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.