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Should I be Happy?

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Topic: Should I be Happy?

From: Name@Withheld

Dear Rabbi,
Hi. I take antidepressants, and it has helped me a lot. The only problem is that, truthfully, I do not feel the same connection to G-d now as I did when I was depressed. Sometimes I used to pray with tears. I guess you could say that medication has made it harder for me to feel spiritual.

So this may be a silly question, but should I keep taking the medication even though it makes it harder for me to feel as spiritual as I felt before?

Dear Name@Withheld,
Your question is both silly and brilliant. Silly, because you know the answer: Keep taking the medication as directed by a competent health care professional.

But brilliant, because you've touched on a basic Jewish concept: "Man was born to struggle" (Job 5:7). All of life's situations are meant as challenges and struggles to be overcome.

Depression has been a painful challenge for you, but you've used it as an opportunity to feel close to G-d. So why not stop taking the medicine and go back to the challenge?

Because G-d has decided that you're ready for a new challenge: Find spirituality as a healthy person.

You know, after my son was in first grade for a few weeks he asked if he could go back to kindergarten. Kindergarten is fun and affords wonderful growth, but I said no. There's no going back to kindergarten.

For you, depression was a class entitled "Spirituality 101 - Finding G-d during Dark Days." But you graduated. Now you're in a class called "102 - Finding G-d during Dull Days."

This may be harder. The Sages taught that wealth makes it harder to be spiritual, so perhaps the same is true of health. The challenge is, can you seek inspiration when things are OK? I think you can, because I believe that people are given only challenges that they are capable of overcoming.

G-d should bless you with success and happiness and continue to give you strength and courage to take responsibility for your health as you have been doing.

Vayikra Rabba 22
Messilat Yesharim 1

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