Mental Illness..Hang The Stigma!
- This topic has 90 replies, 27 voices, and was last updated 12 years ago by bombmaniac.
April 29, 2011 6:37 am at 6:37 am #596531
My story is a sore subject for many, but it is precisely that fact which makes this narrative so important. Perhaps through publicly unburdening myself I can help someone who is in a similar predicament. Mental illness has long been a sensitive issue, but while the rest of society has, for the most part, moved on, the frum community still sees it as a sinister skeleton to forever remain hidden in the closet. Families fear the stigma associated with mental illness and the effect it will have on potential shidduchim, and while that is indeed a valid concern, consider what you are doing. By ignoring and smothering the issue you are potentially creating myriad more psychological and emotional problems in the family members and friends who have to live with the patient. So I beg of you, read this and take it to heart. I suffered; I see no reason why you should as well.
My birth was a turning point in my family, my mother on the back end of an awful marriage. Shortly after my birth, my mother’s marriage ended and the Bipolar Disorder lying dormant within her manifested itself. Such is the nature of mental illness, lying in wait for years and into adolescence, manifesting itself either at a time of great emotional trauma or sometimes never at all. She married at seventeen and was divorced at around twenty-one. Such emotional upheaval more than enough stimuli for the manifestation of Bipolar Disorder. The process is often misunderstood because of the delayed manifestation; people often dismiss it as hypochondriasis on the part of the diagnosing psychiatrists, preferring to believe a concocted fantasy rather than the painful reality. Think of it as a genetic predisposition similar to cancer or heart disease. The disease lays dormant for years buy manifests itself with a vengeance when exposed to the proper set of circumstances.
Anyway, my mother’s Bipolar Disorder manifested itself at around twenty-one years of age. A breakdown followed, and she was hospitalized for two months and subsequently given a regiment of medication. Treatment for mental illness is tricky as it depends on many different types of treatment, and as anyone who is familiar with the process knows, every few years you have to start again. Well for the first sixteen years of my life, approximately every three years she would break down and require hospitalization and readjustment of her medication. It was never that simple though, because while she probably understood that she needed hospitalization, no one looks forward to it. So my family waited until it was absolutely necessary. Basically, for a month leading up to the institutionalization, she would act extremely erratically, at times abusing me, and at times exposing me to things a child should never experience. At the time I did not realize what I was seeing and hearing, but looking back now i do understand what i experienced and i can tell you it was not pleasant.
Let me explain a bit about bipolar disorder and treatment methods. Bipolar disorder, as the name indicates, is when a person cycles between “highs” and lows.” the cycling can be rapid or spaced, with varying levels of mania and depression. During a “high” period the patient feels like they are on the top of the world. Their mind is full of ideas, they are just bursting with energy; the world is their oyster. Patients experiencing mania or hypomania usually sleep very little. They seem very outgoing and energetic, excessively friendly and more willing to help others. People want to be around the patient as he or she is now the life of the party. They become wittier, funnier, and livelier. But along with that they become more easily angered, touchy, and biting. Exaggerated character traits.
After a few weeks or even months of mania the patient will inevitably “crash.” they become depressed, lethargic, and fatigued, lying around all day with no will to move. Colors seem dull, the sun seems muted. Life seems hardly worth living. A walk to the fridge to get a yogurt becomes an arduous trek across the desert; going to shul, scaling Everest. Along with the emotional crippling come actual physical symptoms. Pain in the chest and joints, aching muscles etc. in extreme cases the patient becomes suicidal.
Her doctor was impressed and further lowered her dosages, believing that she had truly improved. Again, yet another layer of fog was lifted. Slowly she stopped taking more and more of her medicines, freeing her mind slowly and steadily. For about a month it seemed that she had actually succeeded in remaining stable without the aid of medication. But sure enough, she began to steadily decline. Her thoughts became slightly less coherent, and her words seemed slightly more nonsensical and distorted. Memories became distorted in her mind, and a difficult childhood rose to the surface of her consciousness haunting her once again. These memories awoke an old anger inside her, turning her against anyone and everyone she perceived as having ever wronged her. Her parents, friends, relatives, and me. Her son. Slowly I became a reminder of a failed marriage and a wrecked life, until one Friday night things came to a head.
