Sunday, October 29, 2006

My fame spreads

I got another email from someone who read my piece in the Jewish Week.

Dear Ayelet -- Thank you so much for publishing your article.

I have a friend who I think is struggling with feeling very lonely. I am worried about her, and have recently encourage her to get involved with the beginners minyan at [a local synagogue], because I think that part of her problem is that she has not realized that she needs to make an investment in becoming part of a continuous community.

She understandably got very down just last week because she is in her mid-forties, and is not married, nor does she have a child, but a good friend of hers had a baby. She is a beautiful, talented amazing person, recently laid off from her job. She is consulting with a psychiatrist/psychologist on a weekly basis, but by phone rather than in person, which is in my mind a continuing symptom of her difficulties.

Could you be kind enough to give me a resource or two in Manhattan to give her if/when she calls me feeling "down"? I would like to be in a position to give her more psychological support, but I work full-time and just started attending grad school at night, and don't feel I can do much more than try to make helpful suggestions.

Thanks so much for writing your article, providing your contact information, and certainly for reading/listening.

Sincerely, Laura Goldberg

I wrote back:

Dear Laura -- Thanks for writing.

I very much understand how your friend is feeling. I've been laid off from a number of jobs, and watched most of my friends get married and have children. I agree with you that she needs to make more of an effort to become part of a community -- social support is so important in preventing or dealing with depression and loneliness.

I think you're smart to advise her to try the beginners minyan at [a local synagogue]. I happen to be friendly with the rabbi and his family, so if she wanted to go to their house for a Shabbos meal, she could contact me and I could arrange it. And I'll go with her so that she doesn't feel like she's going in alone. They have several kids who are always thrilled to get attention from visitors; within five minutes the 5-year-old will be sitting on her lap, asking to be read a story. I always have a blast when I go there.

I would also add that she could join any kind of club or group that does something she's interested in -- hiking, or some other hobby. That way she'll meet people who share an interest with her, which facilitates friendships.

I agree with you that a strictly phone relationship with a psychiatrist is not optimal. Occasionally I have a phone session with my psychiatrist, but that's usually when I'm not feeling well enough to go see him in person or, in a few instances, because I forgot about the appointment and he was able to reach me by phone (very embarrassing).

My psychiatrist is very expensive, but not all of them are. Mount Sinai School of Medicine has a program that matches people with psychiatric residents, who are supervised by experienced clinicians, for treatment at reasonable rates. Your friend might do well to look into that option. Also, the Albert Ellis Institute offers low-cost therapy.

Your friend should also look into support groups. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and Mood Disorder Support Group are two good options. She also might meet some people and forge some new friendships.

I hope this is helpful. Please don't hesitate to give my email address to your friend if she wants to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Ayelet
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. See, you are serving a purpose. You have knowledge and experience to share and the ability to help even without a PhD.