Despatches from the Front Line 8 (Too Niche)

I broke up with my date, if “broke up” is the right term to use after only two dates.  It was understandable, as we had very little in common in terms of interests, although our personalities seemed quite similar.  I was probably blinded by the excitement of dating for the first time in four years and didn’t really see the problem looming.

I think that after Pesach, when I’m settled in my new job, I will go to a shadchan (professional matchmaker).  I feel embarrassed about this, although it is the normal way of dating in the frum (Orthodox Jewish religious) world.  I do worry that I won’t be able to find someone, partly because of my mental health issues, but mostly because of my weird interests.  As my sister said to me yesterday, “You are quite niche.”  My interests are fairly unusual in general, doubly so for a frum person.  There are maybe 1-2 million frum Orthodox Jews in the world, mostly living in Israel and the USA.  I don’t know how many geeks there are in the world, but it is also a fairly small community and the overlap between the two communities seems to be very small (even before you start subdividing between people who have different frum outlooks and people who like different geeky things – I have no interest in video games, for example).

To be honest, I would be tempted to give up, the whole dating thing as too much pain and too little chance of happiness, were it not that the thought of maybe possibly meeting someone who is right for me one day seems too satisfying to throw it away now.  Maybe in another five or ten years.  Although I don’t really know what being married is like, I’ve only had one, relatively short-lived relationship, and that was good at first but turned bad.  Maybe marriage wouldn’t be so good after all, especially as I don’t really trust myself to make the right choice, given my loneliness and nervousness prompts me to make bad decisions (like telling someone I “really like you” on a second date) and I have had crushes on wildly inappropriate people before.

The frustrating thing is I feel I have a lot of love to give someone, and I come with a few plus points (gentle, caring, intelligent, honest, loyal, in touch with my emotions (too much so…), good listener (according to my Mum anyway; I’m not so sure), good with children (ditto), willing and able to cook, clean and launder…), it’s just frustrating that I can’t find anyone willing to receive that love.

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Despatches from the Front Line 7

Spring is a time of change and renewal and this year there are multiple changes, not all of which I am ready to share here yet.  Pesach (Passover) preparation is underway and the OCD is already trying to make me feel anxious about it.  I am just about holding on, with exactly two weeks to go.  I hope I feel like this in three weeks’ time.

I start my new job immediately after Pesach.  That’s just a huge, scary unknown at the moment, with nothing of substance to write about here.  I’m hoping it will be good.  I’m a bit anxious about a lot of things connected with it of varying degrees of likelihood, from my ability to do the job, to the fear that I will encounter antisemitism in the workplace or the trip in to work.

There’s another potentially big change on the way that I am reluctant to write about here, but it is very much up in the air at the moment anyway.

Then there is dating.  I have had two dates now and don’t know how things are going.  I am not good at social interactions at the best of times and think I accidentally came on stronger than I intended at the second date, trying to be light-hearted, but sounding flirtatious and making the Freudian slip of saying “I really like you” when I did not mean to put it so strongly.   Because of this I thought I would give my date space for a few days before calling her again, but it’s hard.  I feel there’s a spark there – nothing more definite at the moment, but the potential of something positive in the future, but I don’t know how my date feels about me.  I opened up a bit about  my mental health and she was understanding, so that at least is good.

Looking back at my last post, I see I have mostly covered the same ground.  Perhaps things are not changing quite as fast as I thought/feared.  Or maybe it just shows the same thoughts and anxieties going round and round in my head.

Despatches from the Front Line 6

I haven’t written much this last week.  This is not because nothing is happening; on the contrary, my life seems to have sped up enormously over the last month and is set to continue to do so.  I’m in the last few weeks at my current job, preparing to start my new job soon, Pesach (Passover) is now well and truly on the way and – well, I’ve started dating someone new.  I have not dated many women and I hadn’t been on a date for four years, so that was quite exciting and, frankly, a bit terrifying.  Our first two dates went well, but I’m still terrified that something will go wrong, not least because I felt I said the wrong thing today (I tried to say something reassuring and think it came out like flirting, which wasn’t my intention).

