Review: Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall

Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall
Release Date: January 31th, 2011
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Page Count: 232
Source: Directly from publisher for review

Stacy Pershall grew up depressed and too smart for her own good, a deeply strange girl in Prairie Grove, Arkansas (population 1,000), where the prevailing wisdom was that Jesus healed all. From her days as a thirteen-year-old Jesus freak, through a battle with anorexia and bulimia, her first manic episode at eighteen, and the eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, this spirited and at times mordantly funny memoir chronicles Pershall’s journey through hell-several breakdowns and suicide attempts—and her struggle with the mental health care system.

After her 2001 suicide attempt, broadcast live on a Webcam, Pershall realized the need to heal her mind and body. She found a revolutionary cure (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and a new mood-stabilizing medication. She also met a tattoo artist and discovered the healing power of body modification. By giving over her skin and enduring the physical pain, she learned about the true nature of trust.


Review: We always saw those weird girls in high school — the ones who never fit in, who always sat alone during lunch. The ones we never bothered to get to know. Stacy Pershall was one of those girls, but shockingly, she doesn’t seem very different from me. Her memoir — all of its crudeness, honesty, and heartfelt revelations — announces to the world, the deepest secrets of a weird girl, and also acknowledges how the girl who never fit in is actually, truthfully, painfully, a little bit of every girl we see today.

This memoir is achingly personal. It’s not like reading a diary; it’s more like reading a girl’s thoughts as they happen. It holds no barriers and only tells the truth — the ugliest truth. I connected so much with Stacy, both as a child, and as an adult. My own suffering never has gone as far as suicide attempts or bulimia, but a lot of the things Stacy ponders upon are things that have flitted through my head too many times to count. It also vindicates the millions of girls today who sink from the pressure of body image and societal acceptance. I’m not saying suicide and bulimia are healthy habits, but upon reading Stacy’s real-life accounts, a part of me feels like it knows why girls would do such things.

A memoir is a collection of memories, which separates it from an autobiography, and Stacy’s makes me feel like I’m living her life. That’s how real, how heartbreaking, her story is. I had trouble finishing it in the end because there is no definite conclusion, so it drags on a bit, but other than that, I really enjoyed this one. Stacy’s narrative as an outcast breaks my heart, and her discovery and exoneration, which is being diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder — finally! An excuse for being weird — makes it sing. If you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, pick up Loud in the House of Myself to revisit the injustices of childhood, as well as the insecurities of life in general, that one girl — all girls — have faced in their lifetimes.

Quote: “For a while I really believed [my eating disorder] was just that: playing. I was toying with the idea of sickness, flirting with it, but because I was not yet what I would consider emaciated, I felt I could give it up at will and move on to something else. The old I-can-quit-anytime-I-want. But soon I was sort of playing but it was sort of real, and then it was entirely real and I realized it had never been a game at all. Playing with anorexia is like playing with heroin, fire, plutonium, or Scientology — it’s just a bad idea all around. Playing with anorexia is like cracking open mercury thermometers and drinking them just to see what happens. Anorexia, to use the vernacular, ain’t playin’.”

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