Coming to Grips with My Anxiety Disorder

Suffering from panic attacks and depression, I felt like I was turning into a monster. What was happening to me? I suffer from an anxiety disorder which includes bouts of clinical depression. Although this illness is usually hushed up and kept secret, one in ten people suffer right along with me, each in their self-imposed silence. I share my story with the hope of educating others to understand the dynamics of emotional illness and what it’s like to be caught in its tight grip. Perhaps as a result of my words greater sensitivity and compassion will prevail and others will react to a sufferer’s pain accordingly. I was a typical child and teen. I had many friends and was successful both academically and socially. When I reached my early 20s, without any warning whatsoever, I began to experience debilitating panic attacks. How can I explain a panic attack to someone who has never experienced one? Think of the fear you’d feel if a criminal would be holding you and your loved ones at gunpoint, slowly pulling the trigger before your disbelieving eyes. Imagine the frantic thoughts of danger and despair that would quickly overwhelm you, the frenetic pounding of your […]

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Just Nerves?

“Who told you to stop taking your meds, Moish?” His name was Yekusiel Shemaya Tuvia Moshe Wein. “But you can call me Moish,” he said, with an air of someone who’s been through it enough times that he reflexively explained, “I’m named for a few different elter zeides, and I was also born on Zayin Adar, so my father shlita thought it was a good name. But like I said, just call me Moish.” And so I got to meet Moish, an older bochur with a history of OCD who had been at the same chassidishe yeshivah for the past seven years. Moish had come for a consultation regarding his medication regimen, and his story was pretty straightforward: He was a “checker,” and a slave to his fears of missing something when it came to kavanos or halachos. His was a textbook case of the bochur who was still adjusting his tefillin for Shacharis three hours later, and would miserably repeat the same tefillah over and over to ensure he’d pronounced Hashem’s name correctly. He hated his life and was on his way to hating Yiddishkeit. And who could blame him? The poor guy could barely get through Shacharis before […]

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The Sun Will Yet Shine

By Leeba Atlas | JULY 22, 2020 How could I wait while the world moved on and I was a ghost of myself — not a mother, not a daughter, not a wife? You know me. That woman in the grocery. The one with the freshly washed wig, crossbody, and trendy sunglasses. Super capable, a great multitasker. I was all of those things. Until I wasn’t. This is my story. It’s a story that could’ve happened to anyone. It’s a story too often silenced and hidden behind shuttered windows because what will people think? And no one must ever know. But I want people to know, and I no longer worry about what people think. Because it’s a story I so badly needed to hear when I was lost in the darkness, when I believed there was no way I would ever again feel like myself. I pray it reaches even just one woman who feels as hopeless as I did. I pray she discovers, sooner than I did, that there’s no shame in asking for help, that mental illness can be as excruciating — but also as treatable — as a physical illness, and that with Hashem’s help, she’ll one day be okay again. […]

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The Darkness Behind My Smile

By: Arielle Zellis Paley I am laying against the wall with my fingers in my ears.  My eyes are closed shut.  I feel the pressure of my husband’s hand on my back.  Holding my breath for a few moments too long, my teeth are clenched.  I never knew I had so many tears.  I never knew I could be in a world of people but feel like I am stuck in a box, alone, in the dark.  He quickly leaves the room for a moment and suddenly I hear my four-month-old, Nafshi, crying in his pack-and-play.  Circular thoughts are screaming in my mind again and again.  I am sorry.  I am really sorry. I don’t know why I am like this. Why can’t I be a good mom? Why can’t I be a good wife? I am sorry. Time goes by and my husband, Netanel, is able to systematically calm my breathing.  I am so mad at myself, feeling disgusted with my inability to cope.  It’s getting dark and we are supposed to be at a Purim Seudah.  But I can’t move.  I had been this way for a while.  I had waited for months to see a psychiatrist due […]

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Yom Tov is Coming and All I Feel is Dread….