Oh dear, I didn’t mean to write about my dates and somehow it has come out anyway!  It’s really on my mind at the moment – I just wish I could look into a crystal ball and know what will happen.  But life doesn’t work like that: I don’t believe in fortune tellers and I don’t believe it’s healthy to want to know the future like that.  But it is tempting!

The point I was trying to make is that my blog might be on hold for a while as I deal with some of these other things.  I think the “Despatches from the Front Line” posts will probably continue, as they are relatively quick and easy ot write and help me to vent my difficult feelings a bit (hence writing about dating anxieties).  Judging by the number of likes, they seem to be the most popular part of the blog anyway, so maybe that’s not a bad thing.  I’ll see in a month or so how things will work out, once Pesach is out of the way, I have started my new job and perhaps I have a clearer idea of how some other things in my life are going.

Social Anxiety in Shul and Shiur

“I really wish I was less of a thinking man/And more a fool who’s not afraid of rejection.” – Sleeping with the Television On, Billy Joel

On Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) I got to shul (synagogue) for Mincha and Ma’ariv (afternoon and evening services), but I missed Shacharit and Musaf (the morning and additional services), as  usually happens.  I used to think that this was caused by the depression making me oversleep (depression makes me tired and sleep longer), but I increasingly think that it is social anxiety that is holding me back from going to shul as much as I would like, particularly in the nineteen months since I moved to this community.  I am too nervous to go to shul, so I sleep late to avoid it.

As with my non-diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, I do not have a diagnosis of social anxiety.  I get anxious in social situations, but apparently not severely enough to be diagnosed.  It should be said that that (non-)diagnosis came before I realized that I was experiencing panic attacks in social situations sometimes.  I experienced them for many years before I realized what they were just six months ago.  Basically, when I am very depressed and in shul (the main threatening social environment I go to), I sometimes feel very anxious and despairing, feeling like everyone is watching me, feeling that I just have to get out as quickly as possible.  Sometimes it is bad enough that I just leave early; there have even been occasions when I arrived and more or less immediately left.  This has been going on since I used to leave the Jewish Society Shabbat dinner early at university.  Now I understand that I am suffering panic attacks, I realize that this is the opposite of what I should be doing – I need to stay and sit out the anxiety rather than leave early.  I have not experienced an attack that severe since realizing this, however, so I do not know what would happen if I was really tempted to leave.

I find social anxiety particularly hard being Jewish because of the communal nature of the religion.  Activities like prayer and religious study that can be private in other religions are often communal in Judaism.  Men especially are expected to participate actively in the community.  Now, I have led religious services and given drashot (religious talks) in my old shul in the past; I don’t want to seem like I am paralyzed by social anxiety, because I am not.  I am shy, but I have overcome that shyness to do public speaking or to lead services.  But it is hard and I have avoided taking an active role in the community these last nineteen months, since moving, partly because of the depression and partly because of the feelings of indequacy that accompanied the change of community – I feel religiously inferior to many of the people in this community and feel that people are looking down on me and that at the very least I have nothing to contribute to the community.  Hence sleeping through shul, from the fear that if I go, I will commit some terrible faux pas and never be able to go back.  I get particulary worried about the eruv, the boundary within which it is permitted to carry in public on Shabbat, something normally forbidden.  I worry that I will make use of it in a shul where people do accept the eruv and do not carry, even though the shamash at the shul I go to announces that the eruv is up every Friday night, implying that people there do indeed use it.

