live in Vancouver, so I had a year-long mat leave), home alone with a cranky baby. Friends on Twitter helped me realize that the nitty-gritty of early parenting IS quite isolating but they made me feel not so alone and I am forever grateful to them for that.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Hmm, that "Unknown" at 8:14 pm was me -- this was the first time I've successfully been able to comment on your blog (and not for lack of trying - my comments usually disappear into the ether) and it labelled me as "Unknown". I think I fixed that now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  120. One of my biggest struggles with my own mental illness is how it can just get worse, like, rip, there goes the carpet, pulled out from beneath you again. Even when things are good, there is a piece of you that knows, this might not last. What strikes me about your story Jen is that you still celebrate the small victories. That is so amazing. Sometimes, trying to do something that you could do last month, last year, when you were six, is humiliating. So, I'm going to share a secret with you- assuming you read all your comments- I'm afraid of dinosaurs. Like really afraid. So, I've never been to universal studios, because they have a dinosaur ride, and I'm pretty sure dinosaurs are just roaming around the park to eat you. This is ridiculous. I am plainly aware of this. I'm not crazy about getting on any ride, and I end up searching for every escape door in 'it's a small world, but dinosaurs? I would pee my pants. I'm 37. I would totally PEE MY PANTS.

    ReplyDelete
  121. I <3 you so much, Jen. You should take more selfies! Look how adorable you are!

    ReplyDelete
  122. A lovely post, as usual! Please be safe!

    ReplyDelete
  123. It's not a silly victory. Any victory is a real, non-silly victory worth celebrating!

    ReplyDelete
  124. It might have been because I have been awake for 30 hours straight, but this made ME cry happy, lovely tears of joy. I'm so proud of you. You rock.

    -Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  125. Brava, girl, brava! Thank you for sharing your victory with us. As a person who doesn't "do" rides, I'm so happy for you and plenty envious. I love, love, love the picture of you. It's such a beautiful smile that beams through your eyes, your pride in your accomplishment needed to be celebrated with a selfie like this. You need to frame this pic and give it to John, then get bunches and bunches of copies made so you can send autographed copies to your fans. Yes, this was a wonderful victory! Huzzah!

    ReplyDelete
  126. This is wonderful. I'm so happy for you.

    ReplyDelete
  127. Yay for you! The little victories are always sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  128. Yay for you! The little victories are always sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  129. So, so happy to hear this! You've come so far! And little rewards are the best. :) I also have to deal with computer hunch because it affects my migraines if I'm not diligent with workouts to strengthen and stretch my back, shoulder and neck muscles. My hubby has also gotten me into foam rolling to help when I've sat all day at the computer (I wish I could have a treadmill desk like you!). <3

    ReplyDelete
  130. Well, crying now. Much love to you, Jen. This blog is one of the last happy places on the whole internet and I can't tell you how much that means to me. Congratulations on creating such an amazing community and for your "small" victory!

    ReplyDelete
  131. I'm quietly crying to myself at work right now. I'm so freaking proud of you!!! Once again, thank you for being such an inspiration role model. I can truthfully say this page and this community that you have created has changed my life for the better. Thank you, thank you, thank you and congratulations!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  132. Your own battles, your own victories! Don't downplay that. I'm so SO happy for you! And in a non-creepy from-afar sort of way, I'm so glad to be your friend. <3

    ReplyDelete
  133. This made me so emotional, in a good way. I struggle somewhat with claustrophobia/agoraphobia, and it's so encouraging to see someone overcome it with such positivity. Thank you for continuing to share your story.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Someone starting cutting onions as I read this! I joined Epbot right when it started after being a Cake Wrecks fan for a while, and this post has made me happy beyond words. This community shows me that there are incredible people doing incredible things everyday, and this is an amazing example. Jen, thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    ReplyDelete

Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>