Stitched is a unique autobiography that takes its readers into the mind and heart of a “self-mutilator. Told through journal entries, poetry, letters, and first-person narrative, Stitched can be read by anyone; whether you’re struggling with a form of self-mutilation, you know someone else who is, or even if you just like stories of struggle, success, more struggle, and hope.
I tell the story of my experiences with cutting over a period of about seven years, from my addiction’s beginning to its most dangerous peak, and through the recovery process.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and graduated Suma Cum Laude from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Communications Media and a minor in dance. I worked in the television news business for about seven years, five of which were as an on-air reporter. I am now the media and public relations coordinator for Penn State Altoona.
I have been dancing since I was 2 or 3 and teach tap, jazz, hip hop, acro, lyrical, and modern at a local dance studio. I took part in my first
community theatre production this year, as a choreographer and member of the ensemble for The Producers.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have kept a journal since probably about second grade. Writing has always been cathartic for me and a way to express myself without judgment or reprimands from others. Through my ongoing struggle with cutting, I wrote entries about how I was feeling, what I was thinking, what it was like to try to stop, what it was like to feel totally misunderstood.
I had tried to find some books about self-mutilation to understand what I was going through and perhaps show me that I wasn’t alone. But all I really found were a couple of chapters in books written by doctors for other doctors or psychologist, that sort of thing. So, I thought about all the journal entries I had and how maybe putting them all together with some poetry and information/explanations of self-mutilation might help the next someone looking for answers.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
At first, I wasn’t sure what kind of reception, if any, my book would have. I had mixed reactions from family and friends – some thought it was a great idea and really supported me. Others did not want the book to be published, fearing backlash for me and/or for them. But I was really determined to go forward with it, and I am so glad I did. Sure, I have a few regrets on how some things were handled, how I hurt a few people with the book, even the way some things were written. But the amount of good that has come from Stitched far outweighs those few negative things. I have been able to speak publicly at schools and training sessions and awareness campaigns about self-mutilation. I was asked to sit on a mental health advisory board because of my book. I have received dozens of emails and letters thanking me for writing my book, telling me that it inspired him or her, shed light, and gave hope. I’ve had parents, former cutters, and people in the middle of recovery come up to me and fold me in their arms, whisper ‘thank you’ or say ‘you’re beautiful’ or ‘you’re amazing.’ You don’t get that from sitting quietly in a corner, afraid of what one or two people might say or think about you.of only thinking of yourself.
Through writing and publishing Stitched, I have learned that the rewards of taking chances, of exposing yourself, can actually buoy you during those times you are sure you are going under.
What are you reading now?
I just finished The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Before that, I was on an Alice Hoffman kick, including Blackbird House and Local Girls. I have a stack of books to work through, including The Essential Rumi and Hoffman’s Here on Earth. I’m also somewhat of a geek, since I’m making my way through both World History for Dummies and Native Americans for Dummies.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I always have what I think are really great ideas for books, but never enough time to actually sit down and start writing them – it’s hard with two jobs, a family, and a house. I have another non-fiction work with maybe 30 pages written about the news business. It’s actually pretty funny, and I’d love to really get that one going. I have an idea for a fiction book, too, that takes place entirely in a department store dressing room. I also told my mom I’d love to turn all of her beauty regimens into a work of some sort, but I’m still fleshing that one out. And finally, I’m thinking about putting together a collection of my poetry for publication.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?