We’re 1/365 through 2018! Roll on 2019!
You might infer from this that I’m not having a good time this year.
Today is my last day of holiday. It hasn’t felt much like a holiday. I have done most of the chores I set out to do, but I was so depressed that I have done little else except procrastinate. I have done little in the way of cooking or Torah study and no exercise. I have barely been out of the flat for two weeks, which isn’t good, although the weather and the short days hardly encourages anyone to leave at this time of the year and I’ve been sleeping so late that I have barely seen daylight – sunset is before 4pm here; I don’t open my curtains until I’m dressed and even if I get up at 12.30pm, it might (as today) take two or three hours just to eat breakfast and get dressed as I just feel so depressed and lethargic that my body simply won’t cooperate.
I set myself targets, but as they are essentially artificial, it’s hard to stick to them. For example, I want to cook chilli for dinner tonight, but I doubt if I will, as I feel very depressed and I know that if I don’t cook, I won’t go hungry as I can eat something else that I don’t have to cook. I don’t have the threat of being sacked, as I do at work. I feel pretty awful right now and to be honest, I don’t really want to do much more today than just watch Doctor Who (I’m currently up to Earthshock in my research viewing, which is undemanding, but disturbingly macho and probably not the story that I would have ideally picked to cheer me up). Reading upbeat blogs just makes me feel guilty and inadequate for being mentally ill and generally not getting my life together the way that other people seem to be able to do. I’ve been depressed for fifteen years straight now (probably longer) with only two or three six month interludes of wellness.
I haven’t even watched a huge amount of Doctor Who as I have been procrastinating and feeling depressed more than actually relaxing, so progress on my Doctor Who non-fiction book has not advanced much more than it had a few weeks ago, although I have finished a second draft of another chapter and have four pages of notes to type up. I feel pessimistic about the whole thing, though. I doubt I can say anything original enough to find a place in a crowded marketplace, especially when I’m out of sync with trends in fan criticism. But I have said all this before, and still I plod on with it. I’m not sure if I’m persistent or just bad at revising plans.
In terms of social stuff, I did nothing over the holiday except see my parents and my sister. I even tried to avoid seeing people at shul as much as possible. However, it looks like I did manage to pay for the shul Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner in a few weeks, so I’m committed to go to that. I also sent my shidduch (dating) profile to the shadchan (matchmaker) for people with health issues, but I’m sceptical of anything good coming of that either. I have said most of this before too. I started reading a CBT book on social anxiety, but haven’t got very far with it yet and am worried that I’m not going to be brave enough to do the exercises in it.
I did read some books on Asperger’s Syndrome over the break and just ended up more confused than ever about whether I’m on the spectrum. I don’t know if I am neurotypical with some autistic traits or if I’m autistic, but have learnt good coping skills over the years. I’ve certainly been boring myself by monologuing in my head a lot. When I say boring myself, that’s not depressive low self-esteem, I really do bore myself with set speeches about politics, antisemitism, religion, society, Doctor Who… I just don’t know how to shut my brain off once it gets going (which may have contributed to insomnia the night I forgot to take my meds). I’m just glad I’m socially-literate, or more likely socially anxious, enough not to say this stuff aloud.
We might have just started 2018, but we’re already over a quarter of the way through the Jewish year of 5778. I haven’t really been successful in my new year’s resolutions there: to say the first paragraphs of the Shema, Amidah and bentsching with more kavannah (concentration, meaning), to study one Mishnah a day and to make some improvements in my mental health. I’ve hardly achieved the first target at all and on non-work days I regularly miss Shacharit (morning prayers) completely (I even missed other prayers this holiday), the second I can do most work days on the commute in to work, but it’s hard to get the motivation on non-work days and on any day concentration and comprehension is usually poor. As for my mental health, I haven’t even been able to identify a concrete target to focus on.
I don’t feel any nearer to finding my life’s mission, happiness, simcha shel mitzvah (joy in the commandments), community, friendship, romantic/sexual love or any of the other things I want. I suppose I should be grateful that I have a couple of friends, even if they are largely long distance email/text friendships, and that my parents and sister care about me, even if our different personalities and outlooks can cause friction. I feel that I’m just selfish for wanting to be happy, fulfilled and loved romantically.
I feel just as burnt out as I did at the start of the holiday, maybe even more so. Worse, I feel chewed up and spat out, as if I’ve gone through an ordeal and been rejected as inedible. I’m dreading going back to work and social events (really just shiur (Torah class)) and people asking how my break was and having to lie about it.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m living my life completely the wrong way. Sometimes I fantasise about going to live on a religious kibbutz somewhere out of the way in Israel, but I know I could never do it. The upheaval! The dislocation! The Aspie-destroying change! Living in a war zone! (Although it’s probably no more dangerous than any Western city these days.) And I’m definitely no farmer. But I do feel I need to change something big in my life, I just don’t know what or how.