Broken People

I never thought I would make it to this point in my life. When I was sixteen, I thought that I would have killed myself before my next birthday. Every birthday since then I’ve thought the exact same thing: I can’t believe that I’m still alive.

On the outside, I have a pretty normal and successful twenty-something life. I have a graduate degree, a good paying job, a loving wife, and I’m a strong member of my community. People at shul know who I am and ask about me when I go out of town. They see my Facebook posts and ask questions and comments about what I say, and I’m generally an outgoing and amiable person.

On the inside, I know I’m broken. I know that no matter how well things are going, I’ll find a way to be sad. Exhausted. Depressed. Defeated. I know that I put on a show, and that some people can easily see through it. Some days I feel like I’m back up and can really make it, but most days I just try to make it through. Last year, I had a mental breakdown from the stress of my dream job turning into a torture session. Now, I spend most days waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can’t be alone and idle anymore, otherwise my thoughts turn black and I can’t get out of bed. I think people might notice. Part of me hopes they believe my front, and part of me wishes that they would see that I could use just a positive compliment to keep myself going.

I think that we’re all broken, just to varying degrees. I’m sure there are some truly blessed and happy people out there with lives free from mental illness, anxiety, depression, stress, and full of hope and positivity. I’m also quite sure that there are people out there that are past broken; they’re destroyed. I see some of them in my work, coming into my door with a story a mile long that makes me wonder how even they get out of bed in the morning. Most of us are somewhere in between, with bigger problems and smaller ones. There’s no bright line, just a continuum of sadness that almost all of us find ourselves on.

I feel selfish for being depressed, for thinking that I should have the gall to say that I have problems. There are abuse victims, crime victims, ill people, dying people out there that deserve so much more empathy and support than I do. There are people out there facing worse odds than I have ever imagined that still come out beaming with optimism. I see the bearded faces at shul around me, so serene in their prayer or sure of themselves that I can’t not wonder why I just can’t get with the program.

I still feel broken, and I have no one to turn to. Its unfair to unburden myself on others, they shouldn’t have to support me and I don’t deserve their support. I’m just some kid with depression, anxiety, and a dead mom complex; who cares about that? I’ve been through enough counseling to know when my suicidal ideations get too real, and I haven’t gotten to that point in a while; but I wonder if its even normal to have a self-diagnostic for when you’re too suicidal. I’m not interesting or exciting enough to warrant saving, let alone a second look.

I’m a young man, and thank G-d I’m alive (or at least that’s what I think I’m supposed to say). I still don’t live for myself, I live for my wife and family. I try to live for G-d too, but I think he’ll settle for less for now.

This isn’t a cry for help, its just the only place I have to cry.

7 Comments

  1. Menachem May 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    The second and third last paragraphs, I totally relate to, but blessedly, only some of the time. Thankfully if I surround myself with the right people, I manage to escape it.

    Reply
  2. Fellow traveller May 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing your pain!

    When I was diagnosed with depression and subsequently anxiety, I began to realize a fundamental difference in the ways people refer to depression. For many who feel depressed (the “abuse victims, crime victims, ill people, dying people out there that deserve so much more empathy” you refer to), it may be a very painful state of mind.

    For others like me (and perhaps you), it is a chemical imbalance. It’s like feeling bad for being a diabetic or for having a virus.

    For the former, Mussar, Chassidus, therapy and more may be the solution. For the latter, those all can enhance the potential of growth once the chemical imbalance is corrected.

    If your experience turns out anything like mine, there is hope!

    Reply
  3. Neshamah May 10, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    “There are….ill people, dying people”.
    You are ill. Just because it’s in your brain and not your lungs or stomach or wherever doesn’t mean it’s not real and legitimate. Some people can’t get out of bed because they have broken bones, some people can’t because they’re mentally ill.

    And….we’re all broken, somehow. Trying to convince ourselves that we deserve the people we love, that we deserve to be happy, that maybe one day it will all be ok. That’s the imbalanced brain chemicals talking. Maybe I’m mostly talking to myself here. I recognise your thoughts because they run through my mind too. And I fight to convince myself that I’m awesome, in worthwhile, I deserve to be noticed and loved. You said you’re not worth a second look but you also said people will ask after you when you’re out of town. You’re worth so much more than you think you are. We all are. We just have to keep telling ourselves that until we
    believe it.

    Reply
  4. Yaacov May 11, 2017 at 4:01 am

    I understand you. I am 66, have 2 grandchildren and 2 on the
    way. Still taking anti depressants. Started in 3rd grade. Have been in counseling off and on, my entire life. Never was hospitalized for mental health issues.
    Never had a dream job. Always felt I didn’t live up to my potential. Am relatively bright. But don’t read enough & learn in my spare time.
    Very often I feel I don’t live up to God’s expectations for me.
    I am a kind, considerate person. Have many friends, but feel they are mostly acquaintances. Very few friends, with whom I can pour out my heart.

    Reply
  5. Ilana May 11, 2017 at 9:59 am

    You have been heard.
    We are all broken, just admitting it to the world takes a larger degree of courage that many possess.
    It does not matter that others have it worse, it matters that you could be better, you know it, and you wish for it.
    If you could find one (or more) nonjudgemental friends to open up to, who will hear you out, who will listen no matter what, you will go on.
    There is no weakness in seeking help.

    Reply
  6. Lisa May 11, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    You are courageous for sharing your pain. In addition to being a caring, sensitive, and intelligent individual, you have the gift of articulation. The reader feels your relatable pain and is not alone. May Hashem grant you the strength to recognize your own worth and to heal your beautiful neshama.

    Reply
  7. Mindy May 13, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    It sounds like you have a lot going for you. I hope you get the help you need so you can enjoy living and make full use out of your potential.

    Reply

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