Santa Barbara Women’s Festival Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards 2014 – Video

Finally, here’s the video of the Santa Barbara Women’s Festival Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards. I was at the festival and awards events because I was nominated for the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards for 2014. I did receive an award in recognition of overcoming childhood abuse and psychological adversity to become and author and inspirational role model as a Gutsy Gal.

In the video, I’m featured around 27:00. I had the privilege to speak about mental health and raising awareness and what we can do to help loved ones who are suffering from depression.

Please check out the video and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Read about my experience at the awards and about all of the inspiring women who were also nominated and won: https://feejohnson.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/the-womens-festival-and-gutsy-gals-inspire-me-awards-2014/#comments

Also, my novel “Her” is nominated for Georgia Author of The Year Award. The awards ceremony will be held on June 7, 2014. I’ll post more about it soon!

“Her” is available on Kindle through Amazon.com for only $2.99!!! Check it out here!

http://www.amazon.com/Her-Felicia-Johnson-ebook/dp/B00D64V0F6

How Did She Do It? – Coping & Moving Forward

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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

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

Raising awareness about mental health: Leave No Girl Behind International Girl’s Empowerment Testimonials

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This blog post is dedicated to the testimonials of the wonderful group of young ladies in Africa that I had the honor of speaking with a few weeks ago. If you have not had a chance to read the previous blog, please do check it out by clicking here before reading the testimonials. https://feejohnson.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/leave-no-girl-behind-international-girls-empowerment/

Felicia Johnson Speaking-article

Leave No Girl Behindhttp://www.leavenogirlbehind.org

Testimonials:

“I found the Skype enlightening because there were many things I was uncertain of like my career and writing.  Thank you because if it weren’t for the Skype I wouldn’t have started writing again.  I have started writing a play which I am at Act 2 already.  Besides that it was my first time Skyping so I found that interesting.  I really did enjoy it.”
 ~ Mpumelelo Ngcobo (M.P.), 15yrs old
“What I really liked about the Skype session was that you motivated me about how to not let anyone put me down or make me feel ashamed of myself”
~ Buhle Zondo, 12yrs old
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Skype session as I learned a lot from it.  I now have more clarity about things which were once ‘blurred’.  I liked the way we were able to ask questions freely, and there were no limitations.  You woke up at like 6 – 7 am in the morning just to Skype with us, greatly appreciated.”
~ Asande Vilane, 12yrs old
“I thoroughly enjoyed our Skype session and I really liked how you told your story and it really impacted me, especially how you said that even though you’ve been through a lot, you coped with it by writing and I myself write a lot and I think that you really inspired me in that way, especially how you said to follow your dreams.  You really touched me a lot, so thank you.”
~  Laiya Mahomed, 13yrs old
“As a young lady I had taken away with me that each person has a story, a background of some kind.  It may be painful but others use where they ahve come from and change it to something beautiful and happier in turn they help inspire others to do the same with their lives.  Thank you Miss Johnson.”
~ Phindile Ndlovu, 16 yrs old
“I thought your life story was very interesting!  I also learnt a lot from things like how you coped with your struggles by writing about it.  For me I also write a diary every now and again, and it really does help to write about your feelings when you have a problem or issue.  I really did enjoy the things you talked to us about. =)
If I ever get a chance to I hope we will be able to talk again.  Thank you. =)”
~ Aphelele Ndlovu, 14 yrs old
“I was very touched by your life story and was inspired by your perseverance.  The passion in which you portrayed when speaking about journaling somewhat re-ignited my love for literature.  I stopped writing because my life got too busy and I realised that this might possibly be why I’m stressed.  I no longer have an outlet so I bottle everything up and I think its affecting me academically.  You might not of meant to, but you awakened a passion in me which I thought I had buried long ago. Stay beautiful!!”
~  Samukelisiwe Mthembu, 17yrs old
“Your story growing up was very touching.  I started reading books.  I also went and told my mum, a good reader makes a good writer.  I will never forget those words.”
~ Ayesha Dawjee, 13 yrs old
“I enjoyed the Skyping session with Felicia Johnson because I learned a lot of new things like keeping journals.  I was very touched by the way she wrote a journal for her late best friend so that she could remember her by and that she wrote based on her friend.  I loved her kind heart and the joy and smile that she had when she was talking about her writing and how passionate she is about writing and journal keeping makes me want to be passionate about my activities.”
~ Mathu Mnisi, 14 yrs old
“What I liked about the Skype was when Felicia Johnson talked about how she started writing and the sad story of how she lost her best friend because she never wrote her feelings down.”
~ Nokuthula Simelane, 12 yrs old
“I had fun and really learnt a lot because keeping something on a piece of paper is better than keeping it in your heart and what I mean by that is its better to write about the things that hurt you than to leave it to carry on hurting you.”
~ Nokukhanya Makhanya, 13 yrs old
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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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Her: The Novel – Depression – BPD

Her: The Novel - Depression - BPD

Her: The novel by Felicia Johnson

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.

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