Shuki grew up in an upper-class Jerusalem neighborhood and was the star of his family – the most talented and successful of them all. His father served in a high position at an influential public office and his mother devotedly and skillfully took care of all the needs of their home.
One winter night Shuki woke up sweating and shaking like a leaf. He dreamt that he was being followed and that the Shin Bet secret service was trying to recruit him. Shuki was 20 years old at the time – tall and handsome with a promising future ahead of him. He did not dare tell anyone about it except for his mother who he implicitly trusted to keep his secret. They made a joint decision to hide the story from his siblings and the entire family no matter what.
But Shuki’s mother was not naïve. On the contrary – she was very on the ball and immediately realized what was happening. She quickly arranged for him to meet with one of the top psychiatrists in Israel. After Shuki was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and put on medication, he refused to leave his home or accept visitors, not even from his inner circle. He was embarrassed by his condition and after a period when he was feeling well, he decided on his own that he didn’t need medication any longer and stopped taking them. Within three months he became delusional once again, only this time it was even more extreme. It is important to understand how harmful this is. Every attack damages the ability to concentrate and reduces cognitive function…
His older brother Yitzchak suggested, “Let’s look into Bayit Cham and see what they have to offer.” The idea of going for help and support scared Shuki but he decided to take the step… He went back on medication and began to receive psychological treatment at Bayit Cham. Over the next six months, he was given the tools to deal with his inner turmoil, cope with his condition and heal the emotional scars it had caused. At the same time, he joined Bayit Cham’s vocational rehabilitation program called supported employment. It places people with mental illness at job in the mainstream community with a vocational coach for support. This program enables each client to reintegrate into the community and return to a meaningful and productive life. Shuki and his vocational coach tried to determine which field would provide him with the most satisfaction and enjoyment. Shuki had an interest in cooking, albeit at an amateurish level, and he saw his future there. His coach found his a job as a sous-chef in a well-known centrally located restaurant…. Shuki tried it out but could not integrate socially and left the job after about a month. He was blamed himself for his failure to realize his potential in catering… The vocational coach decided to take a gamble; he offered Shuki to mentor others who are struggling with mental illness. He felt that Shuki had a lot to contribute from his personal experience. Shuki hesitated, consulted with others and tried to dodge out of it, but eventually made a courageous decision to take a dive and jump in… Today Shuki guides a group of 5-6 men whom he accompanies daily and continuously. Shuki lives a full life; he is happily married, raising a wonderful family and supporting them both emotionally and financially. He is in charge of the economic management of the home and aspires to continue growing!
Shuki’s message to the world: Go for therapy and do not neglect your mental health condition! You are like a diabetic who need daily and continuous treatment.
An optimistic message for the future: Accept yourself as your are, be at peace with yourself and maximize what you have! Radiate love to your environment!
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