by Felicia Johnson

ISBN: 9780615823454

Publisher 8th Street Publishing

Published in Arts & Photography/Photography, Literature & Fiction/General, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

After a failed suicide attempt, Kristen is placed in the Bent Creek mental hospital, where she is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She discovers the circumstances that brought her to this breaking point. 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.

Sample Chapter

In order to tell a story there has to be a story to tell. For Her, well, for me, there is a beginning and an end. I will start in the middle of Her story where I remember it hurting the most. I remember anticipating my rest. It started with not being able to sleep for nights at a time. This time I wanted to make myself sleep. I wanted to sleep forever so that I would never have to hurt that much again.

Nick pulled the sheets off of me, and found me hiding. I was lying still on my back with my wrists turned up. Blood stained my sheets and ran down my arms and onto the floor. I could hear soft, mellow cries in the background.

“Is she dead? Oh, God!” His voice faded as I drifted out of consciousness.

There were many pills. There was a lot of blood. There was only one knife.

I could hear him crying for our mother. I could hear them both shouting and screaming. He was screaming my name. I was too exhausted to call out to him and tell him that everything was going to be okay. This pain was going to be over soon. Nick was crying hysterically. He wouldn’t have listened to me.

I felt weak, like I had all of the weight of the whole world on me. It felt heavy at first. The paramedic lifted me up and onto the stretcher, and without any support, my head fell back. I couldn’t move my head. I started to feel weightless when he laid me down on the stretcher, like I was floating in the air. It was warm and peaceful.

I didn’t hear Nick's screams or the sirens anymore. I was surrounded by darkness. I knew this was the moment. The one I had been waiting for. The pain was almost gone. I felt a big relief, took a deep breath, and let out a sigh. If I were left alone for maybe a little longer, I might completely fall asleep…

There was pressure on my chest. The pressure was so hard that I could feel my heart moving without my having any control over it. Air was forcibly making its way down my throat and into my lungs. The paramedic was breathing into my mouth.

I blacked out.

I came back.

I blacked out again and was back in the dark.

The warmth filled me again. I felt still. Everything was quiet, and I could finally sleep. My mind felt like it was finally safe to let go. Soon I would not have to think about it anymore. I could have only dreamed of such a peaceful rest. A sleep of nothing. I felt one step closer to eternal peace.

Then a bright light shattered my moment of peace I awakened, my eyes opening wide. All I saw was white.

There was a hard blow to my chest. Once again, I felt everything. I heard the cries, the screaming, and the sound of sirens.

Shapes and shadows started to form against the white backdrop, and that was when I saw a man hovering over me, sweating, panting, and pressing on my chest.

I felt myself drift off again.

The paramedic stopped pressing on my chest, and began to punch me.

My eyes opened again. I saw Nicholas, who was staring at me through wide eyes. Shocked eyes. Eyes that were probably damaged forever because of me.

When I saw his face, my heart sank. I could not move my mouth. I could not move my arms to reach out to him. I could not do anything but lose consciousness again. I had lost a lot of blood.

However, that was to be expected from what I had done.

It was my fault. Nick didn’t understand that. Even before all of this - all of the sirens, the chaos, the pills, the blood, the medical staff, and the events that were to come - I knew. All of those things were useless. They didn’t really care for me. They didn’t really care why I’d done it.

They didn’t even know me. If they did know me, they wouldn’t have tried to save me. They would have understood and they would have let me go. They would have said that I didn’t stand a chance, although they would have been wrong. I did stand a chance. It was just up to me to take it. I didn’t feel that I needed the chance. It’s not as if she would have cared, or noticed.

There were things that were more important.

Maybe, I thought, that’s why she didn’t answer the phone…

“Doctor?” I felt a deep burn in my throat when I tried to speak.

Suddenly all of the chaos was over. I was wrapped in white. A bright light shone into my eyes, blinding me, and the air felt cold to my almost-bare skin.

“Are you talking to me?” a sweet voice asked from overhead.

