I tried to phone Samaritans twice yesterday, but couldn’t get through. The ringing phone was just making me feel more anxious and agitated, so I didn’t wait very long. I guess they are busy and under-manned at this time of year. A couple of friends saw my posts and texted/WhatsApped me, which made me feel a bit better. Thank you to them and the people who commented here and emailed, although I only saw those messages this morning. It’s good to feel that people do care about me, even if they live far away and can only stay in contact remotely.
I do wish I didn’t hate myself so much, but I feel I could not in all honesty hate myself less unless I was a better person and a better Jew, and I don’t know how to do that.
I just feel overwhelmed by the world, and by my life. In my mind personal things (my self-hatred and despair) mix with Jewish worries (antisemitism) and global things (hate-based populism) and I can’t breathe or focus. Everything feels like… if not my fault, then at least my responsibility to fix. (I’m not sure I’m expressing this well, that’s not quite what I feel, but I can’t find the words.) But I can’t. I know I shouldn’t have to fix the world and that I can’t, but I feel I should. I can’t even fix myself, but I feel I should be able to fix antisemitism. I was still in my pyjamas at 1.15pm. I don’t know how I can do that and still expect to be able to save the world.
I don’t know why my life feels so hard so much of the time. I don’t think I deserve an easy life, but it’s getting so hard just to keep going. It’s arguably not even objectively that hard (I’m not physically ill or in dire poverty), I just cope so badly at the moment. I feel a bit pathetic that I can’t do things other people can manage easily. It’s hard to give myself a break for being depressed and autistic and struggling with stuff that other people find easy.
In the end I did manage to go for a walk for half an hour (which was incredibly exhausting, as much as running used to be) and I spent some time painting my Doctor Who miniatures and trying to accept that they are going to take a while to paint (I tend to be impatient with big projects) and that they are not going to be perfect (I’m a perfectionist). I’m glad that Peters Davison and Capaldi are both about 75% done, although Davison’s striped trousers are giving me difficulties and I don’t know where to draw the line (in both a literal and metaphorical sense). But I also feel vaguely guilty for not doing something “worthwhile” with my time.
Liora suggested I try to assess my activity levels each day in a more objective way. I tried to apply some numbers representing emotional energy expended to tasks I regularly do to work out how much energy I expend, although it’s hard to tell, as it can vary from day to day and even during days e.g. my walk to the station in the morning is a lot easier than the same walk home at the end of a working day, the difficulty of which can also vary according to how tiring the day was.
I worked out that a typical work day would involve expending a bit over 400 units. The last few days, since I’ve been doing this, I’ve been expending 100-200 units a day, which is understandable given that I’m not working at the moment, if a little disappointing, but yesterday I only managed 65, but I was completely exhausted all day. I’m not quite sure what this demonstrates. I’ve been measuring my mood each day for years, but I’m not sure how useful that is either the way I do it, but I don’t really want to monitor my mood repeatedly across the day.
“Your unique contribution to the world is a very specific activity which you love and excel at” is today’s quote on Aish.com. It sounds very sentimental and mushy, but I can see where it’s coming from. However, I can’t think of anything I love and excel at and which seems like a worthwhile contribution to the world. I feel like there’s no reason for me to be here at all.
I think occasionally of the book I mooted a few weeks ago, about Judaism aimed at non-Jews and/or non-religious Jews, but I can’t get round the problems. I don’t feel qualified to write it without research in books in languages I can’t read fluently and without using a library I’m nervous of using given the criticism I received when I was volunteering there. Plus, I can’t work out who the primary audience would be (the background and needs of non-Jews and non-religious Jews are not the same) or what my aim in writing would be or if I’m writing about the whole spectrum of Orthodox observance or just my views, in which case I would probably get into trouble with my community for various things… Whenever I have a new idea it ends up like that and I give up. I probably don’t have enough self-confidence to write that book, although I’m still working on the Doctor Who one.
On a related note, I was surprised to get an email from the person who wrote the book I quoted here. He said he was sorry if he upset me and that he didn’t mean to imply that the religious life is easy or that someone who struggles isn’t really religious. He also said he read several of my posts and that I have a talent for writing. A few people have said this to me, on the blog and elsewhere, but I’ve never had the confidence to really sit down and work out what I could do with my writing or known how to go about it. Similarly, I’ve mentioned that my parents, my aunt and some people at the asylum seekers drop-in centre where I volunteer say that I’m good with children, but again, I don’t know how to do something with that beyond doing volunteering with them.
I feel a bit like my understanding of the world of work (or the world full stop) is rather like a child’s and I struggle to understand the mundane day-to-day tasks required in a job or how to apply myself to them. This is not a positive thing by any means, but I don’t know how to deal with it. I don’t know if it’s an autistic thing or a depressive thing or just me being strange and incompetent.
My cousin is staying with us for a few days from tonight. She’s in her early twenties. My first cousins all live in Israel, and life there is so different to life in any other Western country that it can be hard to connect sometimes. For instance, she hasn’t gone to university yet (she’s hoping to go next year), but she has done a couple of years of military service. I sometimes wonder how I would have coped with military service. I think I would have ended up having a breakdown and getting discharged, even if I wasn’t on the front line.
My sister and brother-in-law came over for dinner and my cousin arrived afterwards. We sat around talking for a long time and I did join in and enjoy, but I did get drained too and ate too much as I do when nervous and bored. I was trying to find a polite way to slip away when my sister and BIL left.
It’s interesting that when I thought I didn’t enjoy social gatherings because of depression, introversion or social anxiety, I thought of that as a problem of mine, but now I think it’s autism, I feel a bit more understanding of myself. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. I feel I should try to work on myself to be more ‘normal’ (i.e. to pass better as neurotypical).
One autistic thing I noticed myself doing was switching off a bit when the conversation was about stuff I’m not interested in, which was quite a lot. I struggle to concentrate on conversations about jobs, house renovations and people my family know who I don’t know. Maybe this is also normal. I don’t know. I do feel guilty about it, as I expect people to listen to me. But some people in my family talk in a way that seems rather autism unfriendly to me: lots of details about people and places I don’t know and struggle to picture given over too quickly.