Its that time of the year, the kids are home! You can finally spend quality time with the entire family together, under one roof.
During this special bonding period, I am offering an important topic for you to consider.
I’ll begin with my story; I was a good Chasidisher bochur. After finishing Zal I went off on bochur shlichus, which started out well.
As the year progressed, things started moving faster than I was able to keep up with. My learning started to become intense, I was making connections and coming up with svaras that my chavrusas couldn’t keep up with. During this time, I was also fundraising and arranging different mivtzas and peulos in the Yeshiva, all out of seder. I gradually stopped sleeping and later stopped eating; eventually things spiraled out of control.
I began doing things that I normally wouldn’t do. I started feeling like I was a continuation of the Rebbe and at one point I thought I was part of a secret mission of the Mossad trying to prevent a nuclear attack from Iran.
As I type this, I realize how very difficult it is to revisit this time in my life, but I believe it’s important for the sake of this article.
As things worsened for me, no one around me noticed that something might be wrong. Much later after this episode was over, one of the Maagedei Shiurim told me that he realized something was wrong but didn’t know what to do at the time. Boruch hashem one of my siblings finally realized something was off and suggested I return home until things calmed down.
I went home and was Boruch Hashem able to get the proper treatment in time. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder after having had what is called a “manic episode.” It was a difficult period in my life but I was surrounded by my amazing family and was able to recover fully. It’s been a few years now and Boruch Hashem I am married with my own children, leading a productive life and building a Chasidesher home.
Though this is a very taboo topic, which people do not talk about publicly, it is more common than you would think. According to a recent study, 1 in every 5 Americans suffers from some sort of mental crisis. According to this data, you or someone you know suffers from some form of mental disorder.
Mental health issues usually exhibit themselves in young adults during their late teens and early twenties. In most, if not all, Universities and high schools, there are mental health professionals on staff in the event that the need arises.
Unfortunately for our bochurim and girls that is not the case. Not only are there no mental health professionals on staff, most of the teachers are unaware as to how to notice the most basic symptoms of mental disorders. This is not just a problem with regards to severe mental health disorders like bipolar or schizophrenia. Many less severe and more common mental health disorders like addictions, depression, eating disorders, also go totally unnoticed as the Yeshiva staff simply don’t know what to look out for. This is a matter of life and death R”L!
Before sending your son or daughter back to Yeshiva or Seminary, talk to the school about making sure that it is a safe environment that has mental health professionals on call and whose staff are trained to notice basic symptoms of mental health disorders.
At home, notice if your child is acting differently. Listen to your inner red flags. There is nothing wrong with having mental health issues, it’s actually pretty common. However there is something wrong with doing nothing about it, especially when we live in a time where Boruch Hashem we have all the resources at our disposal to treat mental health.
Wishing you and your family a healthy, Kasher un ah freilechen Pesach!