I found “Loud In The House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl” by Stacy Pershall to be a superbly written, first-person account of a young girl’s struggle with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorder (BD). The author explains her symptoms in an easily understandable way. The stories are so easy to relate to that everybody will find themselves empathizing with the protagonist. She explores a deep and personal side of herself, and shares it with readers.
I found the book to be both hilarious and sad. There were points when the author’s frustrations were becoming mine. This book is a no-holds barred, educational read that keeps the reader unable to put it down. I tip my hat to Stacy Pershall for sharing such a personal tale with us. It has changed my understanding of these disorders forever.
It seems to me the author was trying to share her very personal journey through early adulthood with BPD, BD, and various other problems. This she accomplishes in both an effective and entertaining manner. She told us her story from top to bottom, leaving nothing out. She also speaks very highly of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, though I’m not sure if she emphasized this as much as she had intended.
Her small-town childhood, her constant questioning of her identity are things that many people can relate to. Not knowing where one belongs, or who one is, are universal questions. Some people have a much easier time answering these questions than others. This is a concept I can personally relate to quite well.
I love Pershall’s honesty. On the medication front alone she offers anecdotes about her use of speed and alcohol; the side effects of prescription meds; the lack of correcting the underlying problem she experienced with pharmeceuticals; and her list of the plethora of meds she was prescribed.
Pershall’s describing Dr. Phillip J. Thornton as her savior of sorts is an experience that I think many people can relate to. Finding that one doctor, therapist, spiritual leader, etc. who seems to understand you, after you’ve been through a hundred professionals who never quite “got you,” is often a turning point in many people’s lives — perhaps a life-saving one.
Her bout with anorexia and bulimia was fully and simply described by the quote “Playing with anorexia is like playing with heroin, fire, plutonium, or Scientology.” — Humorous, yet scarily true. She is so direct and maintains a sense of humor through it all.
I found her connection to certain authors and novels to be interesting also. From Sylvia Plath to Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, she showed a very eclectic interest in books with very independent protagonists. She even mentions William S. Burroughs, an eccentric writer of the Beat generation. It seems as though her brief foray into acting was another way to explore, and even become other, various characters.
Pershall’s mention of “splitting,” a dissociatiove experience common to those with borderline personality disorder, shouldn’t be ignored either. Her reference to splitting just before her breakup with Reese was classic.
I’d like to touch on her relationship with religion in response to he disorders. She said it best on pg. 188 with “IF THIS COULD BE PRAYED AWAY I’D BE WELL. ” It also intrigued me when she mentions her father considering mental illness as a sin. That, to me, is a scary, seriously antiquated thought.
I couldn’t imagine writing this review without touching on her tattooing. I understand where she’s coming from when she discusses on pg. 153 ” . . . something that scared me is exorcised, incorporated, with me forever. ” Getting tattoos seems to be her way of facing, and embracing, her fears.
I will end this with her speaking of BPD as an illness “that should be placed on the spectrum of impulse control disorders.” This seems like a pretty solid idea to me, and she goes on to explain it better, getting into the brain chemistry of it. It must also be noted how strongly she speaks of DBT, and how it changed her “because of two things: the focus on the dialectic, or gray area, between good and bad, and the strict adherence to the rules required.” The author speaks so highly of DBT, it seems as though anybody yet to find treatment for BPD or BD should give DBT a shot.
Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl
By Stacey Pershall
W. W. Norton & Company (reprint edition): January 23, 2012