I’m not sure how this blog is going to work. I thought I might try some “how I’m feeling” posts that give a subjective idea of my issues amid more objective essays, so here goes. Feedback welcome!
I got up late today, unsurprising as I was up until something ridiculous last night (2am? 3am? I can’t remember), sorting some paperwork out for my new job, setting up my new blog and suddenly becoming incurably hungry around 1am. I was quite depressed on waking, ate breakfast and fiddled around some more with my blog, ate lunch and did some Torah study (I read an aliyah of this week’s sedra as I do every day and revised the contents of last Monday’s Gemarah shiur before tomorrow’s shiur) for half an hour. I wanted to go for a run, but it was raining very heavily, so I stayed inside and did aerobics instead. I spent too long aimlessly looking at things online and plutzing about the shidduch date I was supposed to be set up on that doesn’t seem to be happening.
By 6.30pm, my mood had plummeted. I read a while back in a book on depression to be wary of making big decisions while hungry, angry, lonely or tired (the acronym is HALT). I don’t get angry much, except at myself, but I’ve found the depression and OCD are worse when I’m hungry, anxious, lonely or tired and by the evening I was feeling at least three out of the four (not very tired, but hungry from exercise, anxious about the date and lonely because I’m usually lonely, but enhanced by the fact that I haven’t been out of the flat all day and that, aside from a brief phone call from my Dad when I was half-asleep this morning, I haven’t said a word to anyone except to daven). The depression was making me catastrophize and assume bad things would happen and the OCD was making me worry about kashrut.
The specific OCD worry was that I went out to a kosher cafe with some colleagues and other people last week, one of whom brought some chocolates that I was fairly sure were not kosher and I wasn’t sure whether I should say anything. You are not supposed to rebuke others unless you are fairly sure you will be listened to and I thought I was likely to be ignored. There was another reason not to rebuke which I had better not mention in case it reveals the identity of the miscreant. However, I was worried about treif chocolate crumbs getting on plates. I assumed that nothing sizeable enough to cause a kashrut problem was likely to get anywhere, but left the cafe early feeling depressed and anxious and feeling that I had failed a test. It didn’t help that the noise in the cafe gave me a bit of sensory overload and the fact that I hardly knew anyone there triggered my social anxieties so I was not in a good state to make a decision – pretty much all four of my HALT triggers were activated at once.
One of the hardest things about trying to deal with my OCD is judging when something is genuinely problematic and when it is OCD and I was not in a good state to make that judgement call. Similarly, it can be hard to know when I should ask a shaylah of a rabbi and when it is not necessary. I did later email my rabbi mentor to ask if I did the right thing and, if not, what to do to rectify the situation (I had visions of having to write a letter to the cafe telling them to kasher their plates), but he emailed back to say he is busy with his daughter’s bat mitzvah and can’t deal with my questions at the moment. I still don’t know if I made the right decision and feel as if it was me who brought the treif food in defiance of the cafe’s stated policy, which is obviously not the case. I do tend to feel responsible for things outside my control.
It has in fact been a day for beating myself up; as well as the cafe problem, I’ve been fretting over the kashrut of my sink (a long-standing issue since I moved into my flat eight months ago which would take too long to explain now).
I was supposed to cook chilli for dinner, but it has got too late and I think it’s more important to eat before my mood plummets further and to get to bed at a reasonable time (unlike last night!), so it looks like simpler fare this evening, especially as I still have some things to do before bed (filling in a form before my last CBT session; booking a place at a Purim party, with great trepidation and the feeling that I’m making a big mistake – probably more on that next week). This can easily turn into another reason to blame myself, of course.
EDIT: it turns out I’ve missed the reduced price early booking for the Purim party (£7), so it’s £10 if I want to pay on the door on the evening. I’m asking myself if I really want to spend £10 to be lonely and unhappy all evening when I can be lonely and unhappy all evening for free in my flat and watch Doctor Who, which makes me marginally less unhappy. Tough call. All my HALT indicators are going off right now, so I probably shouldn’t make a decision yet. Off to get something to eat and watch Doctor Who.