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Why did G‑d give me mental illness?

Why did G‑d give me mental illness?

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Question:

Can you tell me why G‑d gave me a mental illness? Why has he made me suffer? I am not a bad person.

Answer:

Every soul journeys down into this world with two suitcases. One is full of the challenges the soul has to face during its lifetime. The other is full of the talents and strengths necessary to withstand those challenges. The first suitcase is opened for you; the second you have to open yourself.

Your soul's challenge is mental illness. Your mission is to use your talents to turn the pain and frustration into a positive force.

Because of your openness and willingness to share your experiences, you can be an inspiration to others who have mental illnesses. You can bring hope and light to those who are not as strong as you, by showing them just how much they can achieve if they focus on their abilities.

You can also bring understanding and insight to those who have not themselves experienced the pain of mental illness. I for one have learnt an invaluable lesson from speaking to you.

Do you remember our conversation, when I asked you what was the hardest thing about having a mental illness? You said it was the silence; when people discover that you suffer from mental illness, they don't know what to say, and the conversation comes to an abrupt and awkward end.

So I asked you, What would you like them to say? Your answer amazed me.

You said, "I wish they would ask me questions about my illness. I wish they would show an interest to understand what I am going through. I wish they would give me the chance to share what I am experiencing, rather than let me suffer alone."

I'm sure not everyone is as willing to talk as you are, but I suspect that for many the stigma of mental illness hurts more than anything else. Thank you for letting me see it from your perspective. I promise to pass on the lesson.

G‑d has presented your soul with a challenge, but He has also given you a bright and warm personality, and a strength of character that can stand up to the challenges you face. This is a gift that I hope you will share with the world.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Rob Louisiana August 2, 2016

Hello, I follow these comments about dealing with privacy in healthcare. I suffer from a disorder thus I recall how we were asked to help bridge initial steps for others who were new to privacy rights;

I've been in different cities/regions over the years, experiencing completely different modes of healthcare and realized the advantage of online info/blogs because it aggregates perspectives as well as privacy.
A few tips :

1) Whenever you find blogs or websites that respect your own privacy concerns, bookmark & share them because it focuses software developers (and users) to build on common benefits;

2) Finding info online or by phone is massively helpful in dealing with privacy from friends or family when it comes to little things-- just getting a ride to a healthcare offices can compromise this "where are ya going?"

3) Discerning doc's/therapist's reputation is more successful remotely--it fosters feedback that's especially cumbersome for people dealing wit initial hurdles.

Reply

Anonymous New york July 31, 2016

Thank you. I suffer from mental illness and am simply so angry at god for giving me a challenge I see no way of surviving.
And... I have to hide it from family and friends or lose everything. Reply

Marc Steven Weiner Ventnor City N. J. May 25, 2016

I have mental illness and many somatic problems yet I have a positive attitude and care deeply about the world and those suffering from a variety of problems. i'm not selfish and i'm searching for a community in Israel where i can live w/no stigma and isolation while utilizing my innate abilities to make a positive difference. lol & shalom. Reply

Fern Thailand March 23, 2016

Use talent in the other suitcase? What if I say that my frontal lobe is damaged and I have a severe cognitive dissonance and I can no longer use the skills and the talents I had? I all of my ability dims down, even thinking ability, I can no longer play music the way I used to, sing on key (I have had perfect pitch), can no longer focus on anything at all, can no longer enjoy anything I used to enjoy (for instance, the music, I have had accidents and almost died, my thought was that if I live I will live for music) and even music,I have severe mental illnesses (ADHD,Asperger's syndrome, Dyscalculia disorder, ocd, clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, Schizoid personality disorder..to mention a few). You have no idea how frustrating it is. Excuse my language, but it seems like God doesn't give a damn, even though from the back of my heart I think He's healing me slowly, but I don't really have the patience. Why is that God cure a blind man in a second but me for years? Reply

Abishai India August 22, 2017
in response to Fern:

I am going through the same, life is a bane with mental illness and that is such an understatement. I am Bipolar, Borderline with ADHD, ASPD, NPD and it has utterly ruined my right to live a good meaningful life. I am poverty stricken as a direct result of all of the mental mayhem, the sad reality is that because you look normal, you are expected to act normal in this normotypical world. How does one do something that you are almost incapable of its like bringing out something from nothing and sadly we are not God. I am so livid to the point I am so close to losing my faith completely. It is very unfair that G-d allowed mental illness for some people so they can suffer all life long! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma July 14, 2015

what is heroic I am a psychotherapist. I have worked in clinics around Boston. I have been humbled by the struggles people undergo in daily life, that great burden of suffering and I can say mental illness is not only humbling, as it takes massive effort for some to face another morning, but it is also a sign of something far deeper in the human psyche. Life itself is bipolar and I would argue we all go to the poles as in the extremes of ecstacy and despair. And merger as in osychosis could be a greater more than metaphor. We are One. And yet we are separate and should celebrate diversity. Those who slude to the poles more easily perhaps are teaching us all deep lessons about G-d and deeper universal truths about one, about how we frame what we perceive. In a movie I love, those in the institution not outside waging war were sane and thosr outside could have been insane. Reply

Rob Mykoff Louisiana, USA July 9, 2015

the point of struggle, existence I commented earlier (I have severe OCD and the battles that come w/ a disorder) so I want to add real perspective.

