“Rule one of dying: don’t. Rule two: slow down. You’ve got the rest of your life. The faster you think, the slower it will pass. Concentrate. Assume you’re going to survive. Always assume that. Imagine you’ve already survived. There’s a storeroom in your mind. Lock the door and think. This is my storeroom. I always imagine that I’m back in my TARDIS, showing off. Telling you how I escaped—making you laugh. That’s what I’m doing right now. I am falling, Clara. I’m dying. And I’m going to explain to you how I survived. Can’t wait to hear what I say. I’m nothing without an audience.” – Doctor Who: Heaven Sent by Steven Moffat

So, there’s this time traveller.  And on the worst day of his life, when he’s lost everything he cares about, he finds himself in a clockwork castle inhabited by his worst nightmare, his own bespoke prison, designed to extract his deepest secrets.  And the only way out is to get through a twenty foot thick wall four hundred times harder than diamond.  And the only way to do that is to punch it repeatedly – billions and billions of times – until it cracks open, each time effectively reincarnating himself whenever he gets killed, horribly and in agony, killed by his nightmare.  Only he comes back without his memory of what’s going on and has to go through the whole process of discovery again to realise that he has to punch the wall again for a bit and die and come back again and punch it some more and die and come back and punch it even more, until eventually after four and half billion years (4,500,000,000 years) he punches through it and out (and then his problems have only just begun, but that’s a story for another time).

Doctor Who: Heaven Sent is supposed to be about grief, but I’ve found it a metaphor for depression, particularly treatment-resistant depression.   By the end of each loop of the story, at the point where he’s in emotional and physical agony, when he can suddenly remember all the times he’s been through this already and knows how much he’s going to have to go through it again, the Doctor wants to give up.  He just wants to die.  But he doesn’t.  Because that’s the most basic fact about the Doctor.  He is never cruel or cowardly, he never gives up and he never gives in.

“I can’t keep doing this, Clara. I can’t! Why’s it always me? Why is it never anybody else’s turn?  Can’t I just lose? Just this once? “

I don’t know how he doesn’t give up.  I feel like I’m running round my own clockwork castle, alone, chased by my own worst nightmare.  And it always catches up with me sooner or later and it always kills me, but somehow I get the strength to send myself through that teleporter again and reincarnate myself for another day.  Just one more day.  But I don’t know how to get through to the other side.  Maybe it will take billions of years?  But I’m not a Time Lord and I can’t live forever.  It’s just a constant struggle getting through the day without hurting myself (I’m having thoughts of suicide and self-harm again).  It’s exhausting, but it’s hard to get people to understand that.  People think I can push myself so much harder, but the reality is that I face a constant battle just to stand in the same place.

I didn’t intend to apply for a job after my surgery yesterday, but I ended up doing so, except that the process was so long (and, to be fair, I procrastinated so much over it initially), that I didn’t get it finished, especially as I needed to cook dinner (and walk to the shops for ingredients which it turned out were in a cupboard and not the fridge as I thought – I haven’t got used to my mother’s kitchen again).  I only did five minutes of Torah study too.  At least I made a good start on the application.  I stayed up late working on it and doing essential (and inessential) shopping, mainly shoes, which I hate buying (I can’t think of any other item of clothing which you buy knowing it won’t quite fit and hoping it will be OK once you’re “worn it in” and softened it up).  Of course, today I feel depressed and can’t get going again.

I’ve finished that job application today, although I worry that I’m unconsciously self-sabotaging, telling myself I don’t have the relevant skills and not answering the questions as well as I might.  I certainly find it hard to tailor my CV, cover letter or application form to the job in question, rather than just handing in a standard CV.

I found out today that I didn’t get called to interview for the job I applied for a couple of weeks ago at a London university library, for a position similar to my last job, even though I was over-qualified for, at least in terms of job title (library assistant instead of assistant librarian – the difference sounds trivial, but it masks very big differences in training and responsibility).  That was the only job so far that I really wanted (the one I applied for today is a tentative second, although I think I’m under-qualified for that one).

My parents want me to apply for this job, researching kosher food products for the London Bet Din (rabbinical court).  I’m reluctant to do so.  Apart from the fact that I’m probably overqualified and would get bored, which may have been part of the problem with my old job, and that I suspect the pay won’t be great, I fear it would trigger my religious OCD even worse than before: not only would I risk treifing up my kitchen, I would risk treifing up thousands of kitchens!  I don’t need that kind of responsibility.  The fact that they want someone who has studied at yeshiva or seminary doesn’t help either.

It often happens that my parents want me to do something and I feel it would be a really bad idea and then I end up doubting myself because I can’t work out if they don’t understand me or I’m being influenced by my mental health issues.  Sometimes I do what they say and it goes wrong as I predicted, not that that has led to anyone trusting me in the future.  My parents don’t always get my mental health issues and underestimate how much they affect me, but then sometimes I genuinely am blinded to reality by them.

