I’m off work today, which is probably just as well, as I need to get ready for spending Shabbat (the Sabbath) alone in my flat (usually I stay with my parents). This can get pretty lonely. I’ve got stuff to read: Dracula, which I am very much enjoying re-reading, the latest Doctor Who Magazine, and volume two of Vampire Knight (manga comic aimed at teenage girls (vampire romance/school story) which I can’t work out if I like. I like the main character, but a volume and a half in, the plot is only really starting). Still, it looks set to be a lonely Shabbat. Most single people in the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community would get themselves invited out if they were by themselves for Shabbat, but I don’t know that many people and I’ve never felt comfortable inviting myself around to people’s houses, even though I know that English and Jewish customs are at variance here and that most frum people would consider it perfectly acceptable behaviour. Of course, eating at other people’s houses can be just as difficult for me, trading loneliness for social anxiety.
I was in bed for about twelve hours last night/this morning. I’m not sure how long I actually slept, as I lay in bed for a while feeling too depressed and exhausted to get up and put some cereal and milk in a bowl, even though I knew I would feel better if I ate and restored my blood sugar level, but I must have been asleep for at least eleven hours, which isn’t good. I somehow slept through the racket of building works two houses away (it’s sounds like they’re demolishing the house brick by brick). I dreamt about Groundhog Day which wasn’t that surprising as my parents had borrowed the DVD from me and I’ve often reflected that I seem to be in a Groundhog Day-type situation of repeating the same actions again and again without breaking out of the loop, but it was disturbing to dream of myself being in such a situation for millions of years (or was it billions?) without breaking free. That’s how I feel with my depression and loneliness. Also some weird stuff about falling into the Thames with someone (someone female, not sure who, but I think I liked her in the dream) and her being rescued without me and (nearly?) abducted while I couldn’t do anything to save her, because I was stranded holding on to a fence that stuck out over the river (?), trying to avoid drowning. My sister was involved too, somehow, and Jack the Ripper was in there too, for some disturbing reason. I don’t usually remember my dreams, or only in fragments; maybe this should make me glad.
Today is Rosh Chodesh (New Moon of the Jewish month of) Adar. The Talmud says that with the start of Adar, we increase in joy, as we head into the month of Purim, the most carnivalesque Jewish festival and then into the month of Nisan, the month of redemption and Pesach (Passover), the festival of redemption. I, however, feel extra anxious and depressed at this time of year. The enforced jollity of Purim sets of my depression and social anxiety. The many commandments of Purim and especially of Pesach, set off my religious OCD. I find the whole time of year a struggle. Just seeing the bags of Purim food in the kosher shops just now made me feel anxious and depressed and, I suppose, lonely, knowing that most people don’t feel like this and are looking forward to spending enjoyable times with friends and family (I don’t have friends nearby to spend time with).
It occurs to me that to the lists I made about myself yesterday to try to understand what I should be doing with my life, I could add another matched pair of lists with things that are depleting and things that are restoring to me (I can’t remember where, if anywhere, I read this idea). In the depleting box goes work, shul and pretty much all socialising. And more or less everything else, really: housework, cooking, shopping, commuting on the Tube, davening (praying), Torah study. In the restoring box goes a tiny amount of socialising (unfortunately it’s hard to tell in advance what will be restoring or depleting), possibly writing my blog and certainly writing my Doctor Who book (it’s telling that I work on it in my lunch break at work without worrying about my energy levels). Also watching classic Doctor Who and some new Doctor Who (which sometimes presses a whole load of my buttons about emotional relationships, love, loneliness and not fitting in, not least when the Doctor turned into one of the kids who used to bully me at school) and watching my favourite vintage TV science fiction series on DVD. I’m not sure where watching Sherlock fits into this, but it seems to have finished and I haven’t bought any DVDs because I can’t work out if it’s sufficiently triggering to steer clear. And that’s pretty much all the TV I watch. I’m not sure about recreational reading. I do tend to like reading ‘heavy’ books (fiction or non-fiction), but I do enjoy them, even though they can feel like a slog and take ages to read because a lot of the time I don’t feel up to it. I have some lighter reading piled up on my ‘to read’ pile, though. Perhaps depleting and restoring in equal measure.
Hmm, looking at this, I’m really not sure how I increase the restoring activities and decrease the depleting ones, as most of the depleting ones are unavoidable and crowd out the time available for the restoring ones.
I’ve pretty much given up on waiting for the shadchanim (matchmakers) to get back to me. As far as I can see, they aren’t interested in looking for someone for me, whether because of my geekiness, mental illness, ‘modern’ outlook or some other reason. I don’t know where to go from here. I could try Shidduch.im, the UK affiliate of Saw You at Sinai, which is kind of a cross between a dating site and a shadchan, inasmuch as they send you profiles each week and if you like the profile you are sent and she likes yours, you can date. It’s a paid site, so they would be legally obliged to send me profiles each week, but there’s no guarantee they will find anyone suitable (rather than randomly matching me up to see if anything sticks) or that the woman in question would want to meet me. I’m not sure I’m willing to pay for more rejection.
I went into the Jewish bookshop today and saw various books on dating. The questions seem pretty remote from me. Should you start at 22 or 25? (I couldn’t find someone willing to go out with me until I was 27.) What should you do if you’re dating someone, but someone else suggests someone even better-sounding to you? (I can’t imagine that ever happening to me.) Nothing about, “What if you’re such a freak that no one wants to set you up with anyone, let alone actually date you?”
“Where do I go from here?” is question I keep asking myself about my mental health, dating, my career and my religious practices, and I don’t have any answers at all, which is scary. I honestly don’t know where I’ll be in one year’s time, except that I will almost certainly still be mentally ill and I hope I will still be frum, but I don’t think I can guarantee even that. It probably isn’t true that I haven’t felt this hopeless for a long time, as I feel hopeless a lot of the time, but I haven’t felt challenged in so many ways at the same time for some years. I keep hoping that this is the ‘darkest before dawn’ moment that always seems to come in tales of hasgacha pratit (Divine intervention), but somehow I just bumble through without really resolving things very much, at least until the next crisis.
I want to go to my parasha shiur (weekly Torah reading class) tonight, as it’s likely to be the only really social thing I’ll manage over the next few days, but I don’t really have the energy, plus I need to cook dinner and clean the flat (which hasn’t been cleaned for weeks). Also, the assistant rabbi always seems to ask me the hardest questions, or at least expects me to answer them, which is nice on some level (he asked me how I know so much if I didn’t go to yeshiva), but also puts me on the spot on nights like tonight when I don’t really want to be around people very much. Can you be lonely and withdrawn at the same time?