I wrote recently,
I had a dream the other night about having a meeting with my counselor and my rabbi and my husband and me. Sort of like a team approach to helping me cope when things are bad, and even when things are okay, or dare I say, good. But then I am back to what is appropriate to ask for.
I cannot stop thinking about this idea of a team approach. At the same time I know it cannot be done as I dreamt it, for logistical reasons. I began thinking about how I could achieve the same effect without us all in the same room.
Today I saw the psychiatrist’s assistant for my monthly check-in. My meds continue to work at 30 mg/day. My anxiety is minimal and related to actual stressors. There is still no hint of mania, reinforcing their decision to scrap the bipolar diagnosis. My only problem is sleep disturbance. I continue to wake for 1-2 hours in the middle of the night. Lunesta is not working to keep me asleep and I risk morning panic attacks. She prescribed Ambien for me to see if it will help. I have been managing on about 5 hours of sleep a night for the past month.
I decided to ask her what she thought would be appropriate to ask the rabbi for. When he asks, what can we do, how should I answer? Especially knowing that October and the next major depression cycle is looming.
Ah, she said, pastoral care can be very important. She approved that I was asking now, before things got bad. She did say that the worse October/January depressions were almost certainly Seasonal Affective Disorder. She said exercise and being outside, getting even a little sunlight, would be extremely important for me. We might need to increase my meds during the winter, she said. I might have to wait until spring to try and get pregnant again, since she believes the increase in meds carries an increased risk of miscarriage.
She said what I should tell the rabbi is that I need his support. That I need him to understand what I’m going through, that the depression and anxiety may be lessened by medication but would likely never go away completely. That I may have to deal with this for the rest of my life. She said I should ask him for healing prayers, that I should not underestimate the power of prayer. I had to smile at that. She does not know about this blog.
I asked her if there were tangible, specific things I should ask him for and she said yes. Because shul is so important to me, because my depression and anxiety attack my Jewish identity, I should ask to meet with him regularly a few times a year, preferably before the anticipated depressive cycles. Just to check in. Just to see how things are going, how I am coping in shul, if there are things I feel I need while I am there.
Her answer helped but it scared me too. It scared me because it means I would have to be more honest with him. I’d have to be more open with him.
I might have to tell him about this blog.
I’d have to tell him that explaining my depression by using a 2000-year-old Talmudic theological world view makes more sense to me than any modern medical or psychiatric description.
I’d have to tell him that I have difficulty trusting him.
I’d have to tell him about the hurt that continues to accumulate.
I’d have to tell him about periodically feeling Unseen.
I’d have to tell him about how my illness affects my perceptions and social interactions with others at shul.
I’d have to tell him that I see quite plainly others’ demands on his time, his energy, his attention. I’d have to tell him how my problems seem insignificant in comparison to others who need him, and how that leads me to not even ask in the first place. How I don’t want to add to the demand.
I’d have to tell him that when we do meet and talk, it means the world to me, but it also raises my hopes and I can’t always afford to do that.
I don’t know if I can do it, tell him all that.
I’m afraid of hurting him. I’m afraid of criticizing him. I’m afraid of destroying whatever relationship we currently have.
I’m afraid of his reaction, that he’d be angry with me, whether it was for keeping all this from him all this time or for feeling it in the first place.
I’m afraid of being so vulnerable when I’m half-expecting that any meeting with him will result in my getting hurt, if the meeting even happens in the first place.
I don’t know if I would be opening the door to more pain or opening the door to a more complete healing.
…for the sin which we have committed before Thee in speech; …and for the sin which we have committed before Thee in presumption or in error…