What would you do if one fine day someone would decide that you are mentally ill – that you’re delusional – and would send the men in white coats to forcibly hospitalize you in a psychiatric ward? If you were not ill before then, you would certainly lose your sanity afterwards – wouldn’t you?!
This is exactly what happened to Daphne, a sweet French immigrant living up North and the mother of a large family. Even worse – the person who sent her away was none other than – her husband! Based on her husband’s false testimony, the psychiatrist diagnosed Dafna with schizophrenia. After her release from the hospital, she went home – that is, she tried to return, but her husband refused to open the door. Daphne had no choice but to go home to her mother, humiliated and depressed. She longed to reconnect with her children, but her husband convinced them that their mother was crazy and dangerous. The welfare authorities set up biweekly visits – under supervision, of course – but in spite of all her attempts to strengthen the mother-child bond, they shied away from her due to their father’s brainwashing. Their reaction broke her heart and only increased her depression.
She did not want to lose them forever – and not lose herself either. She decided to go for help at Bayit Cham’s vocational rehabilitation department. She wanted to have a reason to get up in the morning, get dressed, meet people and work towards economic independence. Naomi, Daphne’s devoted rehabilitation coordinator, found her work at a daycare center. Gradually, Daphne felt the suffocating bonds of her emotional prison begin to loosen. As an employee undergoing rehabilitation, she was assigned marginal roles, such as kitchen work, preparing materials for activities and the like.
Daphne worked diligently and loyally – she was punctual and gave the job her all, fulfilling her duties and beyond. She continued to receive guidance and encouragement from Naomi, who was thrilled to note Daphne’s budding self-esteem. Everyone at the daycare center also learned to appreciate and love her, including the staff, the children and their parents. Daphne began to regain her natural joy as her self-confidence soared, and one day the penny dropped. With new clarity, she told herself: “What Naomi from Bayit Cham tells me all the time is true! I’m normal – perfectly normal!!” That perception then went up a notch: “I am a good worker and deserve to receive standard wages with good conditions as a bona fide employee just like the rest of the staff!”
With this empowering insight, she went on her own to the supervisor to ask for a promotion: a full position with salary and benefits on par with the rest of the staff, working as a caregiver rather than an adjunct helper. In addition, she asked to be in charge of young babies rather than tots so that the language barrier won’t interfere with her work – her command of Hebrew was still weak. How grateful and happy she was when the Supervisory Board accepted her request in full!
For the first time in her life, Daphne achieved financial independence and her entire being radiated confidence. Said Daphne, “I had always been a doormat – that’s how I was treated – I never used to step out of my house.” In meetings with her children, they noticed the huge change in her – her newfound strength and independence. Thanks to her stable economic situation, Daphne was able to take care of her needs, buy nice clothes for herself and even buy her children gifts. Thus, Daphne began to strengthen the ties with her children. That heavy burden on her heart, the loss of a normal maternal relationship with her children, melted and fell away – what a release!!
Daphne has no words to thank Bayit Cham for enabling her to free herself from crippling confinement – to a new life, bright with promise.