Today was a day when a lot seemed to happen, even though I don’t necessarily have much immediately obvious to show for it.
I was woken up by the phone ringing at 10.00am. It turned out to be the person who interviewed me last week. I got the job! It’s for twelve weeks with the possibility of being extended for a few more. I was told at the interview last week that the job is boring and not something I would want to do as a career, but I’m glad not to be unemployed. Although I’m nervous about going into a new job and then almost immediately going into the autumn Yom Tovim (Jewish festivals), which are going to disrupt the first month or so. At least my employer seems to be OK with that. I’ll be working Monday to Thursday most of the time, so I won’t have to worry about leaving early on Fridays to be home for Shabbat except for the first few weeks when I’m making up Yom Tov time on the Fridays. The job is ‘data researcher’ which sounds very grand, but I’ll basically be googling people’s contact information on company websites and cutting and pasting into a spreadsheet. The offices looked really expensive, though, which I guess I found a bit intimidating, coming from the education sector.
Already I’m feeling anxious and telling myself that I won’t be able to do it, that I’ll be too slow, that I’ll get fired (although I would have to do something really bad for them to try and end such a short contract early) and so forth, but I’m glad that I’ve got some money coming in and something else to put on my CV and I feel a bit excited. I rewarded myself with scrambled eggs on toast for lunch, which I hadn’t had for ages.
Yesterday I realised I was making sloppy mistakes in my job applications. Mostly things like spelling and grammar, things which I’m usually very good at getting right. I think I mistook a recruitment agency for the law firm I was applying to work at (law librarian), although to be honest their website is not entirely clear on this. I find it easy to make that mistake when a job is advertised by a recruitment agency without the name of the company they are recruiting for being given. I don’t know why so many jobs are advertised that way.
I know what it means: it means I don’t want to be job hunting and I probably don’t want to be working in this sector, so my brain is simply refusing to cooperate, the way it does sometimes. Usually it does this by just shutting down and going into depressed mode. I suppose, as it was already doing that, and I was trying to push through it, it felt the need to up its game. I’m not sure what to do about job hunting now. Obviously this job isn’t going to lead to a career and probably by the end of 2018 I’ll need another new job, so I need to keep looking, but I don’t need to keep applying for every job that looks vaguely doable as I am at the moment.
The comment I mentioned in this post led to a blog comment conversation in which I said some stuff I had been thinking for some time without saying: I know I compare myself to other people too much, but I have the impression, which may be completely wrong, that everyone in my shul (synagogue) is basically a tzaddik (saint). OK, not a tzaddik exactly, but that they are all doing exactly what they should be doing and only need to refine their middot (character traits) even more. Whereas I feel that I have a lot more to do even to get back to where I was the last time the depression was in remission for a long time, let alone to move forwards.
I wonder sometimes what sort of targets people have if they’re FFB (frum from birth i.e. raised religious) or if they’ve been a BT (ba’al teshuva, someone who became religious late in life )or a ger (convert to Judaism) for a long time. When they do all the ‘basic’ stuff (Shabbos (the Sabbath), kashrut (the dietary laws) etc.) and their goal is just to be even more grateful or patient or generous or whatever. I guess I mean that I know that we’re all on a never-ending life-long journey, but everyone else seems to me to have arrived, and I haven’t even left yet.
I’ve been mentally ill for as long or longer than I’ve been frum (religious) and certainly longer than I’ve been an adult, so I don’t really know who I am away from mental health issues. Because of that, it’s hard to tell what is the ‘me’ that needs to be worked on and what is just poor mental health.
The person I was communicating with in that exchange opened up about some of the things that challenge her, which was a bit reassuring that even other frum (religious) people have difficulty with fairly basic things, but I still can’t shake the feeling that I should be better at things than I am. People say I’m a perfectionist, but certainly in my last job my boss was not entirely happy with my work, which suggests to me that I’m not very good in at least some areas. It’s hard to work out what those areas are though.
I still feel that, even at the age of thirty-five, I don’t know why I’m here on earth, what my unique mission is. I don’t know what I bring to the table, so to speak, and I don’t know how to find out. I feel that I’m probably doing the wrong sorts of things without knowing what the right sorts of things would be. I feel I need to find out soon, as I feel it would take a lot of work to complete my mission and I need to start on it soon, but I don’t know how to find out what to do. Maybe I’m wrong and I’m already doing it, but that seems unlikely as I don’t seem to be doing much that’s worthwhile. This is where I end up comparing myself to friends and peers who seem to be doing a lot more than me and/or a lot better than me.
I went to autism group in the evening. I was somewhat quiet at first, even though it was a much smaller group than last time. I did manage to join in though. I ended up having a really long conversation with someone. The group was sitting outside on the terrace at the Barbican. About 8.00pm, people started to leave, but the two of us were still talking as the light got dimmer and the outside got colder and we eventually relocated inside. We were talking about autism and mental health issues. In particular, she felt a lot of people on the spectrum have undiagnosed complex PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or post-traumatic stress without it being a disorder. I had never really considered the possibility before, as I associated it purely with war veterans and survivors of abuse. The part that particularly interested me was the idea of emotional flashbacks, where you experience the emotions of a traumatic time in response to a contemporary trigger without the memories of the original event experienced in other flashbacks. I think I do experience things like this, although it could just be my awareness of my emotional history from therapy. Having briefly looked online since getting home, I’m far from convinced that I have some kind of trauma issue, but I think it’s worth looking into further.
We also spoke about unconditional self-love as a way of dealing with trauma or depression and she gave me one or two tips for this. I was already thinking about going back to the CBT therapist who helped me with my OCD to try to deal with self-esteem and/or social anxiety issues, although a lot will depend on fitting in with work, which is going to be in flux for a while longer. Still, it was all worth thinking about and it was nice that I was able to talk to a stranger for so long. It certainly seems like a friendly group, and I would want to keep going (despite the uncertainty over whether I have autism), although juggling autism group, depression group and shiur might prove a challenge, especially while working.