I found this comment important (from An. in DC, below) "So one reason why some of us have to go through the intense pain of mental illness is so we can tell others about them or
help others who have them? That answers how we can make the painful experience positive, but that doesn't answer why we have mental illness in the first place (spiritually, not chemically)."

There are two issues. 1st issue is philosophical --why bad-things & problems happen to people. There's deeper discussion & answers on Chabad's articles / beliefs than we can get to on this page (thread).
Millions of people suffer from disease, war, bullying-- that's not what I can answer.

The 2nd issue I can answer > Unity & support, our Tikkun for others.
*IF more of us talk and make conversation publicly online, then people live better & get healing.*
It also forces science & healthcare to listen and improve. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma June 24, 2015

JOB Job is a troubling Story and I reference JOB because below there is a comment about this Book. In the Book of Job, I am sorry to say, the Story leaves Hashem in a bad light, because there is surely no need to make such an unusual wager. A Divine Being knows exactly the "score". And who is Satan? It's all G-d. I believe we are meant to be troubled by this story. Those so called friends of the "good man" reproached him, and yet Job was beyond reproach. He was hit hard, in every way made to bend, but he remained steadfast in his beliefs. In life, as we live it, I know many who are beset by one trouble after the other, a cascading set of seemingly endless and upsetting problems to deal with and they are good people. This so mirrors The Book of Job. What is our "job" in life? Where is meaning derived? Why does G_d appear to be so cruel at times, and yet, we also know crewel, aurally same, is about embroidery. Is there a divine weave in this "Material World"? silver lining. No pain/no gain? Reply

Dan Waldron Rockford, l June 22, 2015

Does everything come from G-D? I read all the posts that are here,and thoughtfully many here have been through hell,and we must be sensitive to their plights,and for the most part everyone is.That is commendable. But I would like to say that most posts make it seen that God is basically the villain here, in that they do not know why G-d would place such a misery on them,and it is far better to turn to each other for help. Well if G-d placed a mental disorder on us,are we to conclude that He is doing it to strengthen us or disable us? Maybe everyone should take time to read the book of Job. Take particular attention to the comforters who came to accuse Job, and to give their take on G-d. It can be an eye opener to say the least. Don't just take another man's word for it,but go to the Creator yourself, and pray often about your plight, find out for yourself if in fact He is really the villain? Reply

Anonymous D.C. June 21, 2015

"You can also bring understanding and insight to those who have not themselves experienced the pain of mental illness."
So, one reason why some of us have to go through the intense pain of mental illness is so we can tell others about them or help others who have them?? That answers how we can make the painful experience positive, but that doesn't answer why we have a mental illness in the first place (spiritually, not chemically). Reply

Barb b May 28, 2015

Why do I have a mental illness Thanks so much for sending this article. I am bipolar and have been experiecing a difficult period in my life. For me the worst part is the isolation that can last weeks or months. I have to stop all the things I love to do, I can't drive and I live in an area that I don't really like. I can't even invite friends over because I only have casual aquaintances.
I too have been wondering about the same question, Why has g-d done this to me.everyone is quick to reply that other people have other problems worse then I. It's true however I was told that g-d only creates good so even our challenges are good.
I was also told the he only gives us what he thinks we can handle. Do I question this from time to time yes, but then I think of how special we must be because we are the ones he made the strongest of all because he knows that we can fight these challenges, deal with them the best way that they can be dealt with. we will have daily challenges but if g-d believes in me so can I. Reply

Christa D'Auria Rochester, N.Y. USA via chabadrm.com April 5, 2015

My sensitive case In my concern, my rabbi may not understand about deafness and mental illness, then there are options in each choice as he may not or be properly trained in psychology before he was ordained before. It's mindful as I am careful in consideration in contential skills in judgement. I don't need to rush in hurry. Strongly, I feel that my strictly-contential case is sensitive not to the public as it remains on defense in privacy as it's the personal reason. I am logic in my real life in a fact. Most of the people who aren't well-educated nor intelligent enough still don't understand about mental illness as the part of prejudice and stigma in public. It's heart-breaking to see our deaf people with mental health issues as the lonelinest people on our Earth in 21st Century in reality. They need support, love,assurance and better understanding in honestly in a fact. My quote is:" Truth does not lie". Reply

Rob US July 16, 2014

Truly meaningful responses & this article's brilliant context So often, no matter how professional or experienced we have become, there is nothing like the reality of those people who are indeed suffering an illness---MORESO perhaps for Mental illness/Disorders due to it's **very** young age compared to other sciences & wisdom traditions..

