Mental health awareness week

Not long after breaking up with my then fiance, I started suffering from a severe case of major depressive disorder (commonly referred to as depression). At the time I was at my last year of training as a clinical psychologist. I was working at a public health service clinic for youth with eating disorders, as well as studying for my masters degree. My peers were complaining that the workload was enormous, yet all I could think about was getting through the day. I would drag myself from place to place, waiting for it to be time to get into bed, yet when the time eventually came, I would lie awake for hours, tossing and turning, it was painful, physically, I would wait for the sun to rise, and at dawn I would drag myself out of bed, praying that this day would be different, that somehow I would find in it some comfort, but unfortunately there was no comfort to be found. The days blended into one another, I felt my brain slowly turning into a mush, I couldn’t tell the difference between them. I was not suicidal per se, but images about falling out of some random third floor balcony of an apartment I did not recognize would pop up in my mind quite frequently. Every morning when I would get off the train at Haifa, I would ask myself what was to happen if I would skip school and just drift into the sea instead. But at the time I was so indifferent, so drained, that all I could do was keep walking automatically towards the bus that would take me to the university. At the clinic I would sit with my anorectic patients, they would tell me that they don’t see the point, that life has no purpose to it, I would nod and tell them quite peacefully that I can relate to that, then wipe a few tears that would uncontrollably and unknowingly slide down my cheeks. I would sit with their parents, tell them what I believed to be wrong with their kids. I would sit in groups with my classmates, with my colleagues, all mental health professionals, I would try to pretend to be an actual human being and not the empty shell I felt I was. No one knew. Surprisingly enough I got praise for my work at the clinic from both my supervisors and patients, which apparently I had helped, I excelled at school and finished at the top of my class, making it to the Dean’s Honor list and winning a scholarship for my thesis, which I was actually able to submit on time. I did everything I was supposed to do, but I was suffering more than words can express, and the craziest thing was that no one could tell.

Most people will suffer from depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives. There is no shame in that and that does not make you a weak person! There is also no shame in reaching out and getting professional help!

~Lir


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