Torah, depression, sensitivity and blog rolls

Posted on February 5, 2007

One of my commenters has a really cool site with lots of references and links to others writing about depression and related mental health issues. He added my blog to his blog roll and I thank him.

I know others have added my blog as well, and I can’t say how grateful I am for their support. It really does make a difference to get that reality check from others, like when I pull out a 2000 year old theological world view and attempt to apply it to depression and wonder if I’m the only person on the planet to whom this makes sense.

It helps when others validate hurts and reject fears I’m equally afraid to claim. It helps to know people care.

I do read others’ blogs, sometimes for an escape from my own inner battles, sometimes looking to see if and what others are blogging about depression, sometimes because I’m intrigued by a comment I see on my or someone else’s blog.

I’d love to start a blog roll of all the blogs I find consistently interesting or funny or helpful or reflecting my own pain in different words. I’ve read blogs that brought me from tears to laughter, blogs that make me feel like everyone else is just as messed up as I am or I’m no more messed up than the rest of the world, blogs in which women try to protect their children from the harsh realities of war just beyond their doorstep, blogs where men teach themselves to cry and in doing so find their full humanity, blogs in which men and women argue respectfully about Jewish legal issues that will likely never be resolved in my lifetime.

I’d love to start a blog roll of these but I can’t. I’d love to start a blog roll of all those who have linked to me or comment frequently but I can’t. I know many bloggers have blog rolls and it’s entirely appropriate for them on their blog. I don’t think it’s appropriate on my blog. The reason is how I live this:

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan.”
(Sh’mot 22:20-21)

You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings (soul) of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.”
(Sh’mot 23:9)

I was one of those kids that all of the other kids liked to pick on. I was frequently picked last for sports teams unless some other poor soul was more reviled than I was. By high school when my depression became a life-threatening force, I was at the height of unpopularity. I know how it feels to be left out, passed over, forgotten, invisible.

Because I know how it feels, especially because this is the sort of thing that depression exacerbates to an infinite degree, I try very hard never to cause someone else to feel that way because of my choices, my words or my actions.

And because this is a blog about depression, about the bad feelings as well as the good, about how life’s experiences can become twisted and viciously self-belittling through a depressive lens, I’m even more aware than ever of the possibilities should I start a blog roll of some blogs but not others.

I never want someone to feel hurt or left out because I didn’t add them to my blog roll. And while many of those reading here may not be the type of people to care or be hurt, I have no way of knowing that.

There’s one other thing. Emotional disorders are sadly a stigmatized reality. Many, including me, don’t feel safe going public with it (ergo the anonymity). Some commenters who may maintain blogs of their own having nothing to do with depression and therfore post anonymously could not be added to a blog roll without violating their need for safety.

As a result, I have decided not to create a blog roll. I have a few links to (American) national organizations and I might expand that list, but it will remain with organizations and not individual blogs.

I will continue to post links to individual posts on others’ blogs that I believe are appropriate here, and I continue to appreciate all of your very welcome support on this blog and your understanding of my position on this topic.

6 Comments

  1. vaporacle

    I just published my new book, Disco Hypnotic, which is all about the human mind. Information about it can be found at DiscoHypnotic.com. Any comments or review would be appreciated.

  2. Jack Steiner

    Rivka,

    I suspect that your blog is helping quite a few people.

  3. Unknown

    Oh, I completely agree. I think putting up the links to depression-related sites is a great idea, too.

  4. Rivka

    Ayelet: I put it up in a separate post right after this one.

    Ezzie: if I were writing a Jewish blog that wasn’t just about dealing with this disorder, one that was more general, I would definitely have a blogroll. It’s just with this, aside from maybe leaving people off, it would make sense to list other depression-related blogs, most of which probably aren’t Jewish.

    But there are so many details related to coping and support that are uniquely Jewish, so many things that affect my depression that are uniquely Jewish that this has to be a Jewish blog about depression and bipolar, which would mean listing Jewish blogs, and then it all gets too complicated and too risky.

    But you are so right, the networking and connections are invaluable.

  5. Unknown

    For similar reasons, I haven’t updated my blogroll in almost a year (though I probably will at some point anyway, and just hope I don’t leave anyone off).

    The best reason for having a blogroll is that many people stumble on blogs through other blogrolls; sometimes, even blogs which they really gain a lot from. (I never would have found any Jewish blogs if not for that.) But your reasons are good ones.

  6. Ayelet

    What’s the cool blog?

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