Felicia Johnson Author, Speaker Event National Alliance On Mental Illness NAMI Greater Orlando

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Education Speaker Series Presents:

Author and mental health advocate, Felicia Johnson, joins us to discuss her own experience in dealing with a loved one suffering from child abuse, depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Inspired by her own life story and the journey of her childhood friend, Felicia has authored the novel, Her, which is the story of a young girl dealing with BPD. Through her book, Felicia helps to bring 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.

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. Felicia lives in Atlanta and currently works at the Highlands Institute and volunteers with Youth Villages Inner Harbour and Personality Disorder Awareness Network.

This event is a FREE community service; all are welcome!

Beardall Senior Center

800 Delaney Ave

Orlando, FL 32801

July 20, 2015

Event begins at 6:30pm EST

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Empowering Our Youth: Journaling and Writing Speaking Engagement Testimonials

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Again, I’d like to say thank you to a group of North Atlanta youth mentors and advocates at LPYG for inviting me to speak to a wonderful group of brilliant kids who are on their way to becoming amazing young writers! I had so much fun speaking and answering questions about how journaling can jump start your writing career. That day, I handed out journals as keepsakes for the children to start writing in their own personal journals. They seemed to be delighted with their gifts. Some of them began writing in their journals immediately! I was overwhelmed by the welcoming atmosphere and the keen interest of the children as I spoke to them about my own personal experience with journaling and how keeping journals had helped me to produce and publish my first novel. Read more about this event here: https://feejohnson.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/encouraging-our-youth-journaling-writing/

Here are testimonials from the the boys and girls and staff:

“It was nice of Miss Felicia to bring us journals. I am going to write in my journal every day because I want to write a book about my life one day.” Shimaya age 14

“I found the session to be educational and fun. I learned that it’s important it keep your journal private so that you can write anything you want inside of it. I never thought that I would want to write in a journal, but it seems like it’s worth a try. ” Jonathan age 15

“The best thing that I can say about Miss Felicia is that she made me feel like anything is possible! Like if I want to write a book, I can and if I want to help inspire other people like me, I can do that. Listening to her story was very encouraging. Some of us go through a lot, but when you do your best, you can do anything.” Kelly age 14

“I was touched by her story and I think that anyone who can get through hard times and stand up and talk to other people to help them are brave. She helped me to appreciate that lot of us have had hard times but when we make a choice to do the right thing, we don’t have to go down that bad route. We can take a path to choose to do good things, like write and journal and help others.” DK age 14

“I’m going to write in my journal as much as I can so that I don’t forget the good memories. Like when Miss Felicia said that she wrote in her journal to remember her friend who had died. I don’t want to forget how she helped us and brought the journals for us. That was one of the nicest things anyone has done. I don’t want to forget this.” Victoria age 15

“Thank you, Felicia, for coming to our little space to speak to our kids. You have made a tremendous impact with your sisterly warmth, kindness, and generosity. I am sure that the kids have thoroughly enjoyed you speaking with them today. We hope that you will come back and visit us again soon!” Sharon K. – Youth Advocate and Mentor

**For more information about Felicia Johnson and other events please click here to visit http://www.feliciajohnsonauthor.com.

Also, please write to Felicia at herthebook@gmail.com if you would like to educate, inspire and empower your group, Felicia Johnson is just what your event needs! Felicia’s message is inspired by hope , original, motivational and educational. For over five years, she has been empowering audiences both small and large as a Speaker, Author and Advocate for youth, mental and behavioral health and creative arts.

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Mental Health Novel-to-Film Adaptation Her by Felicia Johnson

When I was 15, my best friend committed suicide. I found out after her death that she had a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) stemming from the trauma of childhood abuse. I now work and volunteer in the mental health field, I see everyday how important it is for people to understand mental disorders and the havoc they can wreak on a person’s life and relationships. I know how imperative it is for people to be diagnosed early and begin to come to terms with their diagnosis and have a plan for symptom management. Taking pieces from journals I wrote about my past dealing with my own abuse and my life with Holl…

via Mental Health Novel-to-Film Adaptation.

Once Upon A Bookshelf Book Review of Her by Felicia Johnson

Once Upon A Bookshelf

A Reader’s Blog

HER 
 
Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 8:08 am June 19, 2014.
Category: Young Adult
Book Author(s):
Publisher(s):      Her front cover
Author: Felicia Johnson
Originally Published: 2013
Publisher: 8th Street Publishing
Source: Received a copy from the author

When I did the interview with Felicia Johnson, I received a digital copy of her book. The topic really intrigued me. I’m a proponent for the end of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, disorders, and all, so I was definitely interested. I was also however a little afraid to go into it, as sometimes reading about cutting makes a part of me long to start cutting again. I ended up reading this book within one day… and spent a very good portion of that day in tears.

