I’m drained again today. I guess I’m depressed too, but I’m feeling so exhausted that my mood doesn’t really matter. I couldn’t sleep again last night and this time it had nothing to do with forgetting medication. I suppose I was tense and stressed from the day, although I wasn’t consciously thinking about the job interview. I’m terrified of speaking to them again, though, which one way or another I will have to do. My sister said to ask for interview feedback even if (when) they tell me I haven’t got the job. I know why I messed up, though. I was badly prepared, I don’t do enough CPD (Continuing Professional Development), I don’t take my career seriously enough and I’ve forgotten most of what I once knew about cataloguing. I was also nervous and either rambled incoherently or sat in silence until prompted – not to every question, but to enough of them. I feel like no one could ever take me seriously.
There probably is a parallel universe out there where I beat the depression for good in 2010, when I started my MA, did the MA in a year and went on straightaway to a serious cataloguing job like the one I was interviewed for yesterday. Oh well.
Oh, look, it turns out I am depressed as well as drained, and self-loathing.
Another engagement was just announced on the shul (synagogue) What’sApp group. I didn’t realise we had so many young people in the kehillah (community). I guess they’re all at yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) or sem (female seminary). Or they daven (pray) elsewhere, I guess, as the mazal tovs go to the parents. I try to tell myself that any bracha (blessing) is good, even if it’s not for me, but deep down (or not so deep down), I wish things would go better for me. I get so lonely. I don’t know why I particularly want to get married, given that I feel reluctant to take practical steps about making friends to deal with the loneliness that way. I don’t know if getting married would actually help. You either love yourself or you don’t, and what other people think, even a partner, doesn’t change that. Which means you either had enough unconditional love as a child or you didn’t, and I had enough difficult events as a child to make me feel unloved, even if I wasn’t. Even if someone did love me unconditionally now, I don’t think it would make much difference by this stage.
I’m back from my meeting with The Network now and have had lunch. (I got home late; it will soon be time for supper.) I feel exhausted, but not so depressed. The meeting was in a couple of Victorian (?) suburban houses that have been knocked together. The student counselling services were in a similar building when I was in Oxford; the Jewish mental health charity Jami has a similar house too. Buildings like that always make me think of a Secret Service safe house in a John le Carré novel. I half expect to bump into Control and George Smiley, launching some new conspiracy.
The Network turns out to offer state-funded support for people with mental health issues. The support is neither therapy nor medication (I’m having those sorted elsewhere, hopefully), but support in terms of empowerment and life skills, including skills needed for employment. The meetings are more like classes than group therapy/support group meetings, but are friendly and I think the activities are not obligatory, although obviously one would get more out of them by doing the ‘homework.’
The support worker I saw did a “Recovery Star” with me. I did this exercise years ago, when I was seeing an occupational therapist through Jami. It’s a useful way of tracking mood and activity over time.
The exercise is based on a ten-pointed star, with a label at each outward point denoting a life area. The numbers 1-10 run along each arm, with 1 at the centre and 10 at the tip of each arm. One then rates oneself in each area, with 1 being as bad as possible and 10 as good as possible. I was pleased to see that I was doing better in some areas than expected. I scored highly (7 or over) for ‘living skills,” “addictive behaviour” (meaning I have no addictive behaviour) and “responsibilities” and 4 or 5 for ‘managing mental health’, ‘physical health and self-care’, ‘social networks’, ‘work’ and ‘relationships’. My worst areas were ‘identity and self-esteem’ and ‘trust and hope’; even here I scored 3/10, which is not the worst possible rating. So the exercise reminded me that, however bad I feel, I have some degree of functionality. I am still job hunting and I went to an interview; I volunteer each month; I write my blog and have online friends; I go to shul and shiur (synagogue and religious classes) a bit, even if I would like to do more; I still look after basic health and hygiene needs.
The support worker told me about two of the classes on offer (I’m not sure if they only offer two or if there were only two that she thought would be relevant from the Recovery Star). Both seemed potentially useful, but I picked the one that looked like it would overlap less with the CBT I’m hoping to have to deal with my self-esteem issues soon. The course will focus more on coping strategies and resilience to triggers, which will hopefully be useful for me. There is a class starting in January; I think they meet twice a week for four weeks.
Now I’m home, I feel exhausted and slightly ill: hot and run down. My parents usually keep the house too hot for me in the winter, so it could be that or it could be exhaustion or the beginnings of a cold. I can’t really concentrate and don’t intend to do much other than trying to get to my shiur this evening and maybe writing a couple of emails. Other than that, I don’t think I’m good for much other than vegetating in front of the TV tonight; I don’t think I could even read much.
Tomorrow I have my autism screening. Either way opens on uncertainty: either the uncertainty of deciding whether to try for another formal assessment or the uncertainty of having to deal with a definitively non-autistic (or at least non-diagnosably autistic) identity. I probably won’t have time to write that up before Shabbat tomorrow, which starts at about 3.30pm at the moment, so you will have to wait until Saturday night for my thoughts on that, I’m afraid.
At The Network, the support worker said that by a strange coincidence, I was the second person she had seen today with depression who had a BA in History, was pursuing an autism diagnosis and ideally wanted to work as a writer, and that the other person was a woman. Immediately, I wondered if she was Jewish (entirely possible given the demographics of the borough) and whether I would run into her at some point. But then I think, how would I talk to her, and why would she be interested in someone as messed up and financially insecure as me? These days I can just about accept that there might be women out there who match my weirdnesses, but it’s still hard to believe I could meet them, still less that any of them would like me.