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    Hey everyone!

    So happy you all came to join me here.

    For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Yaffa Palti (well, for those of you who DO know me, my name is still Yaffa Palti) and I am on Instagram as…wait for it… @yaffapalti.


    I like to refer to myself as “Selectively Vulnerable,” as I believe in the power and necessity of vulnerability as a source of connection and relatability and growth, but I don’t agree with the culture of victimhood that misunderstood and misplaced vulnerability has created.

    I am choosing to share some of my personal struggles here with you, not from a place of neediness, not from a place of shame, not as a celebration of illness, and certainly not as a victim. I am sharing with you from a place of humanity, love, wellness and realness.

    I grew up as the oldest daughter in a very large, loving, fun, hyper-functional family.

    I was never bullied in school, always popular, happy, creative and talented; a confident and positive leader.

    I’ve had my share of struggles. My father had fallen ill with chronic degenerative Multiple Sclerosis when I was in high school (and later passed away from it), my sister developed an eating disorder and my brother was lost in life and addicted to dangerous substances.

    And then I got married.

    I grew up as an Ashkenazi Jewess in Brooklyn, NY, and my husband is Sefardic, from Mexico City. There were so many adjustments as I took upon his minhagim, changed my davening, pronounciation, and food styles, as well as language and cultural nuances.

    I also left my family, my job, my friends and community, and moved across the world to Israel. For the first time in my life I was all alone and so, so lonely. And bored. And pregnant. This was before social media and before WhatsApp and Israel was just really, really far.

    I am an extrovert. I love people, I need people, and I didn’t have any people.

    I developed some serious FOMO which manifested itself in tears and loneliness and fear. My younger sisters (whom I have discovered were heartbroken that I left them), had informed me on one of our infrequent long distant phone calls that we couldn’t afford, that because I moved away, they had removed me from our family song.

    Heart stab.

    I became very down, very sad, very homesick, and resentful of my husband who was at fault for all of this.

    But I never told him that because, well, that’s not very romantic, and also because I had too much pride to feel human feelings, so I just put a smile on my face and pushed through.

    But then…. the intifada started. Buses were blowing up all over the place and people were dying and places that I’ve frequented just hours before have exploded with all the people inside them. I had never been so scared in my life. I never even understood the concept of fear until then.

    This paralyzing fear took me from my already down state and brought me to an all-time low. I developed anxiety, depression, and even….agoraphobia.

    Now, agoraphobia, which is an extreme fear of open or crowded spaces- to the extent that you are afraid to leave your own home, is actual suicide to an extrovert.

    I did leave my home sometimes because I had to go to work (I taught- and hyperventilated- in multiple seminaries) but every step I took I thought would be my last. I had crazy, irrational fears of the street lamps falling onto my head, I envisioned that each passing car would jump up onto the sidewalk and ram into me, I was convinced that every person who passed me was a terrorist and I closed my eyes and said my farewell Shema as they walked passed.

    Obviously, I was afraid to step on a plane, and when I did, I KNEW- not just “thought”- but KNEW that it was my last day on earth.

    But the fears came home with me, too. Every night before I went to sleep, I thought I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. I didn’t want to call my family or friends because I was afraid that that will be the “closure call” story of my loved ones that I randomly called for the last time before…

    And the fears ran deeper and deeper, lasting a few years and through a few pregnancies. I lived under a cloud, sometimes it was gray and sometimes it was black. Everything was just foggy and dark.

    But the problem was, I had no idea that I had anxiety, or depression, and I had never even heard of agoraphobia. I didn’t know to go for help, or even to confide in someone about how I was feeling. No one spoke about it then. And it was all so contrary to my nature and personality that it just didn’t make any sense to me which made it confusing and even scarier.

    Hating the way I was feeling, I began thinking about how to get over it. I realized that if nothing changes, nothing changes. And if something needs to change, it’s up to me to change it. I began questioning my emunah and bitachon, realizing that I had grown up frum, but ironically, I didn’t have a real relationship with Hashem. So, I bought a book on bitachon and started learning new ideas every day and tried to implement them into my life. I taught myself how to love the fear, how to embrace the darkness, and how to talk to the negative voices in my brain. Slowly, my life started changing. I felt the cloud lift and I started getting back to myself. BH ever since then it was just forward and upward.

    I started loving living in Israel, pushed myself to go to places that had previously frightened me, and (mostly) overcame my fear of flying.

    But then, just when I was getting to know the new me, which was really the old me, we picked up and moved to Mexico City, and I kissed the new old me goodbye as I began a whole new cycle of isolation, social death and loneliness.

    That story is a longer one and too extensive for this forum, but bH after a few years of living in a rut, I was able to use the tools that I had developed to pick myself up and move forward and upward, where I have been living ever since.

    But here are some important lessons from all of this:

    1. Yes, Bitachon is everything. But had I been aware that there were other venues of healing to explore, like therapy or medication, it would have made my healing process quicker and easier, alongside my bitachon work. (Realize that my depression was not clinical, it was situational. It feels the same, but possible to control without medication).
    1. It is so important to get the help you need, but the bottom line is, there is NO ONE who can make the changes for you. It can only come from you. We can all develop the skills we need to help ourselves and to make the necessary changes in our lives. “If I am not for myself, then who is for me?”
    2. Make sure you get a Copyright on your family song so that no one removes you from it. It really hurts to be taken out.

    And anyway, btw, the tune doesn’t even fit without my name! What were they thinking?? I’m so happy they put me back in.

