The 5 Towns Jewish Times

Mental Health: It’s Time to Remove the Stigma

letters to the editor

Dear Editor:

With the tragic passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week, I think it’s once again time to discuss mental health issues.

There is such a huge stigma that I’m just going to say the following:

HI. MY NAME IS DEBORAH HARTMAN BLAIBERG AND I SUFFER FROM CLINICAL DEPRESSION

I was diagnosed with post-partum depression after the birth of my twins in 2007. Unfortunately that delightful bout of shingles I had when the twins were three months meant the depression was not treated. If I had wanted to see a shrink, the closest one under my insurance was a 45 minute drive. So that didn’t happen.

February 2009 I was standing in my kitchen with a knife at my wrists. I was 100 percent ready to slice. This was after a failed attempt at wrapping the car around the nearest pole. As I stood there knife dug into my wrist ready to slice up, all I was thinking was that I could get some sleep. All I wanted was to sleep. The exhaustion had made the depression worse, the residual pain from shingles didn’t help. I just wanted to sleep, I just wanted to not be a problem, I really did think everyone would be better off if I was not there.

At that moment I was standing with that knife dug into my wrist I heard the footsteps of a kid coming down the stairs. It snapped me out of my head as I went into auto mum mode. Afterwards I sat down and realized something was very very wrong. And I reached out for help (it’s amazing what you can find out when “asking for a friend”).

I was lucky to find an incredible doctor who really took me seriously to the point she wanted to give me a three day vacation. I was that worried about leaving the family to fend for themselves over Shabbat so I declined. Word to the wise: if you are offered three days in slippers with drugs and no kids, TAKE IT!

You don’t have to walk around all day looking miserable to suffer from depression; it really is like a dark cloud that only the sufferer sees. For those who do not “understand” it,  I am happy to have a conversation. Just because a person seems alive on the outside does not mean it is a reflection of the inside. So before making comments like “don’t kill yourself; seek help” or “it’s so selfish, leaving behind small children” please understand the sufferer sees that they are doing what is right for all.

It’s time to remove the stigma.

Hi I’m Deborah Hartman Blaiberg and I suffer from depression. Most days I wake up grateful to be alive. However there are still dark cloudy days. But for now they are few and far between. Should that change I am fortunate to have a support system. Let’s start supporting each other. Mental health issues are real and need proper treatment, just like broken bones need resetting or strep needs antibiotics. Time to remove the stigma.

Who’s next?