I no longer blame them for their lethargy. I used to, oh boy did I used to. I would explode into angry fits whenever the subject arose, yelling at all of them, blaming their unwillingness to act for my suffering. I now understand the feeling. Be that as it may, while i no longer place blame for what happened, I do still believe that the situation should have been happened differently, and that is where my exhortation from the introduction comes in. I understand that the issue is sensitive, and I understand that standing with the neighbors and shadchanim matters a lot, but consider what you are doing when you choose to ignore a very obvious problem concerning mental illness. It does not simply affect the patient; it directly affects everyone around the patient. That is absolute fact.
For months my grandmother bore the brunt of all the tension and anger in the household, until it broke her down to the point where she needed tranquilizers to sleep at night. A rare side effect of that medicine let to her hospitalization for extremely low sodium. When she returned from the hospital she was a changed person, a shell of her former self. My grandmother, the matriarch of the family, the pillar of our stability, was broken. For months she remained in a semi catatonic state, slowly beginning to come out of her shell after months of counseling and medication. To this day she remains this way, sitting in the dark for most of the day, barely moving. She acts when she needs to, but unless prompted, will just sit there in her recliner, not saying a word.
The defense mechanisms I built for myself are only just starting to come away. For a while I was totally closed to all emotion, figuring that shutting myself down would allow me to avoid the pain. There is no doubt that this whole mess has affected me adversely, the extent of such effects I have yet to fully comprehend. Our family is not the same as it once was. This whole situation broke us apart, and we are only just starting to heal.
I used to be ashamed when the police would come into my house, in full view of the neighbors to involuntarily commit my mother to the local psychiatric ward, but I no longer care. Let them think what they want because I know that they cannot possibly know what I am going through and how necessary treatment is. Until now. Until they read this article and realize that while the stigma is understandable it is extremely harmful and counterproductive. Perhaps it will even lead them to treat any of their own family members who may suffer from mental illness. Perhaps they will realize that by burying their heads in the sand they are hurting themselves and their loved ones.April 29, 2011 1:44 pm at 1:44 pm #774457ClairvoyantMember
OP: Did the mother steal the father from this child? He isn’t mentioned in the story.
Is this a personal story or a third-person?April 29, 2011 4:26 pm at 4:26 pm #774458TheGoqParticipant
Firstly i applaud you for your bravery in addressing this very sensitive issue, and for the pain you have suffered i am truly sorry no one should have to endure all that you have, i agree wholeheartedly that people with mental disorders should be treated and that is much more important than what the neighbors will say. Mental disease is just that a disease one which the patient has no control over its something your born with,may your pain and that of your entire family cease.April 29, 2011 5:23 pm at 5:23 pm #774459I can only tryMember
That must have taken a long time to write and you clearly put your heart into it.
I wish you much hatzlocha.April 29, 2011 6:40 pm at 6:40 pm #774460
nah…trust me its not worth teh agmas nefesh on my part to be on speaking terms with her. sometimes you just have to sever ties. im sick of teh roller coaster ride, id rather be a casual onlooker.
i can tell myself that its the “shaid” and move on…but it doesnt quite work like that. there are things that should never be said and never be done. basic things that should be hard wired into the consciousness of every human being regardless of teh state of that human being’s mind. i refuse to believe that what she said was involuntary, and if there was even a shred of coherence behind those statements and actions then i feel justified in writing her off permanently.
alzheimers is a different story because that is put off as the decline of old age. its never been stigmatized. up until teh 1970’s mental patients and those with downs syndrome were STILL being locked up in attics and institutions. some people still do that. i forget which magazine recently had a feature on teh Willowbrook State School, bu tthe conditions described there were common practice for such institutions. once willowbrook was exposed, peopel were shamed into taking charge, but the attitude has changed little.
i have so much more to write about the subject…about my experiences with teh mental health system in general…about the process involved in dealing with a patient…how to cope…i could write a book on teh subject. ideally i would write a series in one of teh prominent jewish magazines like Mishpacha, Ami, or Zman. in fact, i submitted this article to Mishpacha yesterday. i really hope they accept it. there is so much wrong with the entire system it boggles the mind.April 29, 2011 6:58 pm at 6:58 pm #774461ClairvoyantMember
Perhaps you can live with your father.April 29, 2011 7:06 pm at 7:06 pm #774462
Since you’ve removed the issue of stigma, I hope you are being helped with a reputable psychologist yourself; this is too deep to tackle by yourself.
