Each week, we share some of the cases that come into our office to give you a from-the-trenches look at what goes on at Amudim. This week, however, we are going a different route, sharing an email we got from a heartbroken mother. We hope that her devarim hayotzim min halev will go straight to your heart and serve as a reminder that we can all make a difference when we work together.
I’m home. My son is not. He is sitting in a hospital awaiting a bed. Some people reading this may relate to the awful dual life I am leading. I’m going from watching 6 people holding my son down to get him from running out of the hospital room to picking up my daughter from art lessons. This is life with a child with a mental illness when parents DO THE FRIGHTENING WORK of getting inpatient help.
The safety I feel at home knowing I do not need to lock up my knife after cutting up veggies for my neurotypical children puts me at ease, makes ME feel SAFE. Then I feel selfish. He SHOULD be home, but he CAN’T be.
Mobile Crisis, Amudim, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Chiropractors, RELIEF, Dieticians, OTs BCBAs, BCAs, RBTs, BHTs, Family Based Therapists, IBHS, Developmental Pediatricians, Mobile Therapists, Behavior Therapists, Police, Chumash Plays, Day School Tuition Applications, PTA meetings, Class Mom, Chai Lifeline, Friendship Circle, Bake Sales, Birthday Parties, Community engagements, SHABBOS! That’s been our parenting life. We have spent our parenting “journey” searching for help.
And, yet, the hardest part of my son being treated at a psychiatric unit is that there will be no gofundme or tehilim circle, no meal trains, no brachos party in his zchus or volunteer babysitting round the clock for my little ones. Why? Because mental health is embarrassing, stigma-bound and NOT DISCUSSED. Will anyone date my daughters, sons, nieces if they KNEW? SHH!
Why should we not be proud of the courage and tremendous discomfort we are PUTTING OURSELVES THROUGH to get our son into a safe and therapeutic, psychiatric space? The hardship of ensuring he will be able to keep Shabbos, eat kosher- things most people do not even think about. Well, I want to tell you. I want to sign my name, but it is not safe …. YET.
Are we going to change this sweeping under the rug? Or are we going to pass it down to the next generation? And the next and NEVER have a frum facility for OUR, SUFFERING, YIDDISHE CHILDREN? Tell me … should I expose my cursed family’s name or continue this life in hiding?
Years ago, one of our Amudim staff members had a conversation with the mother of an addict who had been sexually abused, who said that she wished her daughter had cancer instead of being an addict, explaining that people are compassionate and supportive when someone has cancer. But none of that was forthcoming since her daughter was an addict and, to add insult to injury, her other children were suffering as well since none of their friends were allowed to come play at their house anymore. The entire family was living a life that was filled with pain.
We have shared this story on many an occasion, and while we as a community have taken tremendous strides forward since this conversation took place, we still have a long way to go. In addition to the terrible circumstances detailed in the email above, the simple fact that it was sent anonymously demonstrates that its writer is living a life of shame.
There should be no reason for this mother to feel the need to hide her identity and this email makes it painfully clear that we need to be doing far more for her and for others in similar circumstances. As a community, we all need to educate ourselves about mental health issues, addiction and support so that we can help those in pain through their difficulties, making sure they know that they aren’t alone.
Have a good Shabbos,
Rabbi Zvi Y. Gluck
Chief Executive Officer
Myriam Lankry, LCSW
Each week, Amudim fields calls covering a wide range of crises and addressing various human concerns, including addiction, depression, abuse, health and domestic emergencies and many others. We track the calls and breakdown of issues for many reasons, foremost of which is to consistently improve and strengthen our knowledge and ability to address community’s needs.