Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bipolar disorder:Surviving mental illness

[....]My strong desire to be "just another high-school girl" and not considered "crazy" was intensified by my mortification toward the end of the previous year, when I had my first encounter with a psychiatric ward. Mental disorders manifest themselves through the particular characteristics of the culture in which the person has developed. Having grown up in a religious neighborhood, my obsession took on a seemingly harmless, and perhaps even admirable, desire to become more religious. So my general, all-encompassing anxiety and sense of helplessness, and my compulsive desire to regain control, were directed onto the one area of my life where I felt control was possible. I wanted to do every mitzvah and keep every detail of Jewish law in the most exacting way. I wanted God to be pleased with me and thought the way to accomplish this was to make my observance of each mitzvah increasingly more complicated and difficult.I didn't simply kiss each mezuzah I saw; I kissed it many times, each time reciting an additional prayer.[....]

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