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'Broken': Jenny Lawson's Essay Collection About Her Experiences With Anxiety And Depression

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Jenny Lawson (Photo credit LAURA MAYES).jpg
Photo credit Laura Mayes
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Jenny Lawson

Hundreds of thousands of Jenny Lawson's fans know she has an anxiety disorder and depression, and in this new collection of essays, Broken (In the Best Possible Way), she shares with humor and honesty her experiences with mental illness, new treatment options and laughter at life's absurdities.

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Highlights from the interview

On her trajectory from blogger to bestselling author and bookstore proprietor

I have been blogging since my daughter was two, so what's that? Fourteen years ago. I started on the Houston Chronicle and then I decided to have my own blog called "The Bloggess" because I kept getting in trouble for cursing. And then I had my first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, which was a memoir and it inexplicably was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. And then my next book was Furiously Happy, which also did equally well. And then I wrote sort of a coloring book when I was having a bad sort of mental health time and I needed to do something other than regular writing, and that was called You Are Here. And then my latest book is Broken (In the Best Possible Way), which is a collection of essays. And I opened Nowhere Bookshop.

On treatment-resistant depression and transcranial magnetic stimulation treatments

So treatment-resistant depression is basically any depression where you have had ... a certain number of treatments and they just have not worked. Like in the past, some medications would work, but they would only work for maybe a year or two. Because I have treatment-resistant depression and I have tried just every medication and all of the therapies and all of the different stuff, my psychiatrist had recommended transcranial magnetic stimulation. So basically what it is... it sounds absolutely ridiculous... They put this sort of a big magnet on your head and you're sitting in this, it's almost like a dentist chair, and the magnet is working. It feels like a woodpecker is in your skull. I mean, it's very uncomfortable when you first start. You get a little more used to it eventually, but it's sort of reprogramming the neural pathways in your head.

On writing

I'll write a chapter or an essay and then I'll think "Does this fit?" And what I have learned is that nothing fits and everything fits. I mean, books are just like people. They're just made up of whatever pops out at the moment. And, you know, for a long time, I was like, "Oh, I should be only funny or only serious." And what I've realized is that your audience is remarkable in being able to take a million different things. And so, you know, giving myself permission to be vulnerable or funny or weird or slow or whatever it is, it's really lovely that people stick around for it. I always have to remind myself, "OK, I'm not for everyone. Like not everyone is going to think that I'm funny or interesting." But the 10% of weird people who are going to read this and go, "Oh my God, I found my people!" that's who I'm writing it for. And so whenever I start to doubt myself and go, "Oh, this is too weird. This is too that..." I'm like, you know what? There's probably somebody out there who thinks they're too weird and they're going to find me and they're going to be like, "I found my people."

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Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.