The last few days have seen some improvement. I seem to be OK, in terms of Pesach (Passover) anxiety, until I stop doing things, but then it really hits me. Despite that, I was OK over Shabbat (the Sabbath), although I did spend most of it asleep. The last few days have seen a lot of people helping me in reframing my thoughts, which has been helpful.
My therapist helped me to reframe my thoughts about my appraisal. She said that although my boss agreed with my assessments of my weaknesses, she is still renewing my contract until August and seems to want to employ me for the 2018-19 academic year if she can get the funding. My family also said this, but my therapist added the idea of being ‘good enough’ – I am not amazing at my job, which is frustrating for me, but I am good enough. I don’t know how to apply this to Pesach, though, which seems more of an all-or-nothing proposition: it is either kasher lePesach or it’s not.
Shiur (Torah class) last week was also helpful. The central concept was that all suffering Jews experience is rooted in the Egyptian slavery, and that suffering – and by extension all later suffering – was only so that we could move to a higher spiritual level, not just to leave us where we were before the suffering started. That made me feel that maybe I would end up better off, spiritually, from my suffering, not just Pesach anxiety, but loneliness and mental health issues generally.
I spoke to the rabbi from my shul (synagogue) yesterday evening too (not my rabbi mentor, who lives in Israel). He was also sympathetic and helpful, telling me that I don’t need to worry about unexpected Pesach problems arising. He says that’s his job, I belong to a shul and pay my membership fees to pay his salary precisely so that he can use his halakhic (Jewish law) expertise to solve such problems. He gave a couple of practical suggestions too. I feel lucky to have such good rabbis (the shul rabbi, the assistant rabbi and my rabbi mentor), especially that they understand that depression and OCD anxiety are real things and not just stuff in my head that I can switch off with prayer or positive thinking.
Also, the two other people at shul who I opened up to a bit about my mental health have been thoughtful and understanding. Perhaps I have more friends there than I thought I did.
Unfortunately, some of my other friends have been struggling. I guess the risk of making friends largely through depression support group and mental health blogs is that at any given time, many of my friends are struggling. I don’t always know what to do, I just try to do what I like people to do for me, to listen and validate, make suggestions if I have any, but without giving “Advice” and be supportive (and pray for them, if they want me too). I don’t always feel that I do this well; whether I am actually autistic or not, interpersonal relationships don’t come easily to me, but I guess my friends keep coming back to me, so I must be doing something right. It occurred to me that maybe I’m not married precisely so that I have the time and emotional energy to help my friends. That’s a more positive way of looking at it than assuming I’m being punished.
This coming week is going to be crazy, both at work (even if the strike on the Docklands Light Railway, which I take to work, doesn’t go ahead on Wednesday and Thursday; if it does, it will add an hour or more to my working day at a time when I need to be at home to help with Pesach preparations) and especially at home, with Pesach preparations, and then Saturday and Sunday are the start of Pesach itself so I probably won’t blog much/at all before next Sunday evening, so don’t worry about me if I go quiet! Hopefully I will be back here next Sunday evening or Monday with news of how the rest of the preparations and the beginning of Pesach went.