With that in mind, it should be no surprise that this was a very difficult read. It was emotionally draining because of what the characters were going through. It deals with some hard subject matter – important, but hard. And I’m sure there are a lot of parents who wouldn’t want their children to read a book that starts with a failed suicide attempt… but there are going to be a lot of people who will relate in some way to this book. And for that reason alone, for the fact that there may be even just one person out there who has a mental illness who would read this and realize that what they are not alone and that other people have mental illnesses, well that makes this a wonderful book.

What I really like about Her is that even though the protagonist is working through BPD, that’s not all we get to see. We are introduced to people who were sexually abused as children, who are heroin addicts, who have eating disorders, who are schizophrenic. We see a lot, and I think that is really great for introducing readers to a large number of things that we may not necessarily come into contact with every day. It showcases mental issues that a lot of people have, and it does a really good job at making them more understandable, empathizable and accessible.

There was one thing that didn’t quite sit well with me about Her. There were characters that were obviously Christian, and they were the employees at the mental hospital. They spoke about their faith with Kristen, and Kristen automatically accepted what they told her without questioning or investigating on her own. On one hand, I know what it’s like to need something to hope for when suffering from depression and clinging to faith for that hope… but on the other hand, it would have felt a lot less like we were being witnessed to if there was even a character who was representative of another faith… or even who was an atheist.

The characters in this seemed thoroughly developed – especially Kristen, who shows the different aspects of BPD well. One thing I did find was that, because of the fact that Kristen has BPD and the story was being told from her perspective, I couldn’t always trust what seemed to be happening to actually be happening. Characters often seemed to go from calm to screaming in a matter of seconds with little to provoke them. Or seemed to be pushing Kristen to do or feel a certain way and not understanding that she couldn’t just hit a switch to make everything better. (This actually is how a lot of people react to mental illnesses, and so I’m really glad it was illustrated here how frustrating and agonizing it can be when someone tells a person with a mental illness to “just not be depressed” or whatever.)

The Bottom Line

I will definitely be looking forward to reading more by Johnson, and recommend this book to people who are living with a mental illness – whether in themselves, their family or a friend.

Storytime at Laurel Heights Hospital, Sponsored by Personality Disorders Awareness Network (PDAN)

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Today, I’m participating in Storytime at Laurel Heights Hospital Foster Care Network, Sponsored by Personality Disorders Awareness Network (PDAN). Laurel Heights specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents with complex psychiatric and behavioral problems, co-occurring developmental disabilities and autism.

I will be sharing a story called An Umbrella for Alex about a child learning to deal with his mother’s emotional dysregulation with a group of children. My review for An Umbrella For Alex: http://bit.ly/1pBJc1G

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How Did She Do it?

“Trust me, if we could just ‘get over it’ we would!” – Felicia Johnson, Author of Her and nominee of the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Award 2014

never say depression

Do you remember when I first told you about Holls?

https://feejohnson.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/have-i-ever-told-you-about-holls-2/#comments

Holls was my best friend when I was fifteen years old. Her real name was Holly, but everyone that she had considered to be a friend had called her Holls.

It’s been sixteen years since I had last seen Holls. She had a very infectious nature. She would make you laugh whenever she did something silly, whether it was intentional or not. And she could help you to see the most deepest meanings in the smallest things that you wouldn’t even consider looking deeper at as a teenager. Holls had a way about her that could make you laugh and cry at the same time. You would’nt know if you started laughing so hard that you were crying because of something funny she had said or did, or if you had started off crying because of a trick she may have played on you that scared you so badly that you ended up laughing at yourself in the end. That’s what Holly did. She made you feel special in every moment you spent with her…until the end.

Both of us had suffered from depression. We met while we were so called “troubled kids” during our group therapy meetings. We were child abuse survivors. The group therapy meetings taught us how to cope and heal from our past child abuse. Holls also had what is called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). At the time, I didn’t know what that was. I think that I used to get BPD confused with Bi-Polar disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder. Either way, I was wrong. Borderline Personality Disorder is classified as a mental illness that is followed by an an intense unstable personality and emotional disruptive patterns which causes instability in relationships, impulsivity, self image, and can cause one to self harm and make threats about committing suicide. A person suffering from BPD may even commit suicide, whether they were reaching out for help by admitting suicidal ideation, or not.

Now that I’ve learned more about mental illness and mental health, I’ve become more aware of the importance of discussing these issues. I speak out because families, friends, and loved ones of those who suffer from mental illnesses tend to not know how to help the ones that they love. I speak out to educate and provide hope for them and those who are suffering.

