Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Rating: 4.5 stars… no 5…no 4.5.. ugh why is this so difficult?

Screw the rating. All you need to know is that “Furiously Happy” is furiously funny.

Her subtitle is a “Funny Book about Horrible Things” and it is. Lawson talks about two serious mental disorders – depression and anxiety – by putting her own struggles out there. At some points in this book you think, “OMG that is horrible, why am I laughing?!” But you just can’t help it.

Like in the first chapter, she is explaining that she has white coat syndrome and how she passes out whenever she goes to the doctor. She then proceeds to explain how embarrassing it is to go to the gynecologist. I will let you read it for yourself but it’s hysterical. But for the men who maybe can’t relate, she also describes a time she went to the vet and what happened when she came to. Again, HYSTERICAL!

If you’re someone who is straightlaced and doesn’t like a lot of cursing, who is politically correct or can’t take a joke, then this book is not for you.  Lawson has basically taken off the filter and lets whatever comes to her mind come out. There were times that I was guffawing out loud, tears rolling down my cheeks and had to stop reading to catch my breath. My boyfriend would come running in the room to find out what was so funny and see that I was reading a book. He would seem kind of disappointed that it wasn’t something from Facebook that he could share, but in my defense, it’s A PRETTY DAMN FUNNY BOOK!

Yet, even while this book is funny, Lawson unveils the seriousness of how a mental disorder can be crippling and life altering. I too suffer from anxiety and though its not on the magnitude that Lawson suffers with, there were several things I could relate to. I could also relate because I know someone who has anxiety, depression and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and, again, while it’s not to the point that Lawson is diagnosed with , does it matter? She makes clear right from the beginning that it doesn’t. Everyone is different and not everyone has the same level of depression or anxiety because everyone is unique. She doesn’t want anyone to pit themselves into the same category as herself. Rather to just acknowledge that it’s ok to have the disease, and to bring awareness to others.

In the beginning of the book, I think she makes one of her most important points. She talks about how “Furiously Happy” is her goal to make the most out of the good days, which sparked the Silver Ribbon Campaign. This idea originated from one of her blog posts which she includes and I am including for all of you:

“When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery. We wear ribbons to celebrate their fight. We call them survivors. Because they are.

“When depression sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we seldom even know simply because so many suffer in the dark … ashamed something they see as a personal weakness … afraid that people will worry and more afraid that they won’t. We find ourselves unable to do anything but clink to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.”

She has a point. It’s a condition that not many people know about and think that those who have it are just trying to make excuses for their behavior (another point she brings to light). But the point is, that it can’t be defined. Hell, I didn’t even know I had anxiety until I ended up in the emergency room, thinking I was having heart palpitations. After a day of wearing a heart monitor, which came out with negative results, the doctor told me I had anxiety. I didn’t understand why at the time but suddenly it made sense. I thought about how I felt all those times going into a crowded room with hordes of people or when their was a lot of noise, or when I was going somewhere and didn’t know where I was going. I felt anxious.  It was until last year that learned I had an underlying autoimmune disease that was causing the anxiety but the point is I have it and so do millions of others. It just not publicly shouted about like cancer. That is why Lawson’s book is so important.

You might be asking why didn’t I give it five stars. Actually, I went back and forth on this. The book wasn’t perfect. There were some chapters that I felt weighed the book down and didn’t understand why she included them. I also didn’t like the few times she self promoted the book. Even though they were subtle I was still irked by it, especially because in the Note from the Author she basically she takes note of the reader buying the book. Those seem like nonsensical reasons now that I think it but hey, it’s what I think.

Some people might take note that were other things wrong with the book, like the fact that she doesn’t use punctuation properly or that she continuously uses run-on sentences, and while that would normally bother me, here it works. It is why it makes the book is so damn funny.

Here are just a few things that I thought were hysterical:

“I almost never use B.C. and A.D. to describe time periods. I use BKCWC. Before Kirk Cameron Went Crazy. That’s how I judge time.”

“Whenever Hailey tells me kids at school were mean to her I want to go find those kids and tell them that I’m them from the future  and that they’ve failed miserably. And then I’d be like, ‘And look how fat you got.'”

“The amount of money I would pay for people to stop fucking up grammar is only slightly lower than the amount I’d give to ensure I never have grammatical errors in the statements I make calling other out on their grammatical errors.”

I can go on and on. These are just from one chapter in the book! All I will say, is that I applaud Lawson on speaking out on mental disorders. It takes a brave person to admit it and an even braver person to share it with the world.  But like she says, it’s not about getting sympathy or the claps on the back. It’s about all the others who share the same plight and giving them a voice.

I highly recommend everyone read this book because it is something that must be talked about.

I just realized, that by in doing this review, I just helped Lawson promote this book and therefore my previous argument is null and void. Dang it! Ok, Ok.  FIVE STARS!



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