“I might as well be useless for all it means to you”
I have been feeling better at work the last few days, although I made another mistake yesterday. It was pretty much all my fault this time. I’m not sure if I had Asperger’s “rigid thinking” and “poor social interaction” or if I was just stupid and inept this time.
“You’ve had your fun, you don’t get well no more”
The price for feeling well at work seems to be feeling terrible before and after it. I still struggle to get up and get going in the mornings because I feel tired and depressed. I’m barely saying anything at all of Shacharit (morning prayers) and I worry that if things get any worse I’ll have to skip it entirely. The news and social media the last few days have left me feeling alternately angry, depressed, anxious, despairing, frustrated, silenced, guilty, ashamed, self-loathing and righteously indignant. I started to write a blog post yesterday, decided it was better not to post it, emailed a friend saying some of the embarrassing stuff I would have said in the post and then somehow managed to send it to her sister too. Not my finest hour.
“You said, ”Young man, I do believe you’re dying'”
My commute to and from work has been getting harder too. I’ve been having intense ‘pure O’ (obsessional) thoughts about jumping in front of a train. I’ve had these on and off for years, but at the moment they’re really intense and distressing. It’s not suicidal ideation as I don’t want to die, I just think about it. I can’t even stand back from the edge of the platform until the train comes in as at rush hour only those people standing closest to the train can squeeze on to the over-crowded train (don’t even mention how much of a death trap the London Underground would be in the event of a terrorist attack or even an accidental fire, I’ve spent years staying sane by not thinking about that. Today the train smelt like it was catching fire; the driver said it was just the brakes overheating, but it was quite scary, and we weren’t even underground at the time and could theoretically have escaped).
I also find it harder and harder to stay on the crowded trains in the morning and evening rush hours, not that there is anywhere to go. The morning isn’t so bad as my station is the first on the line, so I always get a seat and I try to bury myself in a Jewish book (if I’m awake enough), but I still get somewhat more anxious as the train fills up. The evening is harder, though, as I generally don’t get a seat for the first twenty minutes or so, standing pressed against other people and unable to read, listening to music on my iPod (listening to a lot of Elvis Costello recently was probably a bad choice). I don’t know what the difficulty is, if it’s invasion of space or the fear of being trapped and not being able to get off at my stop, but I just feel hot (which I probably am, dressed for winter in a tiny metal cylinder full of equally hot people), oppressed and suffocated. A couple of times I’ve been worried that I’m about to have a panic attack, as my father has had on crowded Tube trains. I hope I’m not developing another neurosis, because that would be too much.
“But there’s no danger, it’s a professional career”
I catalogued a career guidance book today and, flicking through it, I whimsically looked at the entry for librarians. Big mistake. I should say I’m vague about money. I’m neither spendthrift nor miserly, I can budget and I know how much my rent and food cost, but money doesn’t matter much to me and I’m only vaguely aware of what is a ‘normal’ salary and how much many things cost. My Dad is always trying to get me to move my money to better bank accounts, but my parents have never spoken much about how much they earn or how much things cost, which probably contributes to my vague feelings of unease about money. My parents still help me out financially, somewhat against my will. I would still need their help a bit, even on my new salary, but I could just about pay most of my bills. But my parents want to help me more so I can save a bit, and have some money for luxuries, although luxuries for me are a few second-hand books and DVDs (I bought two good-condition books for 50p each today from the library withdrawal pile, one popular history, one popular science) and I really don’t spend much other than that. I don’t really go out, as my friends all live on the internet.
However, looking at how much a librarian should be earning compared with how much I am actually earning, and how much other professionals are earning (most people in my milieu, by which I mean educated young professionals, are accountants, doctors, lawyers, the traditional Jewish professions), drove home a few things that I’ve been vaguely-but-not-concretely aware, mostly that while I am not on the breadline, I am far from rich, mostly because I am still working part-time (and the experience of the last few weeks has shown me that I’m not ready to work five days a week, although I would still like to work through some of my enforced holidays), because I lost about ten years of my professional life to depression, being too ill to study or work, and because I have chosen to work in a lower-paid sector. I can’t really complain about the last one, as I knew that going in, but the others worry me a bit.
As I said, my income is low, but so is my expenditure, hence happiness in a Dickensian balanced-budget sense (except for my parents helping me). I’ve been a bit envious of my friends and peers before for having large flats or houses, but more for the lifestyle they entail in terms of being able to invite friends over, needing a house because of starting a family and so on.
No, the problem is I still want to marry and start a family of my own. I obviously don’t want to marry someone who just wants to marry someone rich, but I would want to marry someone who wants a family and she would be entitled to expect me to be able to at least contribute something reasonable to the family budget, especially given that the default in the Orthodox-but-modern community is for the man to be the main breadwinner in the household.
“They beat him up until the teardrops start/But he can’t be wounded ’cause he’s got no heart”
This led me to think that I shouldn’t be thinking about marriage. Not now, probably not ever, really. It’s silly really. I spent the last six weeks waiting for the end of the Yom Tov (festival) season so I could start dating, if I was well enough, but given the state of my mental health the last couple of weeks and my financial worries, I am too scared of rejection to go to a shadchan (matchmaker) or pursue the match my Mum suggested. I’m too fearful that I’m too depressed, too screwed up and now too poor for anyone to be interested in me. But I still get lonely.
“I woke up and one of us was crying”