I’m in a bad autism environment today. I’ve mentioned we’ve got a decorator in; he’s decorating the room next to mine. I dislike the smell of paint, which sometimes makes me ill, plus he has the radio on really loudly. It’s Radio 4 Extra (or whatever they call it these days), which is drama and comedy and so probably somewhat better than music – it’s not loud enough for my autistic brain to attempt to tune in to the words too much, but it is still loud enough to be annoying. I was glad to be out most of the day, first at my depression/resilience course and then shopping and I will be at work tomorrow. The smell is going to linger, though, and the decoration will continue for a while. The decorator is estimating he’ll be finished by the end of the week, but my Dad and I are sceptical, particularly as we’ll want him out of the house by about 3.00pm on Friday for Shabbat (the Sabbath).
Resilience course today was focused on activity. We listing activities done over the week; activities we enjoy; activities that make us feel better; activities that we don’t enjoy, but have to do, but are important for our well-being; and what activities we would like to do. I realised that I do actually do things I enjoy, at least in theory, perhaps too many given how many essential-but-not-enjoyable things I do (albeit I do more of those now I’m working again)… The problem is that (a) I don’t actually enjoy a lot of the stuff I theoretically enjoy because of anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure) and (b) I spend too much time that could/should be spent doing something either productive or relaxing on procrastination when I feel too exhausted or depressed to read a book or job hunt and just stare into space on the train or aimlessly surf the internet. I’m going to try to limit internet use to after 5.00pm Monday to Thursday (Fridays and Saturdays I don’t procrastinate on it much because of Shabbat, while activity on Sundays varies too much from week to week to set a rule). Hopefully if I can reduce procrastination I can increase productive time without reducing enjoyable activities (even if I don’t always enjoy them).
The problem I seem to be having with the course is that while a lot of their tips are straightforward and seem good (and some have been suggested to me before, when I was seeing an occupational therapist), it can be hard to implement them. I am a bit concerned that the tips would probably be better for someone with mild depression or anxiety. Some people on the course seem to have done several courses through this scheme and that suggests to me a bit that people with severe depression or anxiety can get stuck in the system, getting enough out of the courses to keep coming back, but not enough to actually recover. This is something that I have experienced myself in previous occupational therapy. The other difficulty is appearing to recover, getting discharged from the support system, then getting very depressed again as a result of a trigger, which might not even be a ‘bad’ thing – I think I’ve been triggered by positive events before. Any change can be difficult for people at risk of mental health issues especially with autism, which craves routine, and even positive or neutral change can remind the unconscious of negative events in the past and trigger a relapse. Then one has to start all over again, remembering or relearning the skills. Other people on the course seemed to share this experience.
I have a bit of a crush on one of the women at the group. I even ended up speaking to her briefly today, which is a major thing for me with my social anxiety. Also, there were a couple of awkward moments when our eyes met and I smiled awkwardly which makes me worry that I come over as stalkerish. She seemed shy, gentle and geeky, but, statistically speaking, she’s almost certainly not Jewish and from her clothes (trousers) she certainly isn’t frum (religious Orthodox Jewish). I wouldn’t date anyone who isn’t Jewish and I’d be a bit wary of dating anyone who wasn’t frum although I did date E. who wasn’t frum.
I’ve had crushes on people who are ‘off-limits’ before and they (the ‘bad’ thoughts/feelings) do go eventually. I don’t believe that crushes are “LOVE”. They’re just hormones. I think love is something you build slowly over time through caring actions (being very frummy here, but true) and mostly when people talk about being “in love” (noun as opposed to “loving,” verb) they mean hormones. Likewise when they think they’re not “in love” any more it often means the hormones have gone and they haven’t built anything deeper. Nor do I think that LOVE can, or should, conquer all. I think there are things it can’t overcome and, statistically-speaking for many people religious differences are very hard to bridge long-term. There are also things I think love shouldn’t overcome and I think (and I’m aware how reactionary this will seem to many people, but I’m going to say it) breaking Jewish law and breaking faith with the traditions I follow are, for me, too big a price to pay for a relationship. I don’t just want to get married, I want to build a specifically Jewish household.
She is cute though. So right now I’m trying to sit with the crush feelings and not feel too guilty about ordinary human feelings, even though some people would say I should stop myself from having them (how? I would if I could). It wouldn’t be so frustrating if it wasn’t for the fact that I struggle to meet Jewish women who do tick any of the boxes she seemed to tick: gentle, geeky, understanding of shyness and mental health issues. Very frustrating. I’m not really sure how I could ever meet someone like that in the frum community. I’m not sure if I could really go to a shadchan (matchmaker) with a list like that, short though it is, along with my core values, which are probably integrity, commitment to Judaism and desire for knowledge.
Oh, and the person has to actually like me which has been a stumbling block in stopping many of my crushes from turning into relationships.