I speak from deeply within the struggle (developed extreme/severe OCD in my 30s, causing me to loose a great career in 3d technology).

I still keep up w/ the technologies that are allowing medicine to learn the complex chemistry /genetic & processes/neural memories/nets,
such that medical & therapy-science is making progress @ rates previously only hoped-for (much like genetics that can cure diseases w/out years of inventing meds that are inaccurate to specific diseases for example).

HOWEVER---Nothing can remotely **replace** nor help like the Human caring & help of those who bring Tikkun and similar honest-support to mental illness sufferers.
Yet *Real compassion & listening/caring* must be in the mix. Reply

Anonymous MTL, Ca July 3, 2011

Neuroplasticity Hopefully to take advantage of Neuroplasticity Reply

Anonymous w July 1, 2011

r h July 1 2011 - music I have been told told about the wonders of music. So over the past 10 years i have every type from A TO Z. Left it as listening pleasure. Strangely enough I bought an electric keyboard. It was time to go that next step. It's the same inclination as was learning Judaism. Judaism has become more than just a hobby. It has been fun becoming a religious oriented Jew, and keeping it joyful.

I am replying to your post because it matters a whole lot more coming from you than any other source. I have not been practicing every day even though i realize that is the most important requirement. If you have reached me on this subject, i can guarantee that you reached others. Just thought i would thank you on behalf of all the rest.

Thanks for your beautiful inspiration. I know that you have promoted it in the past, but i didn't have the piano nor interest in such a hobby. i am keen to prevent brain loss. Losing a word here and there is an indicator

A fan. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma July 1, 2011

the power of music For those who are suffering, from anxiety, depression, and other problems, I want to add that immersion in music is healing.

"Sound" mind/Sound body

I know that there is something that is calming about music and I feel it's very important to listen to music, the music that you are attracted to, if you are feeling down, anxious, or otherwise upset.

There is a lot of literature lately about music, the brain on music etc. I know we all benefit from music in our lives and there is a hunger for music as it satisfies something deep within us all. Reply

Anonymous June 22, 2011

r h june 21, 2011 Love your questions.

Just in case you get a pipeline to answers before me, can you add these ?

1. Does G-d have a purpose ?

2. Does G-d need a purpose ?

A couple of caveats : I am not so interested in hackneyed pre-packaged answers. I want to go beyond theology. We ran out of prophets. Mystics i am not so crazy about. If anyone can get this mission accomplished, it has to be you.

A fan. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA June 21, 2011

Again, I don't believe Go-d gave me... Mental illness. Reason: Go-d is not a sadist. Reply

Ruth housman Marshfield hills, Ma June 21, 2011

Just a quick foot note And my feet are truly "killing" me from many wonderful walks in London. isn't language sublime!

I opened this blog toward it's beginnings and re read some truly profound thinking. are we right in saying, why did G-d give me mental illness. Then the implications are surely deep, as in why the hatred in the world? what does G-d give and not give? what about determinism and free will? given any assumption then what about the ramifications?

will we struggle with such questions? should we?

how far can the human mind take us in plumbing the Divine Mind? since we ask questions and do probe such issues, are we meant to do this? is this an essential part of being and becoming?

Are we souls being perfected? if so is there a supernal meaning and direction to suffering? Reply

Anonymous Riverside, CA, USA June 20, 2011

There was a time when I was so alone, And I wished and prayed for Go-d to send me a rescuer, who would help me make decisions, deal with my estranged sons who actually believed my ex husband that I was crazy, who would help me with my finances, and guess what. I RECEIVED a "support" person who does those things, but also has a very RUDE and mean and cruel mouth. As he helps, he berates me for needing his help. My therapist realizes that I am actually at this person's mercy, and helps me to not focus on the consequences of not being independent. Without this person's help, I'd be out on the street. He even helps pay some of my bills. It is something I'm ashamed of, but it is my reality as a handicapped senior citizen. Reply

Anonymous w June 20, 2011

Re: quick add to JJune 20, 2011 1. You recognize that one cannot/should not judge another.

2. You recognize that each individual and their struggle is unique.

3. To offer stories of comfort and hope to those in despair cannot be wrong.

What happens all too often is the cheap advice of " Look at me. I did swell and you can too. "

Re: Richard June 19, you have found a certain talent that soothes your pain. Fantastic ! i hope that you will continue to explore this part of the answer, continue to be brave like a soldier, to " go back to the group ". Besides your artistic outlet, you have found a supportive social circle/friends. Thank you for offering your ongoing powerful story. It offers hope to others. I am so happy for you that you happened to drop into that Centre. You have managed to loosen the grip of that mental illness that has you. Keep soldering on. Maybe this forum could be another social network. We would love to hear about your progress.

To this i add, Mazel and Bruchas to you !
Reply