For the last few weeks, really since Rosh Hashana, I’ve been experiencing a very deep-seated sense of panic.
It’s not ‘conscious’, inasmuch as there is nothing in the here and now that is freaking me out and making me hold my breath.
The Arab terror in Jerusalem has dropped off, thank God. My husband got a few more pieces of work in at the moment, thank God. My kids’ experiences are in a rare period of ‘OK’, and there are no immediate crises to deal with, thank God.
Yet, since Rosh Hashana I’ve had such a deep-seated sense of panic going on that it’s been disturbing my sleep and keeping me permanently in a tense ‘fight or flight’ state which means I have a lot of stress hormones working overtime in my body right now.
When the stress hormones surge, you can’t relax even if you want to until the reason for the stress is somehow overcome, or dissipates by itself. So now, I’ve been trying to figure out for the last two months what the heck is stressing me out so much.
I thought maybe after the American elections, the stress would drop off a little – and the day of Trump’s election, I did feel a little calmer and much happier.
But 24 hours later, the stress was back. As you know, I’m writing a biography of Rav Berland, and I thought maybe the ‘stress’ of getting that project concluded could be part of the problem.
So I pulled out all the stops to get the draft done two weeks’ ago, planning to have a week’s holiday and ‘de-stress’ last week. And guess what? I had the most horrible, ill, stressed-out, sleepless week for a long time.
I was having anxiety dreams, panic attacks, crying jags, I was physically really ill, with coughs, colds, headaches, weird aches, stomachaches – I pretty much didn’t leave my house for a week.
Enough was enough – I decided to go and visit one of my alternative health ladies who is very switched-on and connected to God, to see if she could help me figure out what was going on. She picked up on the latent ‘panicka’ in the first 10 seconds, and did her thing – which usually helps a lot.
This time, it helped for about half a day, and then the panic came back again.
I was so ill, I couldn’t really do a long hitbodedut session to ask God to show me what’s going on. But I tried a visualization to see where I’m holding internally, and I got a picture of me going up and down on a dark, stormy sea, mamash in a way that’s guaranteed to make you feel nauseous.
Then, I opened up the Likutey Moharan to a quote from Isaiah where it says something like: “Wicked people are like a raging ocean.” Hmm. Things started to fall a little more into place. Over the next few days, I was thinking about these clues God was sending me, that I feel like I’m being tossed all over the place in a world full of ‘raging, wicked’ people.
Sounds about right. But what to do about it, as the problem probably isn’t going to disappear anytime soon (Moshiach notwithstanding).
Today, I was doing some more hitbodedut, and went back to that visualisation.
The scene had now changed a little, and I was on a raft on a stormy, but slightly calmer sea. Suddenly, the raft got a nice fence and a roof which made it much cosier and more stable. Next, an enormously tall Rav Berland showed up and started towing my raft to safety – and not just my raft.
The Rav had literally thousands of ropes over his shoulder, and he was towing thousands of small, lost, vulnerable people like me to dry land and safety.
It was an amazing sight to behold.
When my oldest came back from her boarding school and the end of last week, she told me that she’s also been having the same sort of disturbing dreams that I’ve been having, and feeling mega-weird and ‘stressed’ and achey. My more taciturn youngest kid then also joined the conversation, and shared that she’d also been having lots and lots of ‘weird’ dreams about boats coming to Israel, and people trying to swim ashore.
The last few days, my husband also started feeling inexplicably stressed and antsy. I’m adding all this up, and I’m telling you that something ‘big’ is coming down the pipe soon. I’m not a prophet, or anything like one, but I live very close to the Kotel in Jerusalem, and we pick the international ‘vibe’ up here first as it’s making its way out into the world.
And what’s coming down the pipe right now is panic and some enormous fear. I don’t know what else is coming, and for sure it’s all part of God’s plan, and for the good. But if I were you, I’d make it a priority to hitch my raft to Rav Berland, and the Jewish people’s other true Tzaddikim, ASAP.
There are stormy seas ahead.