I tried to nod my head, but I was still too weak. I could barely open my eyes. The woman with the sweet voice tucked the white object over me. It was a hospital blanket, thin and white. I felt so cold.

“You shouldn’t talk,” she told me. “Try your best to just rest.”


“Shush now.”

She gently placed a warm finger over my lips, and then checked the IVs in my arms, as well as a big, beeping machine with wires connected to different areas of my body. Seeing all this, I felt scared. How had those wires gotten there?

“Your doctor will see you in the morning dear. Please just try your best to get some rest. I am going to check your wrists now. I need you to hold as still as you can.”

Gently she pulled my arms out from under the thin blankets. When she looked at my bandages and how they were heavily wrapped, I saw her face go from gentle to just plain sad. I closed my eyes as she did what she had to do. When she finished, I heard her whisper to herself, “poor kids these days…” She must have thought I was asleep because she turned out the light and left me alone.

I couldn’t rest. I only wanted to rest the way I had rested before the paramedic had punched me.

This wasn’t where I needed to be. I didn’t need a hospital. I didn’t need a nurse or any of those sickening IVs and machines. I tried to lift myself up to see if I could get a look around the room, but my body didn’t work. Somehow, with a lot of effort, I managed to get my arms to my chest.

I raised my hands and lifted my wrists, which were heavily bandaged. A little bit of blood had leaked through the bandages. After a while, my arms grew tired, so I let them fall back down to my chest. I had survived. That meant that the consequences were to come in due time.

I didn’t know that it would be the next morning.

I woke up with a bright light shining down on me. Grunting, I pulled that thin, white blanket over my face.

“Rise and shine, Kristen!” an annoying voice demanded.

I slowly pulled the covers down from over my face. I could barely see. It seemed so early in the morning. A figure came to the side of my bed. I rubbed my eyes and blinked. He reached his hand out to me.

“I’m Dr. Cuvo.” He said, smiling. It was a handsome smile, but it confused me.

I was sick of him already. I looked down at his hand and realized what he wanted. We shook hands, and Dr. Cuvo continued smiling as he pulled a chair up beside my bed. I was able to get a better look at him.

He didn’t look like a doctor. He had on a pair of blue jeans and a dress shirt with a huge coffee stain. He didn’t have one of those important-looking white coats with a pocket on the left side and a nametag above it. He didn’t even have a stethoscope around his neck. He carried a notebook and a pen, but nothing else. Right away, I knew what kind of doctor he was.

Dr. Cuvo made himself comfortable in the chair beside the bed. He opened a notebook and began writing in it. He kept looking over at a chart that was on the edge of my bed, and it looked like he was copying the contents of that chart into his own notebook. He finally looked up at me, and that same mysterious smile appeared on his face again.

“Kristen, how have you been?”

He was kind, but somber.

I wrinkled my forehead in response.

“I know, I have had better days myself,” he admitted. He comically gestured to his coffee stain.

“Imagine that,” he chuckled.

I didn’t laugh.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get to better days though, won’t we?”

“How should I know?” I mumbled under my breath.

He heard me. “I don’t know,” he responded, looking almost surprised. “I mean, we don’t really know, but we can always try. Isn’t that right, Kristen?”

He was irritating me. “Why are you asking me? Aren’t you the doctor? Shouldn’t you know if I’ll be okay?”

“As far as physically, telling by your chart, I’d say that you’ll be fine. You’re lucky. But as far as your safety, that’s something I’m concerned about.”

I didn’t respond. The anger and fear that I hadn’t seen coming welled up inside of me. I was awake, and all I wanted to do was sleep. This was too confusing, and too much feeling seemed to be ready to rip its way out of me. I held my breath.

“I need you to tell me if you feel safe, Kristen,” he demanded. “Do you feel that what got you here in this hospital, in this bed, with those bandages on your arms, and with me sitting here and you there, us face to face, talking right now about what we are talking about, was the solution to whatever it was you were going through?”

