Reposted with thanks to The Mental Health Safe Space blog , founded by Jamie Bornstein (WGF Alum, Class 18) . Mental illness has of course always been a part of the Jewish Community, as it has been for all people everywhere, and yet, most leaders tend to stay quiet about it. Not so for some of our pioneering alumni who have created and contributed to a platform for Jews to speak about their mental health journeys. They model leadership and bravery in acknowledging that deep pain is everywhere around us and in us. We share Mike Zoosman’s piece as the latest entry in this blog, inviting our community to explore this resource.
How’s that for an epitaph? On my more difficult days, that pretty much sums up how I feel — the pathology defines me. With years of therapy and meds, and a whole lot of mindfulness, I’m getting better at reining in those moments, but…everything’s a process, I suppose?
The truth is, it took about three years of therapy for me to be okay with the idea that I was in therapy — the same again when I began psychiatric meds. Looking back on two decades of treatment, I wish I could say now that this was all on me. My own insecurities and doubt certainly have played no small part in this anxious dance, but an equally culpable party is — as many readers of this blog already know — society itself.
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Mike Zoosman, WGF Alum (Class 16), received his Cantorial Investiture and Master of Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2007 and became a Board Certified Chaplain through Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains in 2014. After serving in the pulpit and as a chaplain in prison and psychiatric hospital settings, he began his current post as a multifaith chaplain for pediatrics, mental health and infectious disease units at the National Institutes of Health — Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.