If you’ve read a Jenny Lawson book before, you’ll know what to expect here. Side-splitting anecdotes, social anxiety, lots of animal stories, bizarre arguments with her husband Victor, talking openly about mental health issues like depression, etc. (She has treatment resistant depression and doesn’t shy away from talking about her lowest moments, including feeling suicidal.) And yet this book feels light and very human.
Some notable departures in this one, she spends quite a bit of time reflecting on the differences between her and Victor’s marriage as she’s portrayed it over the years on her blog and in books, and what their marriage is like in real life. She takes care to say it’s not all puppies and rainbows and strange arguments. They’ve had to work at their marriage, and she shares what that’s been like, especially having to deal with mental health issues simultaneously.
She also wrote this heartbreaking letter to her insurance company that she includes in the book, and you find out a little later that she actually sent it to them as a desperate last move to get a treatment for her depression covered. Her struggles with them are infuriating. The biggest chapter in the book is actually her relating the experience of that resulting treatment, and its effects. That was probably the most interesting chapter in the book, even if it wasn’t the funniest.
This book is best experienced in small does over several days, but this does pose a problem, because it is also compulsively readable. I would sit down with it and be like, just one more chapter, okay just one more after that, oh no last one. Shit. I read it basically in three long reading sessions.
I’m really here for Jenny Lawson’s whole thing of bringing out our “brokenness” into the light, sharing it with other people, and building community in order to get through. I will confess that the reason this doesn’t get five stars from me is that my personal tastes made it a little hard to get through the portions where she was being super earnest about What It All Means, and going on about things like that. I did skim a lot of that. But the rest of this is quality material, and I’m sure those parts will mean a lot to some people who have different tastes than mine.
Looking forward to discussing this one with my book club.
Read Harder Challenge 2021: Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness.