Reader-submitted: My family’s pain and suffering from my ‘off the D’ brother

Writing_letterIt’s hard to believe that this is the reality, the reality for so many families in our community.
I have a brother who is “off the D”, as many people put it. He used to be the top boy in his class. He is my parents oldest son, he was their pride and joy. He was smart, nice refined.

He was, as now he is in the the Psych ward under suicide watch. I can not describe how much my family has been through.
Let’s start with my siblings. Neighbors do not allow their children into my parents home even though my brother no longer lives there. My sibling are constantly worried about their brother and seen some traumatic things like their brother overly high on drugs.

My parents, well they have a large family and lots of expenses. The rehab and programs they sent him to to help him recover from his addiction were and are really expensive. They would do anything to help their son. They have no money and no means to continue helping him.

Our community is so great about helping one and other. For people who cannot have kids, for people who are sick, for special childrens yet what about the kids and family who have a child at risk?

You cannot imagine the pain and suffering the whole family goes through when there is a child at risk. It is painful and expansive. Just like no one chooses to be sick or childless, no one chooses to have a kid at risk.

[Editor’s note: The letter-writer has provided her contact information for those who wish to help.]

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  1. To start I cannot imagine what your family is going through it must be real tough. But to touch on your point of why there are no funds…there are plenty of baala batim I know that give money to such causes so to say there is no organization isn’t so true..yes it’s more discreet as no parent or siblings would like t be the one to show up to these parlor meeting or dinners…but there are people heavily involved with these matters to help your brother pull through all he has to and come back to there be old brother you remember. ..

  2. Perhaps we can start a fund to help families in this situation. For now, can you setup a webpage that one can donate with a credit card? Tizku lemitsvot

  3. “Our community is so great about helping one and other. For people who cannot have kids, for people who are sick, for special childrens yet what about the kids and family who have a child at risk?”

    there is help there are many org.s helping including a 24/7 place called Minyan Shelanu which is for boys & they have other org.s for girls at risk to help them rebuild themselves with self-esteem & more including finding them jobs to keep them busy etc… do some research….

    i wish you lots of Hatzlacha & tell your parents-& yourself-to keep your bitachon & emunah in Hashem strong as you are in the midst of a test of faith given to you straight from Hashem that no one would want to fail.

  4. There isn’t really much help for people going through any challenge related to mental illness. Unless the family happens to be a brand name or connected to the right people, they are drowning on their own.

  5. to this family : hold your heads high . You have done nothing wrong . (moderated) Be proud of your child that’s struggling for trying to understand himself …be proud of who you are and make sure your children know that Hashem loves them however they are . In my opinion lakewood is off the derech of what Judaism is(moderated) . it’s more than rules and levels of observance. I love each of my children for wherever they are holding and i am proud of who they are ….. Please don’t let this community which does try but doesn’t understand make your situation and your pain worse . You are awesome just how you are. If my son were alive today , Shua he would be the first one there helping this family . He diedv7 years ago from his battles with addiction and I am proud of how he fought for his life . I am not embarased and I don’t care what anyone thinks of me or my children… So hang in there to this family You are awesome just how you are

  6. #5- Exactly right! Sadly though usually the brand names don’t have these issues. It’s usually the ones who have no money and no brand name (as you put it) are the ones who have the most tzoros. It’s just a fact.

  7. He might be labeled as “off the d”
    But the reality is that if he’s suicidal than he’s not well and we should be saying tehilim for him. My sister found my nephew trying to hang himself a while back when he was very depressed. It turned out that his thyroid levels were way off and after being on the right medication he’s bh doing much better and back in yeshiva. I wish your family tons of hatzlacha- I feel your pain! And yes, this is a very worthy tzedakah cause!

  8. our family is going through the same. its beyond anyone’s understanding what one can endure during this time. staying up till 4am worried sick when child will return home, hospitals, shabbos tables, friends, shul, medication, expenses, siblings trauma, spouse trauma, being judged – every day is with with new challenges. may hkbh give you and your family the energy needed. there are many kind people in town who have a listening ear. hatzlacha

  9. Drug addiction is one of the most deadly and costly diseases.

    For cancer we all pay in to RCCS so that they can pay insurance premiums.

    Who is raising money and awareness to fight this??

    How many kids are at deaths door… who is going to save them?!

    How are going to prevent this??

    So many questions. So few answers.

