Mild self-harm thoughts in the third paragraph, trigger warning, danger Will Robinson
So, I had the worst week of my life.
I’m serious, everything about my life blew. I’m not going to go into super specifics, but here’s an overview: I’ve got Bipolar II, and sometimes it looks at my life and goes “you know what would be great? throwing a wrench into everything that is important to you.” The wrench beans me in the head each time. The bipolar, the stress of school, and switching medications over (“the changing of the guard”, I dubbed it, even though my medication does not march or wear funny hats) turned into a hurricane of a shitstorm, totally messing up my head.
This morning, I woke up okay for the first time in a week. It was amazing. No anxiety in the pit of my stomach, no weight on my chest, no urge to cry or scream or stab pens through the palm of my hand. Figures that my self-harm thoughts would be just as weird as I am.
But this weekend, when I wasn’t okay, I made a decision. Every day this week I’m going to post something that is important to my life. Something excellent in the w0rld. Something that makes me happy. I’m going to post a Good Thing.
Whether this lasts just for a week or for longer, I don’t know. But it definitely starts today, it definitely goes on for the next five days, and I’m definitely going to ramble about it.
So, here goes.
Good Thing #1: Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson.
This book is something I wanted to read more than sleep.
This sounds like a bad recommendation. Lemme explain.
When I’m depresssed, there’s nothing I want more than to sleep. This is actually true of most of my life due to the sleep apnea, but it’s especially true when I am depressed. After school almost every day last year, I would come home and crawl into bed, passing out to music.
My mother’s boss recommended Furiously Happy to my mother, saying she thought I’d like it, so I picked it up from the library at my college. I haven’t had the energy to read for a while (thanks, bipolar! it is appreciated), but it was recommended to me, and I knew I’d feel bad if I returned the book without reading it and Mom’s boss asked me what I’d thought of it. So I started reading it.
I couldn’t stop.
I laughed like a maniac in the library, my hand pressed over my mouth as tears leaked from my eyes with the effort of not losing my shit too loud. I texted all my friends HOLY SHIT I’M READING THIS BOOK AND IT’S INSANELY GOOD I HAVEN’T BEEN THIS HAPPY IN AGES which I’m sure they appreciated. Actually, they were probably just happy that I was happy. My friends are pretty awesome.
I was also mildly irritated, but in the best possible way. I’m currently writing a book about being crazy and was before I started reading the book, and it is set up exactly like Furiously Happy is. So if I ever get my book published, I’m going to have to email Jenny Lawson and say “hi, I’m sorry, I didn’t actually try to rip you off or anything”. Which will be awkward, cause I always ramble too much in emails and she will think I am a weirdo.
Which I am.
Anyway, I get home from school, and I head back to my room. I curl up in my bed and queue up a playlist on my iPod. And the weirdest thing happens. I’m tired, but I don’t want to sleep. Not remotely. What I want to do is go over to my backpack, fish Furiously Happy out of it, and keep reading. So that’s what I do.
This book is one of my be-all, end-alls for books about being mentally ill. This and Wishful Drinking are pretty much my Bibles when it comes to that. My mother bought me my own copy and I have underlined the passages important to me. I gave a copy to a friend as what I called “the beginner’s manual for being crazy”. The other day, when I desperately needed to listen to a human voice but couldn’t stand to talk to any of the actual humans in my house, I listened to the audiobook until I went the opposite direction and couldn’t bear to listen to a human voice unless it was singing. Mental illness is weird, man.
There’s lots of reasons this book appeals to me. Jenny Lawson is tough as hell, so funny it’s crazy. So many books about mental illness are designed to feel almost condescending in a way, to comfort and coddle you. Lawson doesn’t do that. She lays bare all sides of mental illness, from the funny to the devastating, the awkward to the ugly.
Reading some mental health books feel like someone is trying to say “this is what is in your head and here is how we will try to fix you, take deep breaths and think about trees”. Lawson explains mental illness in a way that feels like someone is saying “hey, I get it. It’s fucked up, right?”
And sometimes, that’s all you really need.