Hashem has His cheshbonos why you have to suffer, but getting support is crucial.
Much hatzlachaApril 29, 2011 9:41 pm at 9:41 pm #774463mischiefmakerMember
WOW! This is an amazing article. Recently, there have been a few articles on this topic trickling out into the public magazines but nobody brought it to the front like this one did. This is what people need to hear. Even if it doesn’t make it into mishpacha, the people here read it and hopefully took the lesson. Hatzlacha Raba!April 29, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm #774464
thank you. feel free to pass this on…lots more to come.
lik ei said, people dont like discussing the subject, but im sick and tired of people whispering about it as though it was cancer and they were refusing to mention “yenah machlah” IT EXISTS. DEAL WITH IT. i mean seriously…May 1, 2011 5:29 am at 5:29 am #774465emlfMember
May HaShem shower you with berocha, may your mother and grandmother have a refuah shelaima . . . Thank you for opening our eyes.May 1, 2011 7:27 am at 7:27 am #774466
bombmaniac, I have to say something and I hope you will hear me, seriously. You say that you believe that people say what they mean, and therefore your mother must have had those thoughts somewhere within her therefore it came out of her in her psychotic breakdown. But what you never gave a moments thought to is why she might have had that thought in a rational moment. Many mothers who are a burden to their children have irrational thoughts that they are bad parents and they are giving their children a miserable life. They think their children would have been better off not being born, and would have been better off had they made the decision to abort. That way they may have had the opportunity to be born to other parents. Or they think they should have given them up for adoption so they could have had the opportunity of being raised by other parents and have the opportunity of having a better life. It is not out of hatred but out of love of their children and out of guilt of not being a good parent.
Unfortunately in her manic downslide and her crazy irrational behavior, that thought came out in a negative light. Probably because it was a thought in her head, but because she was not in control of memory and thoughts when she was having a manic episode, as you said irrational thoughts and comments just come forth, that is a thought that escaped her mouth in her escalated state. Can she possibly determine what is appropriate and what is not appropriate when she is having a manic episode?
I would blame your mom and hold her accountable for NOT getting the help she needed and not staying on the medication she needed to because she was a mother and her responsibility to you should have been more important than feeling creative and free. But you really don’t know what was or is going on in her cluttered and disorganized manic mind. She unfortunately has a lot of pain and guilt buried within along with her psychotic issues. She is a jumble of various different emotions bouncing from one extreme to another that is being controlled as best as possible by whatever medications that is working for whatever period of time it works. No one can possibly know what she really feels like or what is really going on in her mind, body or soul at this point.
So please, please do not believe the worst. Please do not believe that your mother meant to hurt you at that time, on that horrible day. Please do not believe that your mother ever, ever believed what she said, because you were probably the best thing that ever happened to her. YOU were the one true love of her life. YOU gave her unconditional love and she was able to love you unconditionally for as long as she was as normal as you can define normal for her. YOU gave her the best years of her life and you don’t know if those memories are what keep her hanging on to whatever sanity she still has.
YOU should separate yourself from her to keep yourself sane and healthy. But maybe you should do that more physically than emotionally. Maybe it is time that you find a place nearby that you can live so that you don’t have to see her on a regular basis. It is not healthy for a young man your age to care for a sick mother. YOU need to take care of yourself and have as much of a normal life a young man your age has. YOU need to learn or be in college and start on your path for a successful future. Map out your life and start planning for the future. But think about what I told you. Please, never think that you were not wanted, because that is very far from the truth. Your mom was not in her right mind when she had that episode. And I am telling you as a mother, if she ever had that thought it was out of guilt that she was not being a good mother to you, not that you were a burden to her. It was because she was a burden to you.
