Today was my first day back at work. I actually achieved quite a bit, but it was also a day when I compared myself to a terrorist (semi-jokingly).
I actually managed to get to bed by just after 11.30 last night, which was a pleasant surprise considering I was out late with my family, but I couldn’t sleep, perhaps from blogging shortly before bed or perhaps because I was a bit stressed and not relaxed from being out with people I didn’t know well. I don’t know what time I fell asleep; any time between 00.30am and 1.00am would be my guess, but I’m not a good judge of time. I had strange dreams, which I don’t really remember, except that one of them concerned The Shining, a film I have never seen nor planned to see (I don’t watch horror films).
Surprisingly I managed to wake up at 6.00am, but it took me nearly half an hour to get up and I ate breakfast and dressed very slowly, so much so that I could only say a little of Shacharit (morning prayers). I left a few minutes late and then went back when I was halfway down the road to check I’d locked the door; I know this happens to everyone sometimes, but it makes me worry about my OCD, especially as the kashrut OCD has been worse the last few days. I caught the bus to the station rather than walking to try to make up lost time and should have got to work on time, but there were train delays when I was halfway there, so I was half an hour late.
It turned out most of my colleagues were on holiday, as was my boss, and enrollment doesn’t start until Thursday, so I got on with cataloguing. I hope I’ve done the right things, though, as I’m worried that I haven’t. I still feel like I’m learning the ropes, which is a bit worrying as I’m going to have new responsibilities added to the existing ones this term.
I was very tired during the morning, perhaps unsurprisingly. I found myself crying a bit too, just sitting there working with tears suddenly coming. I was glad that only one of my colleagues was around and she was on the issue desk while I was in the office so she didn’t see me. I felt better after lunch, so low blood sugar was probably a factor. Late morning is often a bad time for me in terms of tiredness and depression and I have been known to start falling asleep around 10.30 at work or in shul on Shabbat. I usually take a banana with to eat around then for a boost, but it doesn’t always work and hot drinks are a problem at work as we have to boil the water from the water cooler which seems to make me feel nauseous. Then in the afternoon I began to feel ill, as I had felt last Thursday and Friday, like the beginnings of a cold that never really comes out, achey and hot with a sore throat and dry eyes.
I did at least achieve quite a bit over the day. I catalogued about thirty books, which was very good, even if they were fairly easy, but whenever I do something well, I worry that I have done it incorrectly. I feel guilty about not working at my optimum all day long, particularly regarding slowing down in the late morning, but deep down I know that it is impossible to work for seven hours with only one break (especially as that break was cut short today to catch up time lost due to train delays).
I feel a lot less depressed today and glad to be back at work, but I still have some OCD thoughts that I am struggling with and I have a stack of emails to answer tomorrow that are panicking me a bit (psychiatrist, joining the new shul, Shabbat lunch with my ex-date, landlady). Hopefully I’ll feel better after having eaten and relaxed a bit, if not after having had a night’s sleep.
The downside is that despite feeling a bit better, I still put myself down. I’ve found out that I’m probably OK eating before Shacharit if I do it because of my depression, which is good to know (eating is permitted even for strong hunger, according to Rav Hirsch in Horeb, if I understand it correctly, so I’m assuming that kol vachomer (a fortiori) it’s OK to eat to get past the depression-induced lack of energy and motivation. I still struggle to like myself, though, or to work out how to get my life really back on track. I should probably start by admitting that it is a lot more on track than it was a year ago, when I was much more depressed (suicidal), having much stronger OCD thoughts, sleeping through whole mornings, working far fewer hours and sometimes failing to get to work completely and hardly going to shul at all. But in a day’s time we’re going to be in the Hebrew month of Elul, which is the start of the five or six weeks of introspection and self-evalution running up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time when it’s easy to give in to the despair and self-loathing, at least for me.
Example number one of deep-rooted, instinctive self-loathing: I had been planning to go to a shadchan (professional matchmaker) after the Yom Tovim (festivals), but now I’m not so sure that I’m ready. I was thinking today that no one could ever love me and that if it wasn’t a mitzvah to get married, I would just resign myself to being single forever and not even bother to look for a partner. It’s all just too painful being rejected all the time. People have told me that it will happen when I don’t expect it, but it doesn’t really work that way (a) if you’re too shy to start spontaneously talking to women and (b) if you’re frum and events where the sexes can mingle casually are increasingly rare. I am not sure that there are single women my age at my shul, for example, but if they are, I wouldn’t be able to talk to them even if I had the courage, as men and women stand separately even at the kiddush. It’s true that there is no halakhic reason for this and often one or two people talk across the table or even go round to the other side, but this is rare and I would never have the confidence to do it, even though I think the whole idea is silly and unnecessary.
Examples number two: I compared myself to a terrorist. There was a headline in the newspaper about the man wanted in connection with the terrorist attack in Barcelona. It said something like “THE MOST WANTED MAN IN THE WORLD” so inevitably I wryly put myself down by describing myself as “the least wanted man in the world.” It was a fairly tasteless joke on multiple levels and I’m not proud of it, but it just came into my head. I don’t really think I’m like a terrorist, but I don’t want to go down that path in case I start proving to myself that I am like a terrorist. [I decided to edit out the next bit because it was too self-loathing. Suffice to say, I was blaming myself again for things I haven’t done and making myself out to be a worse person than I am.]
So, on the whole it was a goodish day, at least in terms of getting to work, getting quite a bit done, and being less paralyzingly depressed, but there is obviously a long way to go still in terms of self-esteem and OCD if I’m going to struggle with OCD and self-loathing thoughts.
(Also, if this post suddenly disappears or gets dramatically edited, it means I’ve decided I have made it much too personal and want to take it out of the public domain.)