Today was a day of minor set-backs, but also some achievements. Mostly, I was able to stay positive, but not always, particularly where social interactions were concerned. I won’t narrate everything that went wrong; suffice to say there are big structural changes coming at work, which may impact on whether my contract is renewed past the summer, but I I can’t work out whether the changes make renewal more or less likely; that I made another mistake at work; that I struggled with various other work activities (possibly not my fault) and that I felt I wasn’t sure if I said the wrong thing when I bumped into someone from shul (synagogue) on my way home. This was particularly difficult, as I’ve often felt that he might be a good friend for me to have, but I’ve never felt sure how to talk to him – I don’t often get the chance to speak to him and he went to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary), so immediately triggers my feelings of inadequacy, and he gives the impression of being someone who avoids mainstream culture (no TV etc.), so I wonder what he would make of me. But I just generally don’t know how to keep a conversation going with him, which was what happened today.
I tell myself that I’m individual and eccentric, that I am tuned on a different wavelength to most people, frum (Jewish and religious) or otherwise and that’s OK, that it’s OK to stop on my way home from work and just watch the water flowing in the nearby stream or eschew modern television in favour of DVDs of programmes from fifty years ago… and that’s all OK until I meet actual real people and don’t know how to talk to them and then I feel like a freak all over again.
I had wanted to speak to the assistant rabbi of my shul (synagogue) after parasha shiur (Torah class) about my feelings of not fitting in but he had another commitment. This would have been my main exposure to what I fear from my social anxiety this week. I did still try to do a CBT exposure to my social anxiety, so I decided I would be honest about my mental health this week to the first person who asked me how I was at shiur (I thought, correctly as it turned out, that it would not be practical to open up to anyone else, as once the room starts to fill up it’s hard to have a serious conversation – too much noise and too lighthearted and I wouldn’t necessarily be asked how I was as people just drift into general chitchat). As it happened, the first person was someone who I have told a little bit in the past about my mental health, but I decided to go through with it, so rather than saying that I was fine, as I would normally do, I said I’ve been struggling over the last few weeks. He was very understanding and asked how I’m coping at work. I have to fill in forms for the CBT exposure and one of the questions is what I learnt from doing the exposure, which in this case was that other people are genuinely concerned about me and don’t think I’m a freak just because I have mental health issues (I mean people away from this blog. I know there are people here who are concerned about me, but this is a self-selecting group of people predisposed to like me.)