Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hiding and Coming Out

What does it mean to hide? As children, we play hide and seek and giggle and enjoy these two ways of being in our imaginary world. In the "real world" or now the "virtual world" we also play a game of hide and seek, don't we?

I hid the fact of suffering depressions for so long. I thought others would think me weak, shun me, like I had some contagious Sadness Disease. It is part of the package of being human - we have ups and downs. How shocked and relieved I was when I finally came out of hiding and realized I WASN'T ALONE to get depressed - tons of people I knew were actually "on" anti-depressants, not clinically depressed, but needed help too.

This is how I got out of one depression.

I was hospitalized insurance was running out and they wanted to discharge me. My insurance would not cover an outpatient program (which I desperately needed.) I was freaking out and imagining that I was going to be a "bag lady." - really frightened of the future.

Coming from a Jewish family, my mom and dad were telling me they would pay for me to go to Israel to stay with my religious sister in Tsfat. She has two small children and would take care of me. My first thought was "they" (my family in New York), just wanted to get rid of me for a while because I was draining and depressing them. I obsessed, pacing the hospital floors, thinking what a "fuck up" I was and wondering what to do. Go to Israel! Ha! So, that's the solution for everything! My problems loomed large.

My roommate was a young woman who was hearing voices. She was also Jewish and spoke it fluently and sang too. There was also a Chassidic man who was ranting and raving about blowing up countries and being the "Messiah."

Hospitals for those experiencing crises are really "holding pens". The doctors don't see you often. "The Professionals" are busy with paperwork and depositing you back somewhere - your home, a program, a relative's place...Israel??? that might be a new discharge plan, I thought, but they MUST have a discharge plan. I am not saying there is nothing positive about hospital stays. It is a necessary place to go if you are in danger of hurting yourself or another or need to be stablized with medication...things like that... but hospitals were mostly scarey to me.

I knew I needed some wisdom and with all these Jewish influences around me, and having a deep spiritual connection to my background, I remembered I had a book written by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov: AZAMRA at home. I asked my dad to bring it to me. AZAMRA means "I Shall Sing. In a nutshell, this teaching tells of finding the "spark" in oneself and others, and to NOT allow the negativity to consume you. It says one spark begets another and the accumulating sparks become a brilliant, bright light.

I emmersed myself in this teaching and began challenging my depression. I started to sing the "Hatikvah" (The Jewish National Anthem) one night after hearing my roommate speak so much in Hebrew. I loved the melody, but didn't actually know what I was saying or that it was the National Anthem - I am pretty secular, but spiritual. That night I dreamt I went to Israel and that God wanted me to come to help me, that I belonged there.

The next morning I was no longer depressed. "I am going to Israel", I exclaimed inwardly. I had made my decision. I made a tea with some hot water and was content as I mused about my trip and sipped it. It was so early and only one other patient was up and the Mental Healthcare Worker, Nadia.
"I am not depressed anymore", I told Nadia.
"I am going to Israel."

I don't think a miracle happened. I found a way to connect to the positive again. The teaching, the singing, had permeated through my heart and I was hopeful again and believed I would be okay. The all or nothing thinking was replaced with hope.

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