Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall is an ambitious book. And, for the most part, it achieves what it sets out to do.
The book follows Pershall’s continuing struggles with borderline personality disorder, anorexia, bulimia, and multiple suicide attempts. It attempts not only to tell her personal story, but to examine borderline personality disorder in a broader context, as well as examine closely how Pershall finally finds a way to heal through a type of behavioral therapy and tattooing.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough pages in the book to do everything well, and the inclusion of so much technical information ultimately diluted the story.
Pershall’s personal story is compelling nonetheless, especially for any young girl who’s ever had body issues, thought she was ugly, stupid, not good enough, or too weird to have many friends.
She explains her situation in the beginning of the book, and introduces dialectical behavior therapy (one of the only proven methods to treat and control borderline personality disorder) and the way getting tattoos has given her a way to reclaim her body and make it her own.
After the introduction, I expected Pershall to spend more time on her tattoos, and especially looked forward to the moment she discovered tattooing would finally give her power over her own self (because you do absolutely want to see Pershall succeed and take control of her life).
That moment never came. She tells us about it, but we never get to see it, and that was the book’s biggest disappointment for me.
The book is broken down into chapters, and each chapter starts with a description of one of Pershall’s tattoos, who gave it to her, and why it’s important.
In theory, I liked the structure of the book, with a tattoo providing a lead-in to each chapter. In practice, those sections often proved to be frustrating, as they hinted at parts of Pershall’s life we never get to see in the book (for example, in an early chapter she mentions her first “girlfriend” and we are left guessing whether this is a friend who is a girl or a female lover after she mentions several of her boyfriends).
Pershall also delves into the medical aspects of her mental illnesses and how her behavior therapy works. Again, in theory I like that she can separate herself from the disease and examine it dispassionately, but in practice those sections fell flat and left me wishing she had stuck with talking about her own personal experience.
In Pershall’s defense, I think she wanted to make the book about something bigger than herself and ensure her readers came away with an understanding of what borderline personality disorder is. I wasn’t familiar with BPD before reading this, and Pershall did succeed in opening my eyes to a disease that many people suffer from.
Ultimately, I would recommend Loud in the House of Myself to girls of any age who’ve ever doubted themselves. Pershall’s message in that area, at least, is quite clear: You can always be who you want to be, even if sometimes it takes a little extra work.
Kelly Lynn Thomas is a writer obsessed with storytelling, tea, and Star Wars. Her day job is newspaper editor, but fiction and travel writing are her first loves. Read more at http://kellylynnthomas.com.