He didn’t miss a beat. I knew what we were talking about. What made me so angry was that he didn’t know me. He didn’t know a damn thing about why I’d done what I’d done. And I got the vibe that he didn’t want to hear it, either. He just wanted me to think about it. He wanted to make me feel stupid for it. But he wasn’t going to make me feel guilty or stupid, because I knew what I had done. I didn’t feel ashamed. I only felt like a failure.

There was a long silence. He was waiting for an answer.

“You don’t know me,” I told him with a bit of anger in my voice.

“I never claimed to have known you, Kristen,” he sincerely said.

“Then why are you staring at me?”

“Just because I am looking at you, you think that I think I know you? In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. I am looking at you to observe you, and I am trying to get to know you.” His voice was still so gentle and kind.

I was not backing down. “I really wish you wouldn’t.”

I felt uncomfortable. I wanted to disappear. I could not look him in the eyes.

“Well,” he said with a sigh. “I am your doctor, and I am required to get some kind of info on you, starting right now. I am here to do my job. Not only do I have to help you. I really do want to help you, Kristen, even if I don’t know you.”

“Why?” I felt tears coming out of my eyes, but I held them back.

“You know, to see what’s been going on with you to make you want to do something this terrible to yourself.”

He gestured to my heavily bandaged wrists. I hid them under the blanket.

“Stop judging me,” I growled at him.

“Excuse me?” he asked, sounding shocked.

“You’re judging me. You said I did this ‘terrible thing’. But you can’t say that what I did was terrible if you don’t even know why I did it.”

“Then why don’t you just go ahead and tell me, Kristen. Why did you do it?”

“No. Leave me alone.” I felt the tears get thicker.


Tears began to fall out of my eyes. I wished I were dead. “Dr. Cuvo,” I cried. “I’m just tired. I just want to sleep. Please, leave me alone.”

He was leaning on the arm of the chair with his chin in the palm of his hand. He was staring even deeper at me now. I felt sick inside. Then Dr. Cuvo gave up, and sat back in the chair. He looked at me with eyes full of pity.

“Would you at least like some breakfast right now?” he offered kindly.

I looked at him strangely. Did he not understand anything I had said? I shook my head. Giving up, he stuck his hand out for me to shake. This time I did not oblige. Dr. Cuvo shook it off and assured me that he would be back. I rolled my eyes and looked away from him.

“You can not like me, Kristen. You can not talk to me, but there is only one way to get through this. It is not the option that you chose a week ago. In here, that is not an option. I’ll see you later.” He grabbed his notebook and left me in the room alone.

A week ago? I had been here a week! All I could remember was all of the blood. There had been a lot of blood. It had been my blood. I remembered everything going black. And after all of that, I would end up pulling through. It made me angry to think that all of my effort had gone to waste. I should be dead, not in here. I realized that my family would have to see me here alive. There would be more problems, and they would be entirely my fault.

I needed to kill that pain. I needed razors, scissors, a box cutter, or a knife--anything to bring Mr. Sharp back to me. Nothing was here to bring him back. I saw the IV in my arm. The needle was sticking into my veins. I could see the veins, black and blue.

An overwhelming feeling of anxiety came over me, and I thought back to what Dr. Cuvo had said, that I could not go back to a week ago. He had said that it was not an option. I began beating my wrists against the metal bars on the side of the hospital bed. I kept beating hard so that I could see the blood soak through the bandages. I banged my wrists so hard that I broke the needle to the IV.

Somewhere in all of this, I lost myself. I felt a dark entity within me that was very familiar. I was not inside myself anymore. I was not cold from the room. I was not in pain. I was not even angry anymore.

The nurses rushed in and grabbed me. Two of them held me down. I continued squirming, trying to break free of them. The real doctor with the white coat and nametag came in. He had a large needle, which he stuck into my neck as the nurse pressed my head down to the bed. All of this pressure pumped into my brain. It felt like a heat wave had come over me, and that something was trying to suck me into hell until I felt the world spin out of control. Then, like at the end of a movie, everything faded to black.


Excerpted from "Her" by Felicia Johnson. Copyright © 2013 by Felicia Johnson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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