Summer is still very much in the air. The temperature is warm, we are still on a crazy schedule crazy schedule of no sleep, and we take a look at the calendar and do a double take. Really?!? Elul is almost over?!? Can Rosh Hashana be that close to NOW? We have just come out of half a year of Covid. We are depleted and drained from having our lives turn upside down. We are just starting to get back into a normal routine of work and school. And then, before we blink, Yom Tov is here. Anxiety and stress build up in our minds and hearts. These feelings, these reactions turn to fear and sometimes even dread. Not only are we panicking, but we then begin to torture ourselves for feeling this way. “How can a good Jewish women feel dread for Yom Tov?!? We are supposed to be spiritual, growing Yidden, we are supposed to be preparing Yom Tov with excitement, we are supposed to be working on teshuva and shleimus and devekus. We are supposed to be …. etc. And so the old negative messages start playing over and over again in our brain and we get […]

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Interview with Mrs. Toby Tabak

Program Supervisor at Yad Rachel Having a baby generations ago was quite different from how new mothers give birth today. I’m not referring to the delivery itself, I’m referring specifically to the attention given to the new mother. Women would have the baby in her home, surrounded by the love and experience of other women in her family, guided by a trusted midwife. It was an event that was recognized as a time to focus on the new mother just as much for the new baby. It was seen as a precarious time, where the new mother was vulnerable. Specific traditional practices were observed to ensure recovery and prevent future illness.Grandparents, mothers in law, aunts, and parents who lived either in the same house or at least down the road or nearby in the same town would care for the new mother with vigilance and respect. She was treated as a fragile, delicate heroine and tucked into a warm bed for weeks.  Isolated from others to protect her and baby from the “evil eye”, her extended family would watch the other children, while feeding her nutritious warm meals so she can regain her strength slowly. There was a deep understanding of […]

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Trauma, New Parenthood and the Pandemic

“In these challenging times,” “we’re all in this together,” “stay at home.” If no one has given you permission to scream from hearing these phrases, allow me to do that. Being exasperated does not diminish the value of these statements that are 1) acknowledging what is happening, 2) normalizing the experience and 3) making a plan to be well – that is all perfectly sound messaging. However, it is also perfectly human to be frustrated, angry, exhausted, triggered, sad, and overwhelmed by this world health crisis. If you are also pregnant or postpartum, it’s okay to express disappointment that you feel robbed of your planned birth experience, or that you are scared to navigate having a new baby with fewer supports in place due to social distancing, or that it’s terrifying to walk into a hospital where you know so many people are ill and dying. If you are also one of many people in this world that has experienced trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences, you may be feeling particularly vulnerable and overcome by this trifecta of events. While many of our healthcare systems have been working to become trauma-informed, this is not yet a universal approach. Trauma-informed care seeks […]

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Dear Parents…

I don’t expect you to wake up in the morning-Doing anything more than closing your eyes and yawning- I don’t except you to scrabble eggs-Or shine anyone’s shoes or make all the beds-I don’t expect you to teach science or math-Or give child number three a one-hour bath-I don’t expect you to have patience all day-I actually don’t expect anything today (or any day).I don’t except you to cook a 5-course meal-I don’t expect you to be able to deal-I don’t expect you to set any limits-I don’t expect you to start something and finish-I don’t expect you to have supper by six-I don’t expect you to only serve a healthy mix-I don’t expect you to have the kids in bed before eight- I don’t expect you to feel you have the tools to navigate- I don’t except you to serve meals on time-I don’t expect you not to hear your children whine-I don’t expect you to get any work done-Not housework or job work or either one-I don’t expect you to feel extra love and affection-Even when you’re trying so hard to make the connection- There’s nothing we expect in this trying time-So just do your best and take […]

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Covid-19 Advice

To Our Dear Yad Rachel Clients: Hope you and your families are doing well. We know that during these unpredictable times you must be feeling uncertainty and anxious. We want you all to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Here at Yad Rachel, we understand what you are struggling with and trying so bravely to overcome. We can imagine with all the news and school closings and thoughts of quarantine you will be feeling more symptomatic than usual. Times like these can trigger anxiety. We are hoping that these thoughts we are sharing with you will bring some relief. 1. THESE FEELINGS ARE NORMAL. We all feel the same to some degree. This is a world wide crisis that is effecting everyone. This doesn’t mean you have a lack of Emunah. This doesn’t mean you aren’t flexible. This doesn’t mean you are a bad mom or wife for not wanting your kids home now. Whatever you are feeling is NORMAL. 2. Tell yourself  if the Governor is insisting that schools close and activities limited, you are participating in a Chessed. These restrictions are to limit the population’s exposure to the virus. You are potentially saving lives. That sort of positive mindset […]

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This Chanukah, don’t forget:

Amidst all the chaos and fun, Amidst all the parties and purchases and presents, Amidst all the weekends off with the kids, Amidst the frying, the friends, and the family, Make sure to take time off for yourself! Self care isn’t selfish! It’s necessary! It’s easy to get depleted and worn down. Print up this picture and hang on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder! We cannot love and care for others, Unless we care for ourselves first!

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