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Things Fall Apart - A note from the Author

Things Fall Apart - A note from the Author

My descent into madness.

Dear Audience,

Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time out, not only to read my writing, but also to respond. I have read each and every response and they have all brought me more of the quiet but profound joy and satisfaction that comes to the author who learns he or she has touched someone's life for the better.

I am so very glad and grateful that you have been inspired by my story. Whether you responded as a mental health professional, a fellow sufferer of mental illness or an interested reader all your words are welcome.

My intention in writing this article was to help lift the stigma that continues to surround the topic of mental illness and hurts all those who suffer and the loved ones who suffer along with them.

My intention was also to provide company of sorts to those who suffer today, those who suffered in the past and those who are trying to help loved ones and to provide support and be a friend via the gift of the written word.

Another goal in writing this piece was to expose the often times hurtful, condescending or abusive approach of so-called mental health care professionals and psychiatric institutions. A degree does not make a professional. The products of the brain are useless when dispensed without heart.

Humility, empathy, compassion, understanding, honesty and respect must be at the front lines of any attempt to heal sufferers of mental illness.

Sadly, those of us who suffer from mental illness are often not able to speak out in our defense. This helps to allow abusive attitudes to proliferate. This article is an attempt to help break the wall of silence that can hurt via its passive stance.

Kay Redfield Jamison (the author of "An Unquiet Mind") is mentioned and recommended by one of my readers. I second the recommendation of this memoir. Ms. Jamison has more recently written a book entitled "Touched with Fire" that is more research oriented but fascinating in its enumeration of statistics and other relevant factual information that lead to the conclusion that many of us who are "touched with madness" are artist of different sorts (poets, writers, painters and other such passionate types).

I mention this because perhaps you too, if you relate to my words from personal experience, are an artist at heart. If so, I encourage you to unleash that inner creativity, as you are able with regard to your particular inclinations...

And I encourage you to write as well...speak out and let the world learn about you (and others via the resulting understanding) if you can and are able.

And speak out and let the world know if you feel you have been treated unfairly by any so called professional or care institution. Silence hurts. Words help.

I do wish to add that since the writing of this piece (about a year ago) I am , thank God, continuing to do well and improve and the symptoms of mental illness are becoming even fewer and more far between.

Warm regards to all my readers. And again, thank you for your kind words and blessing. May you be blessed with your own angels and always, with siata dishmaya, help from the One Above Who is especially close to struggling souls and who seeks to help those who aspire to greater heights.

Shani Silverstien

August 4, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 20

(20) Anonymous, January 16, 2017 2:42 PM

I'm an ADDer and I'm still struggling not only with many functional areas, but with the lack of understanding even among mental health professionals. But there's Hashgachah Pratit here. You said that many people who go through these things are often creative and should express that (in healthy ways, of course) and we should write. Well, I'm a writer myself (although I don't write about mental health) and I make jewelry. It's good to have a reminder that these things are good and healthy and natural. Thank you.

(19) Anonymous, June 12, 2014 2:04 AM

re: Things fall apart

I think it would be worth publishing your poems.
Thank you for sharing with us your world, your strength is an inspiration to us all.

(18) Anonymous, October 17, 2012 8:20 PM

It is a personal journey...

I, too, have experienced similar depressive states, but never institutionalized. I concur that Hashem is always there with a flicker of inspiration...that I, begin see, grab, and eventually cling to as a way "out". Through all of my 50 years of journeying in this abyss, Hashem reigns larger and more significant in my view of the world, my acquaintances and alters my view of myself and this journey. The dark places have brought me into solitude and finding Hashem's presence in the dark places and in the times of joy and peace. He is always there....I just have to be desperate enough to grab His Devine spark of even the smalles thought that is unlike the other thoughts that are swirling in the hurricane of madness. Thank you for your sharing.

(17) Tzirel, October 16, 2012 2:06 AM

A Jew w/depression

Thank you for writing about your experiences. It's incredibly valuable to let the Jewish world know that regular people have mental illness. I too looked to increased Jewish observance as a way to protect myself and in the end it didn't work because it's from the outside and what I needed to do was to figure things out from the inside. Like you I've benefited from a very kind, thoughtful and generous therapist and believe that if I hadn't started therapy I probably would have died all those years ago. I have friends who have been friends since childhood and it boggles my mind that they're still my friends, that they saw something in me that I was unable to see in myself. I've also learned that some friends are no longer friends and that's OK. I have depression which was made worse by the abuse of a male day school Torah teacher. I also have named and unnamed chronic illnesses which my therapist tells me often happens to someone who has been molested and abused. The more people talk about mental illness and sexual abuse in the Jewish community, the more people will realize that mental illness affects the Jewish community just like it affects the rest of the world. Most importantly is that there is no shame in having a mental illness just as there is no shame in having diabetes. Thank you again for sharing your story. I'm so very happy for you that you have a husband who adores and loves you. I'm still looking for that man to appear in my life. It was very brave of you to share your history with him and his support is such a blessing to you. I wish you only the best.

(16) Anonymous, October 15, 2012 4:08 AM

Hidden Pain

I wish everyone could be as open as you are about what you have been through. Having been behind the walls of the psych wards, I've felt the lack of human caring that goes to those suffering there. I'd lack to add a personal note, as a fellow Orthodox Jew. . I was never in solitary, so I had to deal with living completely among the non-Jewish patients and nurses. I remember sitting in the wards over Shabbos trying to create a holy atmosphere from the boxed Kosher meals, and whispering quiet zemiros to drown out the incessant blare of the t.v. It was those Shabbosim spent alone that really broke me. Now I'm doing B"H much better. I found a doctor who was a human being. She would sit with me for way longer then our allotted time required until whatever we were discussing came to a successful conclusion. She had a full schedule as did every doctor, but somehow she managed to do this with all her patients. It was this caring, that allowed me to open up in ways I never could to any other doctor. Now, as I'm moving my way through life, I must navigate the harsh realities of life. I'm of marriageable age, and unsure of how to explain my life and it's peculiarities. To whom is it alright to tell, and who are so blind that they must be shielded from it? I guess like you, I will have to find out the hard way. At least I have many friends and guides, who have incredibly stuck with me throughout my journey. Especially the ones who knew me before my diagnoses, and still stayed. I thank you for your story, as I know what courage it takes to stand up in the Jewish world, and say I have a mental problem, but I am no less capable. It is so very true that many of us are artists. I used that word to describe myself before my diagnosis, and so much now. I am an artist. I am a philosopher. I am an analyzer. Many say I'm lucky to have all that. But it comes with a price. I know that now. For me, the price is well worth it.

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