“Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things,” is a book about Jenny Lawson’s life, living with mental illness. Often conversations about mental illness are serious and sad, but rarely hilarious and poignant at the same time. “Furiously Happy” is hilarious, heart wrenchingly real, and heartwarmingly hopeful.
Personally, this book was important to me because in it I heard our family. I am fairly certain that I just found the family living a parallel life in a different part of the mutiverse from my family. Jenny’s description of self-harm, anxiety, depression, and the hilarious way her brain makes her act felt much like me. Her daughters’ sweet interactions with Jenny- being proud of her making a new friend and watching Dr. Who together when Jenny needs a break- sounds just like me and my son. The juxtaposition of her logical husband, Victor, and the emotionally empathetic Jenny, is just like me and my husband.
There are a few things that are unique about "Furiously Happy."
First, it is hilarious and you don’t find that very often in books about mental illness.
Second, it is not obviously about mental illness- anyone could read this book and be thoroughly entertained and inspired.
Third, it subtly teaches important messages about stigma, the difficulties of treatment, and the dynamics of a family navigating living with someone with mental illness, within great stories that you can’t put down.
This is one of those books you will stay up all night to read. (My husband says staying up all night reading might be insomnia or a bit of mania, but I disagree.)
Books like this are importan to those of us living with mental illness because we often feel like we are alone. We feel alone because stigma prevents us from sharing our story and if we can not share our stories, we never hear the stories of other people like us. We feel like we are the only ones living with mental illness.
Ms. Lawson’s book is also important for our loved ones to read. Not only did seeing another couple like us makes us feel less alone, it helped Jeff and I understand each other better. For example, this could have been us: “Victor and I have different ideas about what we should do in our spare time. In my spare time I like to stare at shit. I mean, not literally. I like to stare at the TV, or the internet, or a book, or cat videos. There’s a lot of sitting very still and not moving involved… In Victor’s Type A world there should be no spare time.” My husband, Jeff, also does not believe in spare time and can't figure out how I can just stare at stuff all day. He also does not understand my 43,338 unread emails, but I think he had more compassion for me when he read that Jenny also has thousands of unread emails.
(FYI to Jenny Lawson: While I was writing this, the 15-20 tabs I leave open on my browser and the six different documents I had open crashed my computer and I lost the last half of this review. But, you say that you cut out 50% of what you write, so I guess my computer did that for me. )
“Furiously Happy” is all about how Ms. Lawson lives a good life while living with mental illness. This book will help decrease the stigma against people with mental illness and increase understanding and compassion.
I will end my review with a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“I don’t know what’s up the ass of the universe lately but I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE.”
“My new mantra was ‘Decorum is highly overrated and probably causes cancer.’”
“Antipsychotic. I dare you to find a drug that will freak people out more when they’re rifle through your medicine cabinet during parties.”
“At this point Victor may have screamed, ‘YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY MORE CATS. I’M THE ONE THAT HAS TO CLEAN UP AFTER THEM AND I’LL BE DAMNED IF I’M GOING TO SCOOP THE PRESIDENT’S [possible new cat] SHIT TOO.’”
- My husband made me stop taking in more rabbits after our fifth bunny, Lando Bunrissian.
“In the end, Victor and I both want the same thing- for me to get my shit together. That’s where we find the common ground.”
“I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to feel such great sorrow, and also such great happiness.”
“Psychiatrists are always changing shit, so even they don’t know exactly what’s going on.”
This quote proves that Victor knows my husband, but we just don’t know it yet : “Last month, as Victor drove me home so I could rest, I told him that sometimes I felt like his life would be easier without me. He paused a moment in thought and then said, “It might be easier. But it wouldn’t be better.”