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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 2/23/07

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Dear Rachel,

In recent years, the Orthodox community has come to acknowledge many G-d-given challenges, such as bi-polar disorder, autism, depression and Down’s syndrome – to name just a few. Families struggling with these issues have been offered countless resources, tools, the newest medical findings and, most of all, much needed support.

I have, Baruch Hashem, several children who have met all the expected milestones in life and continue to bring me tremendous pride and happiness. However, approximately three years ago, one of my children − who at the time was attending a very reputable high school and doing well − began to gradually and mysteriously change.

The first signs were his decline in verbal communication; not building close friendships; classes becoming a greater struggle than before, and his feeling of not fitting in. At the time I believed that it could have been depression, or that the school was academically too competitive. I communicated with his teachers, trying to get my son to express himself more – all to no avail. We were clueless.

It has now been three long tumultuous years, watching my son go through changes I haven’t understood. With time, counseling and testing, we’ve arrived at a general label: Borderline Psychosis – a still unclear and difficult challenge to face. The simplest way to describe the symptoms would be 1) disordered thinking, 2) poor judgment, 3) difficulty understanding nuances in language and social cues. Now on medication, my son maintains the upkeep of a very busy schedule. In fact, the more structure he has, the better he copes.

Despite the symptoms, he is still a very good-natured aidel neshamah trying to be successful in life. He wants what any other “normal” 19-year-old wants: to be married, have a good job, have children and enjoy life.

But what are his options, if any, for a successful future in the frum community? This is the most painful thing about his life – the loneliness and fear of never belonging.

Am I the only parent in the frum world dealing with this? I doubt it. Still, this is one of those G-d-given challenges that are yet to be acknowledged openly. Even though I am now more educated about the nature of this illness, I have not found any resources or support in our community.

I am making an urgent plea to anyone going through such a difficult nisayon – and to professionals who want to offer their time to contact me confidentially in order to form 1) a support group for parents and/or siblings, 2) to form a socialization group (to teach social cues would be ideal), 3) to form a structured and safe framework for job training or education (essential). Out in the world alone, these afflicted souls tend to be bullied or victimized by others.

Please write to chliba@hotmail.com.

I thank you in advance for being a shaliach to get much needed help for myself and others who are struggling with this issue.

Very hopefully yours

Dear Hopeful,

Where would any of us be without hope and faith?

You sound like a most remarkable woman and a super Mom. Your son is fortunate to be enveloped with such warmth and caring. His “aidel neshamah” is a reflection of his roots, and under your loving and nurturing guidance he will no doubt reach his G-d-given potential.

Hopefully your message will be picked up by readers who are facing similar challenges and by those who are in a position to offer you the assistance you seek.

Thank you for sharing – your real life personal story should give us all pause for thought, to reflect upon the things we take for granted, and to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of each and every neshamah whose care we are entrusted with.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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