I got ‘sunk’ again at work today. I struggled all day, doing a quite boring, very slow and long task (it will certainly take longer than my current contract) because there were no books to catalogue (three boxes full arrived around midday, but they have to be processed by the library assistants before I work on them). I don’t know if it was the boredom or something else, but in the mid-afternoon I just felt exhausted and depressed. It was a real struggle to keep going, even more of a struggle than before. I got through it and carried on working and I don’t feel that my work was noticeably inferior, but I was struggling with my thoughts. Hours later I can’t remember what I was thinking, but I suspect it was mostly self-critical thoughts of one form or another.
I should be at my Talmud shiur (class) now, but I’m too tired. I think I’m going to have to give up on it soon, as I’m just too tired to study the technicalities of halakhah (Jewish law) after work, nor do I really have the time to go and then still get to bed at the time I need to have the seven to eight hours of sleep I need to function at work and keep the worst part of the depression at bay. Things are only made worse by the fact that the style of teaching is not ideal for me and the way the shiur is run, from an administrative point of view, is something of a shambles, with shiurim frequently cancelled at short notice (once without me even being told until I got there) even before the teacher’s son became seriously ill (which only makes me feel guiltier about stopping going). I really want to learn the study skills that will one day let me learn Gemarah (another name for Talmud (actually not quite, but near enough)) independently or with a chevruta (study partner), but this shiur is not teaching me that. To be honest, the main reason I’m going is that I like to be able think of myself as a frum (religious) Jew who studies Gemarah and I won’t be able to do that if I stop going. It’s more about self-esteem and fitting in to the frum community than about the shiur itself, which is a really bad and shallow thing to do. That and wanting to be attractive to frum single women who are looking for someone who studies Gemarah, which is probably an even worse reason to do something.
I guess I’m drifting back into that old feeling of not being good at anything. I think that’s what I was feeling at work this afternoon, the feeling that I’m not that good at my job. Two of my colleagues were talking about their children and they said that I “have that to look forward to” but I’m exactly the same age as one of them and only two or three years younger than the other with no sign of getting married. I try to tell myself that marriage, children, sex, even love aren’t everything. But they are quite a lot, at least they seem that way when I feel lonely and lacking… purpose? motivation? a focus? focus for what? for my love? I’m not sure that any of those really fits what I feel. I just know I keep thinking of the young daughter I had in my dream last week, the one with Down Syndrome, wanting to hug her.
I was reflecting on the way home today about something I heard years ago, that “our grandparents had lives, but we have lifestyles.” I don’t have a problem with organised religion, the free market, high culture or geek culture in and of themselves, but they can, if you’re not careful, sell you a fake lifestyle and stop you getting a real life. I try hard to have a life, not a lifestyle, but it’s hard to have any kind of life with depression. I suppose, from that point of view, I should stop going to the Talmud shiur, because unlike the parasha shiur on Thursdays, it’s become a lifestyle thing rather than a life thing. I’m not becoming a person who can study independently (life), but someone who goes to the shiur to show other frum Jews that I can pass as a frum Jew (lifestyle). Sigh. It’s not that simple though. I worry about upsetting the rabbi who teaches it, particularly given his family issues (his son being ill and his mother died a couple of weeks ago). I worry whether I should blame work and lack of time or be honest and open up to people a bit about my mental health. I worry that I am burning my bridges about dating again. I worry, I worry, I worry.