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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My Gutsy Story

Hello friends! As you know, it’s hard to put yourself out there, but I knew that it was important to share my story to help others. Was I gutsy enough? You decide! Please take a moment and put in a vote for me. I truly appreciate all of your love and support.

Voting for the favorite December 2013 “My Gutsy Story” contest takes place today and ends on January 15th at midnight PST. The winner will be announced on January 16th.

http://soniamarsh.com/2013/12/how-writing-saved-my-life-by-felicia-johnson.html#comment-61718

A Review of the novel Her by Therapist Candice Osborn

5 STARS

Truly inspiring and insightful!

By C. Osborn on November 18, 2013

This is as extraordinary book that insightfully depicts the life of a teenage girl with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This little known and widely misunderstood mental disorder afflicts many and has a profound impact on them, their families, and their loved ones. This book, written from the girl’s perspective, provides a discerning window into the thoughts, feelings, and struggles of someone with BPD. It is a great read for everyone and holds one’s attention throughout the book. The reader cannot wait to find out what is going to happen next. It is also a great inspiration to anyone who has faced challenges in his or her life. For family members of someone with BPD, it provides a true window into the life of their loved one and helps them understand what their loved one experiences on a daily basis. As a therapist, I highly recommend this book for families of individuals who have BPD.

–Candice Osborn, LPC of The Highland Institute of Atlanta

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2HMP3W1VQNP52/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00D64V0F6&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-text

Safety First Is Murphy’s Law Blogtalkradio show Featuring Author Felicia Johnson

Safety First Is Murphy’s Law Blogtalkradio show Featuring Author Felicia Johnson

Tracey Murphy of Safety 1st is Murphy’s Law – “Tonight’s show on Safety 1st is Murphy’s Law at 5pm pst 8pm est, will be powerful in many ways, our special guest Fee Johnson is speaking out about the importance of understanding borderline personality disorder BPD. Through her own experience of losing her best friend to mental illness and working through her own grief and onto recovery, gaining a degree in psychology, working on her masters with the goal of a phd specializing in personality disorders. Her inspirational passion will capture your attention as she takes you through her book ‘Her’, sharing her the passion to bring awareness and educate others about the depths and dynamics of BPD.”

Tune in tonight at 8pm EST to the show here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/missingandexploited/2013/10/15/safety-first-is-murphys-law#.UlxA99DV4IE.facebook

Find us at: www.facebook.com/Safety1stisMurphysLaw

or

www.voices-amplified.com

Girl In The water by Nancy Kilgore, MS Book Review

Here is a preview of Nancy Kilgore’s book Girl In The Water. I had the priviledge of speaking with Nancy and reading her book.

Girl In The Water by Nancy Kilgore, MS is a true story about sibling abuse. In her story, Nancy talks about the abuse she had suffered from the hands of her own sister. I found Nancy’s story of healing and survival to be eye opening. The style of imagery and the openness that Nancy writes with makes really wrapped me into her world. I was able to see and feel her throughout the whole read. I haven’t found many stories told quite like Nancy’s on the subject of sibling abuse. Her prose was riveting. At times, I found myself scared for her, happy for her, and even wanting to hug her. Nancy is a true survivor who is still healing and using her experience to help others.

Her story can be used to raise awareness on sibling abuse because it can help other adult survivors to open up and share their stories of abuse from their siblings. This story really speaks out to so many. Nancy says that it is never too late to talk about it. Nancy, great job for your wonderful work with Girl In The Water. This is a story that needs to be read by others and can help educate and raise awareness about sibling abuse. No one should have to suffer.

Black & White Thinking – A symptom associated with BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder

Loving1today: Loving1with Black and White Thinking.


This is contributed by community member Fee Johnson for Loving1withmentalillness.com

Black and white thinking is one of the classic symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Black and white thinking is characterized by the following statements:
“I love you”
“I hate you”
“Stay with me”
“Leave me alone”
They push you away, then pull you back in. You will find these types of behaviors in relationships with those who have BPD.

There is a lot of polarized thinking while living with BPD. The sufferer has to be perfect and good, or else they are bad. In their world, there is to be no in between. Even one mistake, no matter how small or trivial, can make a person with BPD feel as if they are a failure and do not deserve to live.

When you care for someone who has BPD, this can sometimes be confusing, and hard to deal with. In order to support someone with BPD in becoming more stable in their emotions, help them settle these extreme thoughts and behaviors.

It is important to recognize the symptoms and behavioral patterns to find an in between. Instead of giving into the extremes of the black and white thinking, you can help the person with BPD find areas of grey. Understanding, patience, and empathy are needed.
You can help guide an emotionally unstable person to a place where they can accept that one mistake doesn’t make them bad. The world is not black or white and good or bad. Therefore, we can appreciate the shades of grey and thus help balance our lives into healthier directions.

Support our community member Fee by clicking on the link below to access her book “Her” which illustrates what it is like to live with BPD.

Black and White Thinking: Written by Fee Johnson, Edited by Debra DeLash
www.herthebook.com

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Hey, That Kid Got Issues Maybe It’s ADHD by Earnest L. Williams, Jr.

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Hey, That Kid Got Issues Maybe It’s ADHD is a very educational book about the mental health condition Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. ADHD is a condition that effects 1 in 10 school age children between the ages of 5 and 17. The story is about a little boy named Justin. Justin is a lively, spirited, and outgoing child. His high spirited personality seems to get him into trouble at school. It is hard for him to pay attention and listen to his teacher, and it’s even hard for him to sit still, even when he is being told to calm down. Justin’s father comes to his school to collect Justin and he decides to take Justin to a doctor to see what they can do to help his son. The doctor diagnoses Justin with ADHD and she gives Justin’s dad some helpful pointers. The doctor helps Justin’s dad understand what ADHD is and how to lovingly help Justin with his ADHD. Justin’s dad learns that Justin will be okay. Even Justin remains hopeful that he will be okay living with ADHD, and will one day be “on green”.

The Foreward is written by the CEO of the publisher of this book, Personality Disorder Awareness Network’s (PDAN), Frederic Bein. In the Foreward, Frederic writes about when he first met writer Earnest L. Williams, Jr. and his son, “by chance”, in Washing D.C. They both found that they had something in common. Frederic and Earnest both have sons who have ADHD. They bonded while sharing the challenges that they both faced having children around the same age who are suffering with ADHD.

This book was illustrated by Steve Howard. The illustrations are clear, bright, and relevant. They helped me, as the reader, follow the story of Justin’s  father’s journey to find answers about Justin’s behavior and ADHD.

Also, I feel that the book is written in a way that can help readers relate and sympathize with anyone who many know a child with ADHD. I have a nephew who was diagnosed with ADHD, and this book  helped me understand the effects that ADHD have on most children my nephew’s age. This book is a great tool to help educate kids, parents, families, friends, school counselors, mentors, and teachers about the symptoms of ADHD. It breaks ADHD down in simple and understandable terms. There is even a helpful and beneficial section of resources following Justin’s story in the book.

I recommend Hey, That Kid Got Issues Maybe It’s ADHD to anyone who has a child, family member, friend, student, or mentee that has ADHD. Not only does the book help educate those who read it on the subject of ADHD, but it is a great book to read with the person that you know who may have ADHD.

 

You can connect with PDAN through their beautiful new website at pdan.org

Also, connect with me on Facebook on my Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Felicia-Johnson-Author-Page/574501032562838