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Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality
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Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  515 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
An honest and compelling memoir, Girl in Need of a Tourniquet is Merri Lisa Johnson’s account of her borderline personality disorder and how it has affected her life and relationships. Johnson describes the feeling of "bleeding out" — unable to tell where she stopped and where her partner began. A self-confessed "psycho girlfriend," she was influenced by many emotional fac ...more
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Published June 8th 2010 by Seal Press (CA) (first published 2010)
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I really wanted to love this book. It's the first BPD memoir I read after my own diagnosis, but I have to say...I hated it. If I'd been in group with Merri Lisa Johnson, I'd have had to write a repair.

I realize that the prose was meant to reflect her mental state at the time of the events described. She has a lot of feelings!!! Her poor (former) partner. However, it made me understand why we people with BPD are so infuriating and exhausting to others at times. Which, I guess, was part of the poi
Julia Miele Rodas
Merri Lisa Johnson's fabulous autobiographical Girl in Need of a Tourniquet (2010) was the beginning of my lapse. Since I met her at a conference at George Washington University, and I thought it possible that she might see my thoughts, I wanted to write something worthy. The result: Absolute avoidance. Which is a shame because this is a lovely, thoughtful, thought-provoking book. It details Johnson's emergence into borderline identity and explorarion of the meaning of "borderline personality di ...more
Stacy Pershall
Mar 29, 2011 Stacy Pershall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathtakingly gorgeous writing! This is my *other* favorite BPD memoir, and a must-read for LGBT folks battling the illness.
Jun 05, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Girl in need of a Tourniquet is the personal memoirs of Merri Lisa Johnson, or Lisa as she refers to herself within the pages, and how she came to discover and live with having Borderline Personality Disorder.

It’s funny how getting a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder leads to an intense heavy duty research fest. Maybe it is something to do with the lack of support following the diagnosis, I don’t really know but I had always suspected I was not alone in running out and buying every bo
3.5 is closer to my opinion of this book. It's hard to judge a memoir but if I do I make my evaluations based on literary quality and interest (what else?) This book was very disturbing and heart-breaking--not an entertaining read-- but it was genuinely well-written and compelling. The inventive style that gets on a lot of readers' nerves (apparently) is bang-on for the chaos of the subject material. The form and matter is so well matched that I was not surprised to hear of the author's academic ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this BPD memoir would be a good way of looking at relationships and maybe give some incite and relative information as to why I have some of the problems I do with relationships but it fell wayyyyy short. The style of this book is written in a bizarre point form that when the author uses a line or 2 or 3 she is moving onto a different topic. She bounces around from idea to idea which is very much like the thought process of a person with BPD at certain times. 2 relevant pieces of infor ...more
Autumn Christian
A memoir of one woman's experience with borderline personality disorder - focused mostly on her affair with a woman named Emily. I found the prose compelling, but sometimes suffocating - it was "literary", but often shrouded facts and skipped over what seemed to be important information. A short, incomplete, but sometimes beautiful mess - memoirs aren't supposed to be guidebooks on how to live one's life, and it's important to show that people don't always get better. Sometimes there's just a tu ...more
I wanted to love this book and to identify with it on a deep level. I wanted to see myself in the book. I didn't, which I guess is evidence of the extreme amount of variation within mental health issues. I couldn't see myself in the author's behaviour. But I could see myself in her emotions. This was an incredibly brave book to publish. Writing can be very cathartic but actually publishing something so deeply personal - Merri Lisa Johnson deserves a medal for her courage in exposing her struggle ...more
Casey Kiser
Aug 22, 2013 Casey Kiser rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book is dramatic and brave. The author really peels back her skin to show everything and even goes into detail about how the five years of writing the book almost tore her apart. I loved the incorporation of song lyrics. The soundtrack to one's life is a fun plus for a memoir. I enjoyed this book.
Jan 26, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Probably a 1.5, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. It wasn't very coherent; it didn't flow well. It wasn't very clear about her experiences. However, it was creative and experiential. (But if you're looking for a memoir of BPD, I wouldn't go with this).
May 05, 2011 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely beautiful and moving. My favorite BPD specific memoir so far. An awesome book written by and amazing woman.
Apr 29, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, extremely psychologically informative memoir.
Jenifer Mary Rune
Sep 22, 2013 Jenifer Mary Rune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an alright book for what it is - a "mental health memoir." I usually have no patience for those narratives of folks who become good patients, accept their diagnoses, take the pills, and so on.

I picked this book up a while ago because I recognized Merri Lisa Johnson's name from an anthology of sex-positive feminist essays. Jane Sexes It Up, I believe -- I read it in my early 20's. Johnson talked about sex work and her sexuality in ways that I had never really heard before. I figured I'd
I've been looking for memoirs and biographies that focus on borderline for awhile. I finally decided to buy one and this was it.

And I'm glad I bought it. I received this book today and I have just finished reading it. I actually sat down and read the whole thing with a brief break to tell my mother "This book is it. This book is everything."

