There was more to say after my second post yesterday, but I decided not to inflict a third post on you in one day. I missed my meeting at shul (synagogue) because I felt too depressed. I was having a lot of suicidal ideation and although I didn’t think I was seriously at risk of hurting myself, I just couldn’t face going to a meeting and pretending to be normal and interested for three hours. I hope this decision doesn’t come back to haunt me. I phoned the Samaritans helpline, essentially as a the price I made myself pay for not going to the meeting, but once I got through to someone, I realised that I didn’t actually know what I wanted to say and found the ‘encouraging’ noises the volunteer was making really off-putting and after seven minutes I apologised and quickly hung up. I felt bad about that, but I wasn’t sure what else I could do.
At well-being class today we were speaking about long-term goals in love, work, play and exercise. I felt lazy, because I probably play too much (admittedly it’s more procrastination than play) and I was vaguely upset that religious goals were not on there because they are really important to me (or were, before I lost all motivation to be a good Jew) and obviously are not important to most other people. But I was really stuck on work and love. I know my long-term work goal is to work full-time, or nearly, and permanently rather than on short-term contracts. But I don’t know what short-term goals to set to work to that. I asked the facilitators for help, but the stuff they said (join agencies, sign up for job alerts) were mostly stuff I’m already doing without success, although I did agree to do an online personality test to see if I’m in the right career.
As for love, I know my long-term goal is to get married, but I’ve no idea how to get there and I suspect it is not a feasible goal while I’m this depressed and on such a low income. I probably should have asked for help here too, but I couldn’t face explaining about frum dating (dating for marriage only; shadchans (matchmakers); almost all events in my community being gender-segregated; non-gender-segregated events at Modern Orthodox places mostly attracting an older crowd; why I don’t think going to young professionals kiruv events to try to meet women my age who might be interested in becoming more religious is a particularly good idea (it’s depressing that, writing this, I can see it is better than nothing, painful as it would doubtless be); etc.).
I can’t face going to a shadchan on my current income level and with my current levels of depression, because I think I would get thrown out, but I have zero chance of meeting someone frum without meeting a shadchan, so I think the realistic thing is to learn to live without love, somehow. I know my parents can’t meet my emotional needs, partly because of personality differences and autism/neurotypical differences, partly because no one’s parents can’t meet all their adult emotional needs. So I don’t know how to feel loved and worthwhile. I’m not sure how much I ever have felt loved and worthwhile; very little I suspect. (I don’t know at this stage if having pets would make me feel more loved or just used to dispense food.)
There was a touching article in The Jewish Chronicle last week about a charity in Israel that helps people with learning disabilities to marry (I did just try to find the article to link to, but I couldn’t find it on the website and the other news there was too depressing for words). They provide practical, emotional and possibly financial support for people with learning disabilities to marry and live independently as a couple. I feel if people with autism who are not high functioning can have full-time jobs and get married, I should be able to too, but somehow it’s all too difficult juggling depression alongside autism (even high-functioning). There isn’t really any help in the community for more functional people with depression or autism; regardless of how we’re feeling, it’s assumed we can cope with things. I feel like I’m stuck in the emotional equivalent of the benefits trap, where moving off benefits into work entails a reduction of income. I’m too functional for anyone to believe there is anything wrong with me.
It just feels really scary living in my head all the time. All day I’ve been seeing Sherlock Holmes jumping apparently to his death in Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall and I know my mind is telling me that that’s how I feel right now, falling so far and no one can help me (except he was faking his own death and had half of British Intelligence on hand to help him, we later discover). I think so much about being a wicked person, being useless and defective, not being able to put things right, about God and everyone else hating me… it’s scary. More than that, it’s tiring.
There was a problem with my medication again. This time somehow my lithium was removed from the repeat prescription area as if I wasn’t on it any more. My Mum (who I had asked to pop in to the surgery on the way home from work to pick it up for me) managed to sort it in the end, but I think she ended up arguing with the receptionists and I ended up arguing with her because she said I was being angry (when I was being assertive) and shouting (I was speaking loudly because I had her on speakerphone).
Why is it that whenever I try to be assertive, I get accused of being aggressive, and whenever I try to talk clearly (e.g. when I’m on speakerphone), I get accused of shouting? I know it is possible for autistic people to be accused of being aggressive when they’re not trying to be aggressive. I’ve spent half my life being told off by my parents for giving people “dirty black looks” when I thought I was just looking normally. I suppose this is a similar thing, combined with the fact that shy people are often accused of being aggressive when they become more confident and assertive. I think people prefer me as a doormat to someone who can take charge of a situation, and they prefer it when I listen politely to their (boring) conversations more than when I want to say something.
The whole experience has left me feeling tense, angry and self-critical.
I just did a personality test for my well-being course. The outcome was not laid out particularly helpfully and what I could understand of it was not terribly surprising: I’m restrained, structured and sympathetic. I’m bad at relaxing, being calm or keeping my composure. I’m not daring, a thrill-seeker or a natural leader. I like to reflect and to daydream. I am, perhaps a little paradoxically, quite trusting and quite questioning. This is all very predictable. I did another test that suggested specific careers, which was a little surprising, because it gave me a 89% aptitude for archival work and only a 71% per cent aptitude for librarianship, despite no obvious questions that differentiated between the two, so far as I can tell. The other jobs were typical Jewish jobs (and indeed typical autistic jobs) that would nevertheless bore me (IT, accountancy, actuarial work, financial analyst). I do feel my life as an autistic person would be easier if I liked, and was good with, numbers.
Speaking of numbers, I haven’t sorted out my gift aid form for the shul yet. I can’t summon up the courage to go through two years’ worth of payslips to see what I was earning and how much tax I was paying (not just a result of my vagueness about money; I had a couple of jobs and a couple of periods of unemployment in that time, so I think not knowing exactly what I was earning is more understandable for once). I think the real reason has nothing to do with money or figures, though, and everything to do with the mixed feelings I currently have about my shul, and about Judaism. I don’t think I would be happier as an atheist, though, although I might feel under less pressure (but not necessarily so). It’s hard to think of myself being happy at all, to be honest.
E. said yesterday that she doesn’t think I’m ever going to fit into my shul community, which is probably true. She says that she thinks I do push myself really hard to do social things and communal things, but I don’t enjoy them when I do them, not because of social anxiety, but because I’m not on the same wavelength as other people to be able to talk to them, which I guess is true. I feel I “ought” to push myself to do these things, because I can hear my parents pushing me to do them when I was younger, but I don’t really enjoy them much. She said I’m not a screw-up, I’m just dealing with some “really hard things” which is reassuring in a way, but I can’t see a way out.