(That’s possibly the most banal, least attention-grabbing title ever, but I’ve never been good at titles even at the best of times, and now is not the best of times.)

I went to bed really late last night, but couldn’t sleep, as I expected after having slept so much during the day.  I don’t drink milky drinks, so I ended up eating porridge at 2.00am when I wasn’t hungry as a way of having warm milk to sedate me.  It seemed to work.  I actually woke up earlier than I expected after all that, but was depressed and slow to get going and was half an hour late for volunteering at the asylum seekers drop-in centre (although volunteers come and go as they please, really, the advertised times notwithstanding).

Part of my lateness was avoidance as I was feeling very anxious about going.  Part of me wanted very much not to go, but I forced myself to get there somehow.  I wish I had the confidence/ability to talk to the other volunteers more, although there aren’t many people my age there (the two sisters I spoke to a bit the first time I went haven’t been there since, at least not when I’ve been).  I don’t know what to say in such circumstances, although a few people tried to speak to me, in a way that suggested that they remembered me from previous times.  Once again, I feel that if I had a proper autism diagnosis, I might get support with things like this, or at least might have had it had I been diagnosed as a child; but with no diagnosis and no real likelihood of getting one, it is difficult to know what to do.  I’m not even that confident any more that I am autistic, but I do feel that there’s something different about me (something wrong about me, if you want to be judgemental), something not like other people.  Whether that’s autism or social communication disorder or something else I don’t know, but it feels like there are more symptoms there than fit just depression and social anxiety.  I’ve never really fitted in anywhere.

I helped look after the children again at the drop-in centre and one of the other volunteers said I had a talent for it.  I think I sounded more shocked than was really polite.  People keep saying this to me and I don’t understand it at all.  I am patient with children, especially when playing the type of repetitive games that very young children like, but I never really know what to say to them, and I get nervous holding babies and young children.  One of the boys today was rather boisterous and kept trying to take my glasses and try them on himself.  He also came up behind me while I was sitting on the floor and put his arms around my neck and I couldn’t work out if he was being affectionate or trying to hurt me.

It does feel like nothing can shift my low self-esteem.  I should feel good about myself for helping a cause I feel strongly about, but I don’t, and I don’t feel good about myself for being told I’m good with children either.  I did at least get the confidence to go into the main shul (synagogue) building for Mincha and Ma’ariv (the afternoon and evening prayer services), which was harder than it would be for most people, having not been inside this shul before (the drop-in centre is in a separate building).  I had visions of not working out what room it was in (most shuls in my experience don’t go to the bother of opening up the main shul for weekday Mincha and Ma’ariv and hold those services in a smaller Beit Midrash (study room) or the like), but I did manage to ask someone.

Other anxiety has been floating around my interview on 5 December.  I’m not sure if I’m more nervous about embarrassing myself or somehow getting a job I’m convinced I can’t do.  Still, as I have forgotten what the job involves and can’t find the information about it online, the chances of my getting the job seem slim.  I’m terrified of shaking when I do my ten minute presentation, though, always assuming I can find something to say.

I have also been feeling anxious about Doctor Who.  I enjoyed last week’s episode, but apparently I was wrong to do so as it was supportive of Evil Capitalism.  The week before everyone else liked the episode, but I was upset (although not surprised) that the moral of the story was that wanting to preserve your culture is Wrong (I don’t think wanting to preserve your culture means hating other people’s cultures either; that’s a straw man argument).  I guess I feel this more as a Jew, because (a) our culture was nearly wiped out within living memory and is still arguably still on life support and (b) Westerners tend not to notice that often their “universalism” is often a promotion of their own values at the expense of other people’s (e.g. the whole assumption that kicks in at this time of year that everyone celebrates Christmas, which is supposedly a universal holiday rather than a particularist religious one, and one often used as a pretext for antisemitic violence EDIT: I mean in the past!  Not nowadays).  Plus, I suppose, everyone is talking about how good it is that Doctor Who has people from different under-represented groups – and it is, but there isn’t anyone like me there, or anywhere else really.  Jewish.  Religious.  Mentally ill.  Socially awkward (to be fair, the eleventh Doctor was sometimes awkward, when he wasn’t being a superhero and getting married).

So I’m now living in dread that all my online reviews are going to show my colours as an Evil Religious Capitalist Conservative Bad Person and everyone will hate me (including half the people reading this, although I suppose it would be a way to work out who actually reads this rubbish I write, by seeing who leaves my list of followers).  The irony is that I don’t really identify as a straightforward conservative and I don’t feel that I fit in with my co-religionists.  In fact, at volunteering, when I went to daven (pray) I silently compared the shul unfavourably with my usual community: the service was faster than my shul with a lot more talking.  My shul would have been slower and quieter… but my shul would not have put on a drop in centre for non-Jewish refugees.  I feel torn again between the Modern and ultra-Orthodox worlds.  I feel torn everywhere, really.  I don’t know how I find wholeness (wholeness = shalem = shalom = peace).

(I wrote this before watching Doctor Who, but have to now add that I didn’t like it for various reasons I have just spent an hour or more writing up on my other blog, but I was particularly annoyed at the inclusion of the antisemitic idea that “Love your neighbour” isn’t in the “Old Testament” when it is.)

I feel I ought to be good at something, but I don’t know what.  I’m pretty sure that if I was in school (I mean school school, not university/college that Americans call school) now, I would not do anywhere near as well as I did when I was younger.  Depression has made me stupid.  I struggle to grasp concepts I would once easily have understood.  I think I am not quite as well organised either, although maybe I’m wrong about that.  I don’t think I would be academically-gifted any more.  I’m not a particularly good librarian.  I don’t think I’m a particularly good writer.  I don’t know what I’m good at, really

I seem to spend much of my days assuming that everyone thinks I’m weird and that they get offended by me, without really having any solid evidence for it.  I don’t have any solid evidence against it though.  Someone said that being ignored is worse than being hated, and I think on some level I’d like to provoke people to hate me, just to get some kind of a reaction out of them, even if the reaction is simply them unfollowing me (is unfollowing a real word?  I suppose if ‘unfriend’ is…).  It’s better than being ignored, which is what most of my life has been, really, to the extent that if someone does show me positive attention, I panic and run away.

Why does it matter to me so much what other people think of me, particularly people who I don’t know?  It’s not like it takes much effort on other people’s behalf to follow me online; it’s not proof of friendship.  People seem to take friendship very frivolously; if I say I’m someone’s friend, it matters to me.  I might not do things differently, because of social anxiety and depression, but at a deep level I feel bound to them.  I would pray for them, which is about the most intimate thing I know, and something I’m reluctant to do willy-nilly.  I suppose I’m looking for friends who feel similarly strong things for me.

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4 thoughts on “Anxiety and Low Self-Esteem

  1. Perhaps I’m cynical, but how likely is it that getting an autism diagnosis would actually result in services/supports being made available to you?
    Personally I think you’re a good writer. Even if you don’t agree in terms of content, your writing is strong in a grammatical and stylistic sense.

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    1. To be honest, it might not. I’m not entirely sure what support is available for people on the spectrum, I just think there can’t be less than what I’m getting without a diagnosis.

      Thanks for saying that I’m a good writer!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a lot to say other than the fact that I can relate to your thoughts and feelings of depression and that you’re weird and don’t fit in anywhere. And I agree with Ashleyleia that you’re a good writer. This is coming from an English major who’s worked as a medical editor for the last 30 years.

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