Self portrait at 20 years old

Self portrait at 20 years old

Long before her lecture at TED, Lizra had all the reasons in the world to hide at home. For years she had dealt with her mom’s mental illness, till she just could not deal with it anymore and escaped from Israel, literally.

“My mom was a brilliant lawyer, and when I was 13 years old she became manic depressive. My life just crashed. Her illness just broke every part in me. I was afraid to trust people, she would create a reality that seemed completely real and then would shutter it, because it never really happened, but I was a child and I didn’t understand what was real and what was not. She would get manic attacks and they were terrifying, because she would lose control, and then she would get into the depression which was blacker than black.

“It was like I had turned into her mom, and it created a deep distortion. There was a very heavy burden of carrying this really heavy weight, without having the tools or the ability to contain it. My parents were already divorced when it happened, and my dad worked around the clock to support my brother and I, and tried to be both a mom and a dad. It wasn’t easy for him, and it wasn’t easy for us. We all barely survived. And I crashed. I got into a really dark place in life."

"My mom was not a mean person, she was an incredible woman, bright though very sick. She abused me mentally not because she wanted to, but because of her illness, and I could not say ‘no’ – because she was my mom.”

“For 10 years I suffered suicidal thoughts because I could not live with my reality. I would sit and imagine how I would do it: jump in front of a running train, take poison, jump from a bridge. Outside no one knew. I put on a mask as if life was perfect, but inside everything was broken. I was living in a horrible lie, and there was no escaping.”

What kept you going during those days, what did you hold on to?

“I was an athlete, I had been training in gymnastics for 10 years. As a kid I learned to release everything through my body, through positive doing. Though, even there the suicidal thoughts trickled. I would walk on the edge of a roof and I didn’t really care if I’d fall, worst come worst the suffering would end”.

How did it affect your connection to the outside world?

"I developed unhealthy boundaries with people. It took a lot of years till I realized that people were crossing my healthy boundaries, because I didn’t know how to stop them. Today, just let them try. I am like a lioness. But back then I was crushed. I took every possible course, saw psychologists, and any possible expert, yet every time I thought that here, I had found the way out – I discovered that the house of cards fell again. There was a lot of despair in it. I read books about the holocaust in order to understand how people dealt with really awful things when they didn’t know how and if they would end, in order to draw strength”.

How did you come out of it?

“It took me 10 years of working on myself, but eventually I understood the labyrinth, and managed to survive. The struggle was over.  In my mind this is my biggest achievement in life, because others would have killed themselves or turned to drugs, or some other black hole. I wanted to find a way to turn the curse into a gift. And I did”.

“Now for the first time I feel OK to tell the story, because I want to inspire others. If I came out of where I was emotionally and I got to what I got, then I have something amazing to share with others. This is where my strength to cause such deep transformation and breakthroughs for others comes from”.

Lady Globes Magazine - January 2014