My biggest fear in life is not knowing who I am. I have this fear lurking beneath the surface of my mind that one day I will wake up and have a sudden realization that I no longer know who I am. From a young age, I always knew what I wanted to be in life, where I was going in life and how I wanted to get there. In a world that is constantly trying to fit you into a box that makes you like millions of other people in the world, I always prided myself in knowing who I am. It was the one constant in an inconsistent world.

Depression and anxiety changes that. Over time, you start sliding off center. Those little quirks that made you feel like you start to fade and become a memory. Most of the time, you do not even realize this is happening until you are already to far in to feel like you can do anything about it. Your life becomes a video that is being played on autopilot and the picture is fuzzy. Others around you notice but it is hard to know what to say. Usually, there is not one specific thing that brings me down, it is just something that happens as natural as the weather changing. This way of living becomes comfortable, like your own skin. 

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Soon you convince yourself that this is your real skin and that perhaps it always was. One day, you realize that you are missing something. That this depressed, anxious life is perhaps a little too constricting. You catch yourself looking through the window and feeling the warmth of the sun. Suddenly it all makes sense, this is what is missing. In the warmth of light, there is growth. Or at least the conditions in which growth can happen.


Every day I take medicine that helps me to remember the light. Like clockwork, I take these medications that remind me to breathe, to get out of bed, to look for myself in the mirror. These medications come with side effects and sometimes they do not work as well as they should. But I make the effort. I take these medications to remind myself of who I am when I have forgotten, when my lens is out of focus. In Judaism, I feel like the morning prayers I say work for me a lot like my medication. They remind me of who I am. In the morning, before I have had time to let other things influence me, I set the tone for the day. 

I love praying the Nisim B'Chol Yom, the daily miracles. They remind me that already since I opened my eyes this morning, great things have happened. Even if from this moment on the whole day goes wrong, I still know that some pretty great things happened already. Today, I woke up in the image of G-d. Today, I woke up free and a Jew! Today, G-d girded me and Israel with strength for whatever comes our way. Those are pretty amazing things. G-d restored my soul to my body from sleep so that I could reach this moment.

As I make room in my day for Jewish rituals, I make room for good things. I make room for stability and peace. In these moments, I am reminded of who I am and whom I live for. At night, as I lay down to sleep, I pray the prayers that remind me of who watches over me and my soul. I pray the prayers that reach my soul out to G-d. I pray that G-d's sukkah of peace would be spread over me, that I am reminded me that even with my best efforts, I am not in control. There is someone who is looking out for me. I pray to thank G-d for helping me to make it this far, for giving me purpose and hope.

I look forward to Hanukkah for the reminder of the light and warmth that surrounds me. The light forces me out from my fog and calls me to return to who I am. The light of my friends and community encourages the light within me to continue to grow into who I was made to be. To continue to take part in the creating of a good person and not get lost in depression and anxiety.

I thank G-d for reminding me of who I am: G-d's. 
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