Professor Publishes Memoir of Life with Borderline Personality Disorder

July 13, 2010 at 7:25 am

Borderline personality disorder is a serious and often life-threatening disorder. Common features or symptoms include severe emotional pain, the fear of being left alone or abandoned, difficulty managing emotions, chaotic relationships, low self-esteem, frantic dependence on others, and impulsive behavior such as self-cutting, drinking, and other high risk behaviors.

Merri Lisa Johnson, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina Upstate, has authored a memoir in which she details her very personal struggle with the disorder, in Girl in Need of A Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality.

Published in June by Seal Press, Johnson details her feeling of “bleeding out,” unable to tell where she stopped and where her partner began.  She takes the reader through the process of arriving at and understanding the clinical diagnosis, her frustrations within a dysfunctional, destructive relationship, and the experiences that brought her to her breaking point. She uses her own heart-wrenching story of romantic obsession and soul-searching therapy to pose broader questions about the fine line between love and madness in the lives of many young women.
“The purpose of this personal story is to change how people think and talk about women, love, and mental illness in general, and about borderline personality disorder in particular,” says Johnson.

With a varied typography that reflects voices, thoughts, academic and medical insights, outside opinions and internal debates, the book is not a typical memoir. It does, however, bring the reader into the often chaotic thoughts of a woman living with borderline personality disorder  – invoking compassion from those who know and recognize the traits in their loved ones and giving hope to those who struggle daily.

Girl in Need of a Tourniquet is on sale at Barnes and Noble and online at Amazon and Powells.  Autographed copies are available at the Hub City Bookshop.

Johnson will deliver a reading from her book on Thursday, August 26 at 4:00 p.m. in the JM Smith Boardroom in USC Upstate’s Health Education Complex. At the reception afterwards, copies of the book will be available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public.

Johnson has edited and contributed to numerous anthologies. In addition to being the director of USC Upstate’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, she also teaches Feminist Theory, Women’s Literature and Critical Autobiography Studies  She can be reached at (864) 503-5724 or mjohnson@uscupstate.edu for additional information.