I had a difficult Shabbat (Sabbath). I struggled to get to shul (synagogue) on Friday evening. I just felt too depressed and socially anxious. I got into a whole load of social anxiety about my kippah (skullcap). To understand this, you have to understand that in the Orthodox world, one’s style of kippah is often a signal of religious and even political identity, but I just wear things I like without worrying too much about what others think (or trying not to). I was wearing the kippah my aunt and uncle bought me a few weeks ago, a very large, white crocheted one, which is the style associated with the Religious Zionist movement (with which I do not entirely identify). I was worried that by wearing this, the rabbis of the shul, who I suspect are non- or anti-Zionist, would think negatively of me. In the end, I didn’t go up to them after the service to shake hands and wish them a “Gut Shabbes.” I haven’t done this for about two months, because of social anxiety, so the kippah was not the sole issue here, but it was a contributory factor. It’s difficult to be frum sometimes when frum people seem determined to make it much harder to fit in that it should be. Being frum is definitely a lot more than just “Read these books and keep these laws.” There’s a lot of social etiquette that isn’t written down anywhere and newcomers are expected to learn as they go along, which is probably difficult even if you aren’t borderline autistic and have problems reading and learning social cues.
I spent most of Shabbat wrestling with upsetting thoughts. I put on a brave face during meals, but before and afterwards I spent a lot of time in bed, feeling overwhelmed. (It didn’t help that my room was so dark with just the dim Shabbos lamp for company.) I spent a lot of time thinking about the people on Hevria.com who insist that if you promise to serve HaShem (God), all kinds of miracles will immediately come your way, and thinking as this doesn’t happen to me, HaShem must hate me. I spent a lot of time thinking about dictators and serial killers and trying to work out if I was better than they were. Probably, but it’s hard to be sure. I couldn’t sleep at night, so I had lots of time to lie awake thinking about this. The insomnia was probably because I forgot to take my medication, which doesn’t do very much except knock me out at night. To be fair, as I’ve said in the past, it probably does turn ‘unbearable suicidal depression with zero functionality’ into ‘slightly more bearable non-suicidal depression with enough functionality to do boring things like go to work, but not actually enjoy myself or get a life.’ Which I guess is something. But not much when it’s 2.30am and I’m lying in bed trying to work out who is worse: Jack the Ripper, Hitler or me? OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, as by 2.30am I’d given up on trying to sleep and was reading about Harold Macmillan and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which probably wasn’t the best thing to make me fall asleep, but was at least more interesting than proving to myself that God really hates me and I won’t have any share in Olam HaBa (the next world i.e. Heaven) for the umpteenth time. There is a part of me that thinks that this is probably exaggeration and I can’t really be that bad, but whenever I try to look at things calmly and assess how good I am more objectively, the answer always seems to come out that I’m the most evil person ever (or one of them, at any rate) and I can’t find the mistake in my workings.
The other thing I was thinking about was whether I’m the last person from my school year to lose his/her virginity. Why this seemed so important to me is beyond me, but I do feel inadequate even though I don’t know for sure it’s true (although it’s very likely to be true). I do feel that I’m not an adult for being perennially single, not fitting in to a frum community and only working part-time in a fairly lowly job (even when I’m not worried about being fired because of some depression-, social anxiety- or Asperger’s-related incident). I do think I’m going to be the last one from my school year to die, but that’s mostly because I have a feeling I’m going to end up like the Wandering Jew, Flying Dutchman or Ancient Mariner and just end up going on in loneliness and misery long after everyone I know has shuffled off this mortal coil. This is as irrational as the whole ‘I’m worse than Hitler’ thing, but it feels emotionally true nonetheless. I do feel so much older than everyone else, even though a lot of my friends are chronologically older than me. I feel like I’ve been here for centuries. The world does not improve with age.
I did a little bit of Torah study on Friday night and I got to shul for Ma’ariv (the evening service), but not Mincha (the afternoon service), but I missed shul today. In fact, I missed Shacharit and Musaf (the morning and additional services) entirely and did truncated versions of Mincha and Ma’ariv at home because I didn’t have the energy to do the whole thing. I didn’t even have the energy to feel particularly guilty about this. I do wonder if I should be thinking about dating in this state, though, partly as I’m sure anyone frum enough for me to want to date would want someone more committed to davening and Torah illnesses notwithstanding and partly because I don’t really feel in a good enough state to worry about it. I haven’t sent my shidduch profile off yet, so I suppose I can always back out.
I had a list of chores to do after Shabbat finished this evening, but most of them had to wait as I had to help with preparations for my room at my parents’ house being redecorated this week. I’m a bit grumpy about this, as I don’t really want it decorated and resent the work I’m having to put in to get it ready, and the much bigger hassle of putting the books (nearly 1,000, excluding the 150 or so downstairs and another 50 or so in the flat) and DVDs (a couple of hundred) back in the right order in a few weeks’ time. I’m sufficiently autistic that the upheaval itself depresses me and I only live there one day a week now, as does the thought of books going back in the wrong order and me not noticing. I suppose in a few weeks time it will look better when I’m there, which will be nice, but I’m not sure that the cost/benefit trade off is really in my favour; as with my sister’s wedding and as with work, it’s another stressful, mental health-triggering thing that I have to do more than I want to do and I have to just get through it as best as I can.