I never thought I’d be here. I’ve always had a ‘Type A’ personality. As a student, I was an over achiever and wanted to get 100s on my tests not for anyone else, but to prove to myself that I was a hard worker.
Running Out of Gas
This mentality quickly spiraled to dangerous lows. I pushed and pushed until I couldn’t push anymore. My car “ran out of gas,” as my therapist told me. Instead of pulling all-nighters to get that perfect grade, I simply didn’t have the energy anymore. For me, it was “all or nothing,” so if I wasn’t going to put in my “all,” then the latter would suffice. I started missing tests, which led to missing school, which led to missing more days when I was supposed to make up the missed tests.
My friends have always been so incredibly supportive, but I was SO sensitive all the time. I was so scared of hurting them: I was overthinking every situation, believing I was in the wrong always, and it was exhausting for both me and them.
Then seminary came. I’ve always felt a very strong connection to HaShem–or so I thought. My connection to Him, my strive to grow closer, was fueled by my anxiety–my feelings that I wasn’t and wouldn’t ever be enough of an Eved HaShem (servant of G-d). So I would try harder–until that car’s ‘engine’ also failed.
Disappointing Therapist Experiences
Seminary started off great. I was inspired, I was eating well, and I felt good. But it was an illusion of health, and not a reality. I began feeling numb and frustrated with myself that I wasn’t spiritually achieving all that I had hoped for. I began to give up more and more. I spoke to therapists but they couldn’t help–they wouldn’t listen or understand. One told me in our first session that my life would end in divorce if I didn’t take the medication that he told me to. When I politely asked another therapist if I could leave the session, as I felt that it wasn’t going anywhere positive or productive, she told me, “Where do you think you’re going? You must pay me XXX shekalim.” I know that payment is necessary, but to her, I was just a business transaction, and not a fellow human.
Four therapists/psychiatrists later, I felt depleted. I kept pushing for help, and I got nowhere. With that, I lost hope. The next doctor prescribed me medication for depression–what? Me?! I had always been stressed and anxious, wanting to achieve more. When had I lost hope? When had I lost optimism, not being able to imagine or even WANTING a better future for myself? How on earth could I have gotten this far down?
Anxiety Turns to Depression
As a result of my emotional distress, I gained a very significant amount of weight in two months. I had previously struggled with negative thoughts about body image, so this weight gain only triggered more anxiety and distress in regards to body image.
I began to stop caring about my looks. I did this not from a place of confidence, but from a mindset of “Who cares?” I’m going nowhere in life anyway. So let me just continue to eat my sorrows.
I desperately want to care to push myself out of this, to get the help that I know I need. I’ve tried–I am trying. I am on a new medication, and I am speaking to a therapist. But I don’t feel the desire to care.
Worries for the Future
All of my friends will be getting married soon, but not I. Do I even deserve to be married at some point? Will I be able to be healthy and stable enough to be able to get married? And even then, who on earth would want to marry someone who didn’t show up to high school, came home from seminary early, and has a mental illness? If I had a son and he was dating, I would be really worried about him dating a girl like me. So why on earth would I expect anyone to want to marry someone like me–even if I do by some miraculous event become healthy enough for marriage?
That thought really scares me–it really really does. I’m supposed to be entering adulthood, but I feel that I’m more of a child than I have ever been. I’m ashamed. I hope I can get somewhere good and healthy. I hope HaShem still has it in His plans to see me married with a healthy family. I hope that He gives me the koach (strength) I need to help myself (with the help of professionals). Because if not, what is my life? Where am I going? What am I here for?
To clarify, it’s not that marriage is the goal. Health is the goal. But at some point, starting a family is also a goal of mine. And that is scary to me because I don’t even know if the first goal is attainable. And if it is, our community judges every action we make so harshly (and rightfully so sometimes), I don’t know who would be enough of an angel to marry someone like me.
Will things ever change? Will they ever get better? Is this what G-d has planned for me? Is this all there is for me? It’s possible. And that’s what scares me: the possibility that this is my future. If that is the case, then I must simply learn to handle what I feel, and just live. But shouldn’t I be happy? Shouldn’t I be able to have a future not just alone, but with others? The answer is not certain.
And again, that’s what terrifies me.
Editor’s Note: While we often publish stories of people further down the road towards improved health, Refuat Hanefesh knows that many stories are still in progress – just as this author’s is. We wish her much success on her continued path to better health and look forward to one day soon posting her next chapter.
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