Vulnerability

I’m tired of being vulnerable.

The last year and a half has brought a great deal of pain and growth. Ever since my psychotic break after a hypnosis/BDSM/”trauma-healing”-session gone wrong, I’ve had to deal with three hospitalizations related to the trauma of my initial episode and reactions to medications.

I’ve been very open about what happened to me recently. Thankfully I’ve found an awesome supportive group of people that have had similar experiences to my own. And I’ve found that, it is much more rewarding to be vulnerable around them than many of my own long time friends.

It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate my friends, I do, but it’s so hard to talk about the trauma of psychiatric hospitalization with someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves.

People who haven’t been through the system just can’t get it. They don’t understand how dehumanizing the whole process of being admitted to the ER, in an extreme or altered state of mind, can be. We like to think that hospitals and doctors are safe people to go to when we need help, but I’ve learned that this isn’t always the case.

I’ve become aware of patient-run alternatives and respite houses for people dealing with a crisis. I wish I had something close that I could turn to if I find myself in crisis again, but sadly my community isn’t there yet.

But I digress. My point is that being vulnerable is exhausting. I’m tired. I don’t want to be vulnerable anymore if I feel like I’m going to have to explain myself. Or if I feel like someone might judge me.

I struggled with well-meaning messages this last World Mental Health Day. People seem to be so unaware of the fact that they pathologize people they claim to support by painting everyone who’s dealt with diagnostic labels as “ill.”

I’ve been through some tough times. I’m dealing with trauma, but I don’t see myself as someone with a disease or illness.

I believe psych meds as good short term solutions for people in crisis but shoddy long term solutions. They have awful effects and for me have taken away so much of my drive and my creativity.

My psych nurse is helping me taper off my last med. I’m looking forward to being psych med free. Something that hasn’t happened since early May 2016 when I had my first psychiatric hospitalization. I’m ready to be free of these effects that I’ve found to be so debilitating, effects which have actually also put me in the hospital.

But most of all, I want to move on. I want to be creative. I want to finish writing a short story I started this month. It’s informed by my perspective as someone who has experienced some things people would find “crazy” or “bizarre” but to me have ended up being a source of profound meaning and spirituality.

I want to write stories because they are a way I can communicate my truth without digging into the raw reality that I’ve had to deal with.

I’m so grateful for the validation I have found and received from friends. Those who have supported me through the trauma of my first hospitalization through my last will forever hold a special place in my heart.

But back to vulnerability, I realized I reached my vulnerability limit when I attended a new writing group at my mental health outpatient clinic. It meets weekly and we write during the group and share what we write with the other attendees. I didn’t realize how much pain it would bring up to be asked to share my first writing assignment with the class. I passed the first week. I just couldn’t do it.

But I was able to share more last time. It helps to be surrounded by others who get it, who are going through similar stuff.

Maybe I’m just tired of being vulnerable around people who don’t have the same labels that I’ve been labeled with over the years. I’ve found my people in the “mentally ill.” They listen. They get it. They understand.

And how could they not? They’ve endured the same stigmas. They have trauma. They have experience with the mental health system and many understand how it can be harmful for someone.

I’ve learned so much, and I hope to share my knowledge with others, I’m still doing a lot of healing though. So it may take some time.

Anyways, have you dealt with vulnerability and “mental illness”? How do you navigate being open about what you’ve gone through while fighting off the stigma? Do you see the value in vulnerability in general? How do you avoid vulnerability fatigue?

 

 

 

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Author: Larissa Hammond

Librarian. Writer. Mom.

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