My question to the Rav is complex and it consists of several factors. I need to be lengthy about the issue in order to make my question very clear, and I apologize. This letter might even be a life-and-death issue.
I have a nature that leans towards all of the natures described about the element of earth: sadness, melancholy, despair, lowliness, heaviness, laziness, etc. Already from my childhood, I never wanted to play ball with others nor include myself socially with my other peers. All I wanted to do was read, listen to music, and draw. I always loved the world of fantasy, especially fantasy novels, and to watch films that were very imaginative. My element of “earth” has controlled my personality a lot, to the point that it is already 5 full years where I feel no interest in leaving my house – even to daven. Before, the problem was that I lost interested in davening with a minyan and I would daven alone. But after some time, it became like the statement of our Sages, “When a person sins and repeats a sin, it is deemed permissible to him”.
The situation became worse and I became used to a habit of not davening Shacharis in the morning, because I felt such sadness, loss of will, and loss of satisfaction in my life. My chavrusa would wait for me each day to come to seder in yeshivah, and each day I would get up late and go to seder, and my lateness to seder caused me to feel even lower about myself, because I was realizing that I don’t have that much desire to learn, and I was thinking about how my slothful behavior was affecting others and maybe causing them to also slacken off. I was also obsessed about what others were thinking of me, at least in my imagination. I leave my house only once I feel that my sadness has subsided, and that is when I feel like my soul has been healed, and I remember that “I am a neshamah”.
I have been going through this pattern for 5 years, and it began a little after I got married, because I would harbor on my problems in my shalom bayis (marital peace) and the lack of my connection I felt with my wife, which was a source of great disappointment to me, because my wife only had complaints on me and we were fighting a lot. This added to my sadness and made it worse.
In the home I grew up in, there was no happy atmosphere. I saw a lot of anger between my parents and a lot of ugly words that flew between them, and I don’t want to go into it more. There was no humor in the house to lighten the tense atmosphere there. This only exasperated my element of “earth” which easily made me depressed and to think negatively.
I would often think of tragic events that took place in the world, such as killings, accidents, and of people who died unusual deaths, anything sad I remembered from recent events, and I would especially harbor about the deaths of children or babies which I heard about. I would often think of all the widows and orphans which I knew about, and I would think about the generally “not good” situation that Klal Yisrael is in, both the physical suffering as well as the spiritual suffering of our generation, both my own personal troubles as well as the troubles of others.
Whenever I see a person who looks happy, I think he is a superficial person who simply isn’t aware of the situation of Klal Yisrael today, or that he is probably ignoring his purpose in life and that is why he always looks so calm and happy, because he’s just care-free. I have a connection to my inner world, because I listen often to the shiurim of the Rav, and this gives me much satisfaction, as well as hope, that I will be able to build my inner world. But my nature leans towards depression, and therefore I needed to go for therapy. My therapist is a ben Torah and he has yiras shomayim, but he hasn’t succeeded in changing me, at least in a meaningful way.
Very often I am tempted to try the world of medication so I can calm my soul, but I have accepted what the Rav says that taking medication is not the true way to live, and that a person instead needs to build his inner world, and that the main remedy lies there. I am looking forward to hearing the Rav’s series on Sadness so that I can analyze my sadness in-depth and understand myself better, but until I get there, I need some advice in the meantime to lessen my sadness, on a very elementary level, so that I can come out of my situation, which I don’t want to elaborate more about. It’s possible that I said too much here. Therefore I am asking for the Rav’s advice on what I can do to lessen my sadness, whether in the external sense or in the inner sense. I certainly plan to listen to the Rav’s shiurim about this topic so that I can learn about sadness in-depth.
Yasher Koach to the Rav for all of the guidance, and especially for answering this question, may Hashem help the Rav always, to strengthen and assist the souls of Klal Yisrael and to draw them closer to our Father in Heaven, through building a true and inner life and utilizing our potential, until the coming of our righteous redeemer. Amen.
- Every day, write down 3 good things that happened in your life today.
- Review each day, with passion, all the good things that have been written on your list from the past until now.