I have just got back from my beginner’s Talmud shiur (class) where the social anxiety plays out in a slightly different way.  I am always reluctant to say anything in the shiur for fear of being wrong and seeming foolish, despite the fact that my thoughts are often correct or meaningful, if only I would have the confidence to ask and answer questions.  I did at least volunteer to read and translate aloud (despite the fact that making my way falteringly through poorly-understood Aramaic is not exactly easy with poor confidence), but I wish I could participate more, because I think I am just as good as the other people in the class.  I think it has less to do with my ability to handle Gemarah (the main part of the Talmud) and more to do with my perception of my place within frum (religious) society, feeling I am not frum enough and too ‘modern’ to be accepted in the community that I want to be part of.  I feel particularly ashamed that I did not spend a year or two studying in yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) as is the norm in the frum world (not just among men who want to be rabbis).  I actually took another beginner’s Talmud shiur a few years ago, at a Modern Orthodox institution and there within a few months I was asking and answering questions more freely; a couple of people, including the rabbi who took the shiur, even asked what yeshiva I went to, which made me feel like I had finally arrived!  However, that institution no longer offers that shiur, so instead I go to one at a more Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) kolel (adult education institution, usually full-time although this one is mostly for evening classes) and my fears about not being good enough/frum enough for other people come into play, just as with moving to a somewhat more Haredi shul.

Reasons to Be Cheerful (About Being Jewish)

Despite the fact that I am very religious, it can be easy for me to get despondent about Judaism.  My OCD focuses on my religious practices and my depression has introduced doubts about whether God loves me, whether I am worthy of His love and my whole experience of mental illness has made me question God’s existence and benevolence at times.  I spend a lot of time thinking that I’m a bad Jew.  So I thought I would note down the reasons why I rejoice in being Jewish!

I was going to explain the more obscure ones, but I don’t have time.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments!

So, in no particular order:

  1. Jews are encouraged to ask question and are even allowed to argue with God.
  2. The feeling of continuity with my ancestors over a period of 3,000 years.
  3. Judaism’s concern with the dignity of all human beings.
  4. Judaism was perhaps the first civilization to encourage people to speak truth to power.
  5. The structure Judaism gives to my days, weeks and year.
  6. Halakhah (Jewish law) takes abstract concepts about ethics and theology and turns them into concrete actions.
  7. The focus on personal growth and the practical strategies for achieving it.
  8. Shabbat (the Sabbath).  Everything about it, from the tunes to challah bread, to the rest from work and from electronic devices to time with family to the feeling of peace and “having a second soul” that descends eighteen minutes before sunset on Friday.
  9. Enjoyable marital sex is a mitzvah (commandment).  In particular, a man has an obligation in the ketubah (marriage agreement) to satisfy his wife and it’s grounds for divorce if he doesn’t.  This has been the case for thousands of years!
  10. Judaism teaches that everyone has access to God without an intermediary.
  11. Teshuva (repentance): no matter what you’ve done, there is always a way back.
  12. My religious heroes: Yitzchak (Isaac), Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), Iyov (Job), Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Kotzker Rebbe, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rav Kook… the list goes on!
  13. The thoughtfulness and complexity of Jewish thought and especially halakhic thought and the way they refuse to accept easy answers, instead following thoughts to their conclusion.
  14. The Jewish sense of humour, present even in religious texts.
  15. Finding God in the mundane.
  16. The fact that Judaism has helped the Jews survive millenia of persecution.
  17. The emphasis on relationships, joy and love.
  18. The fact that embarrassing others and spreading gossip, even if true, are seen as some of the most serious sins (unlike wider Western culture, where gossip and embarrassment are used to sell newspapers and win ratings wars).
  19. The down-to-earth practicality of Judaism.
  20. Chessed (kindness) and the striving for what Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein termed “social beatitude.”
  21. The bond between all Jews, left and right, religious and secular, Orthodox and Progressive: if one suffers, we all feel it.
  22. The lack of dogma and acceptance of multiple opinions.
  23. The concept of argument for the sake of Heaven.
  24. The multiple ways of looking at the world: halakhic and aggadic, rationalist, mystical and existentialist.
  25. The depth, complexity and beauty of our holy texts from Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) through Midrash and Talmud to Hasidic tales and philosophical tracts – even law codes are examined stylistically.
  26. This is a list about religion, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of the Jewish influence on science, the humanities and the arts, from Kafka to Chagall to Wiesel to Simon and Garfunkel to Freud to Einstein to Disraeli to Marx (I mean Groucho) to all those Nobel Prize winners who are Children of Israel… not to mention the co-creators of Superman, Batman and Doctor Who.  And William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (that one’s for you, Alex!).
  27. I’m going to say it… Pesach is stressful and sets off my OCD like crazy, but deep down, I think it’s still my favourite Yom Tov (festival): the weirdness of covering the house in tin foil and plastic, the novelty of crockery used for only eight days a year, the special foods (ritual and cultural), the seder service where we spend an evening eating symbolic foods and discussing religious texts and thinking about what it really means to be free… underneath the stress and the OCD, I think I still love it!