Since writing my novel HerI’ve been able to speak out to raise awareness about child abuse, mental health, mental illness, and promote prevention. Raising awareness about child abuse, mental health, mental illness, and promoting prevention is positive! These may not be LIGHT subjects and some people may see them as taboo and something to censor. But when you have examples of successful survivors and thrivers with incredible stories of hope, love and inspiration that does help others, it IS POSITIVE. This is how we end the stigma! Speaking out is something that I will continue to do until it is no longer possible. And I hope that others will continue to speak out long after that time.

Often times, I’ve been asked, “How did she do it?” as in “How did Holly commit suicide?” If you’re someone who has lost someone that you love or care about to suicide, have you ever been asked this question? If so, how did it make you feel?

Honestly, I can tell you, that no matter who asks me this, I’ve always been taken aback. First, when my mother asked after I had found out, I was shocked. Then, when mutual friends of Holls’ and mine asked, and I didn’t really know if I should say that I even knew at the time how or why, just that it happened. When the therapists asked when they were trying to help, I felt confused as to why they would even ask that particular question. Even now, I’m still shocked when people that I meet in my campaign to raise awareness and promote prevention ask that specific question, “How did she do it?”. From radio hosts to other professionals who have asked, I am still taken aback each time someone has the audacity to ask.

To me, it is not offensive. I have considered several reasons why anyone would ask. One: out of curiosity. Two: genuine care and concern because people may think that “talking about the details” can be greatly therapeutic. Three: for reasons of their own that has nothing to do with me or Holly which could be entertainment or shock value, etc. I’m sure that there are other reasons, but these are the ones that I tend to wonder about when I am asked how did Holly commit suicide.

Every time I’m asked how did she commit suicide, I answer the same: She suffered with depression and BPD and she lost her battle with her mental illness. That is the best answer that I can give that will help people to understand why and how something like this could happen. It can happen to any of us who suffer from depression and who do not have the right support from our families, friends, and loved ones; the people who truly matter to us. The best thing that we can do is educate ourselves about these issues, do not ignore them, do not pretend that they do not exist, and do not try censor anyone who wants to speak out about their own experiences or others. This is the only way that we will end the stigma of mental illness!

#nostigma #nocensor #Speaktruth

Leave No Girl Behind International Girls’ Empowerment

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Can I just say how much I adore Haseena Patel! Please check out her organization called Leave No Girl Behind. Their mission is “to empower girls worldwide through our Leave No Girl Behind International programs and radio show. To raise awareness of why doing this is essential”.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege and honor of speaking with a group of girls at their school in Africa about the importance of journaling, setting goals, reaching them, and writing. There is about a 8 hour difference between where I live and where Leave No Girl Behind is in Africa. Therefore, I was on Skype at 6:30am EST to meet with the girls and begin our discussion. It was a delightful and enlightening conversation about life, journaling, and empowerment. It was a deep discussion as I shared with them how I grew up in an abusive home and suffered from depression and the suicide of my best friend. It was important to share with them how I overcame these challenges and was empowered and inspired to get better and help others.

I found the girls to be very bright and engaging in our discussion. They asked me the most brilliant questions after I spoke to them for about a half hour, sharing my story with them and how I came to be where I am today. One of the questions that stood out the most to me was when one of the girls asked, “How do you tell your parents that you want to go into things like writing and theatre when they expect you to go into something else?”

The reason that question stood out the most, was because it’s common for children to want to please their parents. Most children want to choose a career that their parents would be proud of, but would allow them to be true to what they are passionate about. If what their passionate about conflicts with what their parents want for them, then it makes it hard for that child to talk their parents. I encouraged the young lady who asked this question to speak up to her parents. I said, “Speaking aloud and clearly is the best thing to do. Honesty is always the best route, no matter if it makes them upset. You avoid the complications that would come up later. In the long run, your parents will see how happy you are in choosing a career path that doesn’t make you miserable or feel like you’re wasting your life. And if your parents truly love you, which I’m sure they do, they’ll eventually come around, or they may even hear you out right away and support you without opposition. You never know! Therefore, don’t put aside your hopes and dreams. ”

Thanks to Haseena Patel, Shameema Patel, and Jenita Raghoo for putting this wonderful event together! As a thank you for having me as a guest speaker, I’m sending journals to the group of school girls and to the three amazing women who made it all possible. Each journal will have a personal note written inside for all of them. I truly hope that they will enjoy their new journals! I look forward to Skyping with them again in the future to see how they are coming along with their journaling.

Testimonials will be posted soon. Stay tuned!

Leave No Girl Behind can be found on FB https://www.facebook.com/LeaveNoGirlBehind
They also have a website: http://www.leavenogirlbehind.org/

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