It’s been a tough couple of days. I don’t normally work on Fridays, but I had to yesterday as it was a staff development day. Part of the training was a lecture on Prevent, the government’s counter-extremism programme. One slide on the slideshow showed the factors that should be warning signs of potential extremism. I didn’t take notes, but I noticed that I had a lot of the signs, even more when I was an adolescent. Things like social isolation, mental illness, anger at people around me and things in the news… it’s quite scary. This was not the first time I have had a thought like this – there but for the grace of God, etc. Maybe I’m lucky that there aren’t any Jewish terrorist groups out there. Still, I took those negative feelings in different directions than violence. I turned the anger inwards into depression and OCD, which wasn’t good, but was probably better than projecting it onto others and hating them (God forbid). And I took my pain and turned it into empathy. But it is still a scary thing to confront the potential for violence and anger that lurks inside you. Growing up, my sister used to hit me and my Mum would tell me to hit her back and she would stop, but I never did. I was too scared of where that road would take me. I don’t drink for the same reason, I’m too worried what alcohol or drugs could do to me.
Having had to go in to work on Friday, I was exhausted today. I need that day at the end of the week to unwind before Shabbat (the Sabbath) and especially before shul (synagogue) and the socialising that entails. I missed shul this morning, but I was due to do security duty at 11.30am, so I dragged myself out of bed shortly beforehand and walked down there, only to find the person doing the shift before deep in conversation with someone else. They both said they would stay out there to continue their conversation and I should go into shul instead. I felt bad about this, but they insisted. I wouldn’t go into shul, though, because I thought they would be nearly finished or already on the kiddish (refreshments after the service), but it was hard to explain that I didn’t want to go in. I said I had davened (prayed) elsewhere (which was basically a lie, as I’d only had time to say about five minutes of prayers before leaving and I implied I was at another shul when I meant I was at home) and, after asking (I think jokingly) why I was davening somewhere else, they said I should go to the kiddush. I didn’t feel like doing that either as I was feeling too depressed to be in a social situation and I couldn’t face eating cake and crisps so soon after getting up, so I said I wasn’t feeling well (basically another lie as I implied I was physically ill when it was more mental illness that was the issue). So I went home, but I felt bad as these were two of the friendlier people in the shul to me and they were both being nice to me, but I slunk off back home because I felt depressed and socially anxious, but I couldn’t even be honest with them about my behaviour. I felt like I should get a badge that says “HI, I’M LUFTMENTSCH! I’M DEPRESSED, SOCIALLY ANXIOUS AND BORDERLINE AUTISTIC!” to “warn” people about me or even just to explain my eccentric behaviour and the white lies I continually tell about how I am (saying I’m OK when I’m not, implying I’m physically ill when I’m mentally ill, making excuses to avoid social events – this is hard because I’m basically a very honest person, but it is hard to be honest about mental health and neurodiversity).
This came the day after the rabbi had asked me to attend an educational event on Friday evening, and I said I would consider it, but didn’t show up because I was too tired from work, again leading to my feeling bad for lying to him (as I knew I was unlikely to go) and for missing something that would have helped me to meet more people from the shul. (I reckon that if I want to meet more people, attending educational events is a better bet than social events, because it’s easier to deal with a text or a class than just talking, even despite my feelings of religious and intellectual inferiority around the other men from the shul, who all seem to be better Jewishly-educated than I am.)
Today ended up being a wasted day. It wasn’t very Shabbosdik (Shabbat-like), but it wasn’t exactly a relaxing mental health day either. After having slept in late then dashing to shul for security and then coming straight back home, I dozed before lunch and then slept for longer after lunch. I was feeling too lethargic and depressed to go back to shul in the afternoon for Minchah, seudah and Ma’ariv (afternoon service, the third Shabbat meal and the evening service). I only did a few minutes of Torah study. I read for fun a little bit, but not much. I was too lethargic and depressed to do much. Mostly I ate, slept and talked to my parents. The OCD was a bit worse too. And now it’s gone 10.30pm and I haven’t had any dinner. I feel vaguely hungry, but I don’t really feel like eating, but I need to eat something to take my medication and, anyway, if I don’t eat something I’ll get hungry when I want to go to bed.
Finally, as a supplement to what I wrote about my financial situation the other day, I spoke to my parents after Shabbat about my financial situation and dating, particularly my feelings that I don’t earn enough because I can only work part-time and am ten years behind my peers on the career ladder from having been unemployed through illness for so long. My Dad said I’m never going to be rich, which I knew already (I’m a librarian, for goodness’ sake!), but he felt I could get married, but this was because he was willing to help support me, which wasn’t really what I wanted to hear. I still feel like I’m a child, having to rely on my parents so much and being aware that I would probably never be rich enough to help my own children in the same way (if I ever manage to have any). I don’t really want to be rich, I don’t need much money, particularly if I don’t ever get married, but I would like to be independent and more settled and secure and to at least have the possibility of getting married some day. Because right now I feel no one would ever want to marry me for financial reasons as well as my weird interests and personality, unclear position in the Jewish community and mental health issues.
(I also realised today that I’ve experienced romantic rejection about seven times this year, which is some kind of record for me. Two of those were mutual things, but all of them were frustrating and upsetting. I suppose it’s good that I’m putting myself out there, but it frustrating when no one the only people who are interested are not compatible.)