I have not written much lately. This is not for want of things to write about. So much has happened or is happening, but I simply have not had the time or energy to write. Pesach (Passover) was better than it has been for a couple of years; there was some OCD and some family tensions, but better than the last few years. I have started a new job, which is going well. The team are friendly and the work is challenging, but not impossible. In the background I have various writing projects and am trying to get to shul (synagogue) more often and to do more religious study as well as keeping up with the household chores.
I am trying to find the balance in my life, to make positive changes (the new job, trying to daven (pray) more with a minyan (prayer quorum), trying to study more Torah) without getting overwhelmed by the changes. It is hard sometimes as, although I am not depressed as I once was, it can still be hard to enjoy things. In particular, I have been thinking lately about not having simcha shel mitzvah (joy in performing the commandments). I heard from a rabbi a while back that I won’t experience this until after I have recovered from the depression, but it makes it hard to get motivated to do things if I can’t experience joy in them, especially as I am thinking more these days of managing my mental health than of being “cured.” It is hard to know what to do sometimes.
I have also been struggling with questions of identity, about trying to find a place in the Jewish community and in the wider world with my niche interests. I have been thinking about politics quite a bit, unsurprisingly given the news, and thinking that my political views probably come across as complicated if not confused. I don’t really feel comfortable with any party, but, given that I do force myself to vote for someone, I suspect I will be voting for a party that a number of my friends do not approve of. There is so much anger in the world at the moment, especially regarding politics and identity that I feel under attack a lot of the time, especially given my fragile ego, whether it’s Doctor Who fans insisting that you have to be progressive to enjoy the programme or people at seudah shlishit (the third Sabbath meal) in shul being scornful of giving tzedaka (charity) to non-Jews or the horror stories I hear from American friends of Orthodox Jews bullied at the Shabbat table for not voting for Donald Trump or the ongoing antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party…
Even as my own world is improving, the wider world feels increasingly like a frightening and tribal place where a slightly unusual and (I hope) thoughtful person like myself is forced to squeeze himself into uncomfortable boxes or lose his friends. I am trying to go slowly, to focus on my recovery and to take things one step at a time, but sometimes it seems as if events in the wider world are pushing on faster than I would like.