Reading Nook: Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things is a book that you will adore if:

  • You consider opossums to be one of the most terrifying animals on earth.
  • You have ever purchased a kangaroo costume at a flea market.
  • You fear finding dead bodies in bathroom stalls.
  • You have deducted a taxidermied raccoon from your taxes.
  • You wonder if you are the only person failing at being an adult.
  • You have ever felt uncomfortable in your own skin.
  • You have suffered from an autoimmune disorder or mental health disorder.
  • You sometimes wonder if everyone will discover that you are an imposter who has only made it as far as you have due to a series of incredible bouts of luck.

I like to think the list above covers at least 86% of the population and 97% of the wonderful people who do me a big favor by reading this blog.

For those not yet acquainted with Jenny Lawson, she is the Queen of Blogging (and maybe the internet too) and writes an uproarious blog called The Bloggess. She is a talented writer who suffers from a lot of different diseases and a pretty considerable amount of self-doubt that is a neat gift from all those diseases. She tortures her husband and her cats for the sake of her craft, adores using Twitter to enact change (see Wil Wheaton collating papers), and I suspect is responsible for my mother’s recent affection for giant metal chickens. Though she will literally make you LOL, she is no stranger to very dark places and writes honestly and openly about her struggles with mental health.

Furiously Happy is a collection of essays that all, in some way, address her commitment to living life as best she can with mental illnesses. This includes her essay titled, “Koalas are Full of Chlamydia.” The cadence of her writing is consistently frenzied, oftentimes scattered, which is a pretty accurate mirror of how your thoughts work when you have anxiety.

Her work has attracted a large community of people who struggle with mental health and find comfort in knowing they are not alone. In a perfectly Jenny Lawson sort of way, I learned from this book that many of the thoughts and behaviors I have are actual symptoms of my anxiety and depression, and not otherwise “normal.” But she deals with them too. Even if I learned I may be a little sicker than I thought I was, I am a little bit sicker with a lot of other people who understand what it’s like to be too scared to leave your hotel room so you subsist off of Swedish fish and Cliff bars from the bottom of your purse. (True story for me, true story for Jenny Lawson, though she lived off of peanut butter crackers).

I don’t want to make this book seem heavier than it is, because it’s a quick read, a good time, and a nice symbol of togetherness for those of us who struggle with mental health. So I’ll leave you with a quote from the lighter side to tantalize you into reading it yourself.

“After that day I’d drive slowly by the swan pond on the way home and the swans would glare at my car. I’d pass by (as they likely plotted ripping off my bumper or disabling my brakes), and I’d roll down the window and scream, “DON’T EVEN START WITH ME, WHITEY!” which, admittedly, is one of the worst things to scream in the middle of a posh Republican-stronghold neighborhood, but I had no real hope for ever fitting in and so I had already given up.”