I was sent a test to do for a job application earlier in the week. I’ve been trying to do it the last two days, but I had to give up today, partly from depression and genuine difficulties in working out how to fill it in, but also due to technical problems with pasting images into the form as was required.
I feel terrible, despairing, exhausted, lacking motivation, self-critical… I am seriously considering asking for a referral back to a psychiatrist, because I can’t go on like this, having a mixture of somewhat subpar weeks, where I can do some work/job applications, but feel miserable and other weeks where I feel too terrible to do anything and no ‘good’ times at all.
I’m struggling living with my parents too. It’s partly my fault. I admit that I’m not the easiest person to live with at the best of times and the depression tends to knock the positivity and gratefulness out of my voice. I could make “I love you” sound like an insult at the moment. But I guess they do have quirks and traits that I need to find a way to tolerate and live with or this is not going to work.
On to something less negative: the rest of my holiday.
Thursday 9 August
I woke up quite anxious and extremely depressed. I lay in bed a while feeling awful. E. messaged and we text-chatted for a bit which helped somewhat, as did eating breakfast. I packed quickly and checked out only fifteen minutes late, which was quite good considering.
I had booked a 1.00pm tour at The Tenement Museum, but I dramatically over-estimated the time needed and ended up an hour early, so I found a park to eat lunch in. I felt quite depressed again. The old feeling of never being good enough to get my life together, to get a full-time job, meet my religious obligations, get married and have children… I decided around this point to go back to the CBT therapist I saw about the OCD to see if she can help with my social anxiety in the hope that that will have a knock-on effect on my confidence and depression (not to mention ability to make friends, feel comfortable at shul (synagogue) and date). E. says I’m off-puttingly negative, which is true, but I don’t know how to change that when negativity seems a logical response to my life and how the world treats me. Rabbi Lord Sacks’ Torah email this week said that we can choose to be victims living in the past or we can build a better future. I’m stuck in the former and I don’t know how to change to the latter. People urge me to change in this and other areas without giving me the tools to do so, then they blame me or get angry with me when I don’t know how to change.
Since coming to New York City I’ve been thinking, as I have done in the past, about what would have happened if my ancestors had gone to New York instead of London. It would be easier to find geeky and modern frum (religious) people like me if I grew up in New York. However, if I grew up in the US, I would probably not have gone to a Jewish school, so I could well have ended up an atheist anti-Zionist religion-hater, which would make finding like-minded Jews moot. (Although such a person would still find it easier to make friends and find a partner.) I guess this is being trapped in the past again, but I don’t know how to move on.
I had some trouble getting a taxi to take me to Brooklyn, where I’m spending the next few days, but I got one in the end. It was expensive, but probably easier than carrying luggage on the Subway by myself.
After getting my stuff to Brooklyn, I went back to Manhattan to see a friend I hadn’t seen in fourteen years, since university. We had a very enjoyable evening and I even fought social anxiety to talk to two strangers, his wife and one of their friends and I read my friend’s toddler son a story. However, I was torn between my kashrut OCD pulling me one way and social anxiety pulling me the other and trying not to give in to either. I hope I did the right thing, but in such a situation, with no time to think and no one to turn to for advice, it can be hard even to identify what the right thing is.
The journey home was not good. Various things went wrong, including getting lost in the dark (one of my big fears for the holiday), but I will pass over these and try to be less negative. I didn’t get mugged, which was good, and my friends generously insisted on my taking a lot of leftover food for my Shabbat (Sabbath) as well as directing me to a nearby kosher supermarket open late so I could do my shopping tonight and not waste Friday.
Friday 10 August
E. and I wandered around Crown Heights together. It did seem pretty gentrified and not like its old reputation as a place of drug addicts and gangs. We had a really good pizza at a restaurant apparently owned, judging by the chalk slogans on the ceiling beams, by a Na Nach. The Na Nachs are an off-shoot of the Breslover Hasidim, basicallly ultra-religious hippies who emphasise love and joy. The slogans were obvious, but some resonated anyway, telling me to do my best and trust God to do the rest etc.
Saturday 11 August
I spent Shabbat alone in the apartment. I slept through my alarms and missed going to shul with the friend I knew in Crown Heights. I spent the day (when not asleep) reading, mostly religious stuff and the latest Jewish Review of Books.
Sunday 12 August
I was supposed to have breakfast with the Crown Heights friend. I did see him, but it didn’t really work out well and I felt taken advantage of a bit. I did something that I thought was generous and friendly of me, but in retrospect I think that I did it to bury my feelings of anger and try to feel closer to him than I actually am, which didn’t work and if anything left me feeling angrier (so much for mussar). I was supposed to see another friend in the afternoon and he couldn’t make it either, although that wasn’t really his fault. As my original plans for the holiday, before I met E., was to visit these two friends, this left me feeling somewhat upset and angry. I think I have to accept, from this experience and others, that they don’t really consider me much of a friend. Which does not do much for my feelings of being unlikeable and not trusting or getting close to people. At least I spent a lot of time with E. and, unexpectedly, with my university friend.
I had booked a late return flight and I assumed I would spend the day with friends. That of course didn’t happen so I was left hanging around with too much time to kill, but not enough to actually do anything. I eventually tried to order an Uber cab to take me to the airport, but I couldn’t connect my phone to a US phone network. I eventually WhatsApp messaged the owner of the apartment I was renting and asked him to call one for me, but I felt stupid. I suppose I should say that I only had his number because I had misunderstood when he wanted to be paid and he had messaged me to complain, so I guess that is one of those ‘There is a God’ hasgacha pratit (Divine Providence) stories that people have that I always complain about not having.
The rest of the trip home was fairly undramatic. I didn’t sleep on the plane, but I didn’t expect to as I can never sleep on planes. My parents met me at the airport and I got home without incident.
I’m glad I went to New York, both to see E. and some of the sites and for the experience of travelling alone, but I think I will think carefully before booking future holidays and certainly I know now which friends I can trust to be there for me and which ones I can’t. I also felt that I didn’t do as much as I would have liked, partly from lack of energy and sleeping too late, partly from assuming that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do more and booking things at inconvenient times, which I guess is something else to remember for the future.