“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

A Jewish depression blog is an idea I’ve been playing with, on and off, for many years.  I think there is a need for more Jewish mental health resources.  That said, it is a leap into the unknown.  This is not my first experience of blogging, but I have never been a particularly successful blogger.  The blog comes at a stressful time for me, in the run up to Purim (which I find difficult with depression) and then Pesach (which is very difficult with OCD) and then a job change right after Pesach and possibly being set up on a shidduch date at some point during these weeks.  Paradoxically, it is the stress and busyness that has prompted me to write: as Rav Kook said, it is not that I have the strength to speak, rather I lack the strength to remain silent.  I think I need somewhere to vent, and a blog of my own is more socially acceptable than drama queening in the comments on Hevria.com.  More positively, although I’m dismissive of my comments on Hevria as “drama queening”, people do seem to respond positively to my honesty, so this is perhaps somewhere to be honest about mental health issues.

I thought I would say a few words about myself before the first proper post.  I don’t want to go too much into my family background as my anonymity is not perfectly protected with this username, but I thought people would want to know a bit about me.  I had quite a difficult time as a child: I was bullied and had some family dynamic issues that left me with strong feelings of loneliness, abandonment and very low self-esteem that have in turn led on to issues with trust and rejection and difficulties socializing.  Always an introvert, I am strongly withdrawn and fear I come across as aloof and anti-social in the real world, although that is not my intention.  I probably had my first episode of clinical depression aged sixteen, although I was not diagnosed until I was nineteen; since then the depression has lifted at times for a few months, but never for longer.  I may also be somewhere on the autistic spectrum (the “may” hides a long story which would probably require a post in itself).  I lost most of my twenties to depression, struggling through two degrees and some voluntary work and spending lots of time in bed – a couple of whole years were complete wipe outs, just sleeping and watching TV.  I developed religion-based OCD a couple of years ago, mainly obsessing over perceived kashrut and Pesach problems, although sometimes obsessing about other things too (e.g. if the decorations in the sukkah were too low).  I’ve made significant improvements with the depression and OCD in recent months, thanks to medication and therapy (I have a psychodynamic therapist who I have been seeing for years to help with the depression and underlying issues, but I interrupted that for a short while to focus on some CBT to deal with the OCD; a recent medication change has led to a fairly strong and sudden improvement in the depression, thankfully), but stressful times can trigger relapses of depression and/or OCD – the last week or so has been tough due to the aforementioned chaggim, job stress and dating stress.  I sometimes self-harm in minor ways, and have come close to making suicide attempts on a couple of occasions, but have never gone through with it.

I’m hoping things will improve with time, but I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I will probably always have to be aware of my mental health and may never quite get the type of life I want for myself, from major things like perhaps never marrying and having children, to more minor things like not being able to do as much Torah study as I would like and not being able to daven with kavannah and with a minyan, or even being up in time to daven Shacharit every day.

I had a traditional, but not strictly shomer mitzvot upbringing.  I began to become more frum in my teens and am now shomer mitzvot.  My family have also become more frum, but I have always been further on in my journey than them, which leads to some tension sometimes and fuels the OCD.  I now live alone, but go back to my parents for Shabbat and Yom Tov, so the tension is still there, if not to the same extent.

I am an academic librarian by profession, a sector which thankfully has quite a bit of part-time work, as I’m still not ready for a full-time job.  A bookworm, my favourite fiction writers are Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and Philip K. Dick, my favourite poet is T. S. Eliot and my favourite non-fiction author is George Orwell (even though I disagree with his socialism and anti-Zionism). My writing about Judaism, mental health and Doctor Who has appeared in various places, professional and amateur, under my pseudonym and real name (the pseudonymous writing can be found on denofgeek.com, hevria.com and popchassid.com; I’m obviously not going to link to the non-pseudonymous stuff).    I am, as you might guess from my having written professionally about it, a massive Doctor Who fan, not just in the sense of watching it, but reading non-fiction books about it, writing a blog about it (rather neglected lately, but I am working on a non-fiction Doctor Who book that I would like to get professionally published) and socializing with other fans at least online.  This is something I feel I have to hide in frum circles, which probably does not do my self-esteem much good.

7 thoughts on “Introduction: About Me

  1. So exciting to be visiting your new blog! I think you’ve got several good ideas here for new posts: the possible autism diagnosis post you mentioned, but also maybe the interplay between fandom and mental health, and also maybe about why your past blogs didn’t work. And maybe you could tell us more about being an academic librarian…

    Basically, you’ve got a lot of interesting things going on, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Rebecca, glad to see you here!

    Hmm, I’d have to think about the interplay between fandom and mental health. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but quite a few of my fan friends have suffered from depression. Though that could just be why we’re friends (i.e. out of a given group, I’m more likely to be friends with those with mental health issues because it’s another thing in common).

    It didn’t occur to me that anyone would be interested in why my other blogs didn’t work. I don’t think there’s a whole post in it. My first blog was a mixed blog and really there was too much stuff on it (Doctor Who, Judaism, mental health, other stuff that occurred to me). I did eventually put the Jewish stuff on another blog and changed the privacy settings on some posts so the first blog effectively became a Doctor Who blog with some depression/private life stuff on a filter for friends. But I was just really bad at publicising my blogs and I wrote posts that were probably far too long (I’m trying to restrict myself to 500-1000 words on this blog). I wasn’t working at the time because I was too depressed, so I was spending hours and hours writing stuff that no one really wanted to read.

    Re: academic librarianship, I’m not sure how much of my personal life I’m going to put here yet (I think the first couple of weeks are going to be experimental while I work out what I’m doing), but there’s definitely a link between being a librarian and being borderline autistic that I could write about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your blog is really good, I can really relate to it. I’ve enjoyed reading it and I’m glad I’ve found this. Wishing you all the best.


  4. Lots of good writing material here and food for thought. I’m a Jew from birth with c-ptsd. Grandparents were frum, but my experiences as a woman with c-ptsd compelled me to forge my own path. I started teaching Judaism and Jewish mysticism (adult Jewish learning), but I did it my way as Frank Sinatra would say.


    1. Nice to meet you! I’m sorry to hear you have c-PTSD. My experience, sadly, is that lots of frum Jews with mental health issues end up stopping being frum. To be honest, lately I’ve been struggling in the frum community myself, although I’m trying to stay there, also in my own way. Good for you for finding a Judaism that works for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is my experience as well regarding frum Jews with mental health issues. I’m glad our paths crossed. It’s really helpful to find our tribe without the tribe and create community. Blogging is a good means for doing that.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s