I’ve been having morbid thoughts all day. I basically write my blog posts over the day. If I’m at home, I have a blog window open on my computer and add to it across the day. If I’m out, I send myself texts with notes of what I want to say. The stuff I wanted to say today, particularly the stuff I was thinking about when I was walking home just now, was morbid in the extreme, stuff about wanting to die and everyone being better off without me and my not having done anything even vaguely good with my life and the unlikelihood of things ever changing. I feel a bit better now I’m home. I guess I still feel I do want to die, just not so urgently. I don’t know whether I’ve done anything good or whether everyone would be better off without me. It’s hard to tell, which is pretty damning in itself.
It is hard for me to believe that things could get better. I don’t even believe my life will be better in Olam HaBa (The Next World). I have said this a number of times, but I’ve never explained it. It probably started when my religious OCD was bad. I was fixated on the laws of Pesach (Passover), when the dietary laws are even more intense and complex than usual. Certainly when I was growing up we did not keep these laws properly. The punishment for not obeying them properly is karet, which is an ambiguous term, but probably means not having a share in Olam HaBa. I had been told that no one gets karet these days because we’re on such a low spiritual level that we don’t have the level of conscious, knowledgeable hatred of God and Torah needed to incur it (I’ve never seen a source for that belief, but it seems to be widespread among Orthodox Jews). I had likewise been told that you get karet for deliberately breaking the Pesach laws, not for not knowing the correct laws or making a mistake with them. Nevertheless, I was sure I had incurred karet (although not my family, which also makes little sense).
Even though the OCD is less intense now and even though we probably do keep Pesach properly now, the feeling of being hated and punished by HaShem (God) persists. I guess my life has been so awful for so long that I can’t believe that anything good could ever happen to me, and the only way that could be the case is if HaShem does not exist or desires to make me miserable. As I strongly believe that He does exist, it is easy to feel He wants to make me miserable forever. I know there are reasons why a good person might suffer, but I find them hard to internalise when the depression (and maybe pure O OCD) are going full-strength. Even so, if my mission in life is to endure in misery, it is hard to see that as a positive thing, even if it is “only” for another fifty or sixty years before my eternal reward. Fifty years of misery is not long compared to eternal reward, but fifty years is long compared to the fifteen or twenty years of depression I have already endured and I don’t know how I could get through another fifty years like the last fifteen.
That said, I doubt I would believe myself to be a good person even if HaShem told me I was. I had disgusting thoughts on the way home and while I know on some level that they are OCD, it is hard not to think that I have corrupted myself over the years with bad behaviour and thoughts to the point where I can no longer control my thoughts. I just hope I don’t lose control of my actions.
I avoid the news at the moment, but I saw a report last night that triggered conflicting emotions. It was about disruptive children being placed in solitary confinement in schools so they can’t disrupt other children’s lessons. The reporter made it quite clear that he thought that this was wrong. Skipping over the fact that the solitary confinement booths looked a lot like the workspaces at my college library at Oxford, this left me conflicted. The opponents of this disciplinary procedure argued that many of the disruptive students have mental health or developmental disorders such as autism/Asperger’s (the only condition named). Obviously I felt sympathy to people with autism, but at the same time, I was conscious that the type of students being disciplined were basically the ones who made my life hell when I was at school and I would dearly have loved some of them to be shut up far away from me so I could work. In particular, they interviewed one student about the treatment he received and the mental health issues that developed from prolonged solitary confinement, but they didn’t ask him what he did that was so disruptive that he was disciplined in this way. This is the trouble I have when thinking about people who hurt me when I was younger. As an adult, I know they most likely had “issues” of some kind of their own, but the fact is that I am dealing with decades-worth of misery and mental illness because of the behaviour of other people, people who have never asked for my forgiveness or perhaps even realised that they hurt me. This is difficult. At the same time, I know I have probably hurt other people, maybe as much as I was hurt. This is also difficult.