Title: Furiously Happy
Author: Jenny Lawson
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
This is a Very Funny Book.
I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout reading. I decided to read this after writing a book summary for an educational freelance assignment. I feel very close to Lawson’s experience of anxiety, depression, pain, and fear. Lots of overlap except for the way we define what’s going on and how we choose to treat ourselves. I find labels disempowering and limiting. Lawson has defined her entire existence by them and seems to have built a lucrative career around them. Are her ailments worse than anyone else’s? It’s a question I kept coming back to while reading? This is the danger of pathologizing every damn symptom expressed. It is an isolating experience and the rabbit hole of our existence. Western medicine is all too happy to shove every one of us down that hole.
Lawson is a big proponent of the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness. A theory for which not a single shred of evidence exists. She believes medication is her saving grace. She takes a lot of it. She totally buys the myth and wraps herself in a slew of western medical paradigm diagnoses which greatly informs her writing. One day she may feel differently. I want to send her to the Mad in America site founded by journalist Robert Whitaker so she can read what those people have to say about psychiatry and so-called mental illnesses.
In spite of this, she is a gifted writer with a sharp sense of humor. I am forever fascinated by people who can express themselves in one way so eloquently yet come across like a completely different person in another. After seeking out videos of Lawson speaking, to see if she is really that funny in other contexts, I wasn’t surprised to find that she isn’t. Her writing persona seems to be the best version of herself.
In addition to the photo of the stuffed Raccoon on the book’s cover, aptly named Rory and maniacal in his exuberance, Furiously Happy is chock full of animal references throughout. These references are hilarious in the best possible way. Lawson’s father is a taxidermist by trade so she grew up with a morbid fascination of dead animal parts. She is very much a champion for living animals too and talks a lot about her cats.
The book is a collection of short essays which I believe originated on her popular blog, The Bloggess. People around the world find her humor and candor easy to relate to, like a soft, comfy blanket to wrap around yourself on chilly nights. In spite of my disagreements, her book provides a valuable service to those suffering from the darker symptoms of humanity known as anxiety, depression, agitation, and despair. In those moments, even a single laugh out loud is a balm applied directly to the soul. Furiously Happy is a battle cry to live life out loud, to make the most of the moments that we are able to enjoy, and to never forget that our darkest moments will pass.
BRB Rating: Read It, (if you are depressed or anxious because who the f*** isn’t?)