Depression Book Club: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I was going to get this out there earlier in the week, but unfortunately a power outage screwed up my wireless card, so I’ve been having trouble connecting to the Internet. In any case, welcome to the second installment of my new weekly feature, the Depression Book Club, where I talk about books that are either about depression or that have helped me deal with depression in some way.  This week’s book is similar in some respects to last week’s as it is also a comedic memoir by someone with depression. Wishful Drinking, however, does something that makes it stand out in a unique and different way from the previous book: it shows us that even the people we admire and idolize can suffer from mental illness.

Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking is the memoir of the late Carrie Fisher, beloved by many for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. It was written following the electroshock therapy that she underwent to help control her severe Bipolar Depression. This is a fact she mentions in the introduction, as she is not shy about her mental illness. In fact, Fisher even mentions that part of the reason she wrote the book is to help fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Her main weapon in this fight is her dry, sarcastic sense of humor, which fills the book with a distinctive character and helps make even the worst of the stories within very entertaining.

It doesn’t hurt that Fisher lead a life that was far from typical. Born the child of two celebrities and later becoming a celebrity in her own right, Fisher had adventures that most of us can only dream, and several that we would never even think to imagine. And yet many of them are familiar, to: the bad break ups, the time your mother embarrassed you in front of your friends, and, of course, the struggle with that strange and horrible force that makes you doubt you own brain. For all the wild and outlandish tales of celebrity, the book never loses its sense of common humanity. That, I think, is it’s biggest strength: it shows us that even larger-than-life celebrities are still human.

Wishful Drinking is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and at your local independent bookstore. If you’ve read the book and want to share your thoughts, or if you’ve got a suggestion for a book to read, leave a comment below. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.

Depression Book Club: Furiously Happy

It should be no surprise that, being someone who likes to write a lot, I also like to read a lot. In fact, it was my love of reading that got me to write in the first place. So, naturally,  one of the ways that I cope when I’m feeling depressed is by reading a book. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one like this, so I’d like to start up a new weekly feature on this blog: the Depression Book Club, where I talk about a book I’ve read that either talks about depression or has helped me deal with depression. I often find that those two categories tend to overlap somewhat, so what better way to start this off than to feature a book that belongs in both categories. This week’s Depression Book Club book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.

I can’t tell if that raccoon wants a hug or a chance to rip my face off and eat it.

Furiously Happy is a memoir/collection of essays by Jenny Lawson, aka the Bloggess. It is her second book, and deals with her daily struggle with depression in a way that is equal parts disturbing and really freaking funny. From midnight dead raccoon cat rodeos to trips to Australia to her many fights with her husband, Lawson’s life is full of weird and off color moments that combine to form a bizarre yet hilarious picture of what living with depression and anxiety is like. Lawson doesn’t pull punches, either: even though the book is ninety percent humorous situations, there are also plenty of descriptions of what it’s like to live in a world that requires human interaction when you are too damn terrified to deal with people of even leave your house some days. But Lawson manages to use these somber moments in such a way that they just highlight the funny parts, making them all the more funny. Which, now that I think about it, is really the entire message of the book: do what you can to survive the horrible, dark days of your life so that you can love the good parts even more.

Overall, this book is hilarious and poignant and I heartily recommend it to anyone with depression or who knows someone who has depression or who really just enjoys laughing and horrible things. You can find this book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-Million. If you like Lawson’s writing style, be sure to check out her blog. If you have an opinion on this week’s book or a suggestion for what book I could pick next week, please leave a comment on this post to let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you all next week when we do this all over again.