  10. Resident says, To say there isnt much help is just not true. There are plenty of dedicated people out there that will help anyone not only the connected brand name familys. You just have to want to reach out. Chemed has a metal health wing that anyone can walk right in and get a private consultation. The cost for help can be crazy. Chemed will charge your insurance or will do for free based on income. If further help is needed they will assit you all the way. Hatzlacha to all. May hashem help all the suffering.

  11. (Comment from “Resident “)
    You r 100% right !!
    I have unfortunately personal experience with this and there is maybe minimal funds available for rehab etc
    I wish you tons of Hatzlocha

  12. Any family struggling with these types of challenges – troubled teens, finding appropriate schools, the effects of the stress on the rest of the family, unfortunately, are rarely addressed. Like Resident said, unless it’s a brand name or very connected family, there’s not help. I know, I had a child who didn’t belong in a Lakewood school – and it took SIX months to find a school willing to take in a child – from Lakewood (seems to be that living in Lakewood and having a child who doesn’t quire fit the mold is a person NO SCHOOL wants to accept). There is an organization called Nesivos that was very kind to us – but at the end of the day, we were on our own. And that was it. People are nice and they care, but at the end of the day, unless you’re a brand name family, or have the “right connections”, no one sticks out their neck for you. Cancer – yes, infertility – plenty, but when it comes to family issues, so sorry my friends, you’re on your own. Just know that Hashem is on your side and will IY”H see you all through to the other side.

  13. First of all, this is not mental illness. Secondly, there is an organization for this. It’s called Regesh Network. Run by the supremely talented R’ Yeshai Ghoori and R Binyomin Greenspan. It’s for kids like this. No, it doesn’t say that in their ads, they can’t be so blunt but the is EXACTLY what it’s for. As for money, I would love to help. Plz post Charity name and address or email to me. Hatzlocha rabbah.

  14. I feel your pain. I have a sibling who went through similar, attempted suicide in public and public meltdowns and locked up. B h he got better after many years and has a beautiful life. Wishing you and your family the strength to get through to the other side.

  15. I can feel your pain. I had a younger brother who went through the same thing. He went through four or five drug rehabs, my parents spent all of their savings on him during the 11 years that he went through his troubled time. Forget what everybody else thinks of you or your family, just Continue to love him as we did with my brother and you’ll end up seeing same the we have now from brother . I remember one day when my mother actually said that she hopes a truck hit him and killed him because that’s how much pain she is in. No obviously she did not mean it but that just shows how much pain a parent goes through watching the child in such a situation. Just remember always love him never give up hope because it’s never too late. I have been in the situation you are in so I really understand you.

  16. I meant to write that you’ll end up seeing the same Nachas that we now see it from my brother. He is married with a child very happily .

  17. Cool Masmid, Really? Brand names do not have this issue? I am afraid to say this issue affects everyone. Even families wth Yichus and money. So please don’t say such ridiculous statements!

  18. Lets examine the issue a little deeper than the “off the D child”. That term was made up by ‘the masses’ in order to describe something that actually doesn’t exist. In reality, its those precious souls that are actually living ON THE D. They are living despite what was done to them. (Whether it was overt abuse or covert abuse such as emotional neglect..which is rampant and more damaging btw). That takes strength and dependence on God. Because despite their pain- they continue to live on! What a derech! Finding themselves despite the pain and calling out for help in the most desparate of ways instead if just “following the masses” is commendable! And to the family of the “off the d” child – you hold the responsibility of feeling “less-than” among neighbors etc. That pain you are describing is your choice. Where are your boundaries?! Keep the comments out! Keep the negative people out! Just because people are talking does not mean you need to listen! It hurts? And its hard to hear? Your ego is that important to you? Work through that and bring God into your life..
    About the funds – there are organizations out there and individuals. Pray to God and TRUST that He can give you what you need..instead of focusing negatively and putting blame. The reason the community doesn’t focus on this – is because other things are important to them. And guess what? Thats ok. Everyone can have different values. Its your job to stick with your values and do what needs doing..despite everyone else. May you be open to receiving Hashems unlimited abundance.

  19. 1. Trying to figure out why there is mention of off the d, this is an addiction/nental health issue not a religion issue.
    2. I have been there, i am what you would consider off the d. I did the rehabs and psych wards and suicide attempts etc. Being clean and sober about 19 months this time, i can now see the hell i put my parents siblings and friends through. I cry when i read this letter because like my family and friends all we want to do is help this boy, unfortunately we do not know how. It is not necessarily our job to know how, we need to be there to support. We need to be there when he does reach out for help so that we can try to help him to the best we can. There is so much more to say on this.
    There is a number of orginaztions that are there to help ( in particular, project relief has helped my family )
    I will keep him in my prayers, please let me know if i can help in any way.

  20. Seems to me that the writer if referring to help for the family to continue dealing with the situation not for the boy. Yes we know of some unbelievable organization that can help the boy but seems like the family can use a support group / advice and help in financial way to continue getting through the situation.

  21. I really feel the pain of you and your family. I would really like to help you guys. We all have responsibility to eachother. Is there any campaign page set up to raise funds for your family? I really hope that all of the you are getting help professionally & with support groups. My family has been going thru a rough patch with my at risk brother & I know how important it is. Please, how can I help?? Do you have little kids who can maybe use extra attention with a non involved “big sister”?

  22. I have tzedoka boxes around town in my sons memory and I give out the money for these types of things . I Hv more boxes in my house but I need someone to help put them in restaurants and stores and help collect the money
    Anyone interested e mail me at [email protected]
    Thx ! You would be doing me a big favor cause it helps keep my sons memory alive

  23. There are not enough organizations to help people with mental health issues. As someone who suffers with many mental health disorders, i know what it means to be drowning in medical expenses.we are young couple without parents and in laws that have the means to help us financially. It would be really nice if there were organizations that we could turn to for help!

  24. Let’s be realistic, great tzadikim and gedolim had children who left the fold. Hold your head high, at least you are not one of those who forces a family member to live alone far away to spare their reputation. I sometimes torture myself with guilt about a child who is a lost soul, but I try to be proud and happy about the many good things. We do not own our children, we can only try to guide them. Throwing money at the problem makes it worse. Don’t be jealous of the name brand gevirim, they have more cases than the struggling melamdim.

  25. I feel for you! I know someone who was struggling with very similar issues. Relief Resources was able to fight their insurance company and get them 100% reimbursement (out of network). They got thousands of dollars of treatment and Relief did it for free. Why don’t you call them? Either way, they will make sure you are getting the best treatment. My friend still calls them for advice now, and the crisis is BH mostly over. Hatzlacha Rabba and refua shelaima!

  26. I feel compelled to comment because I feel your pain. It’s the pain of being ostracized. When the neighbors don’t allow children over it’s sending a terrible insensitive message both to you and to your neighbor’s children: “Your home is a bad place”. It’s not true! When you need support the most, instead you get the opposite. Your brother has a precious neshama. Feel for him. Bring your family close. Don’t be scared. Did you EVER hear of a child at risk because he/she was friends with a sibling of a child at risk?! I would be more nervous about some bus drivers that befriend our children! These neighbors are only being selfish under the pretext of “protecting their children”. Please get your priorities right and instead teach your children what to stay away from (I strongly suggest the book “Let’s Stay Safe”).

  27. Dear letter writer:
    You are not alone ,
    If you ever do need someone to speak to, please call us at Regesh 732.367.7700 or via email
    [email protected]
    We have trained and caring counsellors that can help you cope with day to day struggles
    Please call

  28. As someone (a married father of several children ka’h)who is suffering terribly from generalized anxiety disorder (a fancy term for anxiety) for approx 15 years, I can attest- there is ABSOLUTELY NO ORGANIZATION in the frum community available to assist with the enormous expense of proper therapy and/or psychiatry. Absolutely nothing. The only organization is a relatively new one (few years old) and that is Keren Ezer L’Nefesh BUT they only assist teenagers, there is absolutely nothing available for adults. I have yet to figure out why. I can tell you that I moved on from 3 therapists already and each time it was because funds dried up. It is agonizingly painful to suffer with any mental health disorder, it is truly sad that no organization exists for this. Don’t tell me about Relief; they are referrals only- period. I had to go begging myself by R’ Matisyahu Solomon shlita who should be well, he was the one who helped me out much of the time. But his ability to help was limited. Time that proper attention is given to this terribly important matter.

  29. The issue is a real and very serious one, there is an organization called Nesivos that was established to deal with a child/young adult that is going thru a crisis phase similar to what you are describing, they have Rabbinic backing and and a great deal of experience dealing with the entire family unit as well as providing a comprehensive analysis of the the situation and providing a clear path forward, this organization has already helped hundreds of families and are doing incredible work. Please reach out to them, they should be able to provide substantial help and direction, they are working very hard and care very deeply about providing solutions to the issues that are effecting so many of us.

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