First of all, if you don’t know who Jenny Lawson is, 😦
Not that I’m disappointed in you. I’m not. I discovered her through a friend who suggested her debut novel, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and that was a good few years after her pretty popular blog, thebloggess has been online. So I’m behind the times too, just like everything else in life.
I might’ve mentioned her, her book or her blog to a few of you. And I did that because I care. Because there’s (not to get too corny) something magical about reading Jenny Lawson, something that makes you admit to the awkward truths in life and laugh along with them because hey, it’s life, right? Shit’s going to happen. But I’m not going to advertise for her first book here (even though I sort of already did, and you should read it. It’s flipping amazing) or her blog which she maintains on a regular basis—way more than I do mine—but her latest book, Furiously Happy.
I’m blessed enough to say that I don’t suffer from depression. Not to the degree that it affects my day to day life. I do get depressed (like most human beings) and okay, sometimes those bad thoughts creep in that suggest physical pain is better than whatever is going on in my head. But I tell them to shush and I look at my wrist, a personal reminder that whatever is bothering me is not the end of things:
Yes, I like John Lennon. Yes, I like the Beatles. But the three words suggest more than singing along to the popular song of the most popular band of all time. It suggests a belief that God will take care of everything I can’t. And that helps when my wrist looks like a really good way out, or at least, a way to handle what I don’t think I can.
But this blog isn’t about me; it’s about Jenny Lawson’s second book, Furiously Happy, which talks (in a most clever and humorous way) about dealing with mental illnesses like depression and social anxiety. While LPTNH is a funny memoir about funny things that have happened to her, FH dives deeper into the struggles that come with living with crippling mental disorders. I’ve talked about my fear of getting lost in the world and so Batman usually accompanies me (like on trips to NY for the Writer’s Digest Conference last year—woohoo!) but this is an actual phobia for Jenny Lawson, who, while air-traveling, isn’t afraid of the plane crashing or malfunctioning, but of getting to the airport, around the airport, or taking a taxi to the hotel. Most peoples’ non-worries terrify her and end up taking a physically exhausting toll. In a way, she fears the outside world and interacting with it, which is something we have to do, like all the time. I can’t remember the names for her disorders (I could go back and check the book—it’s all in there) but she also suffers from body image issues, self-harm and severe anxiety and paranoia.
But SHE. IS. HILLARIOUS.
I don’t think I’ve read anything so comically honest about such a dark topic while feeling cheered up about myself and the specks of familiarity I’ve seen in my own life (we artists are a crazy bunch). Not only has Jenny Lawson been blatantly truthful about her personal struggles, but she offers the one thing we need to remember when we feel at our lowest: we are not alone. Through her blog (and books) Jenny Lawson reminds folks suffering from the same mental illnesses that they are not alone in their plight. There is a tribe of us (some more affected than others) who see the dark as much, if not more, than the light. BUT IT’S OKAY. We have the option—the choice—to be furiously happy.
There are *so* many good parts in this book but one worth sharing:
I could go on and on about her, her books and her blog but I think you’ll get a better idea if you simply check them out. They may be for you. They may not be. But if you know someone suffering from depression, social anxiety, self-image, self-harm or paranoia, I *highly* suggest you pass along her name. Could be the best thing you do this year.
Well, Goodreads, that’s one book read in 2016 (I’m going to meet this yearly reading challenge, you bastard). I have a few ideas of what to pick up next but I’m always open to suggestions.
Anyone have any?