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?





Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: There Is No Exit


Based on true events.

I stand and look down at my bare feet. I see the scar from my youth creeping up from my toe to ankle, like a meandering snake.

My ankles. They are swollen from the restraints. The restraints they put me in when I was in the hospital. The restraints they found necessary when in my mania I said I wasn’t bound by their rules.

“Let me out!” I scream into the yellowness. This yellow room, reminds me of Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper quite literally. In the walls I imagine the women, creeping around in eternal madness like me.

“PLEASE!” I scream. Scratching at my arms, I beg for release. I can’t escape. The room is locked. Four padded walls and a thick metal door with a narrow window are all I have for company.

Walking up to the window, I plead with the Indian woman at the computer on the other side of the door to listen to me.

“Please look at me! Let me out!” I scream into the window. “Let me out!”

She doesn’t see me. I’m invisible.

I am desperate.

“Let me out! Let me out! Let me out!” I slap my face. Hit my head with my hands. I claw at my arms, seeking freedom from my own skin, trying to let my very essence break free from its corporeal restraints.

She looks at me. “You are a good girl.” She smiles at me.


She makes me feel hope.

“Please,” I cry. “Just let me out.”

She speaks soothing things to me. Through the window. My hope grows like a welcome, warm fire.

She hears me. I’m a human to her.

We’re interrupted. Another woman enters the antechamber wearing disdain like a regal robe.

“Stop talking to her.” She says. “She’s just trying to get your attention, she’s probably borderline and just wants sympathy. You need to ignore her.”

“No!” I am crying. “Please!”

The Indian woman, the woman who called me a “good girl,” the woman saying comforting things through the window, turns away from me. She pulls her computer back away from the door.

So she doesn’t have to see me.


She is gone. I am alone again with four yellow walls and two cameras. One in each corner of the room.

I scream. I don’t know for how long but I scream.

I sit on the only object in the room, a mat with a symbolic picture of a man on a bed. It looks like the Tarot card of The Hanged Man.

The Hanged Man.


“No!” I scream. “LET ME OUT!”

I start banging on the door. I feel my hands and wrists buckle under the weight of my body as I throw myself against the door.

This is madness. They are making me mad. They want me to be a madwoman.

I don’t know for how long I do this.

Eventually I get tired.

I sit on the mat in cobbler’s pose. I look at my feet, folded open like a book. A book. They ripped a book out of my hands when they put me in here.

The Poisonwood Bible.

They would never return it.

Staring at my feet, my vision grows sharp. I’ve never seen so clearly in my life. Even though they tore the glasses from my face when the security guards were piled on me before entering this hell, I see.

Leaning forward, I rest my head on my feet.

I breathe.

I can do this.

I stand again, and do yoga poses.

I’m not sure what happens next. Flashes of mania and flashes of awareness overtake me.

At one point, I scream at the camera and make obscene gestures.

“Fuck you, Mark Zuckerberg!” I shout a manifesto against Facebook. It seems appropriate.

“My brother is watching all of you! You all are fucked!” And I believe my brother is. He works for the government after all. In my heart I believe he is there, with me, telling me everything is going to be OK. Watching me. But most of all, he’s watching them.

He’ll make them pay.

“There is nothing wrong with me!” I scream at the cameras. “There is nothing wrong with me! I’m a human! I’m who I am and that doesn’t make me any less than you! You have me locked in here but it is YOU who are not free. My mind is free. I AM FREE.”

For a while I sing. I sing songs from Les Misérables at the cameras. I sing I’m Proud to Be an American.

Do you hear the people sing?”

I make the performance of my life.

At some point in the turmoil of events, I remove my scrubs.

I’m naked now.

As I piss myself, the warmth of fresh urine covers my legs and feet.

I don’t remember leaving the room, but at some point I do.

They don’t get a doctor to evaluate me or the bruises inflicted on me by staff. But they put me back in my room with a camera, so they can keep watching me.

Eventually they tell me I was in there for four hours.

That’s not a long time to liberate my mind.


This story was written for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge “There Is No Exit.”