Telling stories is an interesting business when you consider that there are often multiple places you could begin. I guess I’ll start this one by saying that I met Jenny Lawson through her book Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things at the very beginning of this new year, and it totally changed my life. I could have started this by telling you how ironic it is that I’m going to tell you about a book and, by extension, an entire movement called “Furiously Happy” on a day when I am desperately miserable. I think Jenny would appreciate that, though.
If you know me, you know that I left 2019 in pretty bad shape. Honestly, if you know me, you know that I’ve spent the last seven or so years in pretty bad shape. The last three months have been–well, they’ve been enough for me to come home from college. Which again, if you know me, you know that’s something I said would never happen. But adrenal failure is apparently big and bad enough that the things you say no longer mean much.
Coming home from school totally rocked my world. Most people who have interacted with me since Halloween when I got back to Alabama probably wouldn’t be able to tell–I bullshit extremely well face to face. And to be quite honest, for the first couple months of being home, I was too physically sick to be mentally sick. Or maybe I was just too physically sick for my brain to let me remember any of it. Now, though, it’s all settling in, and I am losing my noodles. Even yesterday–a day I consider to have been a good day–I spent hours on the internet figuring out exactly what it would look like to move my entire life to San Antonio to work at Nowhere Bookshop so that Jenny Lawson can be my mentor and help me survive this life and also become the writer I know I’m supposed to be. (I understand that I have never met her and that she’s old enough to be my mom and that it’s a bit crazy and all of the other things wrong with this obsession that I have, but I’m hoping when I get to the part of what I’m writing that’s actually about the book you’ll all understand.) Then today I’m desperately miserable. My chest is too tight. I’ve cried more than I’d like to admit. I want to hurt myself or something else. I’m thinking thoughts I’m deeply ashamed of towards the things in my life that I swear I am beyond grateful for. I want to be alone, but I feel like if I am alone for one more second I will shatter into a million pieces. I want to sleep for the rest of my life, but I know that if I don’t throw something my life will end very quickly because I’ll explode.
Yesterday was good. Today is very very not.
But today I finished Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson, my new hero. I want to share this book with everyone, but I especially want to share it with the people in my life who I know struggle with mental and chronic illness. Because fuck does she get it.
I started listening to the audio book with my mom, and while that’s totally fine–well it’s totally fine for me and my mom because we’re best friends and we talk about everything and nothing is ever awkward between us–there are parts of the book that are so real and so intimate that I’m glad I finished it alone. I laughed. I cried. I shouted “ME TOO.” I swear to you this book has changed my life. I started following Jenny on Instagram. I subscribed to her blog. I joined her book club. I have demanded a Rory for Valentine’s Day but have said that I will settle for signed copies of all of Jenny’s books if taxidermied raccoons cannot be found. I have watched her TedTalk that aired literally one week and one day ago about a million times–and it has inspired me to start telling my story.
I want to be furiously happy. I want to recognize that my depression lies and feel like I am winning every single day that I wake up and have not allowed my brain to kill me. I want to join the community of misfits that Jenny talks about in her book and in the introduction to her book club because it is mind blowing to me that there really are people out there like me. I want to sit in my bed on days when I have no other choice because of Severe Adrenal Insufficiency or Dysautonomia or Crohn’s Disease or one of my three kinds of migraines or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or Endometriosis or Fibromyalgia and know that there’s an online world of people out there who could be my friends if I just had the confidence to look for them because this loneliness is suffocating me. Mostly, I want to write again. I want to put my words out there in a way I haven’t been able to since my health got really bad again. Who knows? Maybe some of those things can go together?
Today I was desperately miserable, but at the beginning of 2020 I found a book that led me to a woman who I think has inspired me to be an active participant in my own life. So hopefully tomorrow will be better.