I wrote the first half of this post last night, but I didn’t want to post four times in twenty-four hours. To be honest, I’m slightly reluctant to post something as despairing and self-loathing as this, but I feel compelled to do so, to confess. I don’t know why. It makes it a bit easier to cope, I suppose, although explaining how is trickier. I hope people get something out of it. There are twenty or so people ‘liking’ this regularly, so that has to mean someone likes this stuff, right?
I just feel so despairing. I hate myself so much, and that self-hate seems to me to be entirely legitimate, if anything disproportionately small to the things I have; I should, if anything, hate myself more, not less. Yet the few people I have let into my deepest secrets (some of them, anyway) tell me that I’m quite normal. It is difficult to know what to make of this.
People seem to reach the conclusion from a rapid conversation that I’m an intelligent and good person. This has happened to me on short phone calls to the Samaritans. I do not know how they come to these conclusions, which seem astoundingly wrong to me.
Sometimes I wish there was a prophet or rebbe that I could go to and find out the meaning of my life and what I should do with it, or even just if I’m a good person. But I don’t believe in da’at Torah (the belief that great Torah scholars have a quasi-prophetic ability to answer even mundane, practical questions in an inspired way). Likewise I don’t believe in getting blessings from rebbes or rabbis or praying at the graves of dead tzadikim (saintly people). I pray to God, but He always seems to say “No.” I’m willing to trust that it’s for the best, but I wish He would give me more practical fortitude to keep going.
My rabbi mentor has not returned my emails for a couple of weeks. I am a bit worried about him, and also concerned to hear the answers to some of my halakhic (Jewish law) questions which I don’t want to take to the rabbis of my shul, who will be too strict or at least too Charedi (ultra-Orthodox). Similarly, some kashrut questions I sent to the London Bet Din (rabbinical court) (well, one question several times because I wasn’t sure if it sent properly) has gone unanswered. I feel vaguely worried, but the fact that I’m coping OK is a sign that the religious OCD at least is under control; a few years ago I was a constant wreck, waiting to hear back from rabbis or the Bet Din about my questions. Nowadays I can dismiss some at least of the questions as obviously unnecessary.
On to today: last night I struggled to get to sleep and then today I struggled to get up. I actually woke up an hour earlier than I intended and couldn’t get back to sleep because I felt so stiff and achey – I think I had been cold and curled up. My cold is mostly gone, but I still feel really depressed, unsurprisingly (it wasn’t just going to vanish with the cold). I still really hate myself too.
I can’t understand how anyone cares about me, except that I must deceive them about who I really am. Sorry about that. I shouldn’t say that. Except that I did, and I’ve struck it through, but not deleted it. It’s hard to stick to what I said about trying not to criticise my blog here.
I started my depression/resilience/activity course today. It was quite good, but very anxiety-provoking. In fact, the whole day has been anxiety-provoking, both social anxiety and general anxiety. I struggled on my course with the activity done in pairs as I did not really know what to say. I don’t think my pair and I did it properly in the end, but I think I was confused. I’m worried about having to set an achievable target at the end of each session, which amounts to two a week, as the class is on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then report back on success (or otherwise) in the next class.
On the course they said that one never goes backwards in recovery. Even if one seems to go backwards, one is in fact learning necessary things about oneself. It doesn’t seem that way. Someone said he had been depressed for three years and was worried if he would ever recover; I silently worried that I have been depressed sixteen years or so and don’t seem to be able to recover for more than a few months at a time.
Freud, I’m informed, thought life boiled down to eros and thanatos, the sex instinct and the death instinct. I think that I think about both too much. I see the skull beneath the skin, to paraphrase Eliot. I was certainly thinking of dying in my course today, when I was feeling anxious that I wouldn’t be able to set achievable targets and that I didn’t want to be monitored by a class of strangers or even to be in the room with sixteen people. I just wanted to die. It’s a release sometimes to think of dying, of killing myself or just of being dead. I do believe in an afterlife, but most of the time I think I’m too wicked to deserve it, but Jews don’t believe in eternal damnation, so the idea of just not existing seems like some kind of a release. I sometimes try to visualise my body decomposing, which probably isn’t a nice thing to think about. I guess this is suicidal ideation, thinking about suicide and death rather than actually planning to kill myself. My experience, as I think I’ve said before, is that crisis teams are not interested if you are merely thinking about death, only if you actually have a plan to kill yourself, although the distinction between thinking about death and having a plan to kill yourself is, I think, less clear cut than that policy implies. I was probably thinking about this too much in the course today, a symptom of anxiety and despair.
To be honest, I was probably thinking of sex too much as well as death. I think that thinking about sex at all is bad for me, both for religious reasons and because it’s fairly obvious to me that no one is ever going to be interested in me. I beat myself up about sex a lot, though, because of religious reasons and feminist reasons. For example, just feeling attracted to someone there instantly provokes guilt for hirhuim assurim (forbidden thoughts) and also for objectifying women. It’s a relief in a way that no one else at the course seemed to be Jewish, so far as I could tell, so everyone is off limits anyway. It would be good if I could just avoid thinking about sex and love, because I don’t think anyone could ever love me.
Whenever I see frum families, especially frum women, with their children, which happens a lot where I live, I feel that I will never get married and have children and I feel so lonely. I wonder how almost everyone else in the community manages to pair off so easily and I don’t.
I see frum (religious) children where I live and imagine them on a trajectory from school to yeshiva/seminary to careers in accountancy and law (men) or teaching or occupational therapy (women) and marriage and children… A few will be hit by some kind of life issue and a few more will drop out of the frum community, but most are going to be on that path for life. I felt vaguely today that I made a choice for the religious life over the secular one, thinking although it entailed sacrifices, it would bring rewards. Actually, this isn’t really true. I never sat down and said, “Today I’m going to be frum.” I just drifted into it, from a traditional background to full observance over many years. My point is that if I was offered that choice – and in a sense it is still before me, I could still stop being religious – that is what I would choose and why. Except I never received the rewards of being frum, the this worldly ones anyway: family, community, support, meaning, spirituality; but I don’t have the worldly benefits of not being religious either. I ended up with a non-functional depressive/autistic life that I can’t imagine anyone deliberately choosing.
I have so many ‘bad’ thoughts, they frighten me. I worry about what they say about me, whether I will act on them. When my religious OCD was worse, I did a lot of reading about it and learnt that everyone has ‘bad’ thoughts and that people who obsess over them with OCD (scrupulosity) are less likely to act on them than anyone else. But I wonder why I have so many bad thoughts. I wish I could know what other people think, to know if my thoughts are ‘normal,’ both in nature, intensity and frequency… thoughts of self-harm and suicide, thoughts of death and decay, sexual thoughts, violent thoughts, blasphemous thoughts, offensive thoughts… I feel I must be a bad person, or at least a very unwell person, to have so many bad thoughts, even if I don’t act on them (and I’ve acted on thoughts that I think do make me a bad person). I find it hard to dismiss them as just thoughts that everyone has as no one else seems to report them, except very unwell people, which is not encouraging.
I start my new job tomorrow. I really wish I didn’t. I just feel sure it’s going to go disastrously wrong. I can’t work out why anyone would want to employ me, except, again, that I deceive them about how useless I really am (which is another thing I’m not supposed to write/think). They just sent me a massive email with induction information. I’m not sure why they waited until the end of the day before I start to send this – it would have been easier if I could have had time to read through it properly.