I went to bed late having achieved very little of what I planned for yesterday, but at least it was for a good reason (having my plans disrupted by getting a new job). I did sleep through the whole morning, though and still woke up exhausted. To be honest, when I sleep more than nine hours, I suspect I sleep too much; too much sleep can actually make you more tired. But it can be hard to get up when I’m depressed and/or burnt out. I spent the afternoon filling in paperwork for my new job, when really there are other tasks (mostly different paperwork, and emails to friends I have neglected) that I want to get on with before I start my new job.
I feel a bit more positive today, although I’m still terrified that I’m going to make huge mistakes in my new job. My confidence in my ability to function in the workplace has plummeted thanks to my last two jobs. It doesn’t help that I’m still not sure why I find it so hard to function: is it depression, social anxiety, autism or an interaction of all three? Comorbidity is difficult. It’s hard to build coping strategies when you aren’t sure what the problem is. I just hope it’s not laziness or incompetence. I don’t think it’s laziness, but I worry that it might be incompetence. I do feel that depression has made me stupider. I doubt that I could win a place at Oxford these days as I did in my teens.
Still, I do feel more positive about my position and about my life in general today. This job fits so well with the other things I’ve managed to get set up, particularly the resilience course I’m doing, that it does feel bashert (predestined), not a word I use very often. It’s easier to believe that HaShem (God) is controlling my life in a positive way when things seem to be going well, even though perhaps it shouldn’t really make a difference, given that I don’t significantly doubt the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God, just whether He cares about me or, more accurately, whether I’m good enough for Him to care about me.
When I stop to think seriously about the future, I feel less optimistic. I guess I’m like a cartoon character than can run off a cliff and keep going until I look down and realise there’s nothing supporting me. I can feel OK and positive about the future, but then I think, “This is a short-term, part-time job; I’m still no closer to finding a permanent job or to being able to take a full-time job; and without a job, and with all my ‘issues,’ I have nothing to attract a partner, and I doubt I will ever earn enough to support myself when my parents aren’t able to…” and so on. That’s when I plummet like Wile E. Coyote.
I don’t think I’m particularly logical much of the time; to be honest, looking at the world, I doubt whether most people are logical most of the time, regardless of their religious views or lack thereof (I’m not even thinking of big, scary socio-political things here, just day to day things). I know I’ve said before that I used to think of myself as a logical person, but in recent years I’ve come to realise that I’m a very emotional person who just thinks he’s logical. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being emotional some of the time, but it’s problematic when I’m emotional, but think I’m being logical e.g. when I come up with complicated ‘proofs’ to show that I’m a bad person, that no one cares about me, that my future will be terrible etc.
Actually, one of the scary things about mental illness is how it warps your perception of reality. I remember stuff that I thought was true when my OCD was worse, stuff that now seems unlikely or even completely illogical, but which I was sure was demonstrably true at the time. Scary stuff. And that was just neurosis, not psychosis!
I find emotions difficult, particularly from a religious viewpoint. I guess the fact that, like many autistic people, I’m probably somewhat alexithymic (have difficulty identifying and understanding my emotions) doesn’t help. The Torah commands, or appears to command, various emotional states: loving HaShem and one’s neighbour, not coveting other people’s things or bearing grudges etc. I think there was a disagreement between the Medieval commentators about this. Some said, the Torah does indeed command emotions. Others said, it commands actions only; if the Torah commands love, it only commands to act lovingly; if it forbids bearing a grudge it forbids only acting on a grudge. This is easier to accept than the idea that we can switch our emotions on and off (and also fits with the fact that Jewish thought generally prefers to deal with particular actions rather than abstract concepts, unlike Western philosophy).
It only occurred to me last night that the alexithymia might influence me in another way. I’ve written before about being upset that I don’t experience simcha shel mitzvah (joy in the commandments) and that one rabbi told me that I won’t experience this until I have got over the depression (which I no longer think will happen; I just think I will have to learn to manage it) while my rabbi mentor said I should have some simcha shel mitzvah even now. It occurs to me that I might not really know if I’m experiencing any simcha shel mitzvah and maybe I shouldn’t beat myself up so much for not experiencing it.