I really want to talk and be understood
Lavih, who was born in Brazil but grew up in Mitzpe Ramon in Israel, struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggered by his experiences during the Second Lebanon War.
He enlisted in the army and served as a paratrooper for three years. A year after being discharged, Lavih was called for reserve duty.
I was drafted into the Second Lebanon War, and there, I saw many terrible things. I saw bodies, I saw tanks burning, I saw a downed helicopter. We had an anti-tank missile fired at us, followed by encounters with terrorists.
These harsh and horrific scenes left a deep, negative impression on Lavih’s view of the world. Though he was not injured in battle, he returned home with a healthy body, but a wounded soul.
It was like the whole world fell on my shoulders, and I just completely collapsed.
Lavih’s experiences led to a long journey of repeated hospitalizations for his PTSD.
I’d go in and out of closed wards, I was lost. It was only after I found the framework of a supportive community that things began to change for the better.
Lavih wants to see some changes to how mental illness is currently addressed, particularly, around hospitalization and psychiatric medications.
The hospitalization experience is extreme and difficult and I did not find the process to always work well for me. I think great results can be achieved with emotional, psychological therapy and not just by hospitalization.
Lavih also wants to dispel the widespread stigma around mental health issues. According to him, there is not only difficult and pervasive social stigma, but also self-imposed stigma, which can be even harder to overcome.
I have a constant negative self-image. I feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t matter and I have no value. I know a lot of people think they’re not worthy, but for me and many other people who have experienced mental health issues, the problem is far more complex. This self-stigma can interfere with our daily functioning and can prevent us from going to work.
Societal stigma regarding mental illness has a great influence on self-stigma. Lavih believes it’s vital for people with mental health conditions to be heard and regarded with compassion in order to overcome negative misconceptions.
There are those who look at us with pity, and some who look with contempt. They think people struggling with conditions like PTSD are poor or lazy, or we’re just full of self-pity.
I’m not this way because I wanted to be—I had to go to a fierce, brutal war. I sacrificed my well-being so that the citizens of Israel could live in peace.
Now, I really want to talk. I want to be understood, and I want people to not only think of me as crazy.