The nights are drawing in, literally and metaphorically. I can’t believe it’s starting to get dark at 6.00pm; it seems like only a few weeks ago I had to stay up late for sunset to daven Ma’ariv (say the evening prayers). My depression, bad enough during the summer, often seems to get worse in October-November time. Most of my episodes have started in autumn or winter.
I was off work today to balance having to go in this Friday for a staff development day (I usually work Mondays to Thursdays). I managed to transfer my therapy session to today. I let myself sleep in, waking naturally around 11.00am feeling quite exhausted and depressed. I wasn’t able to daven Shacharit (say the morning prayers) at all as I was just too depressed and tired to get dressed. I wanted to take today as a mental health day after having spent the last few weeks rushing through work, Yom Tov (festivals), preparation for Yom Tov and other chores with little real break, Yom Tov itself mostly being occupied with sometimes pleasurable, but draining activities like shul (synagogue) and socialising as well as long meals with my family which were generally good, but left me coping without my much needed ‘introvert time’ (as I call it), time alone to read and watch favourite DVDs, that I need for my mental health.
It was not to be. After a rushed lunch and therapy over Zoom (video conference software like Skype, but less temperamental) I spent two hours going over my accounts, trying to make them balance properly (I eventually succeeded in finding the errors); the rest of the afternoon was spent in my eternal battle with mould in my flat and in reading things online, mostly depressing news or news-inspired articles about antisemitism, sexual abuse and domestic violence that I haven’t been able to get away from last night and today.
I don’t know why I’m wallowing in this stuff. I don’t want to read it, but I find it compulsive. Perhaps the depression and anxiety feeds on the antisemitism to make me feel even more isolated, anxious and despairing, as well as justifiably angry at the way antisemitic discourse has re-entered our political life, often introduced by those who claim to be most ‘tolerant’ and ‘progressive.’
As for the stories of abuse, my heart is in such pain reading them, but I can’t stop. Sometimes I worry that I could hurt someone if I let my guard down, that I’m really an evil person and I need to be on my guard the whole time against doing anything wrong. This is really the ‘pure O’ (pure obsession), which makes me torment myself with fears that I am a terrible, wicked person, even though, according to the CBT therapist I saw for my OCD and the books I have read on the subject, people with these obsessions are the least likely to ever act on them; it is because they are anathema to the sufferer that the mental illness takes this form to torment them.
I guess I also feel sad, maybe frustrated, that so many people are trapped in violent and abusive relationships, while I want to have to love someone fully and selflessly yet am unable to find anyone who will let me love her. I guess my ‘white knight’ fantasies of ‘saving’ someone come into play here, even though I know that women do not need ‘saving’ and that salvation isn’t a sound basis for a relationship, which should be built on mutual care, good communication and shared values. But I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that I would only be considered marriageable material in contrast to the very lowest forms of human life.
Perhaps related to this, my Mum was trying to set me up with someone on Saturday, the daughter of some friends of hers who also has mental health issues. I actually know this person by sight, although I have never spoken to her, and find her attractive, but I’m terrified of going on a date with her because I’ve irrationally convinced myself that we would have nothing in common besides OCD and that she isn’t frum (religious) enough for me. I’m not quite sure how things have been left; I think my Mum is planning on trying to quietly find out if the woman is single or not and if she might be interested. But it is another thing making me feel hopeless, a mixture of more self-sabotage and being convinced that there is no one out there who would be a good match for me. I guess it is a bit silly to feel depressed because I might have to go on a date with a woman I really fancy…
And suddenly it was dinner time and I had done almost nothing all day. The time that I could have spent on my Mishnah study has gone on my Torah-themed post, which is probably a worthy trade-off, but perhaps not. I’m postponing my other outstanding chores until I am off work on half-term next week as I’m too tired and anyway I need to get ready for bed so I can be up early for work tomorrow. I feel like I haven’t really caught my breath for about a month and even today was not a relaxing day in the end, between bank accounts and poor mental health and not getting out of the flat all day (except to throw some rubbish in the recycling bin, which doesn’t count).