Lawson has long lived with severe anxiety, depression and a host of other disorders, and sometimes her life is a total mess. Her essays give you a glimpse at the storm. They’re fast-paced and filled with Lawson’s anxiety; her thoughts seem to race a mile a minute on the page. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you’ll recognize it swirling around her every word. The book is stressful to read at times, but that’s only one layer.
The next layer is humour. Lawson knows how to make fun of herself. She writes about her illness in a very real way, but chooses to laugh at and learn from all the horrible experiences she’s accumulated due to her brain chemistry. She is LOL funny and also extremely bizarre (Lawson enjoys taxidermy animals and dressing up in costume while travelling). You’ll finish the book a little afraid of her, but also wanting to meet her so you can let that zany joie de vivre rub off on you.
The final, and best, layer is wisdom. Lawson imparts wise words at every turn; there are many pages worth poring over and sharing with friends. In one special section, she talks about accepting that what you value in life may not be the same as what society teaches you to value—especially if your mental illness means that you hate crowds or spend a lot of time in bed.
Lawson teaches that life is all about throwing guilt to the raccoons and finding your bliss—whatever that is—whenever you have the energy to find it. And yes, there’s something very freeing about that.
Furiously Happy: A Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson, $31.50, indigo.ca.
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