Hatzlocha rabah.May 1, 2011 1:41 pm at 1:41 pm #774467
its been ongoing…it wasnt even that time. i could describe exactly what the past 3 years have been like for me but that would probably open a whole can of worms.
im not basint by decision not to even look at her on that one incident. trust me shes done plenty to justify my continuing silence.May 1, 2011 5:21 pm at 5:21 pm #774468hanibParticipant
bombmaniac – i can’t even imagine what your life has been like; i hope that you are getting help because from your description, sounds like you’ve never lived a normal life.
p.s. i’m sure your book will be a best-seller. let us know when you get to the Happily Ever After part. 🙂May 1, 2011 5:22 pm at 5:22 pm #774469hanibParticipant
also, you really explained very well what the person who is mentally ill is going through and how it affects all those around him. thank you.May 1, 2011 5:36 pm at 5:36 pm #774470
bombmaniac, I do not doubt anything that you say or feel. I only know a mothers love for her children and a mother’s guilt. Your mother is mentally ill and very disturbed. She can’t be held accountable for the hurtful things that come out of her mouth. She is not responsible for the gibberish that spills forth and she is not capable of explaining herself nor understanding her own intent. Can anyone explain why someone with Turrets Syndrome spill forth a chain of curse words when they are having their ticks? Mental illness is mental illness. It is painful for the patient and hurtful for the family.
YOU need to do whatever it takes to keep yourself healthy, and you need to understand the illness as much as you can so that it doesn’t poison you. Please, please speak to some experts to find out for yourself if what I am saying is feasible. Please do not allow your mother’s hurtful comments to enter your heart and soul. As a mother I believe that she didn’t mean it the way she said it, that you were a burden to her. Can you remember at any time in your lives together that you were ever a burden to her? I can tell you this, especially for a bi-polar who was crashing and going down, she knew with every inch of her being that she was a tremendous burden to a young child who needed not only a mother but two parents who could take good care of him and be good role models for him. And she was never capable of giving that to you.May 1, 2011 6:53 pm at 6:53 pm #774471
i dont even care about that anymore as far as im concerned it just isnt worth itMay 1, 2011 7:31 pm at 7:31 pm #774472
I wonder why you seem resistant to getting help yourself.May 1, 2011 9:11 pm at 9:11 pm #774473
to put it simply…i can understand that you see yourself as well meaning by trying to rehabilitate my relationship with my mother, but i am telling you that i am not interested for various reasons. getting myself help and getting along with my mother are not one and the same.
one other thing…if this article gets printed i want my real name printed with the article. waddaya think?May 1, 2011 9:22 pm at 9:22 pm #774474
oh one more thing…part two coming soon 🙂May 1, 2011 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm #774475wanderingchanaParticipant
“ideally i would write a series in one of teh prominent jewish magazines like Mishpacha, Ami, or Zman”
I think that would be a great service to klal Yisrael for you to do so.
My heart aches for the pain you’ve gone through at such a young age. My Hashem bless you with the courage and strength to overcome your childhood.May 2, 2011 1:42 am at 1:42 am #774476
bombmaniac, I also believe that although it is good that you could AT LEAST vent to us, this is not enough. I hope that you can love yourself enough to find a good therapist where you can vent your feelings and speak freely so you don’t carry around the pain and hurt of your childhood for the rest of your life. This is real heavy baggage that can really drag you down in marriage and in many other aspects of a happy and successful future.May 2, 2011 1:46 am at 1:46 am #774477
“getting myself help and getting along with my mother are not one and the same.”
That was precisely my point.
You seem resistant to getting yourself help regardless of your relationship with your mother.
There are myriads of issues for you to deal with, besides your mother. Or don’t you see that?May 2, 2011 3:19 am at 3:19 am #774478
oh that part i know…i do get help for that…i thought you were pushing the issueMay 3, 2011 4:45 pm at 4:45 pm #774479achosidParticipant
This should be published as a front page YWN story.
Anyone agree with me?May 3, 2011 6:28 pm at 6:28 pm #774480
ATTENTION ALL MODS:
DO NOT DELETE THIS THREAD AS PER YWN EDITOR (WHO WROTE THIS NOTE) – AND DO NOT DELETE THIS COMMENT FROM THE MOD PANEL – TO ENSURE THAT ALL MODS SEE THIS NOTE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, EMAIL EDITOR DIRECTLY
please delete this thread…i submitted it to mishpacha and they wont print it if its posted online. thank you. ill start a new thread as a continuation. and dont put it on teh front page pelase…May 4, 2011 5:12 am at 5:12 am #774484John DoeMember
Hope Hashem help you very soon.
