author spotlight: Susan Johnston

Have you ever tried to help a friend, only to have it backfire? So did Susan Johnston, as she recalls in her riveting letter to her former roommate who battled an eating disorder in “Watching You Waste Away”:

“It no longer bothers me that you ate all of my Haagen-Dazs dulce de leche nonfat frozen yogurt and then lied about it. Or that you’d look repulsed whenever I ate an entire Lean Cuisine entree instead of putting half of it back in the freezer behind the frozen peas. Or that you’d mysteriously develop a headache and hide in your room whenever we hosted a dinner party. All of that makes sense now. What bothers me was that even after I hid the bathroom scale and stopped bringing home frozen yogurt or other forms of “poison,” even after I moved my collection of women’s magazines into my room, even after I assured you I would do whatever it took to help you get better, you didn’t stop sneaking into the bathroom in the middle of the night to throw up, or eating a few raw tomatoes and convincing yourself it was lunch. If anything, you did it more often. It still bothers me that after several hours of therapy each evening, you’d come home to a roommate who had given up chocolate for you (!), and you’d scowl at her before locking the door to your bedroom…”

SUSAN JOHNSTON lives in Boston, where she works as a freelance writer by day and teaches writing and blogging by night. After sharing apartments with a few more roommates, she is pleased to report that she’s moved into her very own shoebox, er, studio. Susan’s essays have appeared in The Boston Globe, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Getting In…to College, and The Christian Science Monitor. She also writes for career and lifestyle topics for,,, Self,, and many other places. Visit her website at or read about her writing adventures at

Read the rest of Susan’s letter, and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, now on Amazon!



7 responses to “author spotlight: Susan Johnston

  1. So many things are unsaid in life. Sometimes the most important things. What a fascinating and intimate idea for a book!

  2. I’ll have to read further to see how it backfired. But, I’ve been there–like most of us have. I told one friend that her fiance was going out with other women. She yanked me from the wedding party and didn’t want to talk to me ever again. 3 years and 2 children later she found herself divorced…

  3. I think this book is a great opportunity to finally get things off one’s chest. Sometimes things are just too difficult to say – I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m a writer…or I am too chicken to speak up!

  4. I’d like to read more too. I had a roommate in college who would barely eat during the day then she’d “sleep eat.” One night she ate an entire pan of brownies in the middle of the night while sound asleep.

  5. This looks so interesting. I will ask our library to order the book so that I can read the rest!

  6. Thanks, everyone, and espeically Jennifer for asking the library to carry it. That’s a great idea!

  7. Talk about the universal in the personal…this is so wonderful. Congrats on contributing…I want to read the rest of the story. I’m going to borrow Jennifer’s idea and ask our library to carry it, too!

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