Dealing with Depression

There is a world of difference between clinical depression and having a bad day. When I was a young rabbi and I first encountered someone with depression, I vividly remember thinking to myself, why can’t he just snap out of it? What does he mean when he says he sleeps most of the day and can’t concentrate on anything? We are all tired and dealing with stress. Just resolve to get out of bed and get going. I remember not being able to understand why he was so depressed. After all, by all measures, his life was pretty good. If he were to just focus on the blessings and simply choose to be positive, he wouldn’t be depressed at all. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful that I didn’t articulate any of these sentiments to him, but nevertheless, I feel ashamed and even guilty for having being so ignorant and insensitive to what depression is all about. We perpetrate a terrible disservice by using the exact same word to describe how we feel when our favorite team gets knocked out of the playoffs or when our cell phone breaks, and a chemical, clinical illness that can be debilitating and incapacitating. Clinical […]

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When a Loved One Has Depression

8 tips to help you cope. The suicide of beloved comic actor Robin Williams has again brought the topic of depression to the forefront. I cannot imagine what it feels like to have the weight of such unendurable despair that is so intense you cannot bear even staying in this world. But I know all too well what it is like to live with family members who have depression. One of my parents, a sibling, my husband, and one of my children have also suffered from this black cloud, in varying degrees, and for varying lengths of time. I have spent much of my life living with people I love with all my heart who often have trouble feeling happy or optimistic. This is in itself is very, very painful. Depression runs in families, and seems to be especially common among Ashkenazi Jews. Maybe our difficult history somehow let it seep into our psychological DNA. Depressive episodes don’t necessarily have causes. While traumatic events can trigger depression, in many cases it is part of a person’s psychological make-up, and I was at first baffled when years ago, my daughter, who had everything going for her, including friends and success in school, suddenly […]

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NETHERLANDS: Mommy Shoes

It has been nearly two years since I asked for help. Motherhood and life felt like too much of a burden for me. After years of thinking that the problem was me, it finally dawned on me that there might be something wrong. I started therapy and found out that I had suffered from postpartum depression. Not once but three times. I also found out that the feelings I struggled with in my early teens were not just regular teen struggles. I found out that it was also depression that I had struggled with. These past two years have been the most intense years of my life. I have experienced tremendous growth. I have opened new doors and have closed old doors behind me. People talk about therapy lightly. They think therapy is nothing more than paying someone to listen and to give you advice. Therapy is no such thing. Therapy is facing yourself. Therapy is opening doors and looking into the dark corners of your soul. It is work. Hard work that sometimes  leaves you exhausted. Being as courageous, as walking into a lion’s den unarmed. Vulnerable. It is raw naked honesty and perseverance. Going down a steep, rocky and sometimes dark road without knowing […]

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Even though…

Even though you feel like a bad mother,Doesn’t mean you aren’t a good enough one. (There is NO such a thing as a perfect mother. It doesn’t exist. The desire to be one is what makes you great! Your willingness makes u great!)  Even though you feel like you are doing nothing,Doesn’t mean you are worthless. (You are valuable and precious to so many with a heart of gold that’s just broken right now.)  Even though you are angry at your kids and sometimes yell,Doesn’t mean you don’t love them. (Kids are resilient and more forgiving than any adult. They understand mommy’s not feeling well.)  Even though you feel weak and tired and can’t do as much as you once did,Doesn’t mean you aren’t the strongest bravest person who is battling a huge battle with courage and dignity. (Admitting you are broken and need help takes superhuman strength.)  Even though everyone around you seems to be managing and functioning,Doesn’t mean they are judging you even if it feels that way. (Compare and despair – not everyone’s outsides match their insides!)  Even though this PPD feels endless and hopeless,Doesn’t mean there isn’t a light at the end of this tunnel. (You […]

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Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!

We are so thrilled to share with all our readers that our Walkathon 2015 was a tremendous success!!!! For those of you unaware, our annual fundraiser is our Yad Rachel Walkathon, an event geared to girls ages 8-12! It takes place each year in the May-June time, on a Sunday morning in a beautiful Lakewood park.