Please keep us updated and make sure to publish part 2 here!May 4, 2011 6:16 am at 6:16 am #774485
well see…depending on somethingMay 4, 2011 5:57 pm at 5:57 pm #774486achosidParticipant
What does that depend on?
Come on, give us part two!
Everyone I know already read this!May 4, 2011 6:11 pm at 6:11 pm #774487adorableParticipant
you touched my heart with your story. You are 100% right that there is a stigma… I have a close friend who went through some really tough times (emotional illness, divorce, depression….) and just got married again to a wonderful boy who was never married before. I think he is the most amazing person for looking past her USED TO BE ILLNESS (she got help obviously) and marrying her. May your yeshuva come soonMay 8, 2011 3:31 pm at 3:31 pm #774488JotharMember
Coffee room rules say:
Anything you submit becomes the property of YWN.
So the editor is within his legal right to deny bombmaniac’s request. It’s ywn’s post now to monetize.
And I’m within my legal rights to boycott ywn and ywn coffee room until bombmaniac’s request is granted.
So this is my last post and visit bl”n until I have been informed by one of the mods that his request has been granted.May 30, 2011 8:42 pm at 8:42 pm #774489goldenkintMember
bombmaniac. i feel for you. hope you use your insight to save your own life and build a good life for yourself. if you ever need to reconcile with your mom you can do it then. for now heal and nurture yourself. you are doing a great service for allMay 31, 2011 3:33 am at 3:33 am #774490
Jothar -“And I’m within my legal rights to boycott ywn and ywn coffee room until bombmaniac’s request is granted.”
While I see your point, the main problem is the Mag (Mispacha). Why won’t they print something that’s online? If they are scared of it being someone else’s property, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think that the actual story becomes YWN property, just the words that are posted. I see no reason he can’t print it anywhere else.May 31, 2011 7:53 am at 7:53 am #774491600 Kilo BearMember
Yes, I am also adding YWN to my filter. Bomb has enough agmas nefesh without YWN’s monopolistic and cruel ways (which I have also had a taste of) compounding it. I cannot help but being reminded of New Square rules here.
The article is a service to Yidden and it needs to go in print.May 31, 2011 5:31 pm at 5:31 pm #774492
600kilobear returns – I can understand your post except for the part of cruel. I don’t consider their denial of his request-“cruel”!
Perhaps you are Nogeiah B’dovor because you are a “shrink”!May 31, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm #774493basket of radishesParticipant
The Jewish community likely could do better to discuss and understand mental health situations and disorders. Truly they are prevalent in all communities and Jews are not immune. I have seen some harm done to others with mental health problems in our communities and it is still a situation that many shun or denigrate. So be on your watch and encourage those who may have a person with mental health maladies in their day to be humane and sympathic and to consider that these are Hashem’s children and not heretics, fools or wicked souls. That may be there too, but mental health concerns do not signify a weakness in character or mental capacity or social adjustment or self regard. These are a big concern for all of us and I believe I have seen statistica that have said that some 50% of all people have some symptom that is significant from a mental health point of view at some point in their lifetime.June 1, 2011 2:14 am at 2:14 am #774494bezalelParticipant
Coffee room rules say:
Anything you submit becomes the property of YWN.
IANAL but such a policy could put YWN in legal trouble if a user posts copyrighted material.June 1, 2011 2:47 am at 2:47 am #774495
IANAL but such a policy could put YWN in legal trouble if a user posts copyrighted material.
IANAL= If Anyone Nags A Lord
In any event, I don’t think it would cause legal trouble if someone posts copyrighted material. The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) generally protects websites from liability on account of user posted material.June 1, 2011 3:33 am at 3:33 am #774496always runs with scissors fastParticipant
bombmaniac, YOu have no idea how your story has touched my heart, and brought tears to my eyes, and how much respect I have for you and all you have been through in your young life.
I wish you the best. And am sure through all your pain and hardship there is a beautiful rainbow at the end, whereby you will and are growing from this Challenge HKBH has put on you.
