“Furiously Happy” By Jenny Lawson: Seriocomically “Crazy”

I came up with the concept of being “furiously happy” years ago after the death of a friend came on the heels of a depression. I was so tired of being sad and feeling hopeless that I went to my next emotion and that was anger. I was mad that life had thrown so much crap at me all at once, so I decided to be furiously happy. Vehemently joyous. To do everything I could when I was out of a depression to enjoy life, even if it was just out of pure spite at the universe. Jenny Lawson, interviewed by Nora Krug, Washington Post

Jenny Lawson, otherwise known as “The Bloggess,” has made a name for herself via her candid and humorous and “crazy” writing. In addition to her social media presence, there’s been her bestselling Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir (2012). 

Because, you see, she makes no bones about having a myriad of mental health issues.

And now there’s her follow-up memoir, Furiously Happy. More on that in a bit.

Some quotes from her Let’s Pretend This Never Happened will give you a sense of her perspective:

I can finally see that all the terrible parts of my life, the embarrassing parts, the incidents I wanted to pretend never happened, and the things that make me “weird” and “different,” were actually the most important parts of my life. They were the parts that made me ME.

I’m lucky that although [my spouse] Victor doesn’t understand it, he tries to understand, telling me, “Relax. There’s absolutely nothing to panic about.” I smile gratefully at him and pretend that’s all I needed to hear and that this is just a silly phase that will pass one day. I know there’s nothing to panic about. And that’s exactly what makes it so much worse.

It’s been my experience that people always assume that generalized anxiety disorder is preferable to social anxiety disorder, because it sounds more vague and unthreatening, but those people are totally wrong. For me, having generalized anxiety disorder is basically like having all of the other anxiety disorders smooshed into one. Even the ones that aren’t recognized by modern science. Things like birds-will-probably-smother-me-in-my-sleep anxiety disorder and I-keep-crackers-in-my-pocket-in-case-I-get-trapped-in-an-elevator anxiety disorder. Basically I’m just generally anxious about f***ing everything. In fact, I suspect that’s how they came up with the name.

What the author now says in Furiously Happy about her multiple diagnoses:

According to the many shrinks I’ve seen in the last two decades I am a high-functioning depressive with severe anxiety disorder, mild bipolar tendencies, moderate clinical depression, mild self-harm issues, impulse control disorder, and occasional depersonalization disorder. Also, sprinkled in like paprika over a mentally unbalanced devil egg, are mild OCD and trichotillomania, which is always nice to end on, because whenever people hear the word ‘mania’ they automatically back off and give you space on crowded airplanes. Probably because you’re not supposed to talk about having manias when you’re on a crowded airplane. This is one of the reasons why my husband hates to fly with me. The other reason is I often fly with taxidermied creatures and anxiety service animals. We don’t travel a lot together because he doesn’t understand awesomeness.

By the way, among the various things she writes about in Furiously Happy, according to her website, are “completely inappropriate things I’ve blurted out to fill awkward silences at my psychiatrist’s office.”

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