The collection of short stories presented in this thesis seeks to form a counter-narrative to the stigmas associated with mental illness and trauma through the portrayal of protagonists suffering from or affected by such issues. Individuals influenced by mental illness and/or trauma are not "others" deserving ostracization but fellow human beings searching for hope in a world too often touched by sorrow. The first three stories within this thesis address protagonists directly impacted by mental illness. "Twin Magnolias" follows Maggie Briggins, an elderly woman battling both paranoia and Alzheimer's simultaneously in a search for reality. "Fabergé" explores Candy Friedman's depression and relationship to her past as a ballerina. In "A Few Flowers to Hold," Leo Berns finds closure from a past filled with trauma and guilt through the connections his schizophrenia provides him. In contrast, the final two stories depict the lives of protagonists indirectly affected by mental illness. After the stillbirth of his daughter, Richard Glim finds hope in an unlikely place, a nursing home. Finally, the title piece of the collection explores and compares differing views of caregiving through the lives of Maggie Briggins' daughter and granddaughter. These perspectives demonstrate that mental illness and/or trauma are not what define a person but are simply a part of their lives. The number of individuals seeking help with mental health issues and trauma, especially among the younger generations, seems to be skyrocketing. Therefore, a larger body of literature that deals with such topics in a respectful and humanizing way is needed if our culture is to lovingly embrace individuals whose lives have been changed by these issues.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Telep, Peter


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Creative Writing


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Release Date


Included in

Fiction Commons