Author: Felicia Johnson
Publisher: 8th Street Publishing
Release Date: June 2013
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print (Soon to be a Movie)
Trigger Warnings: Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, Depression, Child Abuse, Self-Harm
In many ways, Kristen Elliott is a normal, seventeen-year-old girl. Kristen loves her family. She works hard academically, and tries to please her mother. She takes on the additional responsibility of caring for her twin siblings, Nick and Alison. She idealizes her best friend, Lexus, who not only seems to lead the perfect life, but also catches the attention of John, the boy Kristen secretly loves. However, as is the case with many teenagers, Kristen feels frustrated, isolated, and confused.
In other ways, Kristen is not like other kids her age. She knows something is wrong with her. Kristen feels like an utter failure. She is unable to please her abrasive mother, and scared to confront Jack, her abusive stepfather. She is also unable to protect Nick from Jack, making her fell all the more helpless. Adding to her problems, she knows she will never be as beautiful as her best friend Lexus. Kristen finds solace in self-injury, and the company of Mr. Sharp, her imaginary friend who encourages her feelings of self-loathing.
After a failed suicide attempt, Kristen is placed in the Bent Creek mental hospital, where she is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. While in the hospital, she meets a group of peers suffering with their own mental illnesses, and a compassionate staff of doctors and counselors. From there, Kristen begins her journey to survival. She discovers the circumstances that brought her to this breaking point, struggles to understand her mental illness, and fights to be a survivor against her own worst enemy: her self-blame.
Kristen’s tale of endurance illustrates the complex illness of Borderline Personality Disorder. Readers – including those suffering from BPD and their friends and family – can glean insight into the illness from Kristen’s humanity. Her story is an example of how, if we try to push the past away, we are either doomed to repeat it or let it haunt us to our graves.
Stop and think, and you’ll discover that you probably know someone who is going through this right now. Yes, 1 out of every 4 people struggles with mental illness – the dark secret so many live with.
One of the most corrosive aspects of living with mental illness is the urge to keep it a secret. Felicia Johnson learned that secrets can be lethal, and courageously shines a light on a diagnosis rarely talked about: borderline personality disorder, or BPD. Your audience will appreciate her candour and this opportunity for insight.
In Felicia Johnson’s book Her, we walk in the shoes of a girl suffering with borderline personality disorder, share her hopes and struggles as she desperately tries to understand what is happening. It is an example of how if we try to push the past away, we are either doomed to repeat it or let it haunt us to our graves. This powerful and compelling story enables those suffering from BPD, and their friends and family, to turn the abstract concept of BPD into a more real understanding.
Meet Kristen Elliott, a normal seventeen-year-old who loves her family and friends and strives for their approval. But Kristen knows something is wrong with her. In her pain and isolation, she finds fleeting solace in self-injury, and the company of Mr. Sharp, her imaginary friend who feeds her feelings of self-loathing.
After a failed suicide attempt, Kristen is placed in a mental hospital and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). There, she discovers the circumstances that brought her to this breaking point, struggles to understand her mental illness, and fights to be a survivor against her own worst enemy: her self-blame. It is a story of endurance, survival and finding hope from within.
The story is inspired by Felicia Johnson’s own life of survival and her childhood best friend, Holly who, at fifteen, committed suicide – a silent victim of untreated Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) stemming from the trauma of childhood abuse. While Holly lost her battle with depression and BPD and at 15 years old took her own life, we can make a difference in showing teens that they are not alone on this journey and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Her also illuminates the harsh reality of child abuse in the home and the long term psychological effects it has on everyone involved.”
My father would probably have killed my mother. Theresa probably would have still killed herself, and I probably would have done it, too.”
“Were you scared?”
“At first I was. When I first got here, I thought I was being punished. Now I see what being a survivor really is. It’s not giving up. It’s not running away. It’s getting through whatever it is you have to get through to make it. It is allowing you to grow stronger for whatever is coming next. It is being brave and choosing to live through it all so that you can share your story and help others. That’s what a survivor does. I don’t want to run away anymore. I just want to live and make things better. My mom wants to do the same. I tell you, Kristen, Bent Creek may seem like the worst place to be right now, but you’ll see. It’s not.”
He looked straight into my eyes and said, “I’ve watched you.”
My heart started beating fast. He grabbed my hand gently and looked down at my bandaged wrists. His fingers traced the fresh tape that Ms. Mosley had used for the bandages when she’d changed them this morning. I closed my eyes and let myself feel this moment between us.
“You seem so sad and regretful. You can’t just let it out, can you?”
I shook my head. My eyes were still closed. I felt tears begin to well up in them. There were no words to describe that moment. His words and the feelings inside of me were just too much. The tears poured out from underneath my eyelids. He squeezed my hands. I jolted, not afraid, just feeling too much. “Open your eyes,” he said.
I did open my eyes, and his large, beautiful eyes stared into mine.
“You know how the old people in here always have something to say to us? And when they talk, they think they know everything. You know?” He chuckled a little. Then his smile disappeared.
“There are things I keep hearing over and over that I do believe, though. They sound old–fashioned, and they are definitely cliché. But remember this, Kristen,” he told me with his seriously passionate stare. “This too shall pass, and what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” He paused. “If you let it. Keep your head up and your eyes open. That’s how you will survive. If what you go through doesn’t kill you, let it make you stronger.”
Through Her, Felicia Johnson helps to bring the understanding of BPD within reach of many young people and families afflicted by it, and continues to help many come to terms with mental health issues they face.
“We need help in turning this book into a movie, so we can reach thousands more and change the perception of mental illness and enable those who need the help to get it, help those going through this and also help families of those going through this to understand what their loved ones are facing. My goal is to help put an end to stigma on mental health and provide hope to those who seek help.”
Felicia Johnson is an author of a bestselling novel, speaker, child abuse survivor, and mental health advocate with over ten years’ experience in the mental health field. She works in Atlanta with the Highlands Institute and volunteers with Youth Villages Inner Harbour and Personality Disorder Awareness Network. Johnson was nominated for the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Award of 2014 and Her has been nominated for Georgia Writer's Association Author of The Year Award. She loves ice cream and seeing her little sister smile.
FELICIA JOHNSON is a child abuse survivor, writer, sought-after speaker, mental health worker, and youth advocate. She loves ice cream, and seeing her little sister, Laura, smile. She is an active youth mentor at Youth Villages Inner Harbour and has been a volunteer with the Personality Disorder Awareness Network (PDAN). Johnson readily engages an audience with the moving story behind her latest book, Her. It is the story of a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who courageously peels back the layers of her complex and serious mental illness in a desperate attempt to understand it.
Her (Book Website)