Let me first say that this book is amazing. It’s actually made its way onto my list of all time favorite novels and that’s not something I say lightly. I’ve always loved to read, as a child I made sure to never be without at least one book. My mom used to joke that I didn’t read books I inhaled them. All through junior high and high school I would check out a huge stack of books each Friday and read them over the weekend. I have no idea how many books I’ve read over my lifetime but I do know that it’s a very big number! There are a select few that have made enough of an impression on me to earn a spot on my favorites list and this gem is definitely one of them.
I’ve come to really enjoy non-fiction in the last couple years. I don’t really know what changed because I used to hate non-fiction, but in the last year I’ve been reading biographies almost exclusively and I love them!
So what made this book so special? Lots of things really and I know that a big part of why I loved it so much was because I could relate to the author on a really personal level. Jenny Lawson has several mental illnesses and she also has an autoimmune disease. For me this translated into FINALLY I’M NOT ALONE IN THE WORLD!!!!! I have an autoimmune disease, lots of health problems and my brain is a total mess so reading this book was like seeing my mind in print.
This book manages to be hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time. Lawson is terrifyingly honest, her vulnerability is intoxicating. To put it simply this women is incredible gutsy and I want to be friends with her after reading this book.
Her description of living with mental illness paints a vivid picture that gives voice to so many of the things I have felt while wrestling with anxiety, depression, and my body failing me. The following excerpts are beautiful examples of her ability to capture the struggle of living with a broken body and mind.
“Okay. Let me rephrase. Sometimes being crazy is a demon. And sometimes the demon is me. And I visit quiet sidewalks and loud parties and dark movies, and a small demon looks out at the world with me. Sometimes it sleeps. Sometimes it plays. Sometimes it laughs with me. Sometimes it tries to kill me. But it’s always with me. I suppose we’re all possessed in some way. Some of us with dependence on pills or wine. Others through sex or gambling. Some of us through self-destruction or anger or fear. And some of us just carry around our tiny demon as he wreaks havoc in our mind, tearing open old dusty trunks of bad memories and leaving the remnants spread everywhere. Wearing the skins of people we’ve hurt. Wearing the skins of people we’ve loved. And sometimes, when it’s worst, wearing our skins. These times are the hardest. When you can see yourself confined to your bed because you have no strength or will to leave. When you find yourself yelling at someone you love because they want to help but can’t. When you wake up in a gutter after trying to drink or smoke or dance away the ache—or the lack thereof. Those times when you are more demon than you are you.”
“Life passes. Then comes the depression. That feeling that you’ll never be right again. The fear that these outbreaks will become more familiar, or worse, never go away. You’re so tired from fighting that you start to listen to all the little lies your brain tells you. The ones that say that you’re a drain on your family. The ones that say that it’s all in your head. The ones that say that if you were stronger or better this wouldn’t be happening to you. The ones that say that there’s a reason why your body is trying to kill you, ant that you should just stop all the injections and steroids and drugs and therapies.”
“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 said, “ It might be easier. But it wouldn’t be better.”
“And in the deepest, night-blind fathoms you’re certain that you’re alone. You aren’t. I’m there with you. And I’m not alone. Some of the best people are here too… feeling blindly. Waiting. Crying. Surviving. Painfully stretching their souls so that they can learn to breathe underwater…so that they can do what the monsters say is impossible. So that they can life. And so that they can find their way back to the surface with the knowledge of things that go bump in the night. So that they can dry themselves in the warm light that shines so brightly and easily for those above the surface. So that they can walk with others in the sunlight but with different eyes… eyes that still see the people underwater, allowing them to reach out into the darkness to pull up fellow fighters, or to simply hold their cold hands and sit beside the water to wait patiently for them to come up for air.”
Incase you didn’t believe me when I said she was hilarious.
“People warned us that everything in Australia wants to kill you, but I think they’re overreacting. Australia doesn’t want to kill you. It’s more like an exclusive club for people who care very little about being alive. Australia is really a lot like Texas if Texas were mad at you and drunk and maybe had a knife.”
“Our guide was a very sweet and knowledgeable woman who was eager to share the cultural magic of Uluru, which is now owned by the Aboriginal people who originally owned it back before white people showed up and said, ‘You have no concept of ownership? Lovely! We own all of this now. But never mind that. How are you? Can we escort you somewhere else and treat you like shit for a while?’”
I’ve frequently use the spoons theory to try and explain how I have to live my life. It’s hard for healthy people to understand how exhausting just living life is for people who have mental or physical illnesses.
“Then you get more depressed and the next day you wake up with even fewer spoons and so you try to make spoons out of caffeine and willpower but that never really works. The only thing that does work is realizing that your lack of spoons is not your fault, and to remind yourself of that fact over and over…”
If I have children this is my future.
“Last week I sat in my usual corner and as another mom sat down next to me and struck up a light conversation I silently congratulated myself on being a normal person. A few seconds later Hailey looked up from across the room with the other Girl Scouts and, smiling widely, exclaimed, “MOMMY! You made a friend! Good for you!” And then I feel through the floor because being embarrassed by your child when you’re an adult is much like being embarrassed by your parents when you’re a teenager, but worse, because you can’t roll your eyes at them and pretend that they just don’t understand you.” If I have children this is my future.
The only part of this book that I didn’t like was the chapter, “And Then I Got Three Dead Cats in the Mail”. It felt kind of weird to me and I really love cats so obviously I wasn’t a huge fan of this section. That being said my mild dislike for these pages was completely overshadowed by how much I adored the rest of the book!
If you or someone you love struggles with a mental or physical illness I highly recommend this book. Her other book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” is definitely on my reading list, once I read it I’ll be sure to let you all know my thoughts.
Have you read “Furiously Happy”? What were your thoughts? If you haven’t read it click on the link below or go to your local library and get a copy, make sure to let me know your thoughts!