I don’t usually like books by bloggers for a simple reason: writing a successful blog post is entirely different from writing a book. Blog posts are usually 600-1000 words; books are a hell of a lot longer. Even chapters within books should be longer than 600-1000 words. The flow of a blog post – and of a blog – is different from a book, yet somehow everyone seems to think that if you can write great blog posts, you’ll write a great book. WRONG!
Anyway, so. Jenny Lawson, “The Bloggess” is arguably the most successful blogger in the United States today. She is very, very good at blogging. Quick, quirky and funny, she has also written some of the funniest posts I’ve ever read (remember the one on Beyonce the chicken?! Yeah, that was her). She can be crass and hilarious. And hilariously crass. She also has mental disabilities.
As a person who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and depression, you’d think that I would be interested in stories that touch on mental illness, especially since mental disabilities hold so much stigma. But I’m not! I’m rarely interested in stories that touch on mental illness, because it usually hits too close to home. I don’t like walking down that street again, even in another’s shoes. I just don’t. It can trigger too fricking much for me. So I tend to stay waaaaaaay away from books that have something to do with depression or mental illness. Can’t do it!
But Jenny Lawson makes it bearable for me. She brings a great deal to the table for everyone who lives with mental illness. For one, she’s funny. She’s wildly successful, which shows that YOU CAN BEAT THE STIGMA. I mean, you can talk about your illness and you can still have your job, your kid, your lover-person. You can choose to be honest and open about your disability and still kick ass. I love that she shows that for all of us.
I also love that she describes mental illness very well. She nails so much of it, and icing on that cake is that she seems to really accept and LOVE herself just as she is. No “overcoming” bullshit. No “despite mental illness” baloney; she’s living with it and she’s owning and embracing it.
But… (and did you feel a “but” coming from me?!) …. But Jenny Lawson is a blogger. “Furiously Happy” is at turn funny, cute, quirky (does she go the quirky route a little much? Maybe), heart-pangy but it’s like a collection of blog posts as opposed to a BOOK. It’s not a story that flows, chapter by chapter. It’s like a collection of her best essays from last year or something. Which is great! But very different from a book.
Furiously Happyis a good read for toilet time. Each chapter is like a blog post. If you have a mental illness, it might trigger things for you – for me, it didn’t because she is funny and light enough about it. What she deserves big-time credit for, in my opinion, is sticking her neck out and helping to normalize mental illness.