I wrote most of this post earlier today (in fact, one paragraph was written last night), but at 6pm I had a short Skype call with my rabbi mentor which made me feel a lot better. I didn’t want to delete the post I had written, because it was true this morning and may be true tomorrow, but I didn’t want to ignore how I feel now either. So I decided to make a sort of mosaic: the bits in black ink are from earlier, the red bits have been added after 6.15.
I feel lethargic and depressed again. I couldn’t be bothered to shave today, always a bad sign. I had enough energy and motivation to shave by the evening, but it seemed a bit pointless that late in the day. This really does look like another full-blown episode of depression. I really thought I was over it (again). I’m very worried about working four days a week from September now. Maybe it will help me feel better… or maybe I won’t make it at all. Ugh.
I’ve been feeling tired of life a bit again recently. I didn’t think very much of this as I’m not actively suicidal, but this article says I should be concerned. Also that I should be taking care of myself and of others and I’m not sure that I’m doing either of those. Looking again, it also says I should be doing the things I love and which make me feel alive and excited and I’m not really doing that either. I don’t know what I love, really, and nothing really makes me feel alive and excited (writing about Doctor Who? Maybe, but that’s problematic on multiple levels). Ugh. Similarly, this second article states:
“Most people who don’t feel good about themselves want frequent reassurance that they are loveable and worthwhile, and become upset if it is missing. They expect a partner always to be warm, happy, and uncritical. That is hard for most partners, and unrealistic to expect of a mate. Instead, insecure people should do whatever is necessary to feel less dependent on others’ positive feedback. That may require psychotherapy, a job change, or appreciating aspects of themselves that they now denigrate.”
I know that this is true, but I don’t know how to change. Years and years of therapy have not made me like myself more (although perhaps I did like myself a bit more a few months ago, before the depression started again) or less dependent on the praise of others. It sometimes seems to me that the people who need praise and reassurance most are the ones who get it the least. The article goes on to say, “Nothing external can undo years of emotional deprivation. If we can’t make ourselves happy, no one else will be able to do so.” I don’t think this leaves me much hope, as so far I have not been able to change myself.
I feel these posts are getting repetitive and just voicing my self-loathing. Ugh again. And I’ve put on weight eating too much and not exercising while on “holiday” (and, to be fair, being on medication that causes weight gain as a side effect) and my work trousers are now tight. Everyone puts on weight on holiday, though. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
I didn’t have the energy to do any exercise again today. I was at least going to try to go for a walk, but it was raining too heavily. It was too wet outside to jog, but I did twenty-five minutes of aerobics and got quite tired in a good way.
I did manage to paint the woodwork in the bathroom. It only took about twenty minutes, admittedly excluding preparation and cleaning up and it will probably need a second coat tomorrow. So that is something achieved, even if it doesn’t seem like very much. I managed half an hour of Torah study too, although I don’t think I managed to take anything in. I also managed to do some work on my Doctor Who book for fifteen minutes. I’m still a bit worried about wasting my time on it, but my rabbi mentor said that if I enjoy writing it and think other people might enjoy reading it, it’s enough reason to write it.
As mentioned, I also had a fifteen minute Skype call with my rabbi mentor, which was positive, partly just from talking to someone about how I’ve been (he’s a trained counsellor, so I feel comfortable sharing things with him that I’m reluctant to tell my parents; my therapist has been on holiday for a month, which always leaves me feeling depressed). He suggested that I try gardening, which my non-biological “twin sister” also suggested. I don’t have a garden, but I will see if my parents need anything done in theirs, even if it’s just harvesting the apples and pears from the trees. I also felt good for not asking some of the questions I had that I thought were probably coming from OCD (asking questions seems a positive way to deal with OCD doubts, but it is actually a form of compulsion that perpetuates the obsession). I did ask him a non-OCD question and he gave me a much more lenient answer than I expected, which was nice.
I am experiencing a lot of loneliness at the moment (another reason to look forward to going back to work). I wander aimlessly around the internet looking for something I can relate to or someone I can communicate with. I look for things written by people I know (at least online) so I can comment. I’m sure my drama queening on Hevria is just trying to get a response because I’m lonely. Is it trolling if I’m just trying to get a reaction if I don’t say anything rude and just want to be told I’m a good person? Or alternatively, that I’m just a bad person. As long as people interact with me, treat me like I exist. I googled a couple of old loves, which I really shouldn’t have done. No, I really shouldn’t. I didn’t really learn anything new, but it just makes me feel depressed that other people are happy and moving on with their lives and I’m stuck here alone and miserable.
I saw this article about making friends yesterday, but I didn’t want to post a third time in one day. My response was that it’s very hard to “just be myself.” At shul and shiur I fear that just being myself will lead to me being ostracized for having weird or even forbidden interests and for not being a straightforward conservative (in all senses of the word) Orthodox Jew. Among Doctor Who fans I fear that just being myself will lead to my being ostracized for being religious and not being a straightforward liberal. At work I fear that just being myself will lead to me being ostracized for being too clever or for being a Zionist. On Hevria I fear that just being myself will lead to me being ostracized for drama queening, for not being a mystic/Chabadnik and for fairly deliberately repressing my creative urges (especially as it was rejection from Hevria that led to that repression). Everywhere I fear that just being myself will lead to me being ostracized for being mentally ill – even if people aren’t prejudiced against mental illness per se, it’s almost impossible to ‘casually’ bring up an ongoing history of serious illness of any kind without seeming like a drama queen, especially after not having mentioned it previously. It’s no wonder I mostly hang out online where the few other people also in that tiny overlap on the Venn diagram of my life (frum, geeky, cultured, mentally ill) can say “Hi” (I admit it happens occasionally) and the rest can just ignore me rather than having actual negative interactions. Actually, it’s worse than that, as usually I don’t say anything at all, even online. But I’ve had so many rejections over my life and especially over the last few months that it’s hard to keep hoping and not to give up. At times it’s tempting just to retreat to my flat and focus on my books and DVDs and forget about having friends or getting married.
The thing that strikes me about all this is how disproportionate the fears are compared to what I have actually experienced as an adult. Yes, as a child I was bullied mercilessly by the other kids and even adult authority figures were dismissive of my interests and attempts at conversation. But as an adult, outside of dating (where I have been rejected for my interests and my mental health), I have rarely experienced real rejection for these things, mostly because I haven’t flagged them up enough to even find out how people will react. At Oxford I did get laughed at by one or two people at the Jewish Society when it came out that I was a Doctor Who fan, but that’s twelve years ago. I’m assuming that people will react to my political and cultural views in a particular way, based on my fears and on the experiences of other people (e.g. Orthodox Jews who have been verbally abused by other Orthodox Jews for being anti-Trump) rather than based on my own experiences, which probably isn’t sensible.
I wish I hadn’t started Daniel Deronda, it’s become just another thing to beat myself up about. Well, that’s silly. What’s really annoying is that I was actually enjoying it, before I stopped reading because of the depression, so I don’t want to give up on it completely.