Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Book Nook: Her

"Her" draws attention to a disorder that disrupts the lives of many teen and robs them of their self-identity. In "Her", Felicia Johnson takes us into the mind of a girl suffering with borderline personality disorder, and deftly portrays her hopes and struggles as she desperately tries to understand it. See the book trailers at: www.herthebook.com

While mental health issues are more freely discussed these days, it is still difficult to approach someone who might have a problem. But ignoring it is not an option. With courage and great hope, Felicia Johnson deftly portrays the struggles of a girl with borderline personality disorder in "Her" (8th Street Publishing). "Her” takes readers into the mind of someone who is suffering so they can get a first person view of a painful mental disorder," says Johnson. "The 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"

At first glance, Kristen Elliot is 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.

Kristen's tale of endurance illustrates the complex nature of the illness known as borderline personality disorder. Readers - including those suffering from BPD and their friends and family - can glean insight into the illness from this powerful and compelling story.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.

Q. Why did you decide to write this book?
A. I wrote "HER" for people who want to understand what it is like in the mind of someone who lives with mental illness. The main character, Kristen, lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I was inspired to write this story after the death of my best friend named Holly, who had struggled with BPD and despression. She lost her battle and died by suicide when we were only 15 years old. I went to school to study clinical psychology to try to understand why these things happen and I wanted to find a way to help not only those who struggles with mental illness, but their families, friends, loved ones, colleagues, etc. The greatest gift that we can give to ourselves and each other is education. So, I wrote "HER" in fiction as a story of hope that people can learn from and relate to with the heart of a text book for educational purposes. As the main character breaks down, the reader goes through that breakdown with her. As she goes through treatment and learn about mental illness and how to cope, you, as the reader are learning as well. Finally, as she is going through her recovery, the reader discovers that there is hope in recovery and that it is possible. 

Q. What is borderline personality disorder?
A. BPD is described by professionals as a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and an individual's sense of identity. Although, not all people who live with BPD have the same symptoms or suffer the same issues. Each person is different. What form of treatment may work for one person, may not work for the other. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is one of the most common forms of treatment for those who suffer with BPD. 

Q. Can you share some advice about living with BPD?
A. When I saw my friend, Holly, struggling, I really didn't know what to do to help her at the time. I feel that if I knew more about BPD, then I could have done more to help her. I feel like we should all educate ourselves when it comes to mental illness. Treat it just as serious as a physical illness. If you broke your arm, or someone you care about hurt themselves physically, you wouldn't just sit there and wait for it to "go away" or for them to "get over it", get over the pain. No, you take care of it. That's how serious it is.

Q. How can people support those with BPD?
A. Don't feed the stigma. Don't ignore. Don't pretend it will just go away. Be there. Care. Love and be consistent. Consistency is mandatory.

The spin off of "HER” is called "OK Danny Boy”. This trilogy follows the story of an artistic and mysterious young man who Kristen meets during her stay in Bent Creek Hospital. Daniel proved to be a supportive peer, whom Kristen saw as a positive influence throughout her recovery. However, Daniel had not always been a role model. Daniel is diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD and Juvenile Diabetes. His story follows his journey throughout his healing and learning to cope with life's transitions, coming of age, living with mental illness as well as a physical illness and the suicide of a close friend. Fans of "HER” will get to see what it was like on the other side of the Adolescent Ward. Part one: "CHAOS” follows Daniel's life before he goes into Bent Creek Hospital during his mental breakdown. Part two: "MONSTER” follows Daniel's story while he is in Bent Creek Hospital through his treatment. Part three: "LOVE” follows Daniel after his treatment in Bent Creek Hospital into his recovery process.

Author and Speaker Bio:

Felicia Johnson is a best selling author, international speaker, and child abuse survivor and life thriver! She is a behavioral health worker and youth advocate. She works in Atlanta, GA with the Highlands Institute and volunteers with Youth Villages Inner Harbour and Personality Disorders Awareness Network. Felicia was nominated for the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Award of 2014 and her bestselling novel entitled "HER" was nominated for the Georgia Writer's Association Author of the Year Award. In addition, Felicia was honored and awarded for speaking and organizing the Women's Empowerment Event 2015 for National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) Augusta, GA. As a survivor of child abuse and one who deals with mental illness in her personal and work life, Felicia is very involved in efforts to end the stigma of mental illness. She has worked for nearly 10 years in the mental health field. She loves to eat ice cream and to make people smile.


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