E. messaged me late at night saying I’m a good person and shouldn’t beat myself up (I assume that was based on yesterday’s post).  I don’t feel like a good person, though.  I don’t feel like a competent person either.

I had the weird idea to email the agony aunt who writes the Teen Q&A section on Aish.com (Jewish website).  I’m hardly a teen, but my problems did start when I was a teen, but the main reason is she seems to give good advice.  I wanted to ask not so much about practical things (like changing my therapist), but whether God loves me, what should I do about having no simcha shel mitzvah (joy in performing the commandments) and how I can fit into the frum (religious) community?  It might be helpful to have a perspective from someone who hasn’t known me for years and isn’t so close to things.  But then I think this is just drama queening again, like when I comment on Hevria.com, and why would a complete stranger understand me better than my family, friends, rabbi mentor, therapist I’ve been seeing for six years etc.?  I often think about reaching out to people I don’t know personally to try to talk through things.  It’s rarely a good idea, as it usually just leads to me drama queening on their blogs in the hope of getting sympathy, which I don’t usually get and which I feel bad for asking for when I do get it.

The saga of trying to get a doctor’s appointment continues: last week I was told to phone back at 6.30pm today.  I did that, only to find that the surgery had shut (I was sure they had a late night opening on Mondays, so maybe they just switch off the phones).  The automated system didn’t have any appointments at all with my usual doctor, nor were there any on the online booking system.  I could try to get an appointment with a different doctor, but it’s so hard to find a doctor who understands me that I’m reluctant to do so at this stage.  I will try to get up early tomorrow morning and make an appointment, and tell them I’m suicidal if they refuse.  The problem with playing the suicide card (aside from them getting tired of it, as it’s not the first time it’s happened – it’s not my fault that suicidality is something I live with on an ongoing basis) is that they can then respond that if I’m suicidal I should phone the crisis team or go to A&E.  In the past I’ve been pushed back and forth between the GP’s surgery and the crisis team (who are literally worse than useless – they actually make me want to kill myself even more.  They won’t help you unless you are literally about to kill yourself; when I told them I had wanted to kill myself the previous day, they said they couldn’t help me).

4 thoughts on ““How Are You Going to WIN?”

  1. I think u need to heed the advice of your Dr Who excerpt, the first few sentences anyway. Basically, Slow down & know you’re going to survive.

    You need to reach out to someone right now. Perhaps the help lines we talked about recently. Someone to help get you through your current state.
    Stop trying to do so much. Focus on your mental wellbeing; doing things you know help (the figurines maybe? Walking, writing about Dr Who), find a good psychologist, use prayer.

    Ps I hate shoe shopping too!


  2. It’s hard to know that I’m going to survive. It doesn’t feel like I really manage to do that. Or not much more than survive, but not actually live.

    I saw the doctor this morning and I’m hoping to be referred to a psychiatrist soon.

    I don’t feel that I can focus on my well-being because I need a job.

    Prayer’s not really working for me at the moment. Too hard to concentrate, too hard to think that I’ll be answered, to easy to think that God hates me.


  3. I also have OCD, and I know the all-or-nothing thinking and the “what-ifs” it can cause. It is so hard that the world doesn’t treat mental illness as much as physical illness. I’ve experienced firsthand how they don’t take you seriously unless you’re saying you have an actual plan to kill yourself. They have you sign contracts, which always felt silly to me as they’ll mean nothing if I’m truly ready to off myself.

    As I commented on one of your previous posts, I really recommend getting a good psychiatrist. Sometimes you have to go through several to find the right one. You often have to be patient as they try different combinations. The process can take months. I know that’s difficult to do when you’re depressed and suicidal, but you have to persevere and hold onto hope.

    People always tell you “it gets better.” That’s a tough promise to hang onto when you are so depressed that you have suicidal thoughts. I can promise you that if you get on the right combination of medications, you won’t have these thoughts. Your mind will be clear, and you’ll be able to live your life as a more “normal” person. You might not ever feel perfectly well, but the suicidal thoughts will go away and you won’t be controlled by intrusive thoughts.


  4. I agree with you about not being taken seriously unless you have an actual plan to kill yourself. I once phoned the NHS crisis line in distress, saying I had intense suicidal thoughts the day before and they said unless I was having them today, they couldn’t do anything for me! Even though I would be less likely to phone if I was about to kill myself.

    I hope I will feel better one day. I’ve been struggling with depression for at least fifteen years, probably more like twenty and it’s got to the stage where I feel like I’ve tried everything I can.

    Thanks for commenting.


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