July 17, 2024
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What Is the Point?

In recent weeks—and specifically recent months—the world as a whole has witnessed countless acts of terror. We wake up each morning praying that no tragedies have taken place, only to find that there have been attacks in our homeland, the State of Israel, and brutal killings around the globe.

During these times—of dreading the news, of these periods of mourning, of countless tears—there are a number of different ways that individuals can cope. We can rise together as a community, offering support and uniting as one. We can continue to individually contribute, perhaps by donations, perhaps by prayer and maybe by simply advocating. There are numerous emotional reactions: some people find that they must continue about their daily lives, to keep their minds and attitudes safe and positive. Others show their reactions within their social circles, leaning on friends when the news strikes and speaking only to loved ones about the horrible attacks. We all cope differently and find ways to manage our feelings so as to keep ourselves going.

Recently, I was out to coffee with one of my close friends, Maria. Maria is also a social worker and was a supervisor of mine at a past position. We were discussing all the recent tragedies and I started talking about the way in which I used to react to these types of events: shutting down. Since I was a child I have experienced strong reactions when hearing about attacks on the news. I can remember having difficulty leaving my house after September 11, 2001. I hadn’t known anyone who perished in the Twin Towers, but I felt a visceral sense of mourning and cried for many days straight. I recall when the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon died, and having difficulty breathing, being unable to stop sobbing. The news has always been a foe of mine. Even today I have difficulty separating myself and instead find myself in an almost constant state of deep emotion and of mourning.

Maria and I shared our experiences and then went on to discuss the challenge that these types of events can cause for those suffering from depression or mental illness. In my lowest state of depression I remember grappling with needing to leave the house: there was so much evil out there, why should I make any effort to be present in that big, bad world?

I think many of us experience this type of reaction at times, wanting to hide under the covers, perhaps even experiencing a legitimate fear of something terrible happening, not feeling safe. Maria voiced the question that can often arise when in this mindset: What is the point? What’s the point if everything is going to end anyway? What’s the point if I’m never sure of my future, or the future of my family, my people?

Maria and I, over our cappuccinos, began to explore this question: When the world feels like it’s crumbling, what is the point? For many readers, this answer might seem obvious: family, friends, chesed, happiness, memories, religion, etc. And for many others, especially those with a history of depression or mental illness, this question can feel dark and looming. And so I challenge those readers; those readers who are feeling overwhelmed and worried that the evils of the world may just win out anyway or that our lives are not eternal, what is the point? What is your point?

This is a question that at some point in life we all ask ourselves. We introspect and wonder, “What is my point? Why am I here? What is the point of this existence?” It is with this question that an individual has power and opportunity. Power to discover. Opportunity to make choices, to make a difference. Our time on this planet may be limited but there is a point, there is a reason one is brought into being. It is our individual journeys to discover this purpose, to create this purpose.

When we are faced with these events it is important to find whatever we need in the moment to care for ourselves. This may mean giving back, advocacy, prayer, and it may mean grappling with bigger questions in order to create a sense of purpose. May we all find this purpose and rise together as a community. May those we have lost have their memories be a blessing, and may God protect the nation of Israel and the people of this world from those on a mission to destroy us. Am Yisrael Chai.

Temimah Zucker is a social worker specializing in the field of eating disorders. After recovering from her own struggle with anorexia, Temimah began to immerse herself in the field and currently works as a primary therapist at EDTNY Monte Nido. Temimah speaks publicly on the subject of body image and eating disorders and provides meal support. You can reach Temimah at [email protected].

By Temimah Zucker, LMSW

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