One problem of the concept of ’emotional flashbacks’ that I’ve mentioned is the difficulty I have in distinguishing an emotional flashback (if there really is such a thing) from my ‘normal’ feelings of depression, despair, anxiety and self-loathing. Or maybe there is no difference – they really are the same thing. The book I’m reading on C-PTSD did seem to imply that a lot of what is diagnosed as depression and anxiety is actually misdiagnosed C-PTSD, which might explain why the usual depression treatments have been so ineffective for me, but I’m wary of doing my usual thing of finding a potential new diagnosis and getting very involved and emotionally-invested in researching it before a psychiatrist tells me I don’t actually have it (cf. bipolar disorder, autism and other things). I guess I feel like the boy who cried wolf with myself.
Emotional flashbacks or not, it has been a difficult Shabbat (Sabbath) and I am ashamed to say that, yet again, I mostly responded by running away. I ran away from shul (synagogue) early during Ma’ariv (the evening service) this evening. This was partly because I had a migraine (and was aware that I’m likely to feel just as bad, if not worse, on Wednesday, as fasting always makes me ill), but also because I was feeling deeply depressed and socially anxious. I’m not quite sure what triggered it. There are too many possible causes, or maybe it was the cumulative effect of all of them. I was initially a bit upset that I couldn’t join in the lechaim (drink, in this case whisky) at the Talmud shiur (class) for finishing the first perek (chapter) of Talmud because I don’t drink because of the depression and my anti-depressants. Then at Mincha (the afternoon service) someone took my usual seat, which upset me more than it should have done (symbolic of my not having found my place in the community?), then I didn’t realise there was going to be a seudah shlishit (third Shabbat meal) and had already eaten mine at home (after eating seudah shlishit one can’t eat again until after Shabbat) and the rabbi’s Shabbat Shuva shiur (class) about Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) depressed me – I’m not sure if I felt I couldn’t be forgiven or that I would be, but didn’t deserve to be (or maybe it was something else). The last straw was an acquaintance coming up and talking to me and I was reluctant to mention that I haven’t been at shul much recently because of depression and social anxiety, but then I got trapped in my white lies about everything being fine… so it all got to much for me and I ran away from shul during the Amidah, skipping the extra post-Shabbat prayers. I suppose also ran away by sleeping too much to avoid my thoughts and to avoid shul, as usual.
As I mentioned, the rabbi’s shiur about Yom Kippur upset me and I’m not entirely sure why. He quoted a parable from Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, that what happens on Yom Kippur is as if a king gave his friend the crown jewels, and the friend dropped them in raw sewage, and then the king personally wiped them clean. Likewise HaShem (God) gives us a pure soul, which we sully over the year with all our sins, and then on Yom Kippur He personally cleans our souls and returns them to a pristine state. The rabbi also compared it to a king changing his baby’s nappy, not caring about how disgusting it is and even cooing over the baby while doing it to show his love. That should be a reassuring image, but somehow it wasn’t. I just feel inadequate and undeserving of forgiveness. Perhaps – and this is somewhat speculative – I feel I would rather die than be forgiven, not in some kind of rebellious Miltonic sense, but just that I don’t feel I deserve forgiveness and I’m scared of HaShem, but not in the way we’re supposed to be. I’m sure it’s all rooted in my childhood, in the traumatic experiences that I can’t talk about here, although I want to, but it’s hard to know what to do.
I suppose I just want to be told that I’m good, but am scared of it. Scared of being told that I’m not good, but also scared of being told that I am good. I don’t feel I deserve to be told that. Sometimes I fantasise about meeting some great rabbi (past or present) who could tell me that I’m a good person, or having some kind of semi-prophetic dream about it, but I think that scares me, without my really knowing why. He didn’t mention it today, but the rabbi has often stated the kabbalistic (mystical) that sinning creates a negative spiritual entity, which God sustains Himself, when he would be justified in telling it to sustain itself off our souls. I don’t know what that means or whether I believe it (I’m wary of saying that I don’t believe in kabbalah at all, but I find it impossible to understand and, unlike halakhah (Jewish law), which I also struggle to understand, I don’t even understand the general principles behind it or connect with it at all, and a lot of it does seem illogical in a way that I don’t find with other aspects of Torah). I haven’t heard that idea from anyone else, although I have heard the idea that male masturbation creates demons from the unused semen. I don’t know whether I believe that either. But I find it easier to believe that I’m creating hundreds of negative spiritual creatures every year from my sins than that HaShem forgives me for everything and coos over me like a loving parent. Maybe that makes me a terrible person, or maybe I’m just messed up.