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Letter to Shira from: "Who's Afraid of Mental Illness Course?"


Hello Shira,

How's it going ? I am writing this letter following my previous letters.

In my previous letter, I wrote to you that since I started taking this course, I had gone through an intense period in the field of self-knowledge, the likes of which I do not recall. I have resolved conflicts that I never imagined I would ever resolve. I also understood things that seemed to me that I would never understand. And I discovered that I could do very simple things, but on which I said to myself: “Everyone knows how to do that, but I don’t! And I will never know.

Well, in my present letter, I intend to tell you what exactly it was about.

First of all, I want to tell you that the period I went through was just one peak among many in the process of recovery from the mental illness I suffered.

One of the things that has helped me the most is writing a blog about my mental illness.

How has writing my blog helped me?

When certain mental problems bother you, you innocently say to yourself and others: "How can I not solve this problem, when I can't stop thinking about it!". But in fact, you are wrong: you do not really think about it: the problems constantly harass you, and you obsessively harp on the same thoughts, without that solving anything.


Since 1988, the year my wife left me and filed for divorce, after she put me through the worst of our marriage, when I showed her nothing but love.

Since then, I have been disturbed by obsessive thoughts such as:

- What did I do wrong?

- How my fucking character (pardon the expression) made her move away from me, and gradually hate me more and more?

- Why was I so naive and weak towards her?

- Did I love her too much?

- How would a man worthy of the name have reacted if he had been treated like this?

- If I had behaved towards her like a macho, maybe she would have treated me better?

The difference in a blog (or a journal) is that I ask questions like these in writing, and I have to give them answers once and for all, and so they don't bother me anymore. (By the way, regarding the example I gave: the story with my ex-wife, I haven't posted it on the blog yet, and indeed it's still a conflict that I didn't solve.)

About my blog:

My blog currently has 180 pages which are actually 180 * 3 = 540 pages, because everything I write in Hebrew, I translate into French, my mother tongue and English.

Here are the addresses of the three versions of my blog:




How to read the blog?

The blog is organized around a journal, which includes posts. Each post is self-contained (you don't need to read other posts before reading it). The reader can choose in the title the posts that are likely to interest him.

In addition, there is a list of keywords in green, arranged in alphabetical order, which will help him in his search. For example, if you click on the keyword: "anxiety", you get a list of all the posts in which this word appears.

If you are interested in reading the blog, I particularly recommend the following posts: (You can click on one of the following two lines to open the post)

What problems did I suffer from?

Let me introduce myself in a few words: My name is Yossi Patt. I am 65 years old, I am Israeli of French origin. I am a retired computer engineer.

I stopped working at 49 due to severe depression and a brief psychotic episode (I had just gone crazy), I was diagnosed as schizoaffective. (Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of mood disorders, such as mania and depression.)

I got out of it. It hasn't been easy, but it's possible. And since you understand a lot of things when you manage to come out of depression and schizophrenia, you become stronger: stronger than anyone who has ever suffered from all this. Freud said: "The depressed comes out stronger than his depression" (between us, and in my opinion, Freud, despite his undisputed greatness, also wrote a lot of nonsense).

Like when a thing is true, it has been said by many people, famous or not, Nietzsche said: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. All my life I was considered and I was really someone with a complex, with an inappropriate behavior in society, with a pathological shyness (I had almost no friends and was afraid of my own shadow), depressed with its attendant effects: chronic fatigue, insomnia, difficulty being active, procrastination, being called laziness by those who didn't understand me. When I speak of those who did not understand me, I include myself among them. I said to myself: "If people are saying all that about me, they're probably right!". (Self-stigma)

I can't believe it: today I'm not shy anymore, I have lots of friends, I have lots of activities and I'm not tired. I have only one desire today, it is to help people who are in the same situation as the one where I was in the past.

What are the main things I've done in the past few years, culminating in your course?

I will split this topic in two:

1) How did I see the world before?

In the past, I imagined that society was divided in two: on the one hand the "normal" people and on the other the "mentally ill".

Worse, on the one hand "the others", who formed a kind of big mafia, in which everyone was friends with each other, and on the other "me, Yossi Patt", who was the laughing stock of everyone.

2) How do I see it today?

It seems to me that there is no such thing as "mentally ill". All human beings have a soul, just as they have a heart, lungs, legs and arms, etc. Their heart, lung, legs and hands are more or less healthy all the time. And just as they can get sick from it, they can also heal from it.

How to explain the story of my "mental illness". How I think I became shy, depressed, dreamy, and from there to madness, there was only one step?

I don't know if I can deduce from my case to all mentally ill, but in my opinion, all human beings can once suffer from the problems that I suffered.

It happened to me when my parents taught me to read in order to take me straight from kindergarten to elementary school. There, all the students were a year older than me and at that age, a year is a lot. Besides that, everyone knew each other because they had passed the preparatory course together. Also, I didn't know anyone and I didn't have any friends. They made fun of me as "the genius who skipped a grade". The problem got worse when I was 12 and immigrated to Israel where I had to deal with learning a new language and a new culture.

I didn't understand my classmates => They made fun of me => I tried desperately to imitate them to look like "part of the gang" => I made myself look ridiculous => the children made fun of me even more me => I then decided to shut up once and for all (I became shy, and unable to defend myself) => society walked on me and crushed me => I became depressed. Moreover, since I lived alone and without friends, or with only one friend, I built my own inner world (I became a dreamer), until I finally did mind-blowing things, such as threatening my brother-in-law with a hammer in 2005.

How did I get out of all this?

It's a long story. I summarize this in the following post:

How did I come out of depression and fill my life with content?

All I can say is that along the way, I busted a lot of the myths that society had instilled in me and that I had instilled in myself. (Stigma => Self-stigma)

Let's take just one example: "How can you say that you're tired when you don't do anything all day? You're just lazy!"

Well, you might be surprised, but I was really tired.

Until a few years ago, I spent my days in my bed or just watched television without understanding what was being said there.

Today, I:

- Take a course to improve memory.

- Learn English 3 times a week.

- Learn Arabic twice a week + every day, one hour of homework.

- Take piano lessons once a week + every day, one hour of homework.

- Participate in side activities. For example, I'm currently taking a course in medical school on "Who's Afraid of Mental Illness?"

- Go to my social club twice a week.

- Go to my chess lesson once a week

- See my family.

- Am active in several groups on Facebook, reply to messages and write my own messages.

- Write articles on my blog.

- Meet once a week with my care coordinator.

- Meet or call friends.

- Do everything a healthy, normal person does.

- .................................................. . ...

And I'm not tired at all!

On top of that, I discovered things about myself that I never imagined I could do. Like:

- Making friends.

- Speaking confidently, without making mistakes and even in front of an audience.

- Having self-confidence. I used to think of self-confidence as vanity. I realized that not only was it not true. But that the first was the complete opposite of the second. If someone feels the need to brag, it is precisely because he has no self-confidence.

- Forgiving me. Today I wrote to my sister on WhatsApp: "I noticed that if you knew how to demand the maximum from yourself and forgive yourself when you make a mistake, you also knew how to do it for others."

I'm still struggling with issues:

For example, I am accompanied by the fear of being mad or going mad. I keep asking myself, "I want to be OK, but what if the others aren't?"

To that I answer: No! You're not crazy. Unlike in the past, you are now accepted by people and you see it every day, and for others, so as they say:

Be OK yourself. And you'll see :

- Everyone will be OK.

- Everything will be OK.

Thank you, Shira, for reading my letters.

Congratulations to you and all the other team members for preparing and running your course.

I wish you the best ;


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