I still feel exhausted and depressed, although not as much as yesterday (I’m off work this week as it’s still the end of term break). I was texting a friend who asked how I was. I said that I was OK, just burnt out and down, before realising that that meant that I’m not OK, even if that is how I have felt most of the time for as long as I can remember. The weather doesn’t help: rainy, but not even a proper storm (I like thunderstorms), just interminable drizzle. I’ve also got food cravings, which is probably partly boredom, partly clomipramine. I’m trying to graze on fruit, nuts and vegetables rather than carbohydrates and processed sugar, but it’s hard when I feel so down and could do with comfort eating.
I’m still struggling with concentration. My boss noticed that at work a while back. For example, today I needed to get my wallet. I went to the cupboard, opened the door, stood there looking at my books for a couple of seconds, thinking about what I should be reading and trying to work out why on earth I was standing at the cupboard looking at the books. Then I remembered I wanted my wallet, which is in my coat pocket, which is in the wardrobe next to the cupboard. So I went to the wardrobe, opened the door and again stood staring for a second before I realised that the coat isn’t there, because when I came home it was wet from the rain, so I left it to dry in the bathroom. This all takes time, even before I got back to my desk, wrote this paragraph and then wondered where I’d put my wallet in the meantime. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but the cumulative effect is quite a lot of time, particularly at work, where I struggle every time I have to shut one computer window or open another (and I have to do that a lot on our library management system). I don’t know how much of this is depressive poor concentration and how much is autistic poor executive function. Having been depressed most of my adult life, it is hard to tell.
I went to the dentist today. My teeth are fine, but I was upset that I shook a little. It was my desire not to shake that triggered the shaking. I had to just try to relax and not try not to shake, which is difficult.
My depression group meets this evening, but I don’t feel I have the stamina to sit through an hour and a half talk about medication options when I know none of them really work for me, except clomipramine, which works a bit, but has led me to put on a ton of weight.
Following on from recent posts, I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that I probably shouldn’t date for a while. It’s probably sensible not to put a time limit on it, but I suspect I should wait at least six months to see if I can sort out the social anxiety as my rabbi mentor suggested, although I’m more sceptical than he is as to whether I will suddenly get a rush of people offering to set me up on dates if I do wait that long, and I’m pretty sceptical of ever meeting someone who ticks all my boxes: compatible religious beliefs and practices; compatible character; compatible values (integrity, family, growth, learning); tolerates my geekiness; and tolerates my mental health issues. As I can’t do anything about my geekiness and mental health or her tolerance level, it’s easy to think I should at least compromise on religion, character or values, as I think I mentioned the other day. Likewise, I feel that I might possibly be an OK person by the not-very-stringent standards of pluralistic/permissive Western society, but that I’m a very bad frum (religious) Jew, so the temptation is to date non-frum women (who might think I’m OK) rather than frum women who will be angry that I don’t daven (pray) enough or with a minyan (quorum), that I didn’t go to yeshiva (seminary), that I don’t study Talmud and so on.
Nevertheless, I think that compromising religiously would probably be a mistake, at least beyond a certain point. Identifying that point is difficult, though, as some compromise is necessary in a relationship. My Mum likes to ask hypothetical questions about whether I would marry someone who disobeyed such and such a Jewish religious law, but it’s impossible to tell in the abstract. My gut instinct is never to compromise on religion, because it will just lead to problems down the line, but surprisingly my rabbi mentor didn’t think it should be an automatic red line for me. I can’t remember exactly what he said (it was some years ago), but he was of the opinion that chemistry and trust were the key elements in a relationship and that a relationship with partners on different religious levels could work if they trusted each other and compromised. This is quite different to what the frum websites and dating advisors say and seems strange to me, yet my rabbi mentor is the wisest person I know and not usually radically wrong.
It’s hard to know where to draw the line, though. I know someone who doesn’t want to have a TV for religious reasons who was dating someone who does watch TV. She was willing to give it up for him, but he still stopped seeing her, because he was afraid she would come to resent him for getting her to give it up. I can see where he’s coming from, but I still feel he made the wrong decision. Then again, I don’t know what I would feel if a less frum (religious) woman was offering to become more frum for me. To be honest, I can’t really see myself as enough of a catch for that to actually happen, but if it did, I would probably feel that a big burden was being placed on me to be a super-good husband to be worth the change. And the bigger the change, the expectation to be super-good. I suppose I should try to avoid the question by dealing with my social anxiety and self-esteem such that frum people will set me up with frum women as normally happens in the frum community, rather than leaving me to find my own dates in situations where most of the women I meet are not frum. I just can’t really see that happening.
I think I’ve mentioned that I have emails and blog comments from friends printed out and blue tacked on my cupboard doors to build confidence. One thing I want to put up somewhere, if I can find somewhere respectful to put it, is Rashi’s commentary on Devarim/Deuteronomy 18.13. The verse says, “You shall be perfect [tamim] with HaShem your God.” The obvious question is how can human beings be perfect? Rashi quotes the Midrash (Sifrei) and answers, “Walk with Him with simplicity [temimut – the same etymological root] and depend on Him and do not inquire of the future, rather, everything that comes upon you accept with simplicity [temimut] and then you will be with Him and His portion.” Inquiring of the future is really about not soothsaying and fortune telling, but I it’s not too much of a stretch to see it as a warning against the anxious procrastination and catastrophising that I do too much.
The other thing I mentioned the other day was trying to use mindfulness techniques when davening (praying), as I wasn’t having much success in doing breathing meditations. I think it’s helping me to have kavannah (concentration), but just now I found myself bursting into tears while davening Mincha (afternoon prayers). I suppose that’s good in a way, but I’m not sure how good. I should be cooking dinner now, but I feel too sad to do anything.