One day, as you are even doing now, you will im yirtze hashem be free from this situation and moved far past, where you’re in a stronger place to help out to others.
Bravo for so eloquently putting this into words. Very articulate, and emotional too. I applaud you for sharing. THanksJune 1, 2011 5:10 am at 5:10 am #774497bezalelParticipant
DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) generally protects websites from liability on account of user posted material.
When the content belongs to the website they are no longer just an “Online Service Providor”June 1, 2011 5:34 am at 5:34 am #774498Mother in IsraelMember
IANAL= If Anyone Nags A Lord
I Am Not A Lawyer.June 1, 2011 5:30 pm at 5:30 pm #774499I can only tryMember
It’s easy for those of us who don’t know the time, effort, and expense that you put into maintaining this site to request that you take down this thread as “bombmaniac” has requested.
Nonetheless, he put his heart into writing what he did, and it would likely do significant good if it could reach a wider audience.
As a possible compromise, would it be possible to take this thread down for now and then restore it after it appears in print media?June 1, 2011 8:46 pm at 8:46 pm #774500always runs with scissors fastParticipant
Bombmania, there is one other point I forgot to mention. Throughout reading all of the above, it is apparent how much time it must have taken to carefully depict this story as you carefully have written it, and also you do not sound as though you are searching for sympathy. That takes a lot of strength because as obvious as it is that you have suffered, you are past needing others to feel sorry for you!June 1, 2011 8:56 pm at 8:56 pm #774501WolfishMusingsParticipant
Here’s a silly question…
When YWN asserts it’s rights to monetize anything we write on this site, is it asserting *exclusive* rights, or just the right to use?
For example, if I post something here, if YWN has an exclusive right, then I cannot later post it to my blog (without permission, of course). If the right is not exclusive, then YWN can use it as they see fit, but I, too, can monetize it (and I still keep the copyright as well).
YW-Editor, can you please step in an answer this question? I think this is an important question that needs to be answered if people are going to contribute to this site.
Mods, if you would bring it to the Editor’s attention, I would be grateful.
The WolfJune 2, 2011 1:42 am at 1:42 am #774502
When the content belongs to the website they are no longer just an “Online Service Providor”
Are you saying that because you know?June 2, 2011 1:56 am at 1:56 am #774503wanderingchanaParticipant
YW Editor/Mods, I also would like to know the answer to Wolf’s quesitons.June 2, 2011 2:25 am at 2:25 am #774504
Wolf -“When YWN asserts it’s rights to monetize anything we write on this site, is it asserting *exclusive* rights, or just the right to use?”
I think I know the answer and you probably do to. INAL (I’m not a lawyer), but they can’t possibly have exclusive rights unless they have some sort of written agreement called a contract.June 2, 2011 2:38 am at 2:38 am #774505Pac-ManMember
A contract needn’t be on paper to be binding. It can be agreed to verbally or electronically.June 2, 2011 3:28 am at 3:28 am #774506
Internet contracts are what is known as a “click-wrap” contract. (It’s a play on words of shrink-wrap contracts, which are contracts printed on the shrink wrap of software.)
Click wrap contracts are always enforced when they can prove that you clicked on an “I agree” button which had those terms.
Since some of the terms may have been added after some people made their accounts, the contract would not be binding unless there was some sort of system whereby every user had to click “I agree” again.
If there would be a notice on the screen that all usage of the website was subject to terms and a link to those terms, that would be called a “browse-wrap” contract. These are occasionally enforced, but are much shakier.June 2, 2011 3:12 pm at 3:12 pm #774507
The ToS were changed after i sent my request so im not sure whats true and whats nor and what i may or may not have agreed to. the point is not whether i have a lawsuit or not. its simple mentchlechkeit. he gains nothing by keeping it and everything by deleting it. i have a lot more content t5aht i could post here…similar to the above article. i will no longer be posting such material on this site anymore unless this thread is removed. i dont mind it being brought back when appropriate…i just want it down for a few weeks.June 2, 2011 3:17 pm at 3:17 pm #774508shlishiMember
bomb: You sent this to Mishpacha and they found it posted here and told you they can’t publish until its offline? Did they agree to publish once it is removed?
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