Despatches from the Front Line 5 (Pre-Pesach)

Just a quick  note to say that I just had a Skype call with my rabbi mentor.  We discussed my OCD fears about Pesach (Passover), which focus on the dietary laws of the festival, which are much stricter than the usual Jewish dietary laws.  This makes exposure therapy difficult, as exposure is based on repeatedly doing an obsession-provoking task until it loses its ability to cause anxiety and obsessive thinking, but this is difficult when the feared events are only feared for eight days a year!  What was really useful was that we devised some guidelines for when a situation is serious enough that I need to ask a rabbi a question about it and when a crumb of (potentially non-Pesachdik) food is large enough that I need to worry that it might “contaminate” our Pesach food or dishes.  This is extremely helpful, as it’s much easier to cope with OCD when there are clear guidelines about what is and is not OK – the OCD thrives in the grey area of “Some people are more strict, others are more lenient…”

It would be an exageration to say that I am looking forward to Pesach, but I am more hopeful about it than I have been for the last couple of years.  Now I can do some fun Pesach tasks: buying some new books and DVDs to enjoy over the chag (festival) and doing some research in my new haggadah (with commentary taken from Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Kook and Rav Shlomo Carlebach) for some interesting comments to make at the sederim, going beyond the prescribed text.  And, of course, helping with the normal cleaning and kashering!

Despatches from the Front Line 4 (Purim Day)

Continued from the last post.

I could not sleep last night.  I got to bed late anyway, after 1am, but my mind was full of thoughts about yesterday evening and anxieties about today and my date next week.  Eventually I realized I was not going to sleep and got up and Doctor Who-ed to calm my mind down, finally falling asleep some time around 2.20am.

I could not sleep in this morning, though, as I wanted to get to an early Shacharit (morning  service) and Megillah (Book of Esther) reading.  I managed to do this, getting up at 6.50am (on a Sunday!).  It mostly went well, but I had a bit of an OCD panic.  One is supposed to hear every single word of the Megillah and while I had heard every word, my mind drifted at one point and one word didn’t register properly – I heard it, but I didn’t register what it was until my reading caught up a second later.  I initially thought this was OK, but by the time I got home afterwards I was caught in the spiral of OCD doubt and was ready to find a later reading to hear it all again.  Fortunately, I decided to phone my rabbi first to check if this repetition was necessary and he assured me that everyone’s mind drifts during the reading and it is enough to have been there and heard every word.  Even so, part of me felt, “Maybe I didn’t ask the question properly.  Maybe I should go to another reading to be sure”, but I have been playing the OCD game long enough to know that there is no escape that way.  If I went to another reading, I would surely find another problem to make me think that I had not fulfilled the mitzvah (commandment).  This is the tricky thing about OCD, the way it tells you that you are doing the right thing, that you can never be too careful.  Give in just once and you are laying yourself open to an endless cycle of doubt and checking.  I have been trying very hard lately not to ask a rabbi a question unless I am quite sure that there is a legitimate doubt about what I should do and certainly only to ask the question once, not repeating the question because I think I have not explained myself properly or that I have not been understood.  I tell myself that asking a rabbi creates a halakhic (legal) reality; my job is to follow the ruling I have been given, not to second-guess the rabbi who gave it.  This is hard, but it is the only way to beat the OCD cycle.

There was then a sombre interval, when we found out that my great-aunt had died.  I did not know her particularly well, but my Dad was close to her and especially to my great-uncle (who died about a year ago).  This cast a shadow over the day.

I then managed to go to a Purim seudah (meal/party) with my sister, her boyfriend, her flatmate and various other people.  I had been at Oxford with a couple of people there and as I have mentioned in previous posts, I was worried that they would remember me negatively as aloof and standoffish (although I was actually desperately shy and depressed).  At any rate, they either did not remember me or did not think negatively of me.  I surprised myself by joining in the conversation a lot, even cracking a couple of well-received jokes and my jester’s hat proved a great hit (fancy dress being a Purim tradition dating from the Middle Ages).  It was an extremely positive experience, setting me up well for my blind date next week by making me feel that I can talk to strangers.

Now I’m slowly coming down, hoping that I won’t crash, either tonight or tomorrow morning, which is possible (what I call a mental hangover, when socializing or other activity one day leads to a worsening of the depression and lethargy the next).  Hopefully this is a sign of improvements in my mental health and ability to socialize that I will be able to build on in the future.

Despatches from the Front Line 3 (Purim Evening)

“In the party of the universe, the Doctor was the sad one on the stairs.” Doctor Who: The New Adventures – The Death of Art Simon Bucher Jones (quoted from memory as I don’t have time to look it up!)

Having got my anxiety and despair in early (on this blog and last night), Purim tonight was surprisingly good.  Not amazing, but better than expected.

I heard the Megillah (Book of Esther) and only right at the very end did I have some OCD anxiety about whether I had fulfilled my obligation by listening to every single word, as halakhah (Jewish law) requires.  On Friday evening, the person I know best at the shul (synagogue) encouraged me to stay for the party afterwards.  I refused initially, but he asked again tonight and I decided to stay when he said that they would like me to and that I could pay later (I think I mentioned last week that I wanted to go to the party, but I procrastinated over it and it sold out before I had bought ticket).

I stayed at the party for an hour or so.  There were circus performers doing tricks, which was entertaining.  Then there was food and the opportunity to learn basic circus tricks (juggling, stilt walking etc.).  I was too shy to do this, but I ate a lot of junk food.  No one really spoke to me and I was too shy to speak to anyone, but I was OK with the crowd (I am often bad with crowds, a mixture of borderline Asperger’s and borderline social anxiety) and watched the children learning to juggle and spin plates for a while.  After three quarters of an hour or so I started to feel lonely and to feel left out, especially as I was one of the few (possibly the only) adult there without either spouse or children.  It might not have been so bad if people had spoken to me, or if I was confident enough to speak to them.  I stayed another quarter of an hour to get my money’s worth and to avoid seeming rude and then I came home (and promptly had to go back when I was halfway home as I’d left my Megillah behind!).  It was OK and I didn’t feel too lonely, but sometimes it is hard to be single in a community where almost everyone marries very young.  There was someone I was at school with there, now a rabbi, who was with his five or six year old daughter, so he’s obviously been married seven or eight years.  It is hard to avoid feeling inferior sometimes (about the fact that he’s a rabbi as well as the fact that he’s married with children).

The letter from the psychiatrist after my review last week arrived today, so hopefully tonight I can increase the dose of my clomipramine, which will hopefully help the depression and OCD.  Tomorrow is the second Megillah reading if I can get up in time, as well as  a Purim seudah (meal/party) in the afternoon; I got my sister to get me an invitation to the seudah that her friends are co-hosting, which I feel a bit bad about, especially as a lot of the people there will be people who I was at Oxford with and I am afraid that they think I was rude for not talking to them when I was there, although in reality I wanted to talk to them, I was just depressed and shy.

Believing the Worst

The Doctor: Where’s your joy in life? Where’s your optimism?
Romana: It opted out.
K9: Optimism: belief that everything will work out well. Irrational, bordering on insane.
– Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor, Bob Baker and Dave Martin

My father doesn’t get angry often, but he lost his temper at me yesterday.  I had gone home to pick up my post (my parents’ house is still my postal address, a long and uninteresting story).  Dad gave me a lift back to my flat and I started drama queening, saying how awful my life was, that I will be too depressed to do my new job properly and will get fired, that the first date I’m going on on Sunday week will end badly because of my mental health issues, that my Purim will be miserable, that even if my Pesach will be kosher (which is debatable), it will be stressful, OCD-anxious and full of arguments with Mum about kashering and keeping things kasher lePesach.  I didn’t actually say all of this, but I would have done had I had the time.  I do this on Hevria a lot.  Really it’s game playing, but I can’t stop.  I either want people to agree with me that everything is awful or to give me sympathy.  Usually they walk off, because people can tell when they’re being manipulated, so I’m left unsatisfied and do it again until I get the response I want (rarely) or until my mood improves of its own accord, which can take days.

As I said, I did  not actually go through that whole list of things, mostly because Dad got annoyed with me.  He didn’t shout, he just assertively told me that I don’t know that any of those bad things are going to happen and I should just accept that the fact that lots of bad things happened to me in the past does not mean that they will continue to happen to me in the future.  He brought up God.  I am more religious than my father, but he talks about God more comfortably than I do, probably because He sees God as basically benevolent, whereas I have a lot of anger issues with Him; theologically, I see God as benevolent, but emotionally I feel victimized.  For reasons rooted in childhood experiences, part of me perceives God as bullying and vindictive, even sadistic.  I am not proud of this, which flies in the face of my ‘official’ beliefs, but it is how I feel when the depression is bad, when I’m drama queening on Hevria complaining that other people get miracles and I don’t (as if I had a right to demand miracles!) or brooding over my life and telling myself I’m “owed” a better life (as if I did some kind of deal before being born, a deal that I have kept without reward).

I felt bad, but it did bring me down to earth.  I don’t know that I will be too depressed to do my new job or that I will have trouble finding a new job when my new contract expires next year.  I don’t know that the woman who has agreed to go on a date with me will reject me because of my depression or anything else.  I don’t know that Purim will be lonely and depressing or that Pesach will be anxiety-provoking and argument-provoking or that my I won’t have time to talk to my rabbi mentor about my Pesach fears before Yom Tov starts.  I just fear all these things because I have been hurt so many times in the past.  And even then, I  have had good things happen to me.  I have two degrees, both obtained at great difficulty, battling with depression.  I have family who care about me, even if we don’t always see eye to eye.  I am not, as I like to pretend I am, entirely friendless, even if I don’t have close friends or people I can just “hang out” with (“hang out” in inverted commas because even as a teenager, I never just “hung out” with people, partly because I generally was not invited to, partly because I was too afraid of rejection to see people in a relaxed environment without some common task, even if that task was simply eating dinner).  I have a job for a year, which in this current climate is something to be thankful for.  Someone has agreed to go on a date with me, the first time this has happened in four years and only the fourth person ever to agree to date me.

This is basic CBT stuff, disproving negative thoughts, and CBT never really worked for me with depression.  The weight of my childhood experiences was too strong, I suppose, to be counteracted so easily.  I don’t know how helpful this will be, but for the first time in a while it brought me up short and stopped me wallowing in my pain (something I do far too much for my own good), at least for a while.  I can’t share Dad’s belief that maybe this is the time God will change my life and things will start going right for me, that I might be getting a good job and meeting my future wife, but I will try not to assume that everything must be for the worst in the worst of all possible worlds.

