Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson’s slapjack humour and self-depreciation will have you laughing and crying as she shares her struggles with depression and other conditions. This is definitely a must-read for persons who what to feel a bit better about their life and understand the challenges of living with mental health issues. Furiously Happy is an autobiography written like a series of blog posts. Although the some of the events described can get grim, it is wrapped in a cloak of humour that makes it easily digestible. Each tale gives an insight into Jenny’s life as an author, mother and wife and how her illnesses permeate every aspect of it.

Jenny gives an account of her challenges to perform everyday activities that “normal” persons seem to handle with minor difficulties. Yet she seems extremely capable in areas that are “normally” fearful for others. Her motto to be furiously happy has travelled far and wide and reached the hearts of many people suffering with mental illnesses.

Her sense of humour turns this biography into a funny and moving tale of triumph in the face of darkest. The pathos of this book had me laughing and crying simultaneously. I cannot count the number of times I broke out laughing while reading. I wish I had the physical book to scare people away when they see the book cover. The exasperation, support and love of her husband is wonderful to read. Her dedication to her daughter and worry about being a good mom is heartwarming.

This book is a wonderful collection of stories that speaks to loving and accepting yourself for who you are and being brave enough to share that with the world. Despite her many challenges, Jenny has embraced her life and taken back the word crazy. She is determined to live furiously happy and give the universe a boot as life continues to throw obstacles in her path.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Jenny’s sense of life, fun and down-earthiness transcended the pages of the book. It was very funny but I did find myself not appealing to all the humour towards the end. I felt a bit sorry for her husband who has experienced the brunt of her slapjack as she she deals with her mental illness. However, I do understand that sometimes you just have to laugh at life because if you do not, you might be crying every day. It is great that Jenny found a way to cope with her mental illness and take back her life.

The book is not a cohesive story with a single plot that moves in an order. As I stated before, it is a collection of stories, blog posts, arguments with her husband, therapy sessions and interviews that highlights different events in her life. It is a bit all over the place but not confusing. Each chapter focuses on a different event but the writing clearly illustrates her trail of thoughts, which is a bit disjointed and all over the place. But then the mind never works in order or sticks to a defined path as it is easily distracted. It makes for a rollercoaster ride as you never know what to expect.

Additionally, this is the second book in her series but you certainly do not need to read the first book: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened first to understand her story. However, from what I have read online, reading the first book would give you more insight to some of the references made in this book.

This was an enjoyable and insightful read for me as the author touched on several truths about mental illness. If you are suffering from or knows someone suffering from mental illness and you want to understand a bit about their day to day struggle, then this is for you. Also this book does contain obscene language so be mindful of that if you choose to read it. Other than that, I hope you like comedy and learning a lot of interesting information. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Excerpts

When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker … but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand. I hope to one day see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle, and as a celebration of the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like.

Mentally ill.
It’s a phrase that once scared me, but now I wear it like an old jacket,
comfortable but ugly. It keeps me warm when people look at me as if I’ve lost
my mind. I haven’t. I’m mentally ill. There is a difference. At least to me there
is. I am very aware of the fact that I’m not right.

I can tell you that “Just cheer up” is almost universally looked at as the most unhelpful depression cure ever. It’s pretty much the equivalent of telling someone who just had their legs amputated to “just walk it off.” Some people don’t understand that for a lot of us, mental illness is a severe chemical imbalance rather just having “a case of the Mondays.” Those same well-meaning people will tell me that I’m keeping myself from recovering because I really “just need to cheer up and smile.” That’s when I consider chopping off their arms and then blaming them for not picking up their severed arms so they can take them to the hospital to get reattached.

Do you know about the spoons? Because you should. The Spoon Theory was created by a friend of mine, Christine Miserandino, to explain the limits you have when you live with chronic illness. Most healthy people have a seemingly infinite number of spoons at their disposal, each one representing the energy needed to do a task. You get up in the morning. That’s a spoon. You take a shower. That’s a spoon. You work, and play, and clean, and love, and hate, and that’s lots of damn spoons … but if you are young and healthy you still have spoons left over as you fall asleep and wait for the new supply of spoons to be delivered in the morning. But if you are sick or in pain, your exhaustion changes you and the number of spoons you have. Autoimmune disease or chronic pain like I have with my arthritis cuts down on your spoons. Depression or anxiety takes away even more. Maybe you only have six spoons to use that day. Sometimes you have even fewer. And you look at the things you need to do and realize that you don’t have enough spoons to do them all. If you clean the house you won’t have any spoons left to exercise. You can visit a friend but you won’t have enough spoons to drive yourself back home. You can accomplish everything a normal person does for hours but then you hit a wall and fall into bed thinking, “I wish I could stop breathing for an hour because it’s exhausting, all this inhaling and exhaling.”

Thank you for reading my review of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

Check my other book reviews under Bibliophile section.

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Love generously, Inspire daily, Learn constantly

AmethystAP

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