A single step

Posted on January 17, 2007

Today is one of those days it was hard to get out of bed. All of my individual depression indicators are present: decreased appetite, extreme lethargy, physical sense of heaviness, feeling overwhelmed by even the smallest tasks, severe anxiety especially in social situations and very especially on the telephone, overpowering need to isolate (perhaps related to the anxiety), lack of interest in anything I normally enjoy except forms of escape (reading, television, movies, sleep).

Since late last week, I’ve been taking my medication daily rather than the usual every-other-day but it typically takes a week before I start to notice a difference. I guess that means I’m almost out of this. I hope.

I talked last week with my counselor about medication. She was concerned because I was so concerned about increasing them to every day. Both she and my doctor have said that what I’m doing is nothing to be concerned about, and in fact demonstrates responsibility for dealing with my illness and appropriate treatment protocol. Were I to be haphazard in my dosing or constantly increasing, there would be concern. But both want me to ease up on myself and not worry about the handful of times I need to increase from alternating days to daily for a week or two.

I explained to my counselor that it’s not that easy. I was raised with that stoic, self-sufficient, pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality. To rely on medication is tantamount to admitting some life failure, even though I know that without the medication I will likely wind up hospitalized again and it is – and must become – a part of my life. It is hard to see my emotional illness on the same par with diabetes or arthritis or hypertension or any other physical illness that requires daily medication. It is the hiddenness of the illness and accompanying stigma that make it so different from many physical challenges, though I know it was not long ago that diabetes and epilepsy and a plethora of other clearly medical illnesses were subject to a similar stigma or worse.

Last night I barely slept even though sleep was all I wanted to do. I don’t think it’s from the medication. My mind wasn’t racing or spinning or doing much of anything other than ruminating on things I’d rather not think about. Bad childhood memories, the deaths of family and friends, fears every mother has for her children, guilt that I’m not the mother I think I should be for them, guilt that I’m not the wife I think I should be for my husband.

Yesterday I had the insane urge to send a link to this blog to my rabbi. He would understand, I thought. People dealing daily with emotional challenges are, fortunately or unfortunately, not unknown to him. And while there is a part of me that wants him to know some of the things I write about in this blog, he cannot know it’s me. The only way I can continue to write is if I feel some sense of safety that no one knows who I am. Or if they suspect or have figured it out despite my best efforts, they will remain silent about my identity.

I’ve talked with my friend D – whom I might write about more later – once since starting this blog. Yesterday, in fact. D, unfortunately for me, lives far enough away that we rarely see each other, but we talk regularly. Sometimes several times a week and sometimes not for a few months at a time. My husband knows about D and encourages this friendship.

Aside from suggesting (somewhat in jest, I think) that I work on saying more in fewer words, D asked me to address the question, what specifically would I want my rabbi or even the entire congregation to know so that my experience in shul feels safer or more comforting? And, D added, which is more important – safety or comfort?

I don’t know yet, but they are good questions and I’ll work on answering them. Safety and comfort both I find in the presence of G-d, but sometimes that feels elusive and even when it’s not the community is still paramount to me as it should be.

So I will work on answering those questions. Maybe that will be my next post.


  1. Rivka

    Baruch Hashem there is medication now for those who need it.

  2. Ayelet

    I have been (pleasantly) surprised to learn how many “normal” people I know are on some form of medication. So many people share the same “secret”. It’s all so pathetically tragic.

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Dear Body

Dear Body

Dear Body,
I’m trying to listen carefully to you, but I’m still not understanding what you need from me. Please be really, really clear with me about what you need so I can take appropriate action.
Sincerely, Me

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