Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Healing the Soul: Prayer

So, the thing about having people know you are in a Mental Health Institution is that there is a stigma involved. In that hospital, we all know we have an illness, and came to the right place to get help for it. We look absolutely normal, and act absolutely normal to the outside world, and, to a certain extent, maintain regular life externally. That's what makes it so hard to justify to ourselves that we need this help. But at some point, the inner turmoil, depression, sleep disturbances, and the disquiet in our heads force us to seek help. I just wish there wasn't this stigma. People understand illness better if you are lying in a surgical ward of a hospital with your gut blasted open by a bacteria.

I want to clarify a bit here what this TMS treatment I will be getting is about. It is quite physiological, actually. When people suffer the sorts of symptoms that are inherent in PTSD, it is because their brain has been rewired. Trauma actually causes synapses in the brain to separate, when they are supposed to be traveling in parallel. In my case, being almost dead for a little while made my brain go a bit off track. My shrink, about 8 months ago, said that when a person has "one foot on the other side", we don't actually understand what happens in the brain. Things happen, though.

The TMS actually introduces magnetic pulses into the brain (via electrodes on the scalp while awake) which are supposed to stimulate the synapses to bridge together and travel parallel once again. There has been lots of documented success with this, and I'm hopeful.

When I feel the mental health stigma enter, I try to remember that even from our prayers Hashem taught us about healing the soul. In fact, a healthy soul is mentioned first in the prayer to grant healing to a person. It says "בריות הנפש ,בריות הגופ", which in translation means to grant "health for the soul, health for the body". Although both are clearly important and vital, somehow when the soul suffers, it is known that the body cannot heal fully.

I still have pain daily, and still check my major surgical areas for infection on a daily basis (out of fear, still, after this long). I am not thinking that this treatment at the "center for the health of the soul" will take the physical pain away, but it may help me to put it in proportion. Today in talking with Robert, we acknowledged that I'll probably have daily pain all my life. Dorit, my lymphatic massage therapist, said the best we can do now is to try to keep it (the lymph edema) the way it is and not let it get worse. I understand that it may get worse, and probably won't get better. Lymph systems don't grow back.

If I can get proper help for the PTSD symptoms, the physical hardships may be easier to deal with. And I can pick up and go on. Please Gd.

(Sarah Rachel Bat Tova)


  1. Good luck, Sarah!!!!! I really hope the treatments do what you need them to do (as you so eloquently described).

    Love, D

  2. Sarah,
    Thanks for your updates. It is good to hear about the positive interaction you have with your loving family (and pets!). Robert is truly a remarkable guy and you are blessed to have him.
    I guess Simchat Torah wasn't really conducive to talking much beyond the few hugs we got in. So, I look forward to finally having our non-coffee coffee date and just chatting.
    Love, Miriam