    So, this is just a little part of me and my journey that I wanted to share with you. Please let me know if you relate, if you found this helpful, if you have any questions, and any other feedback is welcome!

    We will have Live interaction here Today, Sunday the 10th through Tuesday the 12th.

    With deep love,




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    Wow. Just wow. To get a glimpse of what you’ve been through and to see where you are today is just so incredibly inspiring for those going through any emotional challenges or mental illnesses. It gives so much hope for those who are actually in that rut now and feel like it’s never going to end. And yes! Therapy and medication make the recovery process a lot easier, so thank you for raising that awareness! Hopefully those who are afraid because of the stigma (or their beliefs) to use those tools that Hashem has given us to help us along the way will read this and get encouragement from that. Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing this with us!!

    Thanks Yaffa for joining us here and sharing! I loved the lessons you shared. Especially the concept of Emunah and Bitochon with therapy and medication when necessary. Also that NO ONE can make changes for us:

    We can all develop the skills we need to help ourselves and to make the necessary changes in our lives. “If I am not for myself, then who is for me?”

    I think this is so important to remember especially for those that feel like it is selfish or there is “not enough time” to take care of themselves.

    @avacad0 @anonymous @mitchell want to make sure you get a chance to chime in!

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    Wow, Yaffa, thank you for sharing your incredible story with us! I’m sure that being away from so many of the people you know can be a huge struggle, and one that I believe some of my friends are going through right now. I’m wondering if you have any advice on how we can keep people feeling included and connected, despite any physical difference?

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    Welcome @Yaffa and thank you for having the courage to share some aspects of your personal life. I copied and pasted these few lines because they speak so much to me:

    So, I bought a book on bitachon and started learning new ideas every day and tried to implement them into my life. I taught myself how to love the fear, how to embrace the darkness, and how to talk to the negative voices in my brain. Slowly, my life started changing. I felt the cloud lift and I started getting back to myself. BH ever since then it was just forward and upward.

    I love love these lines. I love how you embraced your hard and difficult feelings, worked on them and helped yourself change for the better. When I read those lines, I pictured you relating to your fears as a friend and not as an enemy. I think that that’s such a crucial and important step. Loving and accepting ourselves, even the not such good parts, is so important for going forward.

    I’m dealing with the traits of Borderline Personality Disorder and as much as I would love to “like” it, I don’t really. I guess I try to own it, but no, I don’t love it. I guess I don’t love it because it hasn’t been my greatest friend. I’m guessing that I would have to work more on the the acceptance (meaning that it’s there but I don’t love it) piece of it versus liking it.

    I would love to hear your take on this as well as others’.

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    Wow Yaffa, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’d love to know some of the steps you took to turn around your outlook.

    How were your children affected by the moving? Were there long conversations had beforehand–how did you prepare them?

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    Yaffa –

    It feels stupid to use the same words as everyone else, but it’s the one that best describes your post – Wow. Just wow! You did some awesome job there. I came on here and looked at your post thinking to myself “Why on earth is it so long? Who has time to read that?” But its 1:22 am and it was so intriguing and well written – it practically read itself. So thank you.

    I, like @Fay, love this line:

    We can all develop the skills we need to help ourselves and to make the necessary changes in our lives. “If I am not for myself, then who is for me?”

    I just recently listened to “Codependent No More” – the Audible version (an amazing book by the way) – and this is one of the very fundamental lessons in that book. It’s so good to be hearing from the person that needed to make that change. To see that the person who needed to make changes realizes that the will to change needed to come from within and no one was able to change you – only hold your hand and help you a bit.

    So, what I would love to know is – are you still living in Mexico City? Were you able to get your husband on the same page as you and educate him on emotional intelligence/health? How long ago was this and where in Israel were you living (I know I can just Google when the Intafada was but I’m just gonna ask)?

    Lastly, I hate to make this morbid, but I don’t want to withhold thoughts. Although I’m no professional, I’d imagine your children would gain from some psychotherapy – having someone to speak to – being that they grew up with a mom that was struggling so much. But they sure are lucky to have the amazing version you are today!!!

    So happy you’re back in the family song bH!

    Thank you for being here and sharing!

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    Thank you for sharing this!

    My family moved from the former Soviet Union to Europe when I was 10 years and then again to America when I was 20 years old often struggling with a sense of not belonging to a community and being different. After I got married, i have been moving a lot within the US due to my husbands medical schooling/residency and now specialty. While Judaism has given me perspective, stability and focus, I can totally relate to your sentence of “I kissed the new old me goodbye as I began a whole new cycle of isolation, social death and loneliness.” Now that we are looking into a work/employment, we might have to move again and it brings a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in me. Can you recommend the any books that you have been using on emuna and bitachon?

    Thank you!

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    Wow! I love how people share their vulnerabilities. It is something I am working so hard on. I am an over achiever and I am always on a roll. I need to calm down and relax.

    I am also trying so hard to accept myself. I am a people pleaser and for years I was not honest with myself. I kept running away from anything out of my comfort zone. Boy did I have anxiety. I was so not real. I am trying to embrace myself with everything that makes “me” being me and accepting myself for who I am. I learnt that the only way to move forward is by accepting myself at this current moment.

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    In response to avacad0's post #6555:

    Oh boy can I relate to the people pleasing and trying to accept myself for who I am. I am also a high achiever, probably bc I feel the need to prove and impress others. It also comes from not feeling important enough and craving that recognition.

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