words far from perfect
words needed to hear myself
words as an escape
I laughed out loud while reading for the first time in a long time last night.
By chance I came across the book, “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson.
I had no idea what I was getting into.
I thought maybe it was a look at all the terrible goofy things that happened in history by accident.
Warren G. Harding, Nancy Reagan and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Those type of things.
It turned out to be a collection of essays about one person’s on going battle with depression and anxiety.
It is a book that defiantly draws outside the lines.
The book is profane, loud, brash, sensitive, apologetic and non-apologetic all at the same time.
Somehow Ms. Lawson is able to describe, comment and explain depression in a way that I can only step back and admire.
And feel like crying.
Maybe seems cold hearted to even imagine saying that or saying that anyone could write about such an awful thing in a way that makes you laugh.
But there it is.
Read the essay early in the book about dealing with insomnia and how Ms. Lawson was trying to to get her cat … well you will have to read it for yourself.
If you don’t laugh, well, that’s fine.
But I laughed.
Ms. Lawson hit a nerve for me when she wrote that she writes words that she needs to hear.
I like that.
I liked that a lot.
Maybe its a crack in the ice of my writers block.
Just words that I needed to hear.
I really like that.
To add to that, Ms. Lawson is also right there with making up her own words when existing words don’t work.
Witness her footnote for Concoctulary: “... a word that I just made up for words that you have to invent because they didn’t yet exist. It’s a portmanteau of “concocted” and “vocabulary.” I was going to call it an “imaginary” (as a portmanteau of “imagined” and “dictionary”) but turns out that the word “imaginary” was already concoctularied, which is actually fine because “concoctulary” sounds sort of unintentionally dirty and is also great fun to say. Try it for yourself. Con-COC-chew-lary. It sings.”
I love that.
Early in the book, Ms. Lawson writes “If this sentence seems confusing it’s probably because you skipped over the author’s note at the beginning like everyone else in the world does. Go back and read it because it’s important.”
This kind of freaked me out as I have been having a long discussion with myself of late of whether or not to read the forward to a book.
So far in life I have ignored forwards pretty much.
Somewhere someone I figured if it was important to the topic, the author would have found a way to get it in the book.
Or it was just a place for the author to say thanks to the girlfriend (this can be dangerous – See Garrison Keillor’s 1st book) or the person who typed the manuscript or the people who told the author that the concept was worthwhile and they should follow their dream.)
In this case I noticed the ‘Note from the Author’ but I skipped it.
Feeling like Ms. Lawson noticed personally, I skipped back and read it.
Had to read it a couple of times.
A lot of people close to me are talking about depression and anxiety in their lives and in the lives around them.
My heart goes out to all of them.
I wish I could I help.
So does Ms. Lawson.
Ms. Lawson is angry about this.
Ms. Lawson writes, “found myself really angry. Angry that life can throw such curveballs at you. Angry at the seeming unfairness of how tragedy is handed out. Angry because I had no other emotions left to give.“
What struck me over and over again is the personal nature of it all.
You can be aware.
You can want to help.
You can empathize.
You can sypmpathize.
You can experience some of this all on your own.
BUT NO and I MEAN NO ONE can understand what you are feeling.
Ms. Lawson calls it, “Imagine having a disease so overwhelming that your mind causes you to want to murder yourself. Imagine having a malignant disorder that no one understands.
In very real battles with depression and anxiety, its one on one.
Ms. Lawson writes, “When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery. We wear ribbons to celebrate their fight. We call them survivors. Because they are.
When depression sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark … ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness … afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t. We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.“
Ms. Lawson writes that she decided to fight back.
She states, “I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE.” (Emphasis in the original)
One on one.
So where do we or any other people come in.
Ms. Lawson does not come right and say it.
In fact she reinforces the one on one struggle.
So doesn’t ever seem to come out and say, “if you know some one like this” or “if you want to help…”
But in the background of the book is her husband Victor.
No matter what he seems to be there.
No matter what happens he seems to be there.
He really must love her.
I am sure there are words and things said and regretted but in the end, they are together.
I guess you call it unconditional love.
I am sure things happen but they go one.
Ms. Lawson fights her battles.
And she fights alone.
But she knows there will be someone there this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow.
And they go one.
If that isn’t how it turns out, I don’t want to know.
It is an awful way to suffer all alone.
It is awful to watch and feel helpless to help.
If I can tell myself that I can do something and that something is just be there, I will grab on to that.
Near the end of the back, Ms. Lawson writes, ” ... That’s what we do for people we love.”
I laud their bravery.
I wear ribbons to celebrate their fight.
I call them survivors.
Because they are.
And I love them, unconditionally, very much.