I liked the way it was structured with anecdotes and brief excerpts from psych literature and sometimes normal literature. I immediately connected to the aut
Jennifer Jarrell
Good Memoir

This memoir of a college instructor coming to terms with her recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is an excellent read. She is able to hide her constant turmoil and chaos from others including coworkers for a long time, but eventually her affair with a coworker and then a student gives her dysfunctional reasoning away. At one point she cuts her arm with a razor all night and then proudly displays her arm at work the next day in sleeveless attire; it amazes me she was ab
First thoughts: this memoir is both interesting and confusing. I have little to no context for the subject matter, so I can only say that I both liked and got annoyed by the writing style. The story itself seemed to have a borderline personality.

Where I read: over the span of three days, mostly while I was alone in my room.

Favorite quote(s):
"I will still believe the problem is outside me--a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people." (This sentiment is so relatab
Sep 28, 2011 Jannekb rated it liked it
Naturally, being the memoir of a Borderline Personality, this book attracts and repels in equal measures, but it contains a plenitude of useful nuggets about Borderline Personality Disorder. Makes me want to dig out my DBT material and give it a good once-over. Some good, solid clinical information and compelling (and appropriate) quotations and song lyrics, scattered among the eye-popping recounting of MLJ’s sexual exploits and cutting practices. Wouldn’t read it again, but I’m glad I read it o ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great inside view of what it is like for a person suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Her descriptions of emotions felt within interpersonal relationships were vivid and provide an understanding for the laymen, who is neither mental health professional nor suffering from BPD. I highly recommend for professionals working with individuals with BPD as well as for those who may be suffering.
Meghan C
May 04, 2014 Meghan C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Psychology students, Women and Gender Studies students, Disability Studies students
Recommended to Meghan by: Read for a gender and disability course
This book is an interesting look at what it's like to be a person living with Borderline Personality Disorder and the family traumas that can contribute to it's development. However, the author takes such a long time to get to the point (as in, her diagnosis with BPD and her reactions and coping skills learned) that it's easy to mistake this book to, initially, just be about a really bad break up.
Nov 02, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, 2016
I really enjoyed this. her prose is beautiful, and reallyn ours you in the mindset of what it's like to be fully in the throes of Borderline Personality Disorder, so much so that at times I felt extremely uncomfortable. this has been thrown around for years as a possible diagnosis for me, but I've yet to find someone really willing to help me explore and deal with it. Reading her words made me feel less confused, less alone, and more hopeful.
Jan 03, 2011 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What was up with all the different fonts and spacing? You can't be a designer via Microsoft Word (just my own pet peeve). She was kind of all over the place regarding her own life and song lyrics and celebrity stories. The reader never knows what happens to her family, either! I'm guessing her first book.
Robin Conley
This book was strange to read given the format, but I actually found I liked it as I got further in. It was a little disjointed in the telling, but I think it worked for what the author was trying to do. Definitely an interesting memoir of a woman with Borderline Personality and I would recommend it to anyone interested in understand more about the disorder and someone's experience with it.
Feb 05, 2012 Leabelle rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book written by an intelligent woman who lives with borderline personality disorder. It gives the reader insight into the mind of one person with borderline personality particularly in the area of relationships. I particularly enjoyed travelling with the author to her understanding of why one of her relationships did not work although the two seemed initially quite compatible.
Jan 20, 2013 Dj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10
If you are unlucky enough for this poetic hurricane to seriously resonate with you, it will rip you to pieces and spit out journal entries of your past like ticker tape while you read it. If you don't actually relate, I imagine its going to hit you like watching a thriller horror movie. Top 10.
Marianne Pita
Jul 15, 2012 Marianne Pita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writer tells the story so intensely that I was able to feel her pain and confusion. Very raw, dark, honest and inspiring! The poetry and lyrics were beautiful. Plus you got to love the title. Wow! Left me thinking for days after...
Feb 20, 2016 Meghann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because someone important to me has Borderline Personality Disorder, and I was hoping it might help me understand them a bit better. This book was poetic, chaotic, heart wrenching, hopeful, and so completely human.
Jan 24, 2012 Karli rated it really liked it
As a long time Aimee Mann fan, this book had me at the title. Overall, I really enjoyed the writing style -- a bit skittish, experimental in form, fast-paced, intensely personal stories/confessions peppered with interesting research on BPD. Good, fast read.
Aug 30, 2013 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the last half of the book more than the first half, which I couldn't really relate to. However, this author's writing style is totally unique and kept me interested the entire way through. I recommend the book, if only to analyze her awesome way of writing!
Jan 12, 2011 Kim rated it did not like it
I have read many books on BP and other similar disorders and assumed this would be right up there with my favourites but for some reason I just couldn't follow the more abstract aspects and disjointedness. Without being able to follow a common thread, I found myself not willing to pick it back up.
Apr 02, 2014 Iraina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It was too unorganized and very much "everywhere". I couldn't finish reading it.
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“It isn't any particular person I want to lie down with and make my own. It isn't anybody at all. It is the feeling of being taken care of that I want to pin down and rock my hips against. Sling a leg across it and fall asleep.

This longing for body comfort and security is familiar as my own face.

The need is urgent.

The need makes me stupid.”
“I can feel the sensation (it burns) of being called crazy when you feel wounded and desperate.” 5 likes
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