Author’s Note: I’m a single girl in my mid-twenties struggling with mental illness. I’ve struggled with mental illness nearly all my life. I’ve also struggled socially and academically. Learning didn’t come easily to me and neither did socializing. This is a letter I wrote to my family and community about how I worked so very much to accomplish and be seen but often felt so deeply alone and unrecognized.
To My Parents, Siblings, Cousins, Family Friends, and Community:
Although this is an anonymous letter and you don’t know who I am, I hope this letter will still serve its function. There is something in my heart that I wish to tell you, something that has been aching and will continuously ache until it’s said. I hope you will hear me out in a kind and compassionate light.
Even with all of the adversity I faced, I B’ezrat Hashem (with God’s help) passed grade school and entered college to get a degree in special education. While in college, I’m employed as an assistant for lower elementary grades. Baruch Hashem (thank God), I’ve grown a lot from my challenges. I’m kinder and a patient educator. I’m more self-aware and have a close relationship with Hashem. I have also gained a lot of knowledge through enduring my challenges.
Despite all these accomplishments and personal growth, I feel just as alone as ever. When I was that studious elementary school girl – sitting quietly in a small corner, pouring over textbooks, and getting all A’s – what I was craving was recognition. When I cheerfully waved my A+ in front of you – my family, teachers, and friends – what I was trying so very hard to do was be acknowledged. Yes, you complimented me and showered me with many smiles, but you stopped short of seeing my beauty, strengths, talents, and qualities. This scenario repeated itself many times over. It always started with good words and smiling faces, and it ended there. I was time and again left hurt and alone, longing to be recognized and seen.
What could you have done and what can you do to help me be seen and recognized? The compliments were good but always stopped short of the whole story. They were missing how far I had come despite my adversity. This wasn’t talked about.
I love writing and giving over wisdom that I hope will help others. Yet, you – my father – discouraged me from sharing my articles and letters, joining the many who give in to the weight of the stigma. This made me feel worse. People often miss the point in that “protecting” someone from the stigmatic perceptions, it makes them feels worse. You – the numerous Jewish publications whom I submitted my writings to – mysteriously rejected these important topics.
To my parents and the community leaders: Allow me to share my experiences with the community so that I can help and inspire people battling similar challenges which I have. If we live in fear of the stigma, we will never overcome the stigma. In helping others and sharing my experiences and triumphs, I will finally be seen.
Thank you for reading.
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