Reviewed by Joan Hanna
“You give your feeling melodramatic names, grandiose status, because melodramatic and grandiose are how you’re feeling. You’re the most depressed person EVER, or, on the rare good days, the happiest—no, not the happy, ECSTATIC. There is no gray, there is only the blackest black and shimmering white. The white, for which you live, is like being illuminated by a God in whom you have long since stopped believing. The black is what you more often get.” (7)
Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl (January 2012) by Stacy Pershall is one of those rare gems of a memoir that reaches out with brutal honesty about the struggles of living with an either undiagnosed or under diagnosed mental health issue. If you’ve ever wrestled with anything in your life, even if it’s not to the extent of the author, you will find something to identify with in this book. Many times in memoir we can stand next to, in front of, or sometimes even above the narrator. This is not one of those books. This narrator will get inside of you. This voice trying to understand a mental health problem will ring so true you will not be able to put this book down.
There are so many things in Loud in the House of Myself that fascinated me. But I think the thing that rang true for me the most, was the bare honesty with which it was told. Pershall did not pretty herself up to write this book. She did not blame everyone around her for her mental health issues. She sat herself smack in the middle of her cutting, her bulimia, and her desperate attempts to self medicate her undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. This to me, but not only this, was one of the most endearing aspects of this book. I didn’t want to save her, help her, tell her what she needed to know or what to do; I just simply wanted to take this journey in her shoes, and through her words, to see where it would take her. This is a rare gift in a writer; the ability to pull someone so completely into their story that the reader just wants to hear the writer’s voice.
The other thing that I loved about this book is that it isn’t pretty. It’s strong. It’s in your face. It doesn’t try to whitewash anything and it’s well written. If you have had experiences in your life with people suffering from bulimia or Borderline Personality Disorder you will be able to bring something with you into this journey. If you have never had an experience with someone learning to live their lives while struggling with any type of disorder you won’t need anything but this book to understand a little better the frustration and the utter devastation of living your life trying to understand something that grabs a hold of you which you can’t control.
Loud in the House of Myself is a memoir that will take you inside Pershall’s journey. There is so much more to this book than I can even say here. The language is beautifully crafted. The dark episodes are written so well you will feel them on your skin. In her epilogue Pershall states: “I was the girl in whom most saw nothing and some saw everything (228).” I believe that Pershall has shown us everything in this book. Read it with an open mind. Read it with an open heart. But more importantly, pass this book on to someone you know who needs to hear the truth.
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