I could easily write a standard review for Furiously Happy: applauding Jenny Lawson for her sense of humor, sensitivity, and bravery for writing about mental health in such an open way (all true). But, if I left it at that, wouldn’t I be a hypocrite for not taking this kick ass woman’s personally inspirational bravery and using it to fuel my own? Yes, the answer is yes. So I’m going to take a deep breath, put a smile on my face, and for the first time, publically speak up for myself, and whomever else this piece may speak to.
The second half of 2015 I battled the most severe bout of depression I had ever encountered. Like Lawson, clinical depression and general anxiety are a norm in my life, and I have spent over ten years learning how live with and through it; but what I went through last year scared me. It was the first time since I was originally diagnosed, where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I fought, and I fought, and I fought against my brain in every way I could. Using every single coping mechanism accrued over my 10 plus years of mastering the art of war against depression, but I was stuck. I had been through multiple heartbreaking and emotionally tragic events in an unfortunately short span of time, so I knew the root of this particular battle, I knew it didn’t come out of nowhere; but, as much as I told myself “your body and mind just need time to heal…this too shall pass…you aren’t crazy…try exercising more to release endorphins…watch movies to make you laugh…he’s the idiot not you…cry it all out…you are woman hear you roar…give yourself a few days to be miserable…it’s not that big of a deal you feel dead inside” there I stood, armor on and fully determined, yet still in the same empty place I was a month ago…two months ago…5 months ago.
After an obnoxiously dramatic moment of “rock bottom,” which turned out to be a blessing in disguise (for me…not for anyone within earshot of my mini breakdown), involving wine and a roomful of people I should not have surrounded myself with, I started to almost see a glimmer. From that moment on, I made a pact with myself: 2016 was going to be about me. About me pushing myself out of my comfort zones. About me taking on seemingly crazy projects and adventures. About me not being a victim. About me being furiously happy.
I was through with coasting through life in between bouts of this chemical imbalance in my brain. I was through with seeing these issues as my downfall. From now on I was going to use them as my reason for being a BAMF.
Had I not been through #hotmessgate2015, I wouldn’t be writing this post, or celebrating that I read my 55 books in 52 weeks (guys, I DID IT!). I wouldn’t have gotten through recovering from surgery with a wicked sense of humor. I wouldn’t have conquered playing one of my all time dream roles, and biggest challenge as an actor yet. I wouldn’t have hiked and camped in the Grand freakin’ Canyon alongside complete strangers. I wouldn’t have fallen in love with myself. And I wouldn’t have re-fallen in love with all the amazing people I have in my life (parents, brother, “big sister,” aunts, my 800 awesome cousins, SJ, BC, BB, KS, CN, SDC, FS, AJ, LM, RR, JD, AF, BH) who give me strength, motivation, and inspiration, push me to explore my potential, and believe in me even when I can’t see the light. And, I wouldn’t have ousted the ones who were big dull negative toxic duds.
The concept behind my new approach to life was to make the most of the time when I was in the neutral or above neutral state, so when I hit my lows and have to suit up again, I would have those experiences to hang onto and to look forward to.
Halfway through Lawson’s Author’s Note in Furiously Happy I burst into tears because it was the first time I ever fully thought, “This person gets it. She gets me. Completely. She understands my battle, and my strength. This is exactly what my mindset was coming into this year, and she gave me a name for it. I am now obsessed with her.” After that touching and cathartic moment, I proceeded to burst into laughter through the rest of the book, because Jenny Lawson is that funny and brilliant, and her ability to tackle her ups and downs and ridiculousness through the lens of humor is a lesson we could all learn from.
Obviously this book won’t speak to everyone on the same personal level it spoke to me, but regardless of what your everyday battles are or aren’t, reading Furiously Happy will most likely make you a better and stronger person.
Rating: 5 Stuffed Raccoons
I dedicate this post to Jenny Lawson, Carrie Fisher, and every other woman who hasn’t been afraid to speak on behalf of the mental health community. We all burn a little more brightly thanks to you.
“It’s about taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It’s the difference between ‘surviving life’ and ‘living life.’ It’s the difference between ‘taking a shower’ and teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair.’ It’s the difference between being ‘sane’ and being ‘furiously happy.’” – Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy