Zeh Lo Pashut – This is Not Simple

It’s rare that I am become tongue-tied and inarticulate, but I have spent the last seven days trying to figure out the most poignant way to communicate this message. As it turns out, the only way is to just say it:

I have been diagnosed with clinical moderate depression.

It is a new diagnosis as of November 2013 and something I have just recently shared with my family and closest friends in the last few days. Why did it take me so long to share this information? Because mental illness is still taboo.

It’s really easy to keep up a façade of the outgoing, “together,” motivated person – for a while. I managed to do this for about a year … posting all sorts of fun things on Facebook, Tweeting about hobbies and interests, contributing to professional dialogues, traveling around the country to various conferences and professional meetings. But keeping up the façade is exhausting and contributes to the deepening of depression while behind the scenes the following is going on:

A backlog of unread and unreturned emails.

Voicemail which is full. Phone calls not returned.

Projects for clients not turned in.

Not talking to friends on a regular basis.

Cancelling plans at the last minute.

Failure to work on a dissertation.

Avoiding the “to do” list.

That’s when you can’t ignore the problem any longer. People start to ask if you are “okay” via emails and phone calls you don’t return because you can’t bring yourself to say, “No, I’m not okay. I am not myself. I’m sinking.”

So I first had to admit it to myself and then seek help from medical professionals. Mental illness is still taboo and therefore it took me over a year to be able to take those two critical steps.

As a result, I have a lot of fences to repair – both social and professional – as I work through to a healthier place.   I owe a lot of apologies and need to ask for an overwhelming amount of forgiveness.   I can’t expect it, but I am hopeful.

I decided to “come out” publicly because I want to be a part of a cultural change around issues of mental illness.   I want to live in a society that I can tell colleagues and friends that I have depression as easily as we tell them that we have the stomach flu. I want to live in a society where colleagues and friends are able to support people with mental illness with the compassion they care for those with cancer.

It’s not Yom Kippur, but I am seeking forgiveness from all of those I have hurt, disappointed, confused, frustrated and angered these past 18 months or so.

Al Chet: For the mistakes I committed before my community through wronging a friend.
Al Chet: For the mistakes I have committed before my community through denial and false promises.
Al Chet: For the mistakes I committed before my community refusing to accept responsibility.
Al Chet: For the mistakes I committed before my community through confusion of the heart.
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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shirley
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 17:47:45

    You do not owe me an apology. You have always made me feel special and loved and admired. I’ll call you soon and we can have a chat. Love you lots.

    Reply

  2. Miriam Van Raalte
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 18:38:13

    Yasher koach, dear Robyn. I can so understand your journey. I had a similar one some years ago. Those who love you (count me in) will hold your hand when you need it to support you through the fear, angst, and sadness as you hopefully find your way to happiness.

    Reply

  3. Nike
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 19:40:17

    Robyn! I am so sorry that you are suffering. Thank you for opening up about it. We have spoken about so many important things over the years. This is one of the most important topics. I am here for you! I know you are there for me! Let’s be here knowing we are here for each other. xoxoxoxo

    Reply

  4. Lori
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 22:37:44

    Robyn I send you good wishes and appreciate your honesty. I met you in Detroit 2 summers ago. Please know hag you are not alone.

    Reply

  5. Marc
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 23:12:23

    I appreciate where this is coming from Robyn, but I don’t think you owe anyone an apology. Feel better and get better soon.

    Reply

  6. Lou Feldstein
    Apr 09, 2014 @ 00:29:20

    You are a brave human being and a role model. I consider myself honored to call you a friend and colleague

    Reply

  7. Ayekah - Where are you?
    Apr 09, 2014 @ 08:23:25

    More power to you, Robyn. Many know the terms but I find that few really have an understanding of what depression is and how it impacts one’s life. Your words not only offer us ways to support you, but you get to teach others about the realities of depression and mental illness. There is still so much stigma and isolation. I am grateful that you have the strength to share your truth and I hope it is liberating for you to do so. Please accept the strength that is being sent to you by so many. May this be among the many steps towards healing and wholeness for you and our other friends and family members struggling with their mental health. And I hope your Pesach will be sweet and liberating, indeed!

    Reply

  8. Lisa Micley
    Apr 09, 2014 @ 12:41:55

    Hi Robyn-
    So sorry that you are not well. Wishing you a refuah shlema. It sounds like you’re well on your way by recognizing the issue and beginning to address it. If there is some way I can be helpful- by talking, by helping out with some work. or connecting you with someone- please be in touch.
    I h ope Pesach will be a nice break for you and begin the transformation for you.
    All the best,
    Lisa

    Reply

  9. Catherine Rosing
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 15:05:55

    I hope our community can be here for you as you have been here for us!
    Thank you for having the courage to speak out. Wishing you the best.

    Reply

  10. Thru Jewish Eyes
    May 20, 2014 @ 13:19:45

    How about a restorative trip to Israel???

    Reply

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