Thursday, April 30, 2009

R' Nachman was right

It is difficult to say tikkun haklali with the proper kavannah. Maybe because my Hebrew is weak and I don't understand all the words I'm saying. I said them this morning while the quiches were baking.

I hope the quiches are edible. It's been so long since I've really cooked. I can't remember the last time I made them, and I forgot to insert the second layer of cheese. The recipe I use instructs you to put a layer of cheese into the crust, then pile on the vegetables, put on more cheese, and pour in the custard.

The custard. Too salty or not salty enough? Too much cream? Did I bake them too long? Will the quiches be tough? Oy. I'm so out of practice. Anyway -- so I said tikkun haklali, with my mind wandering from work to friends to naughty thoughts. I'll try harder tomorrow. I also set aside three coins for charity. I'll do this three more times, then take the coins to a Jewish store or restaurant with a pushka.

On my lunch break I hiked up and down Court Street in my FitFlop clogs, huffing and puffing, for about half an hour. That should make up for my laziness yesterday.

I also got another fan letter. Let's call him "Andrew."

I've been reading your blog, per a friends suggestion. I too have been diagnosed with type II bipolar. I'm interested in how you're able to work in the health care industry. I've recently decided to work on my MSW with a focus in interpersonal therapy. What sort of work are you involved in, if you don't mind me asking. I'm just wondering how difficult it's to do work with people who are also in difficult situations. I know even the smallest things can set me into a state of despair. If you have time, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I always have time for my fans.

Right now I'm a substance abuse counselor. Two of my clients have serious psychiatric issues, and the rest just have "issues" ;) I'm more into CBT than IPT, although there's evidence for both.
How is it that I'm able to work with people in difficult circumstances... I don't know. I think it's about maintaining your boundaries and protecting yourself even while feeling and expressing real empathy for your clients. It can be very draining; it's important to have a lot of emotional support for yourself outside work. Some days I come home and just don't want to talk to ANYONE, other days I'm okay. Some days I'm energized by my clients. They're extremely entertaining, usually inadvertently.

Thanks for saying hi! Who was the friend that recommended you?

Like the Elephant's Child, I am insatiably curious. How did he respond?

I wanted to study psychology at the start of my university career, but then became sort of disenchanted with it. I guess I looked at the student body in psych and didn't see a group of committed people. Only recently, with the death of my grandfather, has the notion of helping people really resurfaced. I figured that since it has manifest itself once more in my life, that it is perhaps my calling. That, and a number of my therapists have been MSW's. Ultimately I am interested in CBT, since I've been under the influence of it for so long.

[He's not impressed with psychologists. I like him already.]

I feel like the maintenance of boundaries, and personal emotions, is so hard, namely because it's hard to keep myself from becoming over involved in my own life, if you know what I mean. I can't help but feeling that my answers, and my purpose in life, lay somewhere out in the world helping others. I don't know yet. I feel like I'm not on completely solid ground some days, and so I worry. It's good to know that, with work and dedication, it can be done by people with our disposition!

Just ask my boss. I am very good at boundaries.

My friend is a woman I met at work. She's an Orthodox girl and has been helping me with some of my Jewish issues. Essentially I'm a convert, but I found out (shortly after my pull towards Judaism began) that my father's side of the family is Jewish. It doesn't fit in the Halakhic sense, but I still feel Jewish in many ways. Of course, she knows how I am mentally etc, and mentioned your blog. I don't know if she ever mentioned how she came across it. I know there is a big stigma in the Jewish community about mental illness, along with other things, that inevitably get discussed in such liberal University environments. I'm assuming some of her friends read your blog as well.

Okay, so he won't give me her name, but apparently people are reading the blog. If I appreciate my anonymity, I can't demand that all my readers identify themselves.

I know exactly what you mean by overinvolved in your own life ;) In some ways, having other people to worry about can distract you from your own problems. However, that said, it's really important to have love and support in your personal life in order to be a good counselor for other people.

There are many counselors and therapists who have diagnoses or issues. As long as you have a good psychiatrist, a good therapist if you need one, and good friends and family, it's possible to do this job. Whether you're suited to it -- only you can decide.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Ozer Bergman5/01/2009 3:28 AM

    Keep up the good work. May H' bless you in every way.

  2. Thank you, Ozer, and thank you for reading.