I was going to go to autism group after work, but on the train I felt terrible, exhausted and overstimulated.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I struggle with, especially as some times I’m fine with some things, but not at other times.  I have no problem with trains most of the time, but they are hard at rush hour, and I’m not sure if it’s the noise, the heat or the people, which means it’s hard to tell if it’s social anxiety or autism.  Similarly, I can’t tell if I struggle at work from the noise (autism) or the fear of interactions with others (social anxiety) or the feeling that I’m doing badly and am going to get fired (depression and low self-esteem).  Then being depleted makes my blood sugar drop and I feel faint and sometimes start trembling, so I have to eat, which makes me worry about clomipramine-induced weight gain…

Whatever the reason, my work days are terrible ordeals at the moment.  At some point in the afternoon today I found myself crouched on the floor of the toilet, trying to escape from things.  If this was a permanent job, I would be seriously considering resigning.  As it is, I’m counting down the next six weeks.

I do worry if I’m fit to work, but, again, it’s hard to tell anyone that, because I’m not sure myself if the problem is depression, social anxiety or autism.  Someone told me that where I live one can have free (i.e. state-provided) help with autism, including a pre-assessment (for want of a better word) where they tell you whether you are likely to be diagnosed with autism and what that would entail.  I don’t know if I qualify because I’ve already been assessed twice and told I’m not autistic, but if I can go, I’m seriously thinking of going and saying that I really think that I’ve been wrongly diagnosed and that I’m autistic, that much of my life only makes sense if I’m autistic and that several mental health professionals (and some friends) strongly believe that I’m autistic, especially as the diagnostic criteria have been revised and broadened since I was assessed.

I had a lot of death fantasy today, not so much wanting to die, although there was some of that, but wondering if I’m dead and in Gehennom (Purgatory).  It’s probably just as well that I’ve finished reading VALIS, as that was probably encouraging me in that kind of solipsistic fantasy.  I just want not to be here.  I can’t imagine my life ever being worth living.  I just seem to be a mass (or mess) of mental illness and autism and trying to unpick and cure – or even just alleviate – one part of my problems runs into the problem that they are all interconnected and you can’t deal with one without dealing with all the others first.

My self-belief is at an all time low (which is saying something).  I can’t see myself managing to get a permanent job and stay at this level of functionality indefinitely.  I don’t even need to worry about getting married, just worrying about functioning is bad enough.  I don’t think I have ever worked as hard with depression this bad as I have this year.  Usually when working with depression in the past I was doing very short hours or studying with control over my study schedule, but now I’m nearly working full time with a long commute at rush hour.  On one level it’s impressive, but I worry that I’m going to burn out; goodness knows what that would entail – suicide? psychosis?  To be honest, I don’t think it would be either, but I don’t know what it would be.

I feel inclined to withdraw from social things, as I did with autism group and as I have been doing with shul (synagogue).  It occurred to me today that I probably do have a couple of friends, or potential friends, who could accept me if I would open up to them, but I’m scared that if I do that they won’t accept and I’ll be worse off than I am now, where at least I have them as somewhat friendly.  So I don’t open up and so never get to move those friendships on to closer friendships.  I don’t know how to talk to people about my mental health/autism and I don’t know how to explain that they dominate my entire life to the exclusion of almost everything else.  And then there’s the shame I feel about my geeky interests with other frum (religious) people, so that’s another key part of me I don’t open up about.

I did at least get to shiur (religious class), as by the evening I had eaten and relaxed a bit and felt somewhat restored, although I was inwardly a bit disquieted by the unusually large number of men packed into the assistant rabbi’s dining room.  The topic was not so easy for me either as it was about having purpose in life and living according to that purpose, whereas I don’t feel I know my purpose at all and don’t know how to find out; I’ve been told I can work it out by listing the five happiest moments of my life and what I would do with a million pounds and six hours of free time a day, but I don’t think I can think of five times I’ve been really happy and I simply don’t know what I would do with money and time.  This was also tied in to having a spouse and children to take forward your mission, which is obviously sensitive to me.  The assistant rabbi was saying that a person can be studying Torah and doing mitzvot (commandments) and still be messing up by not studying the Torah and doing the mitzvot  needed for his precise mission, so obviously that’s just going to reinforce my feeling that I’m a bad person and I’m not going to go to Olam HaBa (Heaven).  And he spoke about my acting out too and about that being wrong (not that he knows that I do it, he just meant it generally).

In terms of finding my mission in life, sometimes I think I should try to contact the author of this article and ask if she can offer any tips on finding my life’s mission, but I don’t know what she could say that isn’t in the article.  Other than that, I have no idea what to do.

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4 thoughts on “Intimations of Mortality

  1. Maybe you’ve mentioned it before and I’ve just missed it, but what’s the holdup on seeing a qualified MD? It sounds like you really need to make this a priority as you’ve admitted your symptoms are about as bad as they’ve ever been. After reading that you’ve been diagnosed as *not* having autism before and that diagnostic criteria for autism has changed, I wonder if you should even mention that you were told by medical professionals that you don’t have autism?

    Regarding how to talk with other people about how your mental health issues dominate your life, if it’s a psychiatrist or psychologist, I recommend writing out how they’re affecting your life. What’s a typical day like? How much time are you spending feeling lousy or having intrusive thoughts? Quantitating wherever possible sometimes helps in getting a correct diagnosis. Case in point, I had a doctor I’d been seeing for years. I had asked her if I had OCD, and she said no. Later, when I felt like I was losing my mind to OCD, I wrote out a typical thought process, how much time I was spending feeling a certain way and thinking these thoughts, and the doctor suddenly understood how much it was consuming my life and that there really WAS a problem.

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    1. I have seen a doctor and been referred to a psychiatrist, but the waiting list for psychiatry and psychology on the NHS is huge. I’ll see if I can chase them before Shabbat, or if not the next week.

      When I get to see the psychiatrist, I was planning on speaking about whether I have the right diagnosis/diagnoses, as I really think there are some elements that have been missed. I do think I’m autistic and I think there might be some undiagnosed complex trauma too. Part of the reason I’m not so worried about not having a meeting with a psychiatrist yet is that I just ordered, but haven’t yet received, a book on autism (I think someone from my autism group recommended it) that apparently lists different diagnostic criteria used in different places, so I want to go through that carefully when it arrives and see which symptoms I have, especially as I think I’m more aware of subtle symptoms than I was when I was last assessed.

      I’m OK talking to health professionals, although I will write notes if I try to get reassessed as autistic. It’s more friends and potential friends that I struggle to talk to.

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  2. That was a tough read because I have those feelings too. I don’t have any answers I’m afraid, but as much as I find life difficult and have been suicidal in the past (took an overdose) somehow something changed in me and I felt certain that I wanted to live. Perhaps it was the fact that I came close to dying that it triggered the desire to live.
    I still have my struggles with autism and depression and I am still unemployed and doubtful of finding a meaningful and manageable job. I have tried though by retraining to become a librarian. Have applied for around 30 jobs in the last year, have had 7 or 8 interviews, but no offers. It’s very hard, but I am trying to concentrate on things that make me happy and doing things that I am comfortable with. It’s easy to say all this, but I am acting on those words and staying strong. I hope you find a way to make things work for you. What do you like to do? What sort of job do you want?

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  3. I’m sorry you have so many of these feelings too. I’m also qualified as a librarian, but my last library job didn’t go so well and I’m not sure I’m cut out for it (my boss certainly didn’t seem to think so). I’m trying to find more of a cataloguing or research librarian role with less interaction with library users, but it’s hard. Good luck with your job search.

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