Furiously Happy review

Author: Wendy Tuxworth

Jenny Lawson (also known as The Bloggess) is the author of Furiously Happy, a memoir in which she talks about her experiences with anxiety and depression. She is hilarious, a bit strange, and very wise.

In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

I love a memoir that deals with mental health. There’s something about the honesty and often rawness of the prose that really gets to the heart of mental illness, and that’s something I can really appreciate. So I went into this pretty much knowing that I was going to like it. However, little was I to know that this was going to become one of my all-time favourites.

First of all, Furiously Happy is absolutely hilarious. I defy you to read this book and not laugh out loud at least once. I’m not usually a fan of humour in books – not that I don’t like it, just sometimes it goes over my head – but this was SO. DAMN. FUNNY. I actually laughed out loud, to the point where my neighbours probably thought I was attempting to perfect my witchy cackle before Halloween. Jenny Lawson is interested in things that are a little bit strange, such as taxidermy, voodoo vaginas, and Japanese toilets. (Don’t ask – just read it.) I really appreciated that, because sometimes mental health memoirs can get a little bit…well, depressing.

This is not to say that Lawson only talks about the funny side of mental illness (because, oh dear reader, I strongly believe there is a funny side – call it black humour or what you will, but I am determined to find the hilarity in my illness) but she is also unflinching when talking about mental health. She discusses panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and phobias. I thought the discussion of phobias and depression were particularly good.

“As the doctor walked me out he told me to ‘stop worrying so much’ […] and I made a note to tell my shrink the breaking news that the medical world finally found the cure for my severe anxiety disorder and that the prescription is ‘Just stop worrying so much’.
My God, we’ve come so far with science.”

All in all, I want to be Jenny Lawson’s best friend. Or her daughter. Or her neighbour. She is consistently funny, encouraging, and understanding. And I really appreciated that.

If you’d like to read more about mental health and humour, Janet Coburn has written a great blog post about using humour in her book Bipolar Me.

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