On Being Vulnerable

They thanked me for my vulnerability, but it spilled out by accident, like beads of condensed sadness crammed into a too-small vessel. A wave comes, and while I sit among this circle of strangers, I cry. Nine sad faces avert their eyes. Is this circle a liferaft or a sinkhole?

In the distance, we see life as it should be- a mental ecosystem in balance. For six hours each day, we hover on the edges of the ring, tossing insecurities, worries, and vulnerabilities into the middle. We wait to see if they sink, but often, they float back to us. At three P.M., we depart; a snippet of normal routine, just long enough for our symptoms to impair us under the cover of darkness, then it’s back to the circle again. Soon, each of us will leave and swim to shore, but for now, we are lost at sea. All we can do is embrace our vulnerability and let it carry us towards one another.


Last week, I was discharged from an 11 day stay in a psychiatric hospital. This week, I spent six hours every day in a partial hospitalization program. Since being admitted almost three weeks ago, I’ve received more messages of concern and support than I know how to process, and that’s a little bit scary.

A part of me is resistant to receiving so much love because it means that all of these people know about a part of my life that contains a good deal of shame. My instinct is to politely accept the well-wishes and then quietly close the door and never discuss it again. Unfortunately, being independent to a fault can get you in trouble. It can make you more likely to wait too long to ask for help, at which point, the situation has snowballed out of control and it’s a crisis. So, reach out to your loved ones. Ask for help and offer help. Being vulnerable is how we connect.

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