Av 5760 – Down in the Dumps

Letter in Response to the Last Edition of “Dear Chana” Concerning ADHD:

To Rebetzin Chana Silver:

I came across your recent response regarding ADHD. I would like to complement you for a succinct and to my way of thinking appropriate answer. I might mention that ADHD is not a “disease”, as most would so define the term, but rather a “disorder” which involves certain brain chemical pathways.

Other good authors on this topic include: Larry Silver, MD and Barbara Ingersoll, MD. There are Jewish laymen societies for ADHD, including J.A.D.D. in Brooklyn, New York.

If you think I can be of any help in this regard, kindly contact me.

Kol tuv.

Leon Zacharowicz, MA, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology,
Division of Child Neurology
Nassau County Medical Center
2201 Hempstead Turnpike
East Meadow, N.Y. 11554


1 Av 5760

Dear Chana,

It seems that I am in the doldrums. I am feeling simply down and out. Work is the same, day in and day out – altogether not too exciting – plus there are some problems I am having with some of my coworkers. Dating is… dating – Hard and depressing at times. Even the friendships I have feel kind of strained right now, and there is a difficult situation that I am facing at home. I know that I am being vague and general, but, is there some bit of advice that you can give me that can help me get out of this rut? I don’t like this ‘place’ – and I want to move away from it, but I just can’t seem to snap out of it. I feel like I am a mess. You should know that I am functional, but inside everything is just driving me nuts. I really want to get back on track, even as I write these words to you – it just doesn’t sound like me at all, I’m usually not like this. This is just really rough.
Thanks for your time and help, I really appreciate it,

[Name & seminary withheld upon request]

It does certainly seem that you are going through a rocky time. This can be very normal. Life is full of vicissitudes. There are highs and lows and everything in between. There are many things in life that we do appear to have little control over. But, the truth is, that isn’t true. We may not be able to control a certain event, outcome, or situation, but we can very much channel our ATTITUDE about it. As you know Attitude IS Everything.

You are being quite hazy about the 4 scenarios that you spoke about but, with JemSem having soooooooo many readers – It’s understandable that you don’t want to get too personal. So, I’ll give you some general thoughts on how to deal with some of this.

Work: Whatever it is that you are doing, you must find ways to pep yourself up. Make your job more meaningful by doing each thing 1000 % thoroughly, really putting your all into it. You’ll feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that you’re doing your best. Whenever we make a super effort in something, it can make us feel good about ourselves. [In a previous letter I spoke about this concept regarding Shifra and Puah – and the lesson of making everything we do a Ma’ase Gadol] [Rebbe Yerucham Levovitz]. As far as the coworkers go, see what you can do to change the situation. Whatever the issue, whatever patterns seem to be evolving – try to break the pattern. If you don’t get along with one of them and you have continual disagreements that seem to escalate often, rethink what is being said, change your reactions – and don’t react according to the same pattern that keeps developing. This can be done with friends and family members as well as with spouses. So many times we get caught up in the ‘roles’ that we play in relationships with others. They say this and we automatically say that. Rewrite the scene. Give yourself some different lines. Perhaps the ending will come out quite different than regular, much to your surprise! Even if the situation can’t be changed, how you look at it can make all the difference. If you tell yourself that you can’t handle it or can’t stand what they’re doing – well, then you probably won’t be able to handle it – but if you send some positive thoughts going through your brain cells and try and figure out how you can look at it in a positive way and perhaps how this nasty situation is helping you grow… well, then you HAVE changed the situation!

Dating: Keep making your Hishtadlus and HaKadosh Boruch Hu will work out the rest. View every date as a real possibility for marriage, and again, give it your all. So it’s hard and its rough, yeah, you’re very right – but don’t forget ‘Adam L’amal Yulad’. There is something to learn from every guy you go out with. Analyze it each time and find the lessons within. Each guy brings you one closer to your Zivug.

Friends: Ditto for some of what I said in the ‘work’ paragraph. If you have issues with friends, talk it out. Being honest, open and straightforward is usually the best way to go. Do different things together. Be adventurous. Have a conversation that you haven’t had before. Start a project or take up a new hobby with them. Learn to play a new instrument together. The point is that there are lots of ways to shake things up in a good way. Be creative!

Family: I obviously don’t have a clue as to what you mean by a difficult situation at home. That could mean a myriad of things. These questions that you can ask yourself may give your some direction. Can I help the situation at all? Is there anything in my power to do? Will changing something about me or what I do – help? If the situation is in fact unchangeable and not in your control…. So, how can I look at this differently? What do I need to put into my head to make this a livable situation? What can I tell myself? How can I turn this around in my mind to change how I feel and think about it? What am learning from all of this? How is this helping me grow and making me stronger? What middos can I hone through this difficulty? Again, there is much to be gained through everything we go through.

Lastly, find ways to give of yourself and focus on others. Sometimes, by helping another person, we can actually help ourselves. It can do wonders for us automatically, because it feels great to be outer-focused and to give of ourselves.

If this depression of sorts keeps up, you may want to find someone to talk to professionally, just to help you through some of this. Even just a few times can make world of difference.

Two books which are a must: ‘It’s All A Gift’ by Miriam Adahan, and ‘Gateway to Happiness’ by Rabbi Pliskin.

I wish you emotional Koach!