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Delivery from Darkness

This article originally appeared in Mishpacha/Family First (Issue 425, January 14, 2015). @Mishpacha Magazine 2015 www.mishpacha.com WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR NEW BABY BRINGS YOU ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION, INSTEAD OF JOY AND DELIGHT? HOW TO RECOGNIZE – AND RECOVER FROM- POSTPARTUM REACTIONS “MOMMY, I WANT TO MAKE YOU A BIRTHDAY PARTY,” Shloimy said, eyes bright. “Hmm,” Leba mumbled, her head ensconced in a novel. “You know why, Mommy? Maybe if I make you a party, then you’ll smile.” An English teacher by profession, Leba Katz was as normal as they come. She was geshikt too: Despite giving birth to her sixth child just months earlier, her family always had fresh suppers, clean laundry, and sparkling floors. Which is why, despite repeated red flags, it never dawned on her that something was wrong. “My son’s remark should have been a bulletin from Shamayim,” Leba reflects. “But depression was for weirdos. I was Leba Katz, the oldest of a well-known heimishe family from Boro Park.” It took another alarming incident for Leba and her husband to realize they needed help. At 11:30 p.m. one night, Leba began walking out the door, wearing only a robe and socks. “Where are you going?” her husband […]

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S.E.L.F Care

HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT TIPS AND TOOLS TO HELP NEW MOMS TRANSITION INTO THEIR NEW ROLE AFTER BIRTH. FOLLOWING THESE STEPS WILL HELP KEEP YOU HEALTHY AND STRONG. Sleep–  A lack of sleep increases anxiety and depression. Mothers need a minimum of a 5 hour stretch with naps during the day to function. Exercise– A little exercise moves your body, even when you don’t want to a little exercise is better than none. It promotes sleep and helps our mind by releasing endorphins (the feel good hormone). Laugh– It feels good to laugh. It helps our immune system  and reduces stress. Look for fun in life, its there. tip: look in the mirror- stretch your lips to a smile. Your facial expressions are hard wired to our brains. Then look in your eyes and say something silly.. you will laugh😉 Food– Always eat healthy. Low carbs, limit sugars and eliminate caffeine.  Keep hydrated- 6 glasses of water a day. Increase vegetables and protein for energy. ex: start your day with oatmeal covered in nuts and cranberries. IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH AND SUSPECT YOU MAY NEED ADDITIONAL HELP, HERE ARE A FEW MORE IMPORTANT SUGGESTIONS: Journal– Write about your baby’s day, rate […]

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Acceptance

By: A grateful Yad Rachel client who struggled with and overcame postpartum depression. It’s hard to accept when i always EXPECT!! I know that my expectations are unrealistic. I expect my life to go according to my script that I have personally designed and imagined with all the details included. It’s hard to accept when I’m rigid with my planning and curve balls keep getting in the way. And so… When I expect to feel calm, relaxed, and clear when my mind just cant get there, I have a hard time accepting the fragmented, anxious, jittery feelings. It surprises me that these moods can come at serene times and catch me off guard. It makes me feel so frustrated why I’m feeling anxious without a person or situation to put the blame on. It’s at these moments that I’m learning to ACCEPT. I must accept that it’s okay to feel down, moody and fragile for a period of time or days. I must accept these moods, and view them as a heavenly sent situation that comes and goes according to his will. When I berate myself for feeling so “yucky” it only prolongs my situation and pulls me down further […]

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Recovering from PPD- It’s a process!

Most women who reach out to us are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. The pain, sadness and almost constant anxiety is more than they can bear, and they are desperate for a quick and fast solution. It’s important to realize that the recovery process is like a JOURNEY. A number of steps leading up to an amazing goal- BUT one needs patience and time to get there. The process of recognizing, getting treatment and recovering can take weeks and sometime months. “WE KNOW THAT CAN BE FRUSTRATING” Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand- we wish there was. Healing can’t be rushed- it takes baby steps and time. It might take effort, hard work and lots of acceptance. But you’ll get through it- and G-d willing reach a complete recovery- WE PROMISE!!! You will be able to experience the joy of motherhood- without the fears, loneliness or insecurities! Your confidence and love of yourself will return. You’ll be stronger and wiser, and will trust yourself more than ever! IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: Don’t compare your recovery to others. Don’t expect that you should before your time. Don’t give up! You will get there!

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Your Voice

The following essays were sent to us by a grateful Yad Rachel client who struggled with and overcame postpartum anxiety. Feel free to respond, comment and share your thoughts! Please note: All views and opinions expressed do not necessarily state or reflect those of Yad Rachel.   Don’t Label Until I was faced with the challenge of anxiety, I viewed the term anxiety and depression as a scary mental disorder that only happens to “someone” else. While experiencing the symptoms, the actual word anxiety and panic were so provoking that just reading or hearing THAT word caused my mind to go into a tizzy. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office when the screen flashed the words “Anxiety” with strange pictures following. Instinctively, my blood pressure went up and my body broke out in a sweat. My “escape- panic” emotions engulfed me as I tried to stay composed in public. It took me quite some time to relax my mind and return to my normal self. After searching for a solution to prevent my intense reaction, it occurred to me that just by mentally switching the word anxiety to “a flash of worry that will soon dissipate,” made a world […]

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