Cancer Day (Purim Post)

Imagine there was a day when all the religious Jews in the world celebrated the fact that they didn’t have cancer.  Imagine if they read aloud a 2500 year old book about God curing all the Jews of cancer, that they gave gifts of food to help friends celebrate that they don’t have cancer, that they had big parties to rejoice in the fact that they don’t have cancer.

And now imagine what it would be like to experience this if you actually did have cancer.  Imagine being told to join in when you were sick from chemotherapy.  Imagine being told that you can will yourself to not have cancer, that if you drink enough alcohol, your cancer will go away.

This is what Purim (the Jewish festival that falls this coming Sunday) feels like with depression and loneliness.  On Purim we celebrate the joy of salvation with gifts of food, parties with friends and family and a lot of alcohol.  But to those of us with loneliness and depression it feels like a cruel joke.  What is there for me to celebrate, I ask myself?  I can see objectively there are some positive things in my life, even if they seem fragile and unlikely to last.  I can see that however bad things are now, they have been even worse in the past.  But the constant pain and loneliness just won’t go away, however hard I try to “get in the Purim spirit.”  And alcohol, I am told, would just make things worse, Purim tradition or no.

I am going to try hard.  I want to get to hear the Megillah (Book of Esther) at least once, preferably both readings, evening and morning.  I will try to do the other mitzvot (commandments), to give charity, give gifts of food, have a seudah (party) according to the technical requirements i.e. to eat a meal containing some bread in the afternoon, although I have not been invited to a party with other people and my parents and sister are all out (technically my sister invited me to the party she is going to, but I felt awkward going to someone else’s party uninvited with lots of strangers, particularly as the party is being given by a friend of my sister who I was at university with, but who I don’t know well because I was too depressed to make friendships at the time).  So my “party” will probably consist of eating a sandwich alone in my flat while watching Doctor Who (you may have already noticed a pattern on this blog of my watching Doctor Who when stressed or depressed.  That’s because there is a pattern!).  I was trying to psyche myself up to go a Saturday night Purim party at shul (synagogue), but I procrastinated over it so long that they sold out before I could buy a ticket.  I tell myself I would have been miserable had I gone, which is sour grapes, but probably true.  I will try to report back here as to how it all goes.

Despatches from the Front Line 2

I think I’ve alluded to the fact that one of my bad habits is writing attention-seeking, drama queening comments on Hevria.com.  I don’t know why, probably a combination of the fact that they turned me down when I wanted to be one of their regular writers and the fact that I like the people there a lot and would love to be their friend (I sort of am internet friends with some of them), and I don’t have a clue how to communicate with people I like (see: borderline Asperger’s again), particularly when we have differences as well as similarities and particularly when I admire them to the point of envy (please God don’t let them read this.  Or maybe they should, what do I know?).  Anyway, this is what I want to write right now.  I haven’t written it there, so maybe I’m getting better, but I’ve written it here, so maybe not:

I’m sorry that I wrote these comments.  I really want to hurt myself right now.  REALLY hurt myself.  With blood and pain and screaming.  Because I deserve it.  Because I want to feel that I’m alive.  Because I hate myself.  Because I want to stop the self-hating voices in my head and only physical pain stops emotional pain.  I love all of you and I’m very sorry.  Really I am.  I’m sorry I’ve ruined your lovely site.

I write this as a sort of time capsule or snapshot of my mind.  Maybe one day I will look back on things like this and they won’t seem a part of me any more.  Maybe one day I will have real-life friends and relationships instead of one-sided online “friendships”.

Also, I can see that the italicized words in this post are more emotional than the other paragraphs.  Stylistically, they are different.  The other paragraphs are more objective than the italicized ones.  Sometimes I can step outside myself and look back at what is going on in my head and diagnose it and see the childhood and adolescent experiences it is rooted in and understand what I have to do to move on.  But it doesn’t stop the pain.  It never stops the pain.