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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Rewriting Harmful Narratives: Love and Creativity Turn a Trigger into Source of Empowerment

(More pics below, please scroll down and look at the captions!)

A little over a year ago, someone intervened with my mental health by using hypnosis and BDSM to try to have me to adopt a “submissive/slave” lifestyle full-time to help address my “past trauma” after I had expressed an interest in BDSM.

The story in and of itself is a big one, and while I do not wish to delve into the details here, I will say that this is something that I have been working out extensively in weekly therapy. I’ve also had three psychiatric hospitalizations since this person harmed me with his methods. Something I never needed previously.

The point of this post is not to talk about everything this person did or about how dangerous it is to practice medicine without a license (newsflash: it is), the point of this is to talk about the love and healing that came with regards to a specific image this person had used against me.

When I was in a deep hypnotic trance, or highly suggestible state, he used frightening imagery on me. Specifically, he said I was a “gazelle” that he could “sink his teeth into.” This imagery of a lion and gazelle became a huge trauma trigger for me.

A short while after he did this and after he had put me under hypnosis without bringing me out of trance (which is not safe at all), I woke up feeling like a gazelle.

I was scared.

I wanted to run.

I was prey.

Gazelle with Fihankra Symbol by M. Scott Hammond
“Gazelle” with Fihankra Symbol by M. Scott Hammond

My husband was so confused as to what was happening to me. I kept talking about feeling like a gazelle and being scared. I talked about it so much that he even drew a picture of a gazelle with a rock with the West African symbol Fihankra (meaning “safe” or “secure”) to try to alleviate my fears.

As time passed, and after a couple hospitalizations and therapy over the course of several months, a dear friend of mine, Tammy, offered to help me address the issue I had with the gazelle/lion narrative that was still haunting me and my thoughts.

I don’t literally believe in magic per se, but my beautiful friend Tammy is a wizard with her photography. She empowered me by finding makeup artists and dressing my husband and I up as a lion and a gazelle.

But in our little story, it was the gazelle that needed to be feared.

Not the lion.

In high school I took a drama class. I have always loved theater, so this opportunity brought much joy to me. I’m going to share some of the photos from the shoot. Please consider visiting my friend Tammy’s photography facebook page and “liking” it. Her work is amazing and she recently started her business.

Now on to the photos! (Check it! I even made a story using captions on the pics!)

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I’m laughing a little now, because recently, someone tried to bring up the gazelle/lion narrative I had been dealing with as a mean-spirited way of casting ad hominem on me and trying to gaslight me.

What this person fails to understand is that that narrative no longer hurts me. It gives me POWER.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is a prophetic film, and the Magic Book that the characters use to rewrite their realities is, I believe, a real and an available tool within us all. We are all capable of rewriting the harmful narratives that others and (more importantly) we tell ourselves.

Magic Book from SpongeBob Out of Water
Source: http://spongebob.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Book

Also, I love the shit out of my friends, and once a drama geek, ALWAYS a drama geek.

THESPIAN PRIDE FOREVA.

(I love you, Scott and Tammy!)