I was the first person to get to shiur (religious class) last night. The assistant rabbi, who takes the class, made the usual small talk gambit of asking how I am and if I had any news. I didn’t really want to get into talking about myself, but I don’t like to lie and I’m a bad liar, so I started to tell him about my job situation. I felt really stupid telling him about leaving my old job, as if it was a stupid thing for me to do, which perhaps it was. Fortunately we got interrupted by other people arriving.
I found it hard to concentrate at shiur. I kept thinking about dying and being dead. When I got home I flicked through a book on complex PTSD (which I’m still not convinced I have) which said that “passive suicidality” (fantasising about death without actively planning suicide) is common among people with complex PTSD. That is probably the case with me, regardless of whether I have complex PTSD, as I think about death and dying a lot when depressed, but don’t usually make plans to kill myself, although I do sometimes take precautions in case I do impulsively try to hurt myself. The author of the book felt that passive suicidality is a form of childish fantasy, of wanting to remove oneself from the situation one finds oneself in, which fits the way I experience it (“childish” in the sense of its something a child without power to alter his/her environment would fantasise as an escape, not making a value judgement about it).
The shiur was about seeing HaShem’s (God’s) sovereignty everywhere. The assistant rabbi said that we don’t really experience this in our lives. I felt that I do see it a bit, but because I don’t experience HaShem as benevolent, it is hard to be glad about it or trust that things will turn out well. So, I can acknowledge that HaShem gave me a job really quickly after leaving my old job, within a week but it’s hard to hold on to that, partly because it is not really a career-enhancing job, nor is it likely to last more than three or four months, but mostly because when something good happens to me, I assume that something bad is going to come out of it sooner or later, even if the bad is only the loss of the good (which is more frustrating in some ways than never having the good in the first place). I feel when something goes well, I’m just waiting for it to go disastrously wrong. This is how my life seems to have gone: every good thing being short-term and leading to bad things that are long-term and painful enough to outweigh the short-term good things.
I came across this article on identifying your life’s mission that I’ve read in the past again. It reminds me of something the assistant rabbi was saying yesterday about needing to know what you want out of life at this time of year so you can pray for it. I still have no idea how to answer the article’s questions that are supposed to help find your mission in life: what are the five or ten most pleasurable moments of your life? (I don’t know. I can’t think of many overwhelmingly positive moments.) And what would you do with a billion dollars and six hours a day of discretionary time? (I have absolutely no idea.) Mostly I want to be dead, inasmuch as my fantasy is just not to have to engage with the world any more, because I can’t face it and I don’t feel I do very well at living in it. The thought of actually doing something just triggers anxiety as I’m sure I can’t do it. I’m certainly struggling with career choices. As my new job is short-term, I’m still looking at career emails from agencies and websites, but I don’t know what I want to do. I was reminded today of my boss in my old job asking me if I really wanted to be a librarian when she told me that she didn’t think I was able to meet the revised job specification. I do feel that I don’t seem to be as suited to librarianship as I thought I would be, but I don’t have a clue what to do instead.
I just looked at the cheshbon nafesh (self-assessment) I did this time last year. I was stressed, but feeling positive: I felt I had brought the OCD under control with CBT and I was making significant improvements with my depression on clomipramine and was trying to see myself as ‘someone with depression’ rather than a ‘depressive’ i.e. not to be defined by my illness. I was positive about my job and living away from home. I felt that I was making friends at shul (synagogue). I had read or re-read quite a few religious books over the previous year, although I felt I had missed most of the (far too long) list of targets from the year before. It feels like almost all these things have disappeared now, except controlling the OCD. Even the clomipramine doesn’t seem to be doing much.
I just bought the complex PTSD book that I was looking at last night. It may have been a stupid thing to do given that (a) it is far from clear that I have complex PTSD; (b) I have a huge pile of books to read already; and (c) I do not have such a good record with self-help books (e.g. the social anxiety book I bought that was useful for understanding social anxiety, but which I could not follow through with the practical steps to recovery). I bought it because, regardless of whether I have PTSD, it looks like it has some useful stuff about self-love. Anyway, that’s my salary for my first hour and a quarter of work next week gone.