Monday, August 07, 2006

Reaching out

A few people have commented on the essay I posted on bangitout, and tonight I got my first email asking for help. I'm going to share most of that email and my response, redacting any information that could be used to identify the person.

Dear "Ayelet",

I was diagnosed with bipolar illness when I was 20. It was really nice reading your open letter.

I have been to countless therapists and psychiatrists since I was a child. I have been on lots of different meds. My current psychiatrist has really helped me a lot, but I feel like we're not really getting anywhere right now.

I live with my parents. I want to get my own apartment but honestly I'm scared that I won't be able to handle it, and then I'm afraid I'll fall into a depression. So I feel pretty confused about what to do.

The thing that I want to talk to you about is as follows: I take 5 different meds every single day and I try to be happy but I'm scared. I'm afraid that I am never going to get married. I'm not even asking for kids, kids would be great but I just want a special person to be with, to spend time with, to do fun things with, and most importantly to share love with.

The bottom line is that I pray for death each and every night, because I want to go to Olam Habah, I want the pain to end, I want peace and happiness. I know it's assur to kill yourself and I would never do it because I know that's not what Hashem wants. I'm not a danger to myself or to others. I just want to be happy, but I don't know how to find happiness.

I would really love it if you could write back to me with some words of wisdom, encouragement, or just write me some bullshit to pretend that you care about me and my letter.

I wrote back:

Thanks so much for writing to me. I'm so sorry you're in so much pain; I hate to think you're praying to die. I don't have too much wisdom to share so far, but here goes.

I know an exceptional psychiatrist -- mine -- who specializes in mood disorders. He is very respectful, very kind, and very thorough. He's originally from Czechoslovakia, and I really feel like he knows what he is doing. His name is Jan Roda, and his phone number is (212) 752-8919. He would be an excellent person to see to manage your medications. I used to take 5, now I'm down to 3. I definitely think you should get your medications under control before trying to get your own apartment.

I also think you could benefit from some therapy that actually works. I would recommend you contact the Albert Ellis Institute. I was in therapy there for about four years, and it helped me immensely.

Have you ever been to a support group? The Mood Disorders Support Group has regular meetings for people who are going through similar tough times as you are, and also has a friends and family group. My mother went to one of their meetings and got a lot out of it.

I don't have any easy answers for you concerning your future in terms of marriage and children. But I think that getting into a better medication regimen and better therapy would be a big step to take.

Please don't give up hope. I'm working hard at my life, but good things are happening. And please keep in touch.

If for no other reason than to try to help this one individual, I'm so glad I've reached out.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor" target=_

1 comment:

  1. Kol hakavod, Ayelet.

    People need to realize that this is not an isolated, rare disorder that "frum" Jews don't have to worry about. Mental health issues are real, and they're not going anywhere. The sooner the community steps up and recognizes this fact and embraces those who may have illnesses, the better it will be for everyone's quality of life.