This is the second in a series of 5 posts where I share my favorite books in different categories, including: favorite sci-fi series, favorite novel, favorite memoir (Furiously Happy, which I discuss in this post), favorite science nonfiction, and favorite self-help. Furiously Happy is my favorite memoir, and quite possibly the funniest book I’ve ever read.
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Content warning: This post discusses mental illness.
Furiously Happy is the funniest book I’ve ever read. It’s about living with depression, anxiety, and a host of related mental and physical illnesses.
If those two statements seem mutually exclusive, that’s because you don’t know Jenny Lawson, also known as the Bloggess.
Jenny chronicles her adventures, from getting microdermabrasion to make herself look younger that ultimately ends in a bacterial genocide, to the time she got three dead cats in the mail. She also discusses her thoughts on life, including the need for pockets in women’s pants, and how it feels to live with depression. She provides hope for people going through dark times – hope that we can come out better, stronger, and possibly even happier.
Here’s a sample:
“My grandmother used to say, “Those are not the kind of underwear you want to get hit by a bus in,” but I don’t think the underwear has been invented that would make me want to get hit by a bus. Plus, when you get hit by a bus, your underwear is probably the last thing on your mind. In fact, when you die your bowels release and you shit yourself, so even if you were wearing clean underwear they would not be clean by the time your grandmother got there.” (p. 22)
“Whenever I start to doubt if I’m worth the eternal trouble of medication and therapy, I remember those people who let the fog win. And I push myself to stay healthy. I remind myself that I’m not fighting against me…I’m fighting against a chemical balance…a tangible thing.” (p. 58)
I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. It’s not easy. Some days, just getting out of bed is a struggle. Other days, the sun shines through and it’s possible to feel normal (or at least what I imagine being normal feels like). Furiously Happy is about celebrating the good times, and surviving the bad – and when reading it, I know that I’m not alone.
If you’ve ever experienced depression, anxiety, or the feeling that you’re alone in the world and no one understands you, reading this book is like a breath of air. You realize that you’re not alone, and that it’s possible to find some semblance of happiness. By blogging and writing books, Jenny has created her tribe – and she welcomes you in, with open arms.
And if you’re lucky enough to have escaped the monster of mental illness, you might gain a better understanding of what living with it is like. You’ll become a more supportive partner, friend, or parent to someone who does live with this monster. You may even recognize that this is you, and you just didn’t know why you felt so yucky, and be able to get the help that you need.
No matter what, you’ll laugh. Don’t read this book in public if you don’t want people staring at you, because you will laugh out loud. Also, be prepared to deal with an author who breaks a lot of writing conventions. She uses run-on sentences that last an entire page, makes up words, and makes a lot of jokes about vaginas. But all of this just adds to her charm and hilarity.
You can buy the Kindle version here: