Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review: Furiously Happy

So...I bought this book the other day. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson.  Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess,  lives in Texas.  Which is kind of cool.  She's been blogging for a long time, and she has quite a following.  Deservedly so. She is one funny woman. She's also mentally ill, and is okay with admitting that.  I like her idea that one should be "furiously happy" when you can manage it, in defiance of all your crazy.   That takes a kind of bravery that is not often heralded.  Sometimes just getting out of bed takes all the courage a person can muster up from inside.  I respect that.  

I intended to put the book in my "hospital bag"; the bag of things I can do while I am recovering from surgery.  Somehow, the smile on the face of that racoon called to me, and I just had to start reading. I brought the book with me when we went to Zane's soccer practice.  Once I was settled into my seat next to the other parents on the sidelines, I opened the book and began to read.  Several minutes later, I snorted.  Then I giggled.  The mom next to me, who had been reading on her iPad, glanced at me.  I snorted again, unable to control myself.  If you've ever tried to stop yourself from laughing, then you know that it is an impossible task.  Before I knew what was happening, I was belly laughing so hard that tears were spilling down my face. I may have even guffawed.  All the soccer parents stopped watching their children and swiveled their heads in my directions.  I wasn't embarrassed by my display of frivolity, but since I wasn't about to read aloud to the entire sideline, I reluctantly put the book aside.  

Of course, once we got home, I had to read the more hysterical passages to my husband, including the story of Rory the Raccoon.  The Bloggess is known for her love of taxidermied animals, and it makes for some interesting life events.  Larry agreed that the story of Rory was 'snort-worthy'.  I then read to him the section about when Jenny was panicking while she was in New York to promote her first book, and she texted Neil Gaiman.

"Wait," my husband said. "Are you telling me that she has Neil Gaiman's phone number and she can TEXT him? Whenever she wants to? "

"I think he reads her blog," I told him.

"Why doesn't Neil Gaiman read YOUR blog?" Larry said.

"I've been a little busy," I replied.  I was feeling a little defensive.  The Bloggess doesn't have a job where she has to leave her house, and I do.  Most of us are in the same boat.  Also, I've had that whole cancer treatment thing for the past year, which I would certainly call a mitigating circumstance.   Anyway, it could just be that Mr. Gaiman hasn't had time to read my blog yet.  Yeah.  I'm going to just go with that. 

Anyway, Furiously Happy is an entertaining read.  You'll laugh, you'll cry.  You may even snort.  I recommend this book, because laughter is in short supply these days.  We all need more of it.  If you find yourself feeling a little bit more accepting of those with mental illness, that's a good thing.  If you have a mental illness, and this book helps you accept yourself and what makes you YOU, then that's a good thing, too.


  1. Looks like a good book. I have read the blogess. She is good.

  2. I decided it was best to accept myself a while ago, trifecta of mental illnesses, being a fat person in a society that despises fat people and all. I sure wish I'd done it sooner. But for some reason, in this life I've been something of a late bloomer. Not with stuff that I didn't like, mind. I got my period when I was twelve. I would have been happy to wait on that longer...a lot longer.
    I wasn't properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 38. That was a lot of years of misdiagnosis with "depression/anxiety" adult ADD, and, of all stupid things, when I was sixteen, "hysterical neurosis." I'm glad I was the smart-ass from hell to that shrink. He was a dipshit, and he deserved every bit of sass my sixteen year old self gave him, in spades. I say this from the perspective of a gray-haired, fifty year old matronly looking home health nurse. You go, sixteen year old me! I'm not proud of every time sixteen year old me was a mouthy, sarcastic bag of snark, but I am proud of that instance.
    In any case, the bipolar (type II) diagnosis came with a mixed bag of relief (Yeah, this makes a lot of sense) and shame. Oh no, I'm truly crazy! I'm not just depressed and anxious. I don't have Adult ADD. I'm crazy for real, and I have an incurable disease.
    At first I tried to keep my diagnosis a secret. But then one night at work, a bunch of my co-workers were speaking derisively regarding an article in Time Magazine (I think) about bipolar disorder. As I recall, Patty Duke was mentioned in the article.
    "Can you believe she's actually CRAZY?" one of them said.
    These were nurses and nurse aids talking this way, mind.
    That was the turning point. I said "You never know who might be crazy, because some people don't look crazy. You never know when they might be sitting right in front of you--maybe even working with you."
    I got up and stormed off. They never apologized, but they never said anything like that again. I decided that from that moment forth, I was not about to hide who I was.
    The journey to accepting my body took longer. I was still mired in yo-yo dieting and self hate, calling myself names like "fat pig" and "ugly bitch" and berating myself for "failing" at yet another diet. Fortunately, when I was 45 years old I discovered size acceptance and Health at Every Size. Otherwise I'd be fifty and still caught in that trap. Actually being okay with my appearance took a little longer. I think that dumping the satellite TV helped. My bank account gained a little weight, and I was no longer hearing multiple times a day demanding to know what I'd gain when I lose, or what it would take for me to fit into a Size Sassy--a line that they actually stole from a size positive activist, as it happens.
    Anyway, I love people who are out and proud, whether it be regarding their sexual preference, their particular brand of crazy, or just not being ashamed of their body despite the myriad of messages we receive every day telling us we should be. I wish you the best with your surgery. I know you've been fighting the good fight for a while now. You are a strong person, and I admire you. You are a kind person, and I like you.

    1. That was an amazing story, and you are an amazing person. Thank you so much for reading, and for sharing. You are a strong person, too! Accepting ourselves as we are is so difficult, and I am glad that we are both heading in the right direction.

  3. I have been really giving the library thing a big effort, but really want to buy a book...this could be the one!


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