Article and Blog Writer in the Mental Health and Wellness Niche
Ten years ago, I was well on my way to becoming a rabbi. I had been studying in a yeshiva, a religious institution for young Jewish men, for three years. In just another four years, I could officially become Rabbi Joshua Marcus. After that, I’d either teach at a school or lead a congregation or both. I would get married somewhere along the way, and have two or three children, who I would raise in the faith. But in my fourth year, I slowly came to accept what I’d suspected all along. My life was never going to be that straightforward. I could never be a rabbi or teach Torah. I could never marry a religious woman and raise Jewish children. There was something fundamentally wrong with me.
In the final Harry Potter book, Harry meets Dumbledore in an ethereal version of King’s Cross Station. With them there is a creature, a repulsive, whimpering childlike form, lying helpless on the ground. It is meant to represent what remains of Voldemort’s mangled soul. It also somehow perfectly embodies the way I see myself.
Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, and romantic relationships are no exception. You and your partner come from different contexts and both have triggers and defenses that neither of you may be aware of. Whether you’re just starting a relationship, or whether you have been living together for years, conflicts will continue to arise. Managing conflict effectively is, therefore, key for maintaining a healthy relationship.
Have you ever asked yourself “Am I crazy?” Maybe you did an online test to see if you could be classified as crazy, or if there was anything “wrong” with you. The easy answer to this question is no, you are not crazy. The term “crazy” is commonly used in a colloquial sense to describe anything from losing one’s temper to experiencing a psychotic break. It is certainly not used as a medical diagnosis.
Even as a child, I could tell my parents’ marriage was a mess. My mother hurled insults at my father, denigrating him for not being able to hold down a job, provoking him with stories of past lovers who would have been far better husbands. My father saw my mother as a child and, although he did not voice his feelings the way she did, he barely concealed his contempt for her. Nonetheless, they never seemed to consider divorce. And since theirs was the only marriage I’d been able to witness firsthand, a lot of my implicit beliefs about romantic relationships came from them.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the media over the last couple years about the topic of “toxic masculinity.” Some commentators seem to blame it for all the world’s problems, while others feel the term itself is an attack on all men, no matter what their backgrounds. It is difficult to find a measured view of what toxic masculinity is, detached from personal opinions and judgments. If you look at Twitter conversations on the subject, you will find anger and rhetoric, often along political lines.
To my religious community: this is what I want from you. "The gay agenda" is a term invented by right-wing Christian groups, but it reflects how communities of ALL faiths see gay activism. It is seen as an attack on morality. An attempt to recruit new members and the normalizing of a perverted way of life.
You can live in a society that is open about mental health and you can know others who suffer from mental illness, but still feel ashamed because of it. The reason is that the stigma is not coming (only) from the outside. Underscoring just about all mental illness is the internalised belief that “I am not good enough”, “I am weak”, “The world is better off without me”. Those types of thoughts and the feelings associated with them are symptoms of the depression. They become so ingrained in us that we don’t even think to question them.