From the time I first read an article regarding our Jewish approach to mental illness, I have been concerned regarding my halachic status, and in regard to how this may impact my friends and family.
I am an intelligent man, largely self-educated, and work in a responsible position with the civil service. Most of the people I have professional contact with seem to hold me in good regard. My family are all good people, and I deeply love my wife with whom I have been married for many years.
However, I also suffer from chronic A.D.D. and hypomanic bipolar illness. Neither of these are sufficiently under control, despite about 18 pills a day and the care of an excellent psychiatrist. At the worst times, during acute periods, my condition and my behaviour have placed a tremendous strain upon my wife.
In my opinion I do not have any negative effects from what are my all-to-brief periods of 'mania' (How I hate that word!). My entire problem is actually the depressive end of the pole.
Outside of my work, I doubt my judgement -frequently feeling that I have no way to be certain whether my behaviour is normal. Sometimes I become vaguely aware that I am acting a little abnormally, but I don't seem to really upset anyone.
My wife handles our finances, yet because I was brought up in a very poor household I cannot imagine that I would not try to be at least as careful as she. My one problem there would be my memory.
I can remember events prior to my 4th birthday, yet I can have absolutely no memory – or imperfect recollection – of events occurring in the previous days, hours, or frequently even minutes. The things from the recent past that I do remember seem to be somewhat selective. I make a lot of notes, but often forget that I made them, or I cannot find a note that I am sure I made… but did I?
Yom yom, I wish I did not exist, or that I would get ill and die – even several months with an agonizingly painful illness would be worthwhile. My death would bring an end to this evil chemical imbalance that destroys me on the inside, while on the outside my life usually looks quite okay. Almost everyone on earth wishes to live, including most of those with disfigurement, painful or disgusting diseases or mutilations.
I DO NOT! The weight of existence is overwhelming!
So, to bring my unpleasant and overly-long post to an end, to finally ask my question…
1. Does my medical condition have any effect on my halachic status?
2. If so, does my status vary in tandem with the ups and downs I go through?
3. If so, who can judge when the "trigger-point" is reached in either direction? I know that I cannot, and I don't think even my psychiatrist could.
4. Are my family affected in any way?
5. In a case where I might have been a witness at a wedding, would this have affected the halakic status of the couple?
I know that this post is rather pitiful, but I'm dealing with enough without this hanging over my head as well.
Oh, yes… Chag Sameach!
(No I'm not trying to butter you up, and I haven't got a camera so there's no need to say "cheese")