The title is more whimsical than I feel. I’m exhausted and depressed. I had trouble concentrating at work again today. I had a lot of ruminations. I always find it hard to explain my thoughts and feelings because I’m not good at describing them at the best of times and no one has ever really explained to me what their thoughts and feelings are like and how could we even compare them objectively to see if my “happy” is the same as your “happy” or if a “racing thought” for me is the same as a “racing thought” for you? I sometimes get involved in my thoughts and lose track of time, or even the outside world. I can be walking and thinking and then suddenly I’m somewhere else and I don’t remember walking there. Or I just stand staring into space and thinking and my parents ask me if there’s something wrong, which really annoys me. My thoughts seem very ‘loud’ sometimes, if that makes sense. Sometimes I focus so much on what I’m thinking that my sight and hearing get turned down, so to speak.
The best way to describe my thoughts today would be ‘echoing’. As in I would have a thought, usually a somewhat depressive thought about politics and not fitting in, and it would sort of echo around in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking it, over and over. This happens to me a lot, but I don’t think I really noticed it in the same way before; certainly this is the first time I thought of the echoing metaphor. I think this counts as obsession in the OCD sense, but I suspect it counts as depressive rumination too.
I have no confidence in my ability to do my work. I can accept that most of what I’m doing I can do on autopilot now, finding and checking information, but sometimes there’s a conflict of information, usually when a person’s LinkedIn page says someone is working somewhere, but the company’s website says s/he isn’t, and I have to make a judgement call as to which one is right and I worry that I’m doing it wrongly, or inconsistently (but maybe there isn’t one consistently right answer here).
Speaking of confidence, I still want to find a CBT therapist to work with me on my self-esteem, but I remembered today that I did a confidence and self-assertiveness evening class several years ago (I think it was before my MA, so 2009-2010). That was largely CBT-based and to be fair it did help a bit at the time (I even did some public speaking off the back of it, which I can’t imagine doing now), but then I started my MA and the stress of producing work hit me and I spiralled back down into depression again (if it ever truly went away) and the improved confidence and self-esteem evaporated. I ask myself if I can really tell myself “I am a good person” first thing in the morning with a straight face and not want to laugh. Or cry. Or punch myself in the face.
I don’t know whether I want another autism assessment. The diagnostic criteria have changed since my last assessment, so there may be a point to it, but I don’t know what I’m more afraid of: being told I’m autistic (and therefore may struggle for the rest of my life) or being told yet again that I’m not (and therefore having no master narrative to explain and justify my weirdness to myself).
I mention being mentally ill and possibly autistic a lot online. Not in real life, but a lot online, even where it’s not strictly relevant. It has become central to my identity and not in a good way (if there even is such a thing as mental illness being central to one’s identity in a good way). I think I do it to excuse myself. I know I haven’t done anything with my life, but I’m mentally ill. I know I’m falling short of my religious obligations, but I’m mentally ill. I know I go on too much about how awful my life is, but I’m mentally ill. And so on.
I’m hoping to go to a new series of shiurim starting tomorrow, although I think I may be too tired and home from work too late. It’s about understanding the mitzvot (commandments) from a psychological perspective. The rabbi giving it has an MA in organisational psychology. It might be interesting and useful (or triggering). It’s at a Modern Orthodox adult educational institution, which is a somewhat better (but not perfect) fit for my type of Judaism than my more Charedi/ultra-Orthodox shul (synagogue). Unfortunately my experience in the past is that most people who go there are twenty years or more older than me, so from a dating point of view it’s a non-starter and not even great from a friendship point of view, although some of my friends are a lot older than me.
I’ve been playing ‘What if…’ again. What if I went to a different school? What if I had stuck with counselling when I was sixteen? What if I had just asked her out? (For any given value of “her”.) What if I had gone to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary)? What if I wasn’t too religious and conservative to be accepted in Doctor Who fandom? Or if I wasn’t too geeky and modern to be accepted in the frum community? Or if I wasn’t too autistic and mentally ill to be accepted anywhere? Or if I just had the confidence to say, “I’m Luftmentsch, I’m mentally ill and religious and a Doctor Who fan, accept me or reject me, I don’t care any more”?! That’s the big one: what if I actually didn’t care any more?