Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things – Jenny Lawson
In her new book, Furiously Happy, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
Review: I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book. Nonfiction isn’t really my thing (unless it’s nonfiction about religious cults, but that’s a long story which doesn’t belong here.) Anyway, one day I was walking through Target after a dental appointment. My teeth were throbbing, and I had a massive headache, and I suddenly found myself standing in front of a shelf full of psychotic glitter raccoons. That’s when I thought, I need this book in my life.
I’m so glad that post-dentist me decided to put this book in the cart. I loved it.
Furiously Happy reads more like a series of blog posts than a regular memoir. Jenny Lawson suffers from several mental illnesses, and each chapter talks about a different situation she found herself in while trying to live with her illnesses. Some of the chapters are deep and honest, but most of them are just hilarious. My favorite chapters are the ones where Jenny goes to Australia with her friend to photobomb koalas and count kangaroo vaginas. I like those chapters because I’m impressed that people get free trips to Australia in exchange for writing about it. I’ll totally write about Australia if someone will send me there for free. (Do you hear that, Australia? If you give me plane tickets, I’ll write about you.)
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a book as much as I laughed at this one. Jenny has a very unusual way of looking at the world and her illnesses.
I know what a lot of you are thinking: Illnesses aren’t funny, and you’re horrible for laughing at sick people. Usually, I’d agree, but if you’ve lived every day of your life with a disease that can’t be cured, sometimes you have no choice but to laugh at it. I know this because I have a mental illness that can’t be cured. It’s nowhere near as bad as Jenny’s, but it has gotten me into some ridiculous situations. Actually, the whole reason I was wandering through Target in a post-dentist pain-fog was because the mental illness causes chronic teeth grinding, which leads to unpleasant dental appointments, which leads to me impulse-buying glittery raccoon books. So this book’s entrance into my life can be blamed on chemical imbalances.
A few times, I got slightly annoyed while reading Furiously Happy. Occasionally, the writing got too rambley for me, and I wanted it to get to the point. It also seems like Jenny sometimes intentionally misunderstands questions or does things that make life difficult for the people around her. I got annoyed at her for that. But, those are minor criticisms. I had a lot of fun reading this book.
One part of the story that I especially appreciate is the author’s discussion of medication and its side-effects. Admittedly, I haven’t read a ton of books about mental illness, but I’ve never come across one that discusses medication. When you swallow a pill that changes your brain chemistry, odd things can happen. Until I read this book, I hadn’t noticed that nobody really talks about medication side-effects. So, Furiously Happy inspired me to talk about them right now:
I take a pill that sometimes causes random dizziness. A few days ago, I was spying on the mailman. (I swear I’m not a pervert. I thought he was bringing a package for me, but I didn’t want to talk to him, so I was hiding.) I was peeking around a corner, watching the mailman deliver mail, when I suddenly fell over and smacked my face against a brick wall. I didn’t even know I was falling over until my face was rudely introduced to bricks. Basically, I’m the worst spy ever. The dude I’d been spying on saw me randomly face-plant into the side of my house. Then I had to talk to him. And, he didn’t even have a package for me!
“Don’t make the same mistakes that everyone else makes. Make wonderful mistakes. Make the kind of mistakes that make people so shocked that they have no other choice but to be a little impressed.” – Furiously Happy
I could have sat on the ground and wallowed in my surprise face pain, but I chose to laugh, get up, apologize to the mailman, and go on with life. I guess that’s the point of Furiously Happy. If you live with an illness, you’re going to have bad days, but you’re also going to have a lot of good days. Enjoy the good ones and don’t let the bad ones get you down.
“It’s about taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us.” – Furiously Happy