It’s late, I’m exhausted and I need to be up really early tomorrow, but I need to get this out of my system and if I don’t write it here, I’ll have to put it in my private diary/blog, so here goes:
Today was a mixed bag. I got to work late because of the snow, but my boss was understanding. I had arranged to leave half an hour early to get home in time for shul (synagogue) for the festival of Purim, but she allowed me to go an hour and a half early in case of more train delays. So that was all good.
Shul was more problematic. On Purim we listen to Megillat Esther/the book of Esther twice, morning and evening, and we have to hear literally every word both times. This is made more problematic by the fact that we are encouraged to make noise at the name of the villain, Haman, the first (or second, depending on how you count Pharaoh) of many people to attempt genocide against the Jews. As has happened every year since I developed religious OCD, I was worried that I missed a word, but that I would miss more in attempting to catch up. To cut a long story short, in the end I decided that I probably had heard the word and didn’t go to the late evening reading (for people who work late and missed the first reading) to be sure I heard everything because I could feel myself slipping into a black hole of OCD and despair. However, my mood stayed lower all evening.
After that there was some food and entertainment. I put on my jester’s hat (fancy dress is another Purim tradition) and ate. For practical reasons, the people with young children were eating in a separate room to those without, but it meant that I was eating with the teenagers and the middle aged (or older). It was OK, as I sat with my friends, but looking back it made me feel like an unmarried misfit again as all the people my age were in the ‘with children’ rooms. No children was a mixed blessing, as it stopped me feeling broody, but lessened the fun atmosphere of seeing kids in fancy dress. I attempted some conversation with some success, but failed to make myself vulnerable in the way my therapist advised. I skipped the entertainment, though, because it seemed quite child-centric.
After that I made a massive detour to my parents’ house to make a bikkur cholim (visiting the sick) call as my Mum has a bad cold and my Dad cut himself badly (doing something that I couldn’t understand with a broken bath plug). They were pleased to see me, so at least I succeeded there. I took home a pile of hamantaschen (Purim pastries) as my reward and walked home in what can only be described as an Arctic blizzard, feeling exhausted and depressed and not entirely sure why.
Tomorrow I have to be up about 6.00am for the morning Megillah reading, then on to work. My Purim seudah (festive Purim meal, which has to be held on the afternoon, not tonight) will be a sandwich and a hamantashen at work.
Purim has always been hard for me. It’s a difficult festival with Asperger’s and social anxiety because of the noise and general party atmosphere, it’s difficult with depression because everyone else is happy (and drunk, by the afternoon) and it’s difficult with religious OCD because I worry I haven’t fulfilled the various mitzvot (commandments) properly. I used to think my depression started one Purim. I’m not sure about that any more, as I think my depression may have extended back into my early teens (at least), but it certainly became noticeable as an illness on Purim eighteen years ago.
I feel I did OK in keeping the OCD at bay, but am still slightly anxious that I haven’t heard the Megillah properly. I feel like this with a lot of my mitzvot, that everyone seems to think I’m pretty frum (religious), but I feel that I’m not doing anything right on even the most basic level. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve done even one mitzvah correctly in my whole life. I would give a lot to know that HaShem (God) finds my mitzvot precious.