Shalom, Y’all!

I have so much to be grateful for.

Life is going pretty well at the moment. I’ve paused my college career for the foreseeable future. Although I do love learning, I don’t love being graded or listening to half-baked “analysis” of material by classmates who seem to have never encountered the written word before. I am interested in possibly auditing some classes at my college–particularly Spanish classes–but for now, I’m just trying to create some semblance of a routine with work. I enjoy my job, and I would venture so far as to say I’m pretty good at it. My coworkers are great, and even most of my customers are nice.

My psychiatrist is still tinkering with my medication. Clozapine, the last-resort, so-called miracle drug left a lot to be desired, so he added another antipsychotic and wants to get me off the Clozapine.

On the bright side, that means no more weekly blood draws. On the not-so-bright side, this new antipsychotic might not work either. I don’t know what we’d do then.

I’ve been seeing things out of the corners of my eyes, shadow people, flashes of light, bears, dogs, and monsters. My anxiety has also gotten worse. Getting behind the wheel of my car feels like an insurmountable task.

But, I’m doing it.

Sometimes, I feel like I drive people away. My best friend from summer camp doesn’t answer my messages anymore. We never had a falling-out or anything. We just drifted apart.

Old friends don’t text me back anymore. It makes me wonder if I’m boring, or what I did to “deserve” not having many close friends.

I’ve heard that if you’re looking for evidence to support a claim, you’re going to find it, even in the face of contrary evidence. So, while I was bemoaning having “no friends,” I was dodging messages from a college classmate. This friend wanted me to come to the local paint-your-own-pottery place with them. I made excuses for weeks. “Oh, I have to work.” “Yeah, I would, but I’m not feeling well.” And on and on and on.

So today, I finally decided to get myself out of my rut and meet up with my friend. And you know what? We had a blast! My friend is funny, intelligent, and just a little bit goofy. Not only that, but I got to flex my creativity muscle and made some (very lumpy) Shabbat candlesticks.

My mom is my best advocate. She comes to my psychiatrist appointments with me, armed with a herringbone notebook which contains vital notes pertaining to medication doses and whatnot.

During last Monday’s appointment, Mom told the doctor that “She’s just not ‘Katie’ anymore.”

It’s hard for me to know what I’m feeling. When my baseline is at least moderately detached from reality, semi-self-destructive, and wildly impulsive, it’s pretty difficult to know if I’m just having a bad day or if there’s something bigger going on.

The high doses of Clozapine that I was taking made me incredibly fatigued. I could (and did!) sleep for nineteen solid hours and wake up still tired.

Now that I’m taking less of it, I am no longer nocturnal! I woke up at 8:30 this morning without an alarm! Incredible!

I talked to my mom on the phone tonight, actually talked, and even laughed. Mom said I sounded like myself. I think she was right.

I know I’m doing well when I’m going out and participating in life. On Thursday, I went to a Spanish language exchange group. I sat with three men at a table in Panera and relayed the story of a customer who is known as “Senor Asco.” Somehow, I was comfortable around these men, which was HUGE for me. We conversed in both Spanish and English, and I had a great time.

I’ve been taking photos, writing poetry, reaching out to friends, and I even went to a couple of karaoke nights!

Tonight, my roommate and I went to synagogue for Shabbat services. She recently became very involved in an LGBT+ church, and I really admire how introspective her faith is.

I noticed that she seemed a bit down, so I invited her to come to the temple and check out a Jewish service. She surprised me by accepting.

My synagogue is beyond blessed to have our rabbi. She’s young, energetic, and devoted to her work. Tonight, she asked me to lead “Shalom Rav,” my favorite hymn.

After the service, I felt so moved that I wrote this.

There are as many ways
to be Jewish
as there are
notes to sing
when the synagogue
swells in song.

An eternal flame
that never goes out,
as unwavering as my faith
and the faith of those
who came before me.

My father, 
my mensch of a father,
once told me
that Torah study is meant to last
a lifetime.
We are all G-d’s students,
the children learning 
the alef-bet and
the grandparents
who know how to bake rugelach
just by the weight of the ingredients
in their loving hands.

The temple is my home,
the home I share with G-d
and G-d’s family,
where simchas are celebrated,
and we mourn together
as we solemnly speak
the Mourner’s Kaddish.

I thank G-d 
for making me Jewish. And
although I do not understand
every word of Hebrew prayer,
I know G-d
understands even the
softest whispers
of my reverent heart.

Whenever my soul
reaches skyward in prayer,
G-d reaches out a hand
to let me know
I am loved,
I am whole, 
and the world needs me,
just as the world needs everyone who
sat in the pews tonight.

We were commanded 
to keep Shabbat.
And by setting aside
a special day,
G-d sets apart special people
and special dreams.

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