You find me on the horns of a dilemma. After yesterday I felt I should spend my downtime after work in a quiet, not-over-bright room, avoiding excessive stimulation, because of autism (or whatever it is that makes working in a noisy, electric-lit open plan office staring at a computer screen all day so painful for me). This is to improve my mental health. Unfortunately, my mental health also requires me to write about my feelings to try to deal with them. So I’m caught between autism (stay off the computer) and depression (blog). Hmm. At any rate, if you write one of the blogs I read and my comments and likes become less frequent, then it’s nothing personal, I’m just trying to cut down on internet time (which should also help with depression, as internet time becomes procrastination until I see something that triggers depression, usually about politics or religion).
I had a very stressful day. I had some minor changes to my routine because of the evacuation of Moorgate Station, but while changing trains at King’s Cross instead, I decided it would be quicker to walk up the stationary escalator as if it was a staircase rather than deal with the slowness and crowding on the moving escalator (there were three escalators, up, down and stationary). About halfway up I suddenly had a panic attack, or something approaching one, and felt I was going to fall off and plummet to my death or at least severe injury. I somehow forced myself to keep climbing, while having visions of being stuck halfway up, unable to go up or down and I did eventually get to the top, but then on the platform overcrowding meant that I was standing right on the edge and I nearly had another panic attack fearing that I was going to fall in front of the train. I don’t know what triggered all of that. Usually anxiety for me is tied strongly to either social interactions or OCD thoughts, not straightforward fears like these. I was still shaken when I got to work and didn’t really calm down until nearly lunch time.
I remained anxious much of the day. I did not cope any better with the noisy environment and wanted to shout at people to shut up. There are a couple of people who pace up and down the office while on the phone, presumably on the grounds that if they sit still and make a call they annoy a few people around them, but if they walk up and down they can annoy the whole office. I really want to pace up and down behind them making exaggerated imitative gestures like Harpo Marx, but so far I have lacked the courage to do so.
I felt overwhelmed all day. It’s hard to tease out what made me feel so bad; I would guess noise, social anxiety, fear that I was doing my job badly and going to get in trouble with my boss and maybe some other things (I’m trying to work out how I feel about the fluorescent lighting, autistically-speaking. I’m not sure). As it went on, it got worse, because the more depressed and anxious I got, the harder it became to work, which increased the fear that I was going to screw it all up and get in trouble, which made me more depressed and anxious. I ended up wanting to self-harm and biting my fingers, although that may have been autistic stimming/attempted self-soothing as much as self-harm. I did think some masochistic thoughts about being hurt.
My boss is now on holiday until after my contract expires, so if my work is bad, she’ll only be able to complain behind my back. Unless it’s really bad and they sue me for my wages.
On the way home I reflected that I don’t fit in to the world. I feel like a man in the wrong time. I don’t think this is my world, but, realistically, I don’t think it ever was. I’m not nostalgic for a real or imagined past. I used to think my utopia lay in the future, but now I’m not sure. As an Orthodox Jew I believe in a utopian future, but it is hard to see how we could get to it from here and even if it happens, I can’t see myself living in utopia, being happy and carefree.
I also reflected that I envied the wicked, but then corrected that thought. I don’t envy the wicked, I envy people who are joyous and content. I’m not entirely convinced that there are many wicked people among the truly joyous. I think joy comes from meaning and love and I don’t think the wicked have that (hence they chase money, sex, power, fame and other inadequate substitutes). I don’t really have meaning in my life. I thought I did, but I don’t. I don’t regret keeping the mitzvot (commandments), but they don’t bring me meaning and joy the way they are supposed to. I know the Midrash and the Talmud would say that this is my fault, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do differently (“If it is an empty matter, it is from you,” “If someone says ‘I sought and did not find,’ do not believe him” – I’m quoting from memory, but that’s the gist).
I guess I do have love, but it’s always fraught with difficulty. The friends who care most about me are the furthest geographically and I rarely, if ever, get to spend time with them. I don’t think I will ever experience the special loves of marital love or the love for children. As for my family, they do care about me, but there is a barrier of communication between us. I’m not sure if it’s autistic vs. neurotypical or very depressed vs. more mentally healthy or just plain old personality and communication differences (it’s not male vs. female as I have trouble understanding and being understood by my Dad as much as my Mum and my sister), but it’s hard to understand them and to make myself understood by them.
So, that’s where I am tonight. Not really very different from every other workday night. Overstimulated, exhausted, depressed. Not anxious, but I will be in twelve hours. Oh, and I still haven’t heard when or where my psychiatric appointment is other than “some time next Thursday (8 November).” I just sent another letter, not as angry as it should be, but I used bold italics. I somehow kept